Punto Banco, also known as North American baccarat, is one of the most popular baccarat variations available at live and online casinos alike.
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Among several different versions of baccarat, Punto Banco is probably one of the most popular, especially in the US. In fact, because of this popularity, the game is often referred to as North American baccarat as well.
Unlike some other variations such as Chemin de Fer or Baccarat Banque, Punto Banco is very simple and straightforward. It is also a pure casino table game with the casino hosting the games and players playing against the house.
For these reasons, Punto Banco today is found across numerous live venues and online casinos alike. Games are offered across various stakes and online players can choose from live dealer and RNG tables.
The game is also very easy to learn, which only helps make it even more popular. There are no complicated rules or strategies players need to know to join the action and even those completely new to Punto Banco can learn the most important rules in a matter of minutes.
Punto Banco Basics
Punto Banco is a variation of baccarat played with a shoe containing six deck of cards. The name of the game signifies two different sides players can bet on: punto, which stands for the player, and banco, which designates the bank.
At the start of a hand, bets are placed on one of these two outcomes. Alternatively, players can also bet on the tie, i.e. that both sides will end up with the same total.
Once bets are in place, the dealer will draw four cards from the shoe and distribute them to the two spots one card at the time so that both the player and the banker start with two cards. Card values in Punto Banco are the same as in all baccarat variations: 10s and picture cards are counted as zero while all other cards maintain their face values.
When the dealing is done, totals will be calculated for both hands. When the total is over 9, only the second number in the sum will be considered (for example a 6 and a 7 has the value of 3).
Depending on the starting total, both sides may be eligible to receive an extra card. Unlike variations played against other players, Punto Banco doesn’t require players to know these rules at all. The dealer is the only one in charge of handling all the cards and they will draw the third card as necessary.
After this, hands will be compared and the one with the higher total wins. All players betting on that side will be paid even money. However, when betting on the banker, the house will usually retain a 5% fee before paying out because this side has the lower house edge of just 1.06% compared to the 1.24% for the player side.
Punto Banco Strategy
There isn’t much to say in terms of strategy for Punto Banco. Although the game is very popular, players don’t actually get to do much after they had placed their bets. There are very strict rules in terms of when the third card is drawn and this isn’t the matter of choice like in some other baccarat versions.
The only real tactic in Punto Banco is to always bet on the bank because of that smaller house edge. Another thing to consider is the banker fee. In some casinos, it will be lower than 5% or waived completely, which makes the game that much more favorable for the players.
Punto Banco Guides
If there is anything you’re unclear about when it comes to Punto Banco or simply want to know more about the game, we offer a variety of quality guides on the topic.
Why Play Punto Banco?
There are several reasons why Punto Banco is so popular among fans of baccarat. The first and the most obvious one is the simplicity of the game. There is basically no experience required to join a Punto Banco table and play the game. It’s virtually impossible to make any mistakes while playing as long as you know how to place your bets.
The game is quite fast-paced and hands don’t take too long to complete. This is an important factor for many experienced players who want to get as much play as possible during their stay at a casino and don’t appreciate too much downtime.
It is also one of the more popular variations of baccarat found online so there are more options in terms of stakes and different tables. Those who prefer live dealer games often want to play at a table where the dealer is very fast or very friendly and this is much easier to find with a game like Punto Banco than some other less popular baccarat variation.
Top Three Punto Banco Tips
As already explained, there isn’t much to say about strategy in Punto Banco. Stick to these few simple tips when playing and that should be more than enough:
- Never bet on a tie. Unlike the other two available bets, the tie bet in Punto Banco has the house edge of 14.4% so despite the seemingly attractive odds of 8 to 1, it’s not a good bet.
- Keep track of the cards. Although card counting isn’t nearly as effective in Punto Banco as it is in blackjack, you can still improve your odds slightly provided enough cards have been dealt out of the shoe.
- Look for games with lower or no fees when betting on the banker side. This is another very efficient way to improve your odds.
How We Rate Punto Banco Casinos
There are many online casinos offering Punto Banco games, both in their live and RNG versions. We spend a lot of time checking casinos before we recommend them here and the process goes beyond what they have to offer in terms of gaming options. We also look into the overall safety, the quality of the mobile solution, general reputation, etc.
Are Punto Banco games available at online casinos?
Yes. Many online casinos host Punto Banco games and you can play across various stakes, from very low to very high limits.
Can I play Punto Banco against live dealers?
Yes. You’ll find an excellent selection of live dealer tables offering Punto Banco games, available on computers and mobile devices alike.
What is the best Punto Banco strategy?
There aren’t many effective strategies for Punto Banco. Avoid betting on the tie at all costs and, if possible, keep track of the cards for a bit of extra edge near the shoe end.
How big is the house edge in Punto Banco?
For the regular two bets (player and banker), the house edge is 1.06% and 1.24%, respectively. When betting on the tie, the house edge is 14.4%.
Should I always bet on the bank when playing Punto Banco?
Yes. Of the three available bets, this is the most favorable one for the player. However, it’s okay to alternate bets sometimes as the difference between two options isn’t that big.