Chemin de Fer- The Card Game
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Chemin de Fer- The Card Game

The banking card game of Chemin de Fer is actually the French version of Baccarat. Chemin de Fer is actually French for railroad, as the shoe traveling around the table is likened to a moving train. For the game of Chemin de Fer, six packs of 52 cards are used after being shuffled. A croupier first shuffles the cards then passes them to the players who shuffle them in turn. The player on the left of the croupier cuts the pack, and then hands over a chunk of cards to the player on the right, who becomes the dealer or the banker for that game. The other players are punters, who are supposed to make their stakes, while the banker risks a certain amount that will cover the game.

The banker is the dealer, who deals four cards to all the punters and himself, one card at a time. Any punter starting from the immediate right player next to the dealer can say ‘Banco’, which means to “go bank’, which means that the player bets against the whole stake the banker has laid out. If no one does this, players place their stakes before them. The player with the highest stake represents the punters. If two players call out equally high stakes, then the player first on the rotation is given preference. The object of the game is to bet according to the hand that the players have. The cards in this game that are worth face value are 2-9 of all suits, 10’s and face cards of J, Q, K are worth zero, and Aces are 1 point each. Players have to calculate their scores by adding the card values, but if they are more than 10, then only the unit’s digit is taken. For example if a player has 5 and 7, the value will not be 12 but 2. The highest possible score is therefore, nine.

If a player has either score of nine, which is the highest point in this game, or eight or the next highest, the cards are turned up, and the hand is over. If the banker’s hand is better, then the stakes of the players becomes the property of the bank. The next round begins, with new stakes. If on the previous round the banker is the winner, it is the banker who deals again. Otherwise the player next to the banker in order becomes the banker for this round. If none of the players have an eight or nine, the banker offers a third card, that is when the value of the cards of a punter is 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4, the player accepts the third card. The banker can also take a third card. When all the cards are exposed, the banker together with the points on his cards either receives or pays money. There is no draw, but if points are tied then the stakes are carried out for the next hand. The banker cannot take back any amount won from the bank; this winning amount goes to increase the funds at the bank. In case the banker wishes to retire, s/he can ‘pass the deal’, in which case another player becomes the banker.
May 6, 2008, 8:20 am

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