Chemin de Fer (which literally means "railroad" in French) is a variation of Baccarat. The main difference is that there is some decision-making involved for the participants. The scoring of the cards is the same as in Baccarat, but the chart governing the game is different in that there are three situations (as noted in the chart below) when there is an option of whether to draw or stand.
Number of Players.
From two to eight people can play.
Eight standard 52-card packs are shuffled together and placed in a dealing box called a "shoe" which releases one card at a time, face down.
In addition to the three options for standing or drawing, the distinctive feature of Chemin de Fer is that the players bet against each other, as opposed to Baccarat, where it makes little difference whether a player backs the Player hand or the Bank hand. Thus, in Chemin de Fer, the player acting as the Bank, in dealing out the cards from the shoe, is actually the banker - that is, the amount he puts up governs how much the other players can wager against him. If one or two players match this amount, the remaining players do not get to bet for that round.
As in Baccarat, the casino makes its profit by taking five per cent from all winning Bank hands. This cut for the house is taken out immediately, rather than at the end of the shoe.
Usually up to eight people play, though in some games, the number can go up to nine or even 12. A game is normally not begun until there are five or six players available. In the middle of the French layout is a square marked "Banque," which is for the banker's bet, if any. Another square marked "Reliquat" is for that part of the banker's bet (if any) that is not covered by all the other players.
Banking the Game.
The player to the right of the dealer (or croupier) is the first banker and places the number of chips he is prepared to wager in front of him. Any player who wants to bet against this player calls out, "Banco!" and matches the same amount. If there is more than one such challenger, priority is given to the player nearer to the dealer's right. If no one calls, "Banco!" two or more players may cover parts of the Bank, and the player placing the most money down gets the privilege of playing the hand. (There are other features of betting that are very detailed and which are played primarily in the European game.)
As in Baccarat, two cards are dealt face down, one at a time, to the player and the banker. If the player has a natural (a total of 8 or 9), he turns over the cards immediately. If the player must draw a card, or with a total of 5 chooses to do so, he says, "Carte," but does not turn over the two initial cards. since exposing the cards would be to the dealer's advantage. The third card, though, is dealt face up for the players or for the dealer, whenever such a card is drawn.
Object of the Game.
The goal is to form, in two or three cards, a combination that counts as close to 9 as possible. Face cards and 10s count 10 or zero, aces count 1, and other cards their pip value. Tens are disregarded in the total, thus, a 5 and a 6, totaling 11, counts as 1.
If a player has a count of 8 or 9 in his first two cards, he has a "natural," and shows his hand immediately. If only the dealer has a natural, the dealer wins all the bets. If only the opponent has a natural, the dealer pays all the bets. A natural 9 beats a natural 8. Two naturals of the same number are a stand-off. When this happens, cards are tossed in, all bets are withdrawn, and players place their bets for the next deal (called a "coup").
If neither the dealer nor his opponent has a natural, the opponent, according to the chart, may receive a third card, which is dealt face up. The dealer, also according to the chart, may draw a third card face up. (Variation: In some games, the dealer and any player who bancos are allowed to use their own judgment as to whether or not to draw a third card, regardless of mathematical advisability.)
When both players have stood or withdrawn, all cards are shown. If the dealer is nearer 9 than his opponent, he collects all the bets. If his opponent is nearer 9, the dealer pays all the bets. If the dealer and his opponent have the same total, all bets are a stand-off and are withdrawn.