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Chemin-de-fer - An Introduction

A Baccarat style game, sometimes called Shimmy. A table is provided with nine bases in any of which a player may sit, and a place for the croupier. The bases are numbered one to nine anti-clockwise from the right of the croupier, and the occupier of the first base owns the shoe for the first hand (or 'coup' as it is called), acts as banker, and places any number of chips permitted within the limits of the game in the centre of the table as his bank.

The occupier of the second base has first right of play and may stake all or part of the bank. If he does not agree to match the whole of the stake in the bank, the balance can be taken up by one or more of the players round the table and, in fact, if one of these elects to 'go Banco', meaning he is prepared to stake all the money in the bank, he becomes the sole punter and previous partial stakers must remove their stakes and cease to have any interest in that coup.

The banker then deals to the punter (nearest player to him with the greatest stake) assisted by the croupier with his spatula, one card face down, then one card face down to himself, then another card to the punter and one more to himself. Both banker and punter inspect their cards, and if either has an aggregate of 8 or 9 the cards are immediately faced for a show down and no further cards can be drawn.

If neither turns up his cards and the punter has 6 or 7 he keeps his cards face down and declines to take another card. If he has 0,1,2,3, or 4 he must ask for another card which the dealer gives him face up, so that he becomes aware of what it is. If he has a 5-count he is in an a volente (optional) situation and may either stay put or take a card. After serving punter with another card or not as the case may be, dealer then turns both his cards up and must either draw one card or stay put as laid down in the following chart according to his own holding and the value of the card, if any, given to the punter.

Chemin-de-fer - banker's play

 having draws   if giving   does not draw if giving   optional 
 0,1,2   always draws    
 3  1,2,3,4,5,6,7,10   8  9
 4  2,3,4,5,6,7  1,8,9,10  
 5  5,6,7  1,2,3,8,9,10  4
 6  6,7  1,2,3,4,5,8,9,10  
 7  never draws  any card  

Stakes are won by the hand with the highest total (nearest to 9) and if banker and punter have the same total it is known as egalite and no stakes pass, the banker retaining the shoe for a repeat coup. Whenever the banker wins a coup he may either retain the shoe or pass it, whenever he loses a coup he must pass it one space anti-clockwise.

Any player may refuse to operate the shoe and provide the bank when it is his turn to do so, and it then goes to next in circuit. Winning chips by the banker are added by the croupier to the bank, and if it is a casino game they are taxed 5 per cent as casino commission. The banker may at any time ask for some of the chips in the bank to be garaged (withdrawn from the bank as winnings) and he may at any time pass the bank and withdraw all his winnings. Winnings by punters suffer no casino tax. A losing punter who has played 'Banco' on the previous coup may call 'suivi' for the next coup and in doing so has first right of playing 'Banco'.

Shimmy is more often played in private clubs than as a casino game. 50.67% of the coups are on average won by the banker, 49.33% by the punters, a winning edge to the bank of 1.34%.