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Chemin de Fer

Chemin de Fer, sometimes referred to as Shimmy or Chernay, is a French card game that is often played in European and Latin American casinos. Chemin de Fer, which translates as ‘railroad’, can be played by up to 12 players on the typical Baccarat-styled table. The game got its name from its speed (it’s played faster than the original form of Baccarat). Also, the movement of the shoe as it imitates a train moving around its tracks throughout the game rounds. Historically, it was played at private clubs and it is not something that you will see at online casinos. Read on to learn more about Chemin de Fer and how to play this exclusive card game. We uncover our tips and strategies in our useful player guide and discover all you need to know about the rule and payouts.

What is Chemin de Fer and how is it different?

Chemin de Fer is a game that derives from the Italian game of baccarat. It first appeared in the 19th century. As we have mentioned, it got its name due to the faster pace of the game, and it remains the most popular version in France. It differs from baccarat because the players bet one at a time against one another instead of betting against the house. In the majority of versions of baccarat, players compete only with the bank and not with other players. 

However, in Chemin de Fer, a player can act as a banker, which you will never find in your typical game of baccarat. The croupier gives a portion of the cards to the player/banker who is then able to place his stake that he is willing to bet in front of him. The banker then acts as the dealer and the rest of the players bet against his “bank”. This baccarat game is also set apart from other variations through its flexibility in being able to draw a third card. A player has the option of drawing or staying on five, while the banker's play is discretionary.

How to play – Chemin de Fer rules

Let’s take a look at how to play Chemin de Fer. The concept behind the game is the same as Punto Banco. A dealer will deal out four hands, two to the banker and two to the player which all the other players can choose to bet on. The winner of each coup (hand) will be the player with the total hand value nearest nine. The scoring system is also very similar to Punto Banco with aces worth one point, cards two to nine are worth the value on the card, and tens and face cards are worth zero. If the total value of a particular hand is greater than nine then you simply take the second digit as the total Chemin der Fer score.

Typically, the game is played with six decks of cards that are kept within a shoe which moves across the table in an anticlockwise fashion. The shoe will begin the game immediately to the right of the croupier who then becomes the banker. The banker will then deal all cards and will remain in that position until he or she is beaten in a hand by the player or they pass. When this occurs, the shoe moves anticlockwise around the table and the next player becomes the dealer.

Payouts

You are playing against fellow players in Chemin de Fer, and not against the casino. As such, the payouts work a little differently from many other online casino games. The player who is the banker determines the wagers in each hand. The other players then place their wagers up to and including the amount initially placed by the banker.

If the player achieves a higher total than the banker, all players are paid out in the ratio of 1:1. So, if you were to place €100 and win, you would receive your €100 back plus another €100 in winnings. However, if the banker was to win, all of the players’ losing bets are passed back to the banker and he may continue in his role. In the event of a tie, the bets will remain on the table and be decided on the next round.

The banker will continue until they lose a round or they choose to pass. However, it is considered bad etiquette to pass after one winning game and it is against the spirit of the game of Chemin de Fer, as players should have the opportunity to win their money back. The casino will usually decide on the minimum banker and player bet amounts and this will be in relation to the table you are sitting at, and a game like this can attract high rollers so always check the limits before you sit down and play.

Chemin de Fer strategies and other helpful tips

Like all variations of baccarat, this is a game that is largely based on luck. It is only really when a player’s hand value is worth 5 that they have a decision to make. Sit or stand? Let’s look at some helpful tips to use as the basis of your Chemin de Fer strategy that you can then take into your next game.

GoodLuckMate’s best tips for playing Chemin de Fer are:

  • Pay close attention to other players - Just like in poker, players will have specific styles of play. When presented with the option to draw a card or stand with a hand of 5, pay attention to what each player does. Many players will have patterns that they hit or stand every time, and you can use this information to your advantage.
  • Don’t go over the top - When placing wagers, ensure that you don’t get too carried away. A weak banker hand may see one player have to pay out to several other players from their own pocket. Keeping your bets reasonable and modest will not only remove this worry but also ensure other players stay at the table longer.
  • Ignore streaks - As we have mentioned, baccarat is largely based on luck, don’t get drawn into thinking that you are on a hot or cold streak.
  • Don’t chase losses - A rule that is true of every casino game but worthy of a reminder. Placing larger stakes to try and win money back is never a good idea. Play sensible and bet modestly.

House edge – what are your chances of winning?

Chemin de Fer differs significantly from other versions of baccarat, as we have previously touched on earlier. The main difference is that you are playing against players around you, and not against the casino. The croupier is only on hand to dictate play, ensuring that all the game rules are followed closely and that casino etiquette is upheld. Because you are playing against the players sitting around you and not from the casino itself, the house edge is somewhat different from many other casino games. 

The casino's way of taking their share for players playing Chemin de Fer is via taking 5% from any winning bank payout. The house will only collect a commission on hands that the banker wins. The house itself doesn’t stake any money in the game, so the total of the player’s wagers cannot exceed the stake the banking player has chosen to place.

Play Chemin de Fer at online casinos

The Chemin de Fer game is rarely found at online casinos as they tend to prefer other variants of baccarat, such as Punto Banco due to how fast it can be played. The faster it is played, the more profitable it is for the casino. Despite the fact it is difficult to find online, you should not let this put you off. If you can find a casino offering Chemin de Fer tables you should take up the opportunity as this exciting variation on baccarat is certainly worth playing.

Many real-life casinos will offer you a table to organize your own game of Chemin de Fer. Unfortunately, this is not an option at online casinos. If you are unable to find a Chemin de Fer table online, it is worth trying other variants like Punto Banco, which is often called American Baccarat. This will be available at most of the leading online casinos. Furthermore, if you ever find any free Chemin de Fer online games then be sure to try them out. Giving yourself time to get used to the Chemin de Fer rules and the unique structure of how the game is played will always put you in a stronger position when you eventually play for real money.

Live dealer games vs RNG games

The chances of you finding any Chemin de Fer casino sites online nowadays are slim. This is down to the popularity of the other popular variants of the Baccarat games. The structure of the game is also much more suited to the offline environment. Although, the thought of it being played out with a live dealer does sound interesting. But as of the moment, you will be better off playing the other Baccarat options such as Punto Banco or classic Baccarat.

Playing Chemin de Fer online via live dealers or on a digital RNG game is just not possible. However, we will be keeping an eye out for any casinos that decide to integrate this game into their lobbies in the future. For now, the game will remain in the brick-and-mortar casinos but don’t be disheartened because many other classic card games are waiting to be played online. If you are looking for a new casino to play at then be sure to check out our expert reviews here at GoodLuckMate.

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