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Play or Pass Baccarat Shoe

A. Antonova (editor) |

Basics of Shoe Handling in Baccarat Games

Play or Pass Baccarat ShoeLand-based casinos most certainly know how to give the baccarat table a sophisticated look, which may sometimes intimidate regular casino visitors. With the game often being played in secluded areas on the casino floor, and high-rollers being the predominant participants in the game, we cannot blame you if you feel like you cannot join the game. While the history of the game indicates that baccarat was indeed a game for the upper class, nowadays, it welcomes all sorts of players, with betting limits often fitting even low-stake gameplay.

If you have visited a casino hosting American-style baccarat, then you have probably noticed that cards are handled by the players, with everyone on the table taking turns dealing the cards. While this may seem intimidating, it is simply a part of the excitement, as everyone at the table has the chance to play the Banker in baccarat. Of course, if you are new to the game or do not feel confident, you can pass the shoe to the next player. However, if you want to join the baccarat play during your next casino visit, we can help you learn the correct way of handling the shoe.

The Baccarat Shoe

Baccarat ShoeThe shoe in baccarat is just like any other with the exception of its role in the game. That is something you will be able to experience only in brick-and-mortar casinos as this feature is simply not included in online variations of the game. They are still faithful to the original but it just is not quite as easy to duplicate this detail as it may seem. Frankly, it would also be a bit pointless.

Well, let us stop beating around the bush and get to it – the shoe in baccarat is passed from player to player, going around the whole table from the numbers 1 to 12, or as many seats as there are at the table. The player who has the shoe is now the Bank, however, that does not make them the opponent of all other players. Being the Bank also does not mean that you cannot place a bet on the Player’s hand. While the Bank keeps winning, the shoe remains with the same player until the Player side wins and the shoe is passed to the next player. It should be noted that this shoe rule applies only to Punto Banco variations of baccarat, with other variants of the card game may not have players taking the Bank side.

So, the shoe is passed from player to player and this is why having such a feature present in an online game is pointless. Usually, the online versions of any given game are not multiplayer ones. Even with a multiplayer game, the point would be kind of lost. You already have the ‘Deal’ button in most games, so you would have to redesign the game so that only one player at a time can press that button. This is still just entirely pointless because you do not actually draw the cards. You do not have the shoe. The software has it and does it all, so you can see how this would be entirely useless.

It is important to point out that familiarizing yourself with the functions of the shoe in baccarat is only necessary if you wish to play in a land-based casino. In online versions of baccarat, and even live ones, the role of the shoe has been removed. Of course, knowing how many decks are in the shoe while playing live baccarat will certainly help you. You can usually find this information in the ‘Help’ section of the live baccarat game of your choosing and employ a strategy of your liking.

Number of Decks in a Baccarat Shoe

Number of Decks in a Baccarat ShoeThe usual number of decks in a baccarat shoe is 8, although you may also find games with 6. This is crucial for any baccarat strategy and is the reason why players are allowed to keep track of the game. In fact, they are provided with a scorecard and a pen by the casino, at least in most cases. If you join a game, later on, it is also acceptable to discretely ask to check the scorecard of another player. Scorecards are also present in live versions of the game.

The chances of you winning increases or decreases based on how many decks a shoe contains. Your win also depends on how many shoes you have played. Naturally, betting strategies are also based on whether the Bank or the Player has had more winning hands. Of course, knowing any or all of these does not mean that you can predict the predetermined order of the cards in the shoe but it definitely does not hurt your chances. This is why you need to be as informed as possible when playing this game.

Who Handles the Shoe

Who Handles the ShoeAs we already mentioned, the players handle the shoe and become the Bank. However, you may choose to pass the shoe to the next player. Whoever handles the shoe has to know how to handle it because any mishaps can be perilous to players’ strategy. It is of the utmost importance to first learn exactly what to do and what not to do when you are handed the shoe.

Every single player at the table gets the chance to be the Bank and deal but it is not mandatory. If you do not feel like it, or, for whatever other reason, you do not want to deal, you can simply pass it to the next player. You can even ask the croupier to deal in some cases.

So, the Bank handles the shoe but every player can be the Bank. You can place bets while you are the Bank and you do not have to bet on “your own” hand. We put it this way because this game is far from being that personal. No matter how many players are at the table, only two hands exist in baccarat – the hand of the Bank and the hand of the Player. They may as well be called Joseph and Linda, or Rosie and Marie, it just does not matter. The Player is not really the player, the Bank is not the casino. Simple as that.

As previously stated, the shoe in live casino games does not share the same function and one could argue that the lack of such features is what makes those games hassle-free. In live casino variants of baccarat, the shoe is handled by the designated dealer presented before you. This certainly simplifies the game, however, for some that is one of the key elements of baccarat that make the game more enticing. When the shoe is considered, we can conclude that baccarat is one of the games that offer two very different experiences in land-based casinos and online.

How to Handle the Shoe

How to Handle the ShoeThe player with the shoe – the Bank, has to gently, slowly and carefully take out cards and slide them across to the dealer, in this case, referred to as the caller. If the Bank does anything that could potentially mess up the order of the decks within the shoe, they are reminded by the caller to stop. In some cases, you may get more than a reminder, especially if the deed is already done. Simply make sure that what you are doing is correct and meet eyes with the caller if you are hesitant about something. They will understand and will help you.

The player who has assumed the role of the Bank and is dealing the cards does nothing more than take them out very carefully and keep them face-down throughout the whole time. The actual dealer, referred to as the caller in this case, calls the cards and winners and will most likely also gesture for you to draw more cards if you miss a rule or two.

The point is, that the role of the player holding the shoe is doing some mechanical work. You do not make decisions because they have already been made by the rules. You may as well be a robot. The only 4 things you can do in baccarat are betting on the Player’s hand, betting on the Bank’s hand, betting on Ties, and keeping or passing the shoe.

So, to put it plainly, the player who has the shoe must be entirely acquainted with what they can and cannot do as well as with the rules, and yes, they vary depending on where you are playing, so it is advisable to always check them before joining a baccarat game. If you accidentally take out even just one card more than you should, it is covered and burned. Naturally, this is a huge problem for players because this way they will have one more variable in their calculations.

When to Pass the Shoe

When to Pass the ShoeeYou must, of course, also know when to pass the shoe. As long as the Bank keeps winning, the shoe remains with the same person. However, if they lose, the shoe is passed on to the next player clockwise. So, if you are the Bank and your hand loses, you pass the shoe. Every player gets the chance to deal. This is the basic progression of the game but there are also other times when a player must pass the shoe.

It is worth mentioning that there is another order of passing the shoe as well. Sometimes you have to pass the shoe to the player with the highest winning bet. This depends on the casino’s rules, so this is another reason to take a look at them before you join in.

As we already said, if a player does not know how to properly handle the shoe, then they definitely must not. Just one mere beginner’s mistake can completely ruin the strategy of experienced players. It can disrupt the gameplay of the entire table and most players who use a betting strategy will probably not bet until the next shoe. So, the bottom line is quite simple – if you do not know what to do with the shoe, kindly pass it to the next player.

This does not mean that you should never try, it simply means that you need to be familiar with the rules before you do. You may also wish to gain some experience first, so as to build your confidence. It is a simple job, sure, but a single tiny mistake on the Banker’s side can be disastrous for a game.

Simple Mistakes to Avoid

Baccarat Mistakes To AvoidWe mentioned the most obvious of all mistakes to avoid which is removing more cards than you should. This is extremely basic but it only takes a slip of the hand or the mind. So always make sure you have both in check. If you have been playing for hours and are exhausted, take a break, or pass the shoe. It is a bad idea to take on the role of the Bank when your mind is drifting away.

Never remove the plastic shoe out of the cushioned rail. You may only remove cards when the rules dictate it and when you have been given the green light from the caller. If you try to do anything more than that, the whole game may be put to an end right there and then.

Another rookie mistake is looking at the cards you have drawn. Even though you are the one dealing the cards, they can’t be revealed just at any given point, and you need to know when that is, and if you are the person to do that. It is crucial to understand the simple rules of the game. You will usually have the chance to look at them at any time and check what you are supposed to do in any and all cases.

Your job as the Bank is to deal 4 cards and 4 cards only unless the rules call for a maximum of 2 more. The first card you draw is placed in the center of the table face-down. This is the first Player card. The second card that is drawn is placed right next to the shoe, also face-down, and is the Bank’s first card. Then the third is for the Player’s hand as well and must be moved to the center of the table without being revealed. Lastly, the second card that completes the Bank’s hand is placed next to the shoe and remains face-down.

As you can tell, here there are only two hands, regardless of how many people are playing. The Player and the Bank could as well be called anything else because, unlike blackjack, not every player gets a hand. Your only decision is what to place a bet on. That is all. The only other decision you have left is to keep or pass the shoe.

Card-Handling Techniques

Card-Handling TechniquesWhen speaking of card-handling, we must clarify that we are not going to talk about the Bank’s card-handling techniques, but the player with the highest bet. This is something worth discussing if you wish to play baccarat in a land-based casino. The player with the highest bet is given the chance to look at the hand they have chosen before everyone else. The way they handle this matters, especially in games that dictate that the highest bettor gets the shoe.

There are two main card-handling techniques that we will examine here, the first one being the standard and simplistic American/European technique, while the second is the Asian technique. The first technique is quick and efficient. The player quickly looks at the cards and may choose to call out the count, or exclaim, or whatever seems appropriate for the setting. The key is efficiency and speed. If the majority of players have a lot riding on the same bet, though, it is quite alright to make some noise.

The Asian technique, however, is built around the need for suspense. The player slowly takes the cards and examines them one by one, as slowly as possible, giving other players hints as to what the cards may be only through their body language. There are different ways to reveal the cards and ways to create suspense even for yourself.

For instance, if you take one card and start slowly bending it at the smaller end, you will be able to see only a portion of the card first, which will only indicate what the card may be. This way you first have a few options, then fewer, then fewer, until you know exactly which card it is you are holding.

Not a lot of casinos allow this, though, because it would need to use new decks for every game – if all the cards get bent and damaged, they are no good. In fact, some casinos specifically prohibit this technique. However, if you have placed a gigantic bet, which in this case would mean in the range of $10,000, feel free to employ this technique. If your bet is large enough to be recognized by the casino as such, then you will be allowed to use whatever card-handling technique you want.

Otherwise, at tables that are not meant for high-rollers and have a small buy-in of $5 or $10, this is not really a choice players are faced with. This is so because in most such cases, the callers just go ahead and call the result without handing the cards to any player.


ConclusionDespite the fact that the shoe’s significance to the game of baccarat has been omitted from the online gambling world, it still remains a feature of the land-based casino experience. It is important to take that into consideration if you wish to switch from online to brick-and-mortar.

Even in live casinos, the role of the shoe is different and cards are dealt only by the dealer on the screen before you. It still has some importance to the game, along with how many decks it contains, however, the players cannot deal in this case.

Knowing how to go about playing baccarat in a land-based casino mostly revolves around the shoe. There is no reason to be intimidated by this game because it is quite easy to grasp. The rules are precise and the game basically plays itself. Whether you decide to take the shoe and deal the cards is of no importance to your chances of winning. It only contributes to your gaming experience.