What is the Tableau?
In the card game baccarat, the tableau is the set of rules by which the banker draws their cards. Also heard as ‘board’ or ‘table’, this standardized rule set is designed for games of punto banco baccarat, where the house acts as the dealer at all times. The rules of the tableau also affect how the player may act against the banker, and the tableau often includes details of payout rates and house edges for each possible hand.
If a baccarat player refers to the ‘tableau’ or ‘table of play’, you can usually assume they are playing punto banco baccarat – the casino version of the popular card game. In a traditional baccarat game played privately or socially, one player per round (or ‘coup’) becomes the designated banker, and faces off against the other player(s). In casinos, players are not permitted to handle the deck for obvious security reasons, so the dealer takes control of the banker position in every round. To ensure the game is fair for players against the house, these dealers follow a strict set of drawing rules – the ‘tableau’.
The aim of baccarat is to have the hand that totals closest to nine, made of two or three cards. According to the tableau, hands that total 8 or 9 make a natural win and should stand, while hands adding up to 6 and 7 will also stand unless the opponent has a higher total. Dealers and players will draw on a hand totalling 0-5. The dealer’s third card depends on the actions of the player when it comes to their own third card. Unlike blackjack, all cards are face up and visible, so all participants know what they are aiming to beat. Hands cannot go bust in baccarat – totals of ten or more use the last digit to make their value.