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The Japanese card game, Oicho-Kabu, is often referred to as a variant of Baccarat due to their similarities. Baccarat is normally a Western card game where players aim to reach a total as close to 9 with two or three cards. For further instructions, check out this guide on how to play baccarat and how to make baccarat side bets.
It’s a common belief that Baccarat and Oicho-Kabu are from the same family of games due to their similar goal: to get a total as close to 9 with two or three cards. Some rules remain the same such as cards going above 10 ignoring the first digit. However, they both play differently.
Oicho-Kabu is normally played with a traditional Japanese Kabufuda deck but it can also be played with Hanafuda cards, another Japanese deck, if the last two months are removed. For Western players, the classic card deck can also be used as long as the face cards such as the Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Jokers are removed, and the Aces are counted as 1.
Before you play, decide what happens during a tie where the player/s and dealer have the same totals. The dealer may either win or all bets can be returned.
Additionally, players must decide what the maximum bet is. The maximum bet is a shared pool of points for all players where the maximum bet is the total sum of all players’ allowable bets. This means that if five players are betting 10 points, then the maximum bet is 50. Any bets that occur in-game will deduct from this total until all players have made their bets. If the first player to bet takes up all the available points, none of the remaining players can follow-up with bets of their own. This is considered rude because none of the other players can make their own bets.
All players first draw 1 card from the deck. This is face-down and only visible to the respective player. Whoever has the lowest value card is the dealer and all remaining players must sit opposite to the dealer, in the same order as they drew their cards, starting from the dealer’s right going to the left, or counter-clockwise.
The dealer will then deal one face-down card to all players. They can check what their cards are to deduce what can happen for the rest of the game. These cards take no part during the game.
The game starts with the dealer playing 4 face-up cards in front of all players, regardless of how many there are. This is referred to as the first field.
Starting counter-clockwise from the dealer’s right, players can bet one by one on any of the four cards. Multiple players can bet on the same card as long as all players do not exceed the maximum bet that was set before play.
Once all bets have been made, the dealer then draws a card and places it face-down in front of them. This is 1 of 2 cards that will later form the dealer’s hand. The dealer may draw from the top, bottom, or 4th from the top of the deck.
Afterwards, the dealer will then draw 4 more cards, face-down, adjacent to the first field called the second field. All players may look at the face-down cards and add the values of the card they bet on with its adjacent face-down card. The goal is still to reach a total as close to 9 as possible so, as mentioned earlier, any total values that go above 9 ignore the first digit. This means that values of 11 or 20 only act as 1 or 0 respectively.
Players are then asked, going in the same counter-clockwise order, whether or not they want to add a third card. Choosing to add a third card creates the third field with its cards face-up. If multiple players bet on a pair, the first player is the only one who chooses whether or not a third card will be added. Because of this, two rules have been put into play.
The first rule is that if the total value is 7 or above, players may not hit and take a third card. The second rule is that if the total value is 3 or below, players must hit and take a third card. This is to avoid issues such as sabotage for players who won’t get to decide on taking a third card or not.
When all players have made their decisions and the third field is completed, the dealer will then draw their second card, following the same draw conditions as the first time. At this point, only the second field and the dealer’s two cards are face-down.
With all players and dealers having their cards completed, all cards are now placed face-up and calculations are done.
Players whose totals are higher than the dealer’s total win and are awarded a payout with the odds set at 1 to 1. On the other hand, players whose totals are lower than the dealer’s automatically lose and get paid nothing.
Oicho-Kabu also has its own set of special rules that all players including the dealer must follow.
The first rule only applies to the players. If the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd fields are all the same value, the player automatically wins and receives a payout of triple their initial bet.
On the other hand, the second rule only applies to the dealer. If the dealer’s first card is a 4 or 9, they automatically win if the second card that was drawn is revealed to be a 1. Regardless of the players’ bets and card total values, the dealer still wins by default. If the first card is a 1 and the second card is the 4 or 9 instead, this rule does not apply and standard rules are still followed.
All in all, the Japanese Baccarat, Oicho-Kabu, is simple to learn and fun to play. You can play it with your standard deck at home with at least 2 players and it’s always going to be a fun time.