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Home / Baccarat / History
The History of Baccarat

There are many debates pertaining to the history of baccarat, particularly where the game was invented: France or Italy. It's difficult to trace back the origins of this game mainly because slight variations of it name are used in both countries, each wanting to claim it as theirs. According to many, the game was first invented in Italy by a gambler Felix Falguiere, where it acquired the Italian name 'baccara', meaning zero in English. It's been suggested that the game was first played with a deck of Tarot cards in the middle ages. It was later on introduced in France around 1490 A.D. and remained an exclusive game to the French nobility for some time before becoming a casino game. Eventually, baccarat evolved into European baccarat and the French game 'chemin de fer'.

Chemin de fer is very similar to baccarat as it's played in American casinos today. The difference is one of the players banks the game instead of the casino. The title of banker rotates around the table in a manner similar to the dice at a craps table. The interesting bit to observe of course is that the casino is taking no risk here; they simply charge a fee from each banker.

Falguiere based the game on an old Etruscan ritual of the nine gods, who prayed to a blonde virgin on their tiptoes waiting for her to throw a nine-sided die. The result of the die decided her fate. If an eight or a nine was thrown, she would become the priestess; if she threw a six or seven, she would be banned from any further religious activities; if she threw any number less than six, she would walk into the sea. The basis of this game is very similar, but the rules and payoffs are much less dramatic.

The Baccarat we know today originated in Great Britain and was then passed along to South America and finally to Nevada. The infamous Dunes casino introduced baccarat in the late 50's. There exists quite a diversity today, especially so since it has made its way onto the world wide web. Although a few rules have been changed here and there to accomodate the individual taste of a certain country, the style has remained the same. It has kept it's elegant trait and is still one of the most appealing games to the well situated individuals in our society.

Baccarat has a history overseas too, which is evidenced by its popularity among the Asian population who visit Las Vegas each year. The highest of the high rollers often come from overseas to try their hand under the chandeliers of the stylish Vegas baccarat rooms. In casinos based in the Portuguese territory of Macao, near Hong Kong, the popularity of baccarat is unrivaled. Unlike the heavily ordered and systematic American casinos, these Portuguese tables often allow multiple players to bet on a single spot at the same time, while the expert dealers mentally keep track of each players commission on winning bank bets.

A number of casinos have installed a smaller version of the baccarat game played on standard blackjack-sized gaming tables. It is played by the exact same rules, but lacks the accoutrements of the formal version. The table is staffed by only one dealer who is responsible for handling the cards. The layout, however, conforms to the regular baccarat table and each of the seven seat positions correspond to a number and betting box with spots for banker, player, and tie. The limits are lower and usually range from a $2 to $5 minimum, up to $500 maximum. Lacking the formality and large group of players, mini-baccarat is played fast and is a good place to learn how to play.

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