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The History Of Baccarat

Entertainment, Gambling

Casino chips and cards - Spin Casino BlogSource: ThorstenF, Pixabay

Baccarat is one of the world’s oldest and most popular card games. The endurance of the game is likely down to the relatively low odds that the house has of winning. Baccarat has a history spanning back hundreds of years. The game can still be widely played to this day in both a regular or mobile casino. Let’s take a look at the history of Baccarat and what has made this simple card game stand the test of time.

How Baccarat is played

Each hand of Baccarat is played between two people, the player and the banker. The object for each player is to score on or closest to nine. Players may either bet on the player to win, the banker to win, or may even bet on a tie. It’s important to note that aces count as one, tens and face cards count as zero and all the number cards count as their regular value.

Baccarat at the beginning

The earliest beginnings of Baccarat are very much disputed. One posited theory is that Baccarat has its origins in a Chinese game known as Pai Gow. Pai Gow was however not a card game and was instead played with tiles. The logic behind this theory is that Pai Gow translates to “make nine”, which is relevant as nine is the highest possible score in Bacarrat. This is all just a hearsay theory however.

Another theory is that Baccarat dates back to Ancient Rome. This theory is again based around the number nine. It has to do with a ritual involving vestal virgins rolling dice to determine their faith. Those who rolled an 8 or 9 would get to become high priestesses. Other numbers could either signify the revocation of their vestal virgin title or even result in their death. Though besides the number nine, this theory hasn’t really got a leg to stand on.

It’s more likely that the origin of the game has its roots in 13th century Italy. Marco Polo returned to Italy from his travels to the East in the 1290s. Polo brought back a Chinese technique for making Pai Gow tiles using a stamp made from a wooden block. This may have helped to start the development of the game in Europe. Roland Scheicher, Wikimedia

The game takes shape

The big game changer would come after the invention of the printing press. Before this time games of chance had been rare due to the difficulty in making cards. However, the printing press made the creation of cards much simpler. Card games began to flourish, and some games not played with cards were adapted into card games. Baccarat was one such game.

It’s believed that while Baccarat may have its roots in Italy, it's likely that the game really took shape in France. The game was brought to France by soldiers returning from war in Italy in the late 1400s. Baccarat quickly caught on and became very popular among French aristocracy. Even after gambling was outlawed it continued to be played in secret. There were initially two different versions of Baccarat in France. One was called Baccarat en Banque and the other was Chemin de Fer.

Crossing the Atlantic

Although Baccarat is a popular casino game these days, that wasn’t always the case. While many of the first reports of Baccarat being played in America date back to 1911, there’s a good chance that it was actually played much earlier than this. Some reports go as far back as 1871. However, Baccarat is generally considered to have become formally entrenched in the early 1900s. Though Baccarat had landed in America, it was not as popular as other casino games like Blackjack or Craps.

Baccarat did not become a major casino game until 1959. This came about when Tommy Renzoni introduced a new version of the game called Punto Banco to Las Vegas. This version came from Argentina and would eventually become the version that is most widely played around the world today.

Modern Baccarat

In more recent times Baccarat has become more accessible than ever. Playing in an online casino allows players to play Baccarat from virtually anywhere.

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