Baccarat, an Overview

Baccarat has its origins in French and Italian nobility, and although the rules have changed over time and territory, it still maintains a semblance of the elegance and opulence that was so common during the early days of its existence.Baccarat

The History of Baccarat

As with most popular casino card games, the story of its ancestry in not completely certain but one story claims that an Italian gambler, Felix Falguierein, invented the game sometime in the middle ages and first played it with a deck of mystical Tarot cards. According to the folklore of the time, the game "…was based 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."

Around about 1490 AD, in the reign of the French monarch, King Charles VIII, the game was introduced into France and was the exclusive domain of French nobility. The popular French variation, Chemin de Fer, soon became popular in England and the rest of Europe.

In an effort to re-invent the gaming industry in the United States after the Cuban Government effectively closed down the casino and gaming industry in Havana, Tommy Renzoni introduced the game at the Dunes casino in Las Vegas in the late 1950’s. It soon became one of the most sought after casino card games in the Nevada gambling capital.

The Variants of Baccarat

There are three distinct variants of the game:

Punto Banco is effectively the North American equivalent of the original game and is strictly a game of chance. There is no strategy or skill involved and each player’s plays are determined by the cards dealt. In both the Chemin de Fer and Banque variations the opposite is true, as both players can make decisions, which in turn require a certain amount of skill and strategising.

The aim of Baccarat

Baccarat means zero in both French and Italian and is undeniably an extremely simple game. There are only three options which the customer or punter may bet on – Player, Banker and Tie.

The card values are as follows:

  • 2 – 9 – reflect the numeric value of the card
  • 10 & court cards – Zero
  • Aces – 1

Player’s calculate their score by taking the sum of all the cards in hand, modulo 10 – which means that after adding all the cards together the tens digit is ignored. For example 6&7 = 13, but the score reflected would be 3, and in the same vane 4&6 = 10 but the score would be zero or Baccarat. The designated name of the game – Baccarat – is an odd choice as it is the worst hand – zero. The aim is to achieve the highest score, which is nine.