Baccarat History

A look at the roots of baccarat, the evolution of baccarat and how baccarat has developed into many variants – online baccarat and land baccarat.

The Legend of Baccarat

There is an apocryphal tale that the game of baccarat was based on an ancient Etruscan ritual. The fate of a blonde virgin was to be decided by her casting a multi-sided die. If the die showed an eight or nine then she would be made the high priestess. If the die showed a six or seven she would be banned from participating in any religious activity but be allowed to live. If the die showed a number less than a six she would have to take her life by walking into the sea. The game of baccarat has hand values ranging from zero to nine. Hand values of eight and nine are likely winning hands. Hand values of six and seven are iffy whereas hand values of less than six are considered losing hands.

Evolution of baccarat

  • Italy: Baccarat originated in Italy in the Middle Ages. The name means ‘zero’ in Italian and refers to the lowest possible hand value. Felix Falguierein an Italian gambler invented this game, which was first played using Tart cards.
  • France: In the late fifteenth century in the reign of Charles VIII baccarat came to France and immediately caught the fancy of the French aristocracy. It remained popular till it was banned by Napoleon who was somewhat a puritan.
  • England: The game then shifted to England. Though it was played as a gambling game it was equally popular with the non-gambling fraternity and played for fun.
  • America: In the 20th century baccarat crossed the Atlantic and came to America. For a while it was the most popular game in American casinos till it was overtaken by poker.
  • International: In the 1990s baccarat became an international game through the medium of the Internet. All online casinos offer the popular variations of baccarat
  • James Bond: In the later half of the twentieth century the popularity of James Bond movies was instrumental in popularizing baccarat. Many Bond movies feature the game. In fact the first Bond movie, Casino Royale, the plot centers on a baccarat duel between Le Chiffre. Other Bond movies that have baccarat games are Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Golden Eye and Dr. No.

Variants of baccarat

In the different places that baccarat has become popular it has evolved differently. Three versions of baccarat are currently played in land and online casinos.

  • Chemin de Fer: this is the first evolved version of the game that became popular in France. In fact the name is the French for railway.
  • Baccarat en banque: this is more popular in other European, notably England. When Chemin der Fer moved to England the English modified some of the rules to suit them. This version is also known as European Baccarat.
  • Punto Banco: This is the North American version of baccarat. It was brought to the Dunes Casino in Las Vegas in 1958 by Tommy Renzoni. The rules are a mix of Chemin der Fer and Baccarat en banque.