What’s the Story of Baccarat?

…why is it (Baccarat) all of a sudden so popular? Why do people want to try it out now…?
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Baccarat has been part of the Casino world since, as you will see, unknown times. However, why is it all of a sudden so popular? Why do people want to try it out now and give it a chance when a few years ago it wasn’t even spoken of?

James Bond, baby! James Bond! Baccarat is James Bond’s favorite casino game and we all know that when a super heroe, or in this case, movie hero, has a favorite activity, we all follow in his or her footsteps.

To add special glamour to the game, Baccarat has usually been regarded as a “classy,” high-stakes game frequented by high rollers. It differs from many other gambling games which can require complex knowledge and skills. Instead, Punto Banco – the most common form of Baccarat in the United States – is strictly a game of chance where the player (punto) simply compares his card to that of the bank (banco). You’re literally playing the odds in this game. For your information, there are three major versions of Baccarat in play today:

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Punto Banco: by far the most common form in most casinos; the casino is always the bank in this version.

Chemin de Fer: the original form of Baccarat when it was introduced to France, and still the most popular form there; participants rotate the “player” and “bank” roles whenever the banker loses.

Baccarat Banque: Similar to Chemin de Fer, except the banker role doesn’t rotate until all cards from multiple decks shuffled together have been dealt.

It’s important to also note that many casinos offer “mini baccarat” tables with lower limits. That means the game isn’t reserved to just high rollers, and everyone can enjoy this fast-paced game.

So let’s go back to its roots and understand its history. Although, I warn you… The history if Baccarat can be that it has no history.

The earliest origins of Baccarat are unknown and its beginnings are more obscure than many other games. Some say it was partly derived from non-card games like the Chinese Pai Gow, which was played with tiles.

Others say that perhaps Marco Polo brought the game back to Italy with him in the late 13th century. Certainly most sources claim that Baccarat originated in Italy because, they say, “baccarat” means zero in Italian. That is, however, untrue.

It has been recorded that the first mention in print by a contemporary observer happened in the mid 1800s in France, so wherever it originated, Baccarat definitely made a major detour through France, as so many games of chance have.

However, the version of Baccarat first introduced in Las Vegas was indeed the French Chemin de Fer. Yes, the French version, but it never really caught on. Afterwards, the casino boss Tommy Renzoni, brought the Punto Banco variation to America, after he encountered it in Argentina at the Mar del Plata Casino. Funny enough, the first several decades after its introduction in the mid-twentieth century, casinos employed a “prop player” at their Baccarat tables. Meaning that there was always someone who would play just to keep the action going.

The bottom line of this story is that the game is now fashionable due to our dear James Bond. However, have you played it? Because let me tell you, it is actually an awesome game. I don’t care who plays it or not, I play it because it is try it!

Tonya Hollows

A wannabe professional poker and blackjack player. Incredibly positive and an overall rock n' roll kind of girl. She moved from Canada a few years ago to find new horizons, more related to her gambling skills. Ended up working as a casino hostess in Vegas and then became a full time writer for Palace of Chance.

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