Aug 2019

Uncover The Mysterious History Of One Of The World’s Favourite Card Games

by Christine in Features category

Baccarat is one of the most iconic casino games around. Made even more famous by featuring heavily in James Bond movies, this card game has a suave reputation. But dig around in its past and the history of baccarat might surprise you.

That’s something we discovered on a particularly sunny evening last week. Why hang out in the sun when you could be doing a deep dive into baccarat? Okay, that probably doesn’t sound quite as appealing as the beach. But at the very least this could make interesting beach reading!

Anyway, we hope you enjoy this history of baccarat and if you’re inspired to go play some, we have just the place. Head over to Bet365 and you’ll be treated to a fantastic selection of baccarat games. Plus if you sign up now, you’ll get a fabulous welcome offer too…

Unknown origins

No one quite knows where baccarat comes from, which is in part why the history of baccarat is so fascinating. It’s thought to be one of the world’s oldest card games, yet the first written account didn’t crop up until the 19th century.

There is some speculation that it could have its roots in China. Pai Gow, although based on tiles and not cards, also has 9 as the top score of the game. There’s no hard evidence of that as an origin, but it’s certainly an interesting theory.

Some scholars also theorise that Ancient Rome is where the game first was developed. This time, it’s based on an old dice ritual where virgins would determine their faith with a roll. Here, the 9 crops up again as the coveted result, indicating the virgin will become a high priestess. But the other options were more grim, including having to drown herself in the sea.

The history of baccarat in the Napoleonic era

Casino gaming was banned in France up until 1907, but that didn’t stop French nobility indulging. In the 19th century, during the Napoleonic era and right up until the early 1900s, French people loved playing baccarat in their own private gaming rooms. That sounds very refined altogether.

The variant they played was called Baccarat Banque and featured in Charles Van-Tenac’s Album des Jeux, which was published in 1847. It was a three-person game, but in time it was overtaken in popularity by the two-player Chemin de Fer, which was also a zero-sum game.

Emergence of modern baccarat

In the modern form of baccarat, the bettor wagers on if they player or the banker is going to win a hand. This form of the game is familiar to most players these days and is called Punto Banco. It was in the tropical climate of Cuban capital city Havana in the 1940s that this developed into a house-banked game.

Viva Las Vegas

Baccarat cemented its name as a major contender in the card games stakes when it arrived in Las Vegas. On 20 November, 1959, the Las Vegas Sands casino became the first place on the strip to offer Punto Banco.

It also saw the owners of the casino swiftly losing $250,000 on opening night. But they decided to stick with it and eventually, of course, made a profit on their new table installation. The house, as they say, always wins. But we’ll still dream!

Not just everyone could go join a Baccarat table in those days though. In fact, even as recently as the 1970s there were only 15 tables on the whole strip. So only Sin City’s VIPs could pull up a seat there.

Online tables are waiting

We’re happy to say that any time we get a hankering for this once-exclusive game, we can now simply play it. Thanks to the advent of online casinos in the 1990s, there are plenty of places where we grab a seat at a baccarat table online.

Like we said before, if you’re looking for one, we’d suggest checking out what’s available right now at Bet365. We don’t think you’ll be disappointed.