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Baccarat: A Brief
In Ian Fleming’s famed James Bond novels, suave British Agent 007
often passes the time in casinos playing chemin de fer, a French
version of the centuries-old card game baccarat (pronounced BAH-kah-rah).
That sophisticated allure still holds sway today, yet the game is
easy for anyone to learn and enjoy this taste of elegant life.
Baccarat began more than six centuries ago in Italy, where it was
played with Tarot cards. The name comes from an old Italian word for
“zero,” the value held by tens and face cards in the game. In the
late-15th century, a standard deck had taken hold, and baccarat soon
gained popularity among the nobility in France. Casinos there
developed 007’s preferred chemin de fer, literally “railroad,” which
describes the way the shoe, the device from which cards are dealt,
travels around the table from player to player like a locomotive.
The game of Baccarat has been misunderstood for centuries. Baccarat
history has been surrounded by mystery and intrigue ever since it
was invented by a group of French aristocrats in the mid 1500’s. As
the story goes, these Frenchmen chose to decide the fate of a young
virgin on the luck of a playing card. If an eight or nine was thrown
down, the young lady would become a member of the aristocracy; if a
six or seven was turned up on the table, then she could no longer
participate in one of her favourite activities, observing religious
functions; if a card with a value of less than six was displayed,
then she would be sent out to “swim with the fishes.” Thus, the
first chapter in Baccarat history had been written.
Folklore has it that a nine was turned up, and she became the great,
great grandmother of Marie Antoinette, who knew a thing or two about
how to treat peasants. But that is for another time.
Baccarat History in the Making
You can see that the noble history of the game of Baccarat still has
maintained its heritage. The game flourished in different European
countries over the next few centuries and different variations of
the original game sprang up. However, the game of Baccarat, as we
know it today, is a variation of the original French “Chemin de fer”
and is popular throughout the European countries as well as in
America. Over time, a number of varied cultures have contributed to
the history of Baccarat.
A Rich Baccarat History Indeed
Over the years, the game of Baccarat has become synonymous with the
rich and famous, and the game for high rollers. If you had to guess
what table a movie star was playing, you’d be correct most of the
time if you said the Baccarat table. Big rollers are attracted to
the Baccarat tables for two main reasons. First, the game was
invented by the aristocracy for the aristocracy, and remnants of
that tradition have remained part of the Baccarat history over the
years. The second reason is that limitations on maximum bets can be
raised by the house at any time. This has wide appeal to the high
rollers of the world.
Online Baccarat is Catching On
The croupier shuffles the cards, and then passes them on, each
player having the right to shuffle in turn. When they have made the
circuit of the table, the croupier again shuffles, and, having done
so, offers the cards to the player on his left, who cuts. The
croupier places the cards before him, and, taking a manageable
quantity from the top, hands it to the player on his right, who for
the time being is dealer, or "banker." The other players are
The dealer places before him the amount he is disposed to risk, and
the players "make their stakes." Any punter, beginning with the
player on the immediate right of the dealer, is entitled to say "Banco",
meaning to "go bank," to play against the whole of the banker's
stake. If no one does so, each player places his stake before him.
If the total so staked by the seated players is not equal to the
amount for the time being in the bank, other persons standing round
may stake in addition. If it is more than equal to the amount in the
bank, the punters nearest in order to the banker have the preference
up to such amount, the banker having the right to decline any stake
in excess of that limit.