Baccarat, one of the classy and exciting casino games, enjoyed by many online casino players, does not have clear origins. There are a few different suggestions and opinions as to where baccarat really originated, but none are conclusive.
One such version is that Felix Falguierein originally played the game with a deck of Tarot cards. He was an Italian gambler in the middle ages. There is, however, no proof that this is true.
Some believe that in the mid-15th century, an Italian, Lino Bussoli, developed the basic baccarat rules. Around this time, there were a number of card and lottery games that rose in popularity in Europe. Some say he may have invented the game of baccarat, while others do not believe that he did.
A myth regarding the origins of baccarat is that it was a dice game, based on an Etruscan ritual. The ritual involved a virgin who threw a nine-sided die. If the numbers were either eight or nine, she would become a priestess. If the numbers were five and below, the beautiful virgin would lose the game, and would have to walk into the sea to drown herself. The myth explains that if she got either a six or a seven, she could live, but not roll the dice again.
There are those that believe that baccarat came to Italy from China, since it has many elements that are similar to a Chinese version of drafts, called Pai Gow, where the best score is nine.
Baccarat - Game of Nobles
During 1490 AD, baccarat was considered to be a game for the elite. The game was at first considered to be against the law, so was played in secret, possibly adding to the excitement of the game. Once the game of baccarat was legalized in France, it was taxed, with proceeds used for the poor. The game was banned again during the time of Napoleon and Louis-Phillipe. Baccarat was known as Chemin de Fer in France, and is still known by this name today.
While the game was once again banned in France, it began to become popular in England. Queen Victoria’s son’s playing partner was caught in baccarat troubles. Once this became known, the game gained even more popularity. Baccarat was played both for fun and for money. In England, the rules were changed slightly, and the game became known as European baccarat. The game then traveled to South America.
Baccarat Reaches America
It seems that baccarat reached America in the mid-20th century. Even this more recent baccarat history is somewhat mysterious.
Baccarat first went to South America, and when Cuban government closed Havana casinos, the game went to the Dunes casino in the late 1950s. There are those who argue that perhaps the game first went to Argentina, and then to Cuba.
The game of baccarat was already a fixture in Las Vegas by the 1960s. It became popular as many, often high rollers, were attracted to the game, which was set apart from other games on the casino floor, in the baccarat pit. Dress codes were often observed, and the game became fashionable. When baccarat was introduced to America, the rules were a mixture of Chemin de Fer and European baccarat. Rules were again changed slightly, and American baccarat was born. The American version of baccarat is often known as Punto Banco.
A later version, mini-baccarat, which was played on a much smaller table, and could be played on the regular part of the casino floor, was introduced. Mini-baccarat tables are about the size of blackjack tables.
James Bond Helped Popularize Baccarat
Those who enjoy Ian Fleming’s James Bond movies will most likely remember that baccarat was the casino game of choice for Bond. The movie, based on the book, Casino Royale, is the best example of Bond playing baccarat. However, the game appears in other Bond movies too. Featuring baccarat in famous and popular movies has increased its popularity greatly.
Baccarat vs Blackjack
Since there are some similarities between blackjack and baccarat, many believe that baccarat is based on blackjack. Even though we are very unclear as to exactly where baccarat began, and how it spread to other countries, it is clear that baccarat was around for at least 200 or so years before blackjack. Blackjack, however, was far more popular than baccarat, which could explain why there are so many that think that baccarat had its origins in blackjack.