Baccarat’s Fascinating Casino Games Origins

Baccarat playing cards and casino chips; JackpotCity Casino Blog
Source: ThorstenF, Pixabay

There are some casino games that have really survived the test of time. Baccarat, for example, is old enough to have seen the sinking of the Titanic, both world wars, the invention of electricity, and even existed before indoor plumbing. It was even the game of choice of James Bond, which says a lot about an interesting legacy that has been brought down over time.

So yes, baccarat is a real phenomenon, and the fact that Canadian players still play it today alongside other casino games online is truly amazing.

Like everything that has been around for 500 years, the history of baccarat is long, convoluted, and involves a lot of tragedies along the way. Of course, the game was not really responsible for the tragedy, but it was there to witness the events.

Let's take a look at the history of one of the oldest surviving casino games in the world.

The 9 Sided Dice

In the 14th century, an Italian named Felix Falguiere created a game he called Baccarat, which means zero in Italian. The name was derived from the rules of his new card game, in which all 10s and royals had a value of zero.

Not a grim tale so far, until you consider where the morbid Italian took his inspiration from.

It turns out that Felix was familiar with an Etruscan legend. It is said that a young virgin was faced with both a dilemma and a 9-sided dice. She was to roll the dice, and if she beat the odds and hit an 8 or a 9, she was allowed to become a priestess. If a 6 or a 7 appeared, she was allowed to live, but was no longer allowed to participate in the religion to which she had dedicated her life. If rolling lower than a 6 she was tossed into the ocean and drowned.

Fortunately, casino games never involve anyone being thrown into the ocean!

Old playing cards; JackpotCity Casino Blog
Source: michi2084, Pixabay

Over To The French

Baccarat reached France from Italy.

As usual, the French quickly disposed of a word that was not specific to their language, threw the term baccarat into the ocean and replaced it with something longer and less pronounceable Chemin de Fer.

King Charles VIII was so impressed that he immediately adopted Chemin de Fer, introduced it to his noble friends, and decided to make it a national trend, or at least as national as it could be at that time, which meant that most aristocrats played while ordinary citizens looked on with envy.

At one point, Chemin de Fer seeped into the lower classes, making it one of the most popular casino games in the country. However, it was still widely regarded as a game played by wealthy aristocrats, and this reputation of noble preference remained with Chemin de Fer when it finally left France and travelled elsewhere in the world until it landed in Britain.

A Mister Ian Fleming, born in 1908, learned the rules of this new game in a casino. But more importantly, he was also captivated by its reputation as a game for the rich and influential, so he decided that it would be a great addition to a story he was working on; published in 1957, Dr. No was a spy thriller based on the card game Baccarat, with main characters consisting largely of the wealthy upper classes of Britain.

Punto Banco

In order to increase the timeline a little, Chemin de Fer also made it to South America.

Some rule changes were made, but the core mechanics remained the same: Punto Banco moved north from South America, came to the United States in the 1950s and joined the many casino games played by Americans.

But since the game was not as popular as more popular casino games such as roulette, American amusement arcades pulled a marketing trick. They decided to restrict the game from Punto Banco to certain rooms, allowing only high minimum bets, and as such it was not long before the game was again favoured by wealthy high rollers.

Baccarat Now

Today with casino games online dominating the industry, the days when gambling was reserved exclusively for a certain class are over. Anyone can play whatever casino games they want, choose minimum bets and only need a device with an Internet connection to participate.

Even James Bond, who is now known for playing poker instead of baccarat, moved on. However, Baccarat, Chemin de Fer Chemmy and Punto Banco are still involved in virtually every game in the world.

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