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 Casino Knowledge - History of Games

 

All About the History of Baccarat

  • Baccarat (pronounced "bac-car-ah") has long held the attention of gamblers and an early version was played with cards from a Tarot deck back in the Middle Ages.

A more modern variant originated in Italy (Europe) around 1490 and at the present time it is most popular in European casinos. The word baccarat is derived from the Italian word baccara, meaning zero, and refers to the zero value given to all of the face cards and tens. 

In the 1500s, it was introduced to French aristocrats looking for a new and exciting game of chance by their Italian counterparts. They called it "Chemin De Fer," the French term for railroad. In the 1900s, when the game became fashionable on the French Riviera (game of choice for the French nobility), players nicknamed it "Chemmy" or "Shimmy."

Chemin De Fer traveled from Europe to South America and found a new home in Argentina. Casinos in Mar Del Plata (Argentina) became a gambling paradise for wealthy South Americans. When the game reached Cuba, it underwent a rule change that turned it into American Baccarat (in American Baccarat each player bets against the house; in Chemin De Fer, players bet among themselves). In 1958, at Capri Hotel Casino  in Havana (Cuba), a young casino executive named Francis "Tommy" Renzoni, spent countless hours watching gamblers play baccarat.

When Renzoni left Cuba and settled in Nevada, he persuaded the owners of Sands Hotel to open up a baccarat pit. But the game was not an overnight success in the United States. The separated pit and the game’s sophisticated aura intimidated American gamblers, who at this time were mostly craps players who had picked up a liking for the dice during military service in World War II. During that time a special form of Baccarat was introduced in many Las Vegas casinos and the game has become even more popular. In this variation of Baccarat the role of banker is usually held permanently by the House or Casino; only one non-Banker hand is dealt, and bets may be played either with or against the Banker. Its popularity increased steadily in the United States, Australia and England during the past century. Traditionally, the baccarat pit is set aside from the main casino area, away from all of the "common" games, and "common" players.

In February of 1990, the late Akio Kashiwagi, who at one time was the world’s highest roller, made history books when he won over $6 million at an Atlantic City baccarat table. Playing in Atlantic City’s Trump Plaza casino, and betting $200,000 a hand, Mr. Kashiwagi, also known as "The Warrior," put a significant dent in the Plaza’s bottom line for the month. But like all winners, he came back for more. The following May, after six grueling days of playing, Kashiwagi made the record books for the second time. Losing close to $10 million, the Warrior recorded the largest loss at a baccarat table in casino history. 

Now that the internet is fast evolving into becoming a highly diversified meeting place and playground, it has grown to include Online Baccarat. Gambling has now become firmly rooted in the electronic age, so it was only natural that it should gravitate to the Internet in the form of online baccarat. The number of internet users is increasing steadily each week and more money and resources are being poured into the infrastructure. The resulting increase in bandwidth will provide support for a high degree of interaction between users and online baccarat. As this becomes a reality, online baccarat will take a permanent place amongst hundreds of other forms of internet based entertainment.

 

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