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Baccarat History

The History of Baccarat

To most people, the game of baccarat conjures up images of glamorous women and suave men and, of course, martinis (shaken, not stirred). Contact with a baccarat table comes most often via a movie screen, and the person usually associated with the game is a fictional character — Bond, James Bond.

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However, although the master spy is a figment of Ian Fleming's imagination, the game of baccarat is real, very real.

Baccarat (pronounced bac-car-ah) may not be as elusive and out-of-reach as it seems on the silver screen, but it is, undeniably, the casino's most prestigious and stylish game. True, it has been brought to the masses with the advent of online casino gambling, but in real casinos the world over it is still placed in a discreet, quiet corner of the room, separated and roped off from the riff-raff and commoners. In this way, the game of baccarat retains its aura of exclusivity and uniqueness despite being a game that anyone can play and enjoy.

Early Baccarat History

In reality, baccarat predates Secret Agent 007 by several centuries, although its exact origins are unclear. Although the name, baccarat, sounds French, and some will argue that the game did, indeed, originate in France, most scholars of baccarat history agree that baccarat's origins lie in Italy. In fact, the game was born in that country in the mid-15th century and it has remained popular on the European continent ever since. The Italians called it "baccara," the Italian word for zero (since most of the cards in a baccarat deck hold a point value of zero). Baccarat lore has it that an Italian by the name of Felix Falguierein was the first baccarat player.

Not long after the game was invented in Italy, it was introduced to the French, who called it Chemin de Fer (and also claimed it as their own). By the early 1500s, the game was a hit in France, and no self-respecting Riviera casino — then or now — would be caught without a baccarat table. One of the unique twists of Chemin de Fer is that the casino does not play the role of banker; instead, the players take turns being banker. In order for the house to make money, it takes a cut of all winning hands. This version of baccarat is still played in France today. In England (where the game eventually migrated), the dealer controls the bank and the casino, in turn, finances the baccarat dealer.

Baccarat in America

Only in the mid-1900s did baccarat make the long voyage across the sea from Europe to South America and then to the U.S.A, where, interestingly enough, it never quite caught on as it did in Europe. In Cuba, however, it underwent yet another metamorphosis and, with a few rule changes, it became known — very well known — as Punto Banco (or American baccarat). Although the game found its way to Las Vegas a few years later, introduced by a casino manager by the name of Francis "Tommy" Renzoni, it never really caught on and, even today, baccarat fans may have to spend some extra time searching The Strip for a game of baccarat.

Baccarat Moves to the Internet

Finally, in the 1990s, baccarat made the move to the Internet along with just about every other casino gambling game. This move ushered in a new era in baccarat history. Now, regular people around the world can play baccarat online and try their luck at trying to win at baccarat. There are literally hundreds of internet baccarat casinos. It is far easier to find an online baccarat game than it is to find a corded-off baccarat corner in Las Vegas or Monte Carlo. With the comfort and convenience of playing at your computer, and without the intimidation and standoffishness of the casino baccarat room, the game of online baccarat is sure to attract a whole new set of baccarat fans around the globe.

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