Baccarat is definitely one of the most popular card games in the world, but its origins are somewhat shrouded in mystery. While historians have a fairly good understanding of where this game came from, we may never have a definitive answer.
Origins of the Game
The earliest recorded accounts of baccarat date back to the 19th century. Some historians believe that it is an offshoot of Pai Gow, which is an old Chinese game that is now played with cards and dominoes.
It’s also possible that this popular card game started in Ancient Rome. This comes from the ritual that required young women to roll primitive dice to learn their fate. If the woman rolled an 8, she would be assigned the prestigious title of High Priestess.
It is likely that baccarat comes from 15th century Italy. The game that it is thought to have originated from was named “baccarat”, which translates to “zero” in Italian. This was because all of the face cards were assigned a value of zero in the game.
French Adoption of Baccarat
It didn’t take long before the game that we now know as baccarat was adopted by the people of France. In fact, it was played by many wealthy and important people in this country. After a while it eventually spread to the UK, where it became extremely popular among the British.
Part of the initial allure of baccarat in this country was its status as an unlawful activity. It was technically against the law to play this game for quite a while, but that didn’t stop those who really enjoyed it.
Further Expansion and Changes to the Game
The number of people in the world who played baccarat quickly grew as it reached South America. These people called the game “Punto Banco”, and they made a very important change to the rules. Players were only allowed to play against the house. This is the version of the game that is associated with the United States.
Tommy Renzoni is the person who is credited with introducing baccarat to casinos, more specifically The Sands in Las Vegas, Nevada. When it first became available to the public, casinos offered exclusive rooms where people could play for serious money. These games typically had unusually high minimum bet requirements, so only the wealthy played.
Over the next decade or so, baccarat became more of a staple in casinos throughout the United States and abroad. These establishments offered it as a regular game that anyone could play. It was no longer just an option for the rich.
When baccarat first start being played in American casinos, cash bets were accepted. By the 1970s, casinos only allowed players to place their wagers with chips.
While many people definitely took to this game from the start, it has never quite reached the level of popularity of some other casino games. The simple yet fun nature of this game is largely responsible for its timeless allure among gamblers.