Among countless card games that people play for money and for fun, there is a “default kit”, a number of games that any casino in virtually any place on the planet is simply bound to have. Baccarat is one of those games. This article gives a summary of rules, types, and history of Baccarat.
Introduction to Baccarat
Baccarat is a very popular card game played in most casinos all over the world. It comes in three standard versions: American Baccarat (“punto banco”), the Chemmy (“baccarat chemin de fer”), and Baccarat Banque (“à deux tableaux”).
Baccarat is played between the player and the banker. The two compare hands, and one that has the higher score wins. The game can also end in a draw (“tie”).
It is not clear when and where Baccarat was created. The common opinion currently is that it was invented in Italy around 1400-s. The game’s name was then “Baccara”, but the French spelling “Baccarat” became more common. The game is said to originate in Etruria, the region in Central Italy that covered what we now know as Tuscany, Umbria, and Lazio. The legend says that an Etruscan lady once had to throw the die. Eight of nine would have made her a priestess, six or seven would banish her from social life forever, while anything lower than six would result in her being drowned in the sea. From this strange ordeal, the game of Baccarat originated.
Another theory, however, suggests that Baccarat was born from Macao, a card game that the sailors brought with them from Asia.
When the game was introduced in France, it became the favorite pastime of king Charles VIII the Affable of the House of Valois. Naturally, the game became insanely popular among the noblemen who would follow their king’s lead. Baccarat went on to travel to England and to the New World. It got the name of “Punto Banco” in Cuba.
In 1950, Baccarat arrived at the Sands Casino in Las Vegas. It was not as popular as poker or slot machine and had to be marketed as a game “not for everyone” that was played in separate rooms with luxurious interiors. The reputation of an “exclusive” game soon turned the tide and attracted attention to Baccarat.
Rules and Variations
American Baccarat, or Punto Banco, is the type of Baccarat that is the most common in Australia, the United State, and Canada. In Punto Banco, the players must bet on which of the two hands, “Player” or “Banker” ends up having a value closest to nine. It is also allowed to bet on the tie. After the players have made their bets, the cards are shuffled and put into a box called the “shoe”. It is passed among the players counterclockwise, and the player with the “shoe” represents the banker, though he or she is not bound to bet on the banker’s hand. Four cards are dealt face down then: two go to the banker, and two to the player that wagered the most money on the player’s hand. After the player has had a look at the cards, they are passed to the dealer and the hand value is announced. The same happens with the banker’s cards.
The Chemmy or Chemin de Fer (“the railway” in French), is a faster-paced game. Again, one player is named “banker” and the others are “punters”. These positions are rotated counterclockwise. As the round begins, the banker must wager the sum that he or she is willing to risk. The players can either “go bank” which means wagering against the entire bank or make their own wagers. Once the bets have been made, two cards go to the banker and the other two cards are held by the players in common. If either party has 8 or nine, the value is announced at once. If not, the representative of the players chooses whether to accept the third card which is dealt face-up, and so does the banker. Both hands are then revealed. If the banker’s hand wins, the position of the banker does not change, but if the banker loses the position is passed on to the next player.
In Baccarat Banque, the banker remains in the same position until all of the cards (three packs shuffled together) have been dealt. After the players have made their wagers, three cards are dealt to the player on the banker’s right, then to the one on the banker’s left, and, finally, to the banker. The hands with the value of eight or nine are announced at once. If there are none, the players and the banker can accept or refuse one more card before all the hands are shown and compared.
Baccarat is the favorite game of James Bond, the famous secret agent who was created by the writer Ian Fleming and has now become one of the cult figures of the Western popular culture. In Casino Royale, Fleming’s first Bond novel published in 1953, the heroic agent plays Baccarat against the villain Le Chiffre. Sadly for Baccarat lovers, the game was substituted for poker in the 2006 film adaptation.
Words: Jelena Schmidt