Among all the table games, baccarat probably has the most interesting origin story. The reason why the game’s history makes for a very interesting read is because no one has been able to pinpoint when and how it came about. Here’s one of the more interesting versions.
Imagine a wave of soldiers returning home after a war.
They wish to move on from the grim experience of fighting in the trenches, and they have just the thing to help them; a card game brought back from the land of the enemy. As the game becomes more and more popular among the soldiers, its embers fan to the royal court. The king and queen have a new pastime.
The royal court was that of King Charles VII, and it was the late 15th century. The first step that baccarat took was in the lap of luxury and sophistication. The tide, however, was soon going to turn.
Revolution is in the air, and the French have had enough of the monarchy that has sucked up all the money in the land, leaving them poor and penniless. The revolt of the masses overthrows the aristocracy. Baccarat, however, retains its royal lineage. In fact, the new rulers enjoy the game as much as those before them - especially Napoleon, whose courtiers indulge whenever the chance is afforded to them.
The popularity of the game is such that, even when gambling is outlawed in the mid 19th century, baccarat is played in private homes and is the centre of attention at private gatherings.
Since the game took root during the colonial age, it was only a matter of time before it spread from the continent to other parts of the world. But, before it could take flight, Great Britain became the first stop on the global voyage. The people here took to the game like they would to fish and chips in a much later generation.
The French Chemin de Fer then became the very English Chemmy. The game, however, remained the same, with six decks of cards used. They were shuffled and then distributed around the table to a group of players, with each one of them taking a turn as the ‘banker’ to set the wagering requirement for that round.
The original Chemin, or Chemmy, soon evolved into the Banque version. The number of decks reduced from six to three, though four decks and two are used as well. The main difference was in the ‘banker’ occupying a more permanent position. The player who dared to bet the most in the first round became the banker. In continental Europe, the two versions ruled the roost. There was soon going to be a third act twist; one that changed the face of the game forever.
From continental Europe, traders and voyagers began taking baccarat to wherever they travelled, and soon it landed on the shores of South America. Here, the Latin influence took over, imposing a permanent banker in the form of the casino. Six to eight decks of cards were used to deal out not one but two hands simultaneously.
The game spread fast and quick through the casinos of Havana, and drew the attention of visitors from the United States, who loved the European traditions attached to the game. They then took the game back with them.
As the decades rolled on, baccarat made its way from small-time gambling houses to the big playing ground of Las Vegas, where it came to be known as Mini Baccarat.
These days, online baccarat games can be found on many casino sites, bringing the game to the modern audience of online players. The Punto Banco version is the one that is most often found, and casino fans may have fun trying out something a bit different.
One great thing that online baccarat sites have brought to today’s player is the ability to practise and learn the rules in their own time. Now anyone has the opportunity to be a high roller and make some baccarat winnings, not just the aristocracy.