Baccarat is an unusually simple game that has been around for years, and to this day remains popular with high rollers around the world. With the increase of the availability of online casinos, Baccarat, in all its forms, has become accessible to anyone and in the last 2 decades it’s becoming a firm favourite of many. As a game to be included at any major casino, it may be a surprise to some that when compared to other table games such as Roulette, Baccarat is actually a relatively new game.
There is some disagreement about where Baccarat originated. Very near to its beginnings it was certainly popular in France, but some sources say that the game originally moved across borders from Italy to become popular with the French. In fact, it has been suggested that the name Baccarat derives from Bacca the Italian word for zero, and is reference to the score of any card or combinations of cards that equal 10.
However, others state that the game is of French origin and was originally spelt without the final ‘t’, which was only later added by English players. Whatever its very early origins, it is generally agreed that the game was first played in the 1400’s in France, and that it took some time to become popular. By the 1800’s however, Baccarat was so popular that the French nobility were its greatest players.
High Rolling Reputation
Despite its relatively simple game play and lack of special techniques, Baccarat has remained a game with a reputation of being one exclusive to the high rollers, and speaks of class and status. So much so, that in his 1953 book Casino Royale, Ian Flemming had his character James Bond play Baccarat at the famous Monte Carlo Casino as the central feature of the plot.
It was in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s that Baccarat moved with settlers to the Americas. It was first recorded as being played in South America, and with the movement of the population up into the southern parts of North America, Baccarat travelled along with it. Interestingly, of the three types of Baccarat, only one type made it across the ocean, and is therefore almost exclusively the only one played in America today.
Popular Types of Baccarat
There are three types of Baccarat and each seems to have become popular in different areas of the world. All originated in France but have moved to different locations and have now become defined by where they are played. The most common type of Baccarat played in England, for example, is baccarat banque or banquet (depending on who you ask). It is also commonly known as ‘two-table’ Baccarat. It has been suggested that the popularity in England started when the Daily Telegraph mentioned it in 1866, and grew from there.
The second type of Baccarat is chemin de fer and refers to a single table. In fact, in France where it is most commonly played it is referred to as baccarat a un tableau, which means ‘on one table’ This is still, to this day the most commonly played version in the country of origin.
Finally the third version is the one most commonly played in the USA, and that is Baccarat Punto Banco. Unlike other versions of the game the house always holds the bank and the dealer plays as any other player in the game does. This is most suitable for a casino environment and might explain its huge spread throughout the American casino world.
Thanks to the online casino industry, which is dominated in many places by American casino culture, this version of the game is the one most commonly played online today.