As with many casino games over hundreds of years, the exact origins of a game tend to be elusive, and the game of baccarat is no exception. What we do know, though, is that it has a long and interesting history.
We can be sure that the name baccarat comes from the Italian word for zero, which is ‘baccara’, so it certainly appears to have an Italian connection. Some historians credit its creation to Felix Falgeierein, who was a famous Italian gambler in the 15th century. The game he invented was played using a deck of Tarot cards.
The game traveled to France, where its reputation as a game for royalty began, becoming a popular game at the court of King Charles VIII.
It continued to be popular with the French, who also played variations of the game Baccarat – Banque and Chemin de fer – though you won’t find them at online casinos. The big difference between the two games is that in chemin de fer is, the players each take turns to be the banker and can bet against each other. It would be hard to recreate this at an online casino, but Chemin de fer is still played at some land-based casinos, especially in Europe.
The first country in the Americas to embrace baccarat was Argentina, where they named the game Punto Y Banco [player and banker]. It was popular here in the 1950s and soon grew even more popular in Cuba, a thriving place for casino gambling in the pre-Castro era. With the name now shortened to Punto Banco, Tommy Renzoni, a casino player, junior hotel manager, and writer, brought baccarat to Las Vegas, where it debuted at the Sands hotel in 1959.
It soon became the game of the elite with jet-setters and high rollers playing high-stakes games behind cordoned off areas and private rooms in casinos.
The only glimpse of baccarat for most people was in movies and novels. The first James Bond novel Casino Royale had its entire plot based around a game of Baccarat Chemin De Fer in a French casino. In some of the earlier films, such as Dr. No and Thunderball, baccarat was 007’s game of choice, but the more popular Texas hold’em poker replaced baccarat in the 2006 Daniel Craig Casino Royale movie.
While nowadays it is a game that anyone can play at an online casino, it still has a certain charm and allure about it. If you want to play a fast, high-octane card game that is simple to learn, then look no further.