Whether you choose to play at home or at a casino, online or using a physical deck of cards, there are literally dozens of different card games you can learn. While some have practically disappeared with the sands of time, others, like poker or blackjack, have been around for hundreds of years and seem to get more popular with each new generation of players.
Baccarat is a game that lies somewhere between these two, and its popularity has gone through peaks and troughs over time. The game is easy to play, and the set-up and gameplay are ideally suited to the online world. As a result, it is one of the most popular games to play in online casinos right now, and sites like playbaccarat.xyz provide new players with all the strategy tips they might need. But how did we arrive at this position? Let’s take a look back at the history of this intriguing game.
Italian origins and Macao
Tracing the very beginning of a game is always difficult, as each game is inspired by something else, and you can effectively go back and back through that evolution of inspirations. Most sources, such as that fount of all knowledge Wikipedia, will tell you that baccarat was first played around 200 years ago in France. The truth is a little more complex.
The Italian game of Macao involves trying to make a total of nine, and some people even refer to it informally as Italian Baccarat. However, it could be more accurate to call baccarat French Macao, as there are records of the game being played by Austro-Hungarian soldiers in the mid 18th century.
Even older inspirations
Yet there are some who believe the history of baccarat can be traced back even further. The concept of getting a score as close as possible to nine is core to two games that date back to ancient times. The first is Pai Gow, a dominos-type game that originates in China. Pai Gow literally translates as “make nine,” and the game is still popular in casinos in Asia to this day.
The second link goes back to Ancient Rome. Traditionally, vestal virgins would cast dice and the result would indicate the strength of their faith and their destiny. The best score was eight or nine, meaning she was destined to be a high priestess. Six or seven meant she was not cut out to be a vestal virgin, while any other number, in the typically dramatic style of the times, meant she must walk out into the sea and drown herself.
The similarities with the basic precepts of baccarat are plain to see. Nine is the ideal number, and the further you are from it, the worse the result. However, we can only speculate as to how much influence this Ancient Roman tradition, as well as the game of Pai Gow, had on the creation of baccarat. What we know for sure is that baccarat was first referred to by name in France in the early 1800s, so that is where the trail leads us next.
French baccarat – evolution and revolution
Unlike vingt et un, which became modern blackjack, there is little mention of baccarat being played in the pre-revolutionary days, although the game almost certainly existed back in the 18th century. Yet there is not the same history of it being played by the idle rich is the halls of Versailles. The game only became fashionable in the new republic, and in the 1830s, two versions, Chemin de Fer and En Banque emerged.
The first translates as “railway” and remains the most popular version of baccarat in France to this day. The name dates the game with some accuracy, as France opened its first railway in 1832, and this marvel of transportation was being discussed across the nation in the early 1830s. The second version of baccarat evolved into the “punto banco” version of the game that is played in the USA. The two variations are not drastically different, and you can find out more about them in this player’s guide.
Baccarat in the USA
In 1871, the New York Times painted its readers a picture of the Long Branch clubhouse, where visitors “flocked around the baccarat board.” That is the first reference to the game being played in America. Fast forward to 1899, and there is a report in the New York Times of 20 Frenchmen being arrested for playing baccarat in what must have been a highly dramatic gambling bust.
These anecdotes disprove the popular theory that baccarat was introduced to the USA in 1911, and demonstrate beyond question that the game reached American shores some time in the mid to late 1800s. Yet despite having clearly been around for half a century, the game was not specifically mentioned in Assembly Bill 98, which legalized gambling in 1931.
When Las Vegas began to take on a life of its own, The Sands was the first casino to offer baccarat on The Strip, when it opened its doors in 1958. Yet the Chemin de Fer on offer failed to capture the imagination. By the 1960s, Punto Banco had gained popularity thanks to Tommy Renzoni, who actually imported the game from Argentina. This is the variation that remains most popular to this day.
Renzoni is often credited as the man who brought baccarat to the masses, but he had more than a little marketing help from across the pond. In 1953, UK author Ian Fleming penned a certain novel that would secure the game of baccarat’s place in popular culture.
Popular appeal and the most famous baccarat game ever
In Casino Royale, we are introduced for the first time to James Bond. His mission is to take on criminal kingpin Le Chiffre at the baccarat table of an exclusive casino, clearly modelled on Casino de Monte Carlo, and to make sure his adversary loses. Ian Fleming, a keen gambler himself, dedicates page after page to explaining the rules of the game, expounding different strategies and finally talking us through Bond’s encounter with Le Chiffre in minute detail.
From a 21st century perspective, we could argue that Fleming’s novel would have benefited from a slightly more ruthless editor. But at the time, copies flew from the shelves. Casino Royale became an international bestseller, and suddenly everyone was talking about James Bond and the game of baccarat.
This makes it seem all the more bizarre that when Casino Royale finally got the big screen treatment it deserved, the directors chose to swap the game of baccarat for Texas Holdem poker. The reason for this was changing fashions in gaming. But as we will see when we look at baccarat’s recent history, these fashions can cut both ways.
From WSOP to the online revolution
When the World Series of Poker swept the world in the 1980s, Texas Holdem was the only card game that anyone wanted to talk about. Sure, people were still playing blackjack in the casinos, but poker was the game for serious players, while baccarat was considered a throwback to the old days and dwindled in popularity. Nobody would dare dispute that James Bond is a serious player, so from that perspective, Bond director Martin Campbell’s decision makes sense for the time.
If the movie had been made just a few years later, however, baccarat might well have remained the game of choice. As we moved into the 2010s, the internet became flooded with online casinos. In an immensely competitive marketplace, the challenge for the casino platforms was to stand out from the crowd. Offering something a little different is always a good way to do so, and baccarat seemed an obvious choice.
The game appeals to the new brand of online casino players for two reasons. First of all, as a game that is played against the cards as opposed to directly against an opponent, it lends itself to online gaming with a random number generator. Secondly, winning or losing is more about luck and courage than skill. Yes, there is a degree of strategy, but it is more to do with mathematics and betting progressions than the kind of gameplay knowledge you need in poker.
As such, baccarat is a great game for beginners. A little like roulette, having little experience does not set you at a disadvantage, and you stand as good a chance of winning as someone who has been playing the game for decades.
Baccarat’s online popularity has led to it once again becoming a common sight in the real-world casinos of 2020. After all, when someone visits Las Vegas or Monte Carlo today, they want to play the games they have practiced online. And so, what was seen as a throwback to old times just a couple of decades ago is today once again one of the most commonly played casino games. Why not give it a try for yourself next time you are looking for an online diversion or perhaps exploring the Vegas Strip?
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Transcription for academic purposes can seem daunting, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be a breeze. In this guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about transcriptions for school projects, research, and beyond.
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Despite being frowned upon and viewed negatively in society, a prenup is actually a useful and legitimate contract that clearly sets out what happens in case of the death of one spouse or separation of a married couple.
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