It’s Sun Tzu, Chinese General and author who once said you must “know thy self, know thy enemy…” in order to win “a thousand victories.”
We’re not sure us telling you the history of Baccarat will win you 1,000 victories, but maybe it could help you win a thousand bucks?
The 500-Year Old Game
Baccarat is the senior citizen of casino games. While games like Blackjack are recorded as starting up in the 17th century, Baccarat is said to have been around since the pagans were running things. They used the game to decide the destiny of young blonde virgins… seriously.
The virgin would use the game to decide whether or not she became a priestess. If she tossed an eight or a nine, she was to become a priestess at the temple. A seven or eight got her banned from any further religious activities. Roll a six or less… she must die. Man, now that’s gambling!
The game seemingly disappeared for some time after that – we assume from a shortage of blonds or overall participation – and didn’t pop up in the world again until 1480.
Italian gambler Felix Falquierein supposedly re-invented the game, calling it Baccarat – the Italian word for zero. It was called this because so many cards in the game equal zero, specifically every card between 10 and King.
Over the next 10 years the game spread all across Europe and the East, specifically becoming popular in France. French yuppies made the game their pastime, renaming it Chemin de Fer and changing some of the rules. Because of that, they claimed the game as their own creation (those snooty French). One of the main rules added was giving each player the opportunity to be the banker and giving the casino a percentage of each game.
Over the following centuries the game got tossed around like a Kid Rock groupie. It regained its original name after gaining popularity in England, popped up and fizzled out in the United States early in the 20th century, then settled in Argentina and Cuba.
The game made a comeback in American culture at the hands of Tommy Renzoni (who, we assume by his name, is Italian), bringing the game to many Las Vegas casinos. Still, it was seen as a game for yuppies, but the online gaming revolution in 1996 killed that image.
Today, you don’t have to sit next to some rich, snobby, noblemen in order to enjoy the game. Almost every online casino offers it; ensuring that Baccarat will be around for another 500 years. Hopefully during that time the virgin sacrifices won’t make a comeback.