The Origins of Baccarat: Tracing Its Royal Beginnings


Baccarat, whose relationship with blackjack is coined as its cousin, is recognized in Asia as a highly popular game that is similar to the well-known one in Europe and USA. It is widely liked because of its reliance on luck, which is different from blackjack for which people admire the strategy. Strategy is at the forefront for blackjack, not luck.

As Macau and Las Vegas are operated by various casino owners, baccarat has provided much revenue to every city. In 2013, revenue from VIP baccarat tables on The Strip of 48.2% was from table games. Until Q3 in 2020, 73% of total gaming earnings of Macau came from VIP baccarat, indicating its power over intoxicated wealthy gamers who are willing to risk and play big.

However, baccarat, being an outstanding gambling venue, has an envelope shroud made about its initial appearance. But as little we have concrete evidence, historical evidence are given us some indications which speak about its beginnings (i.e. origins).

Potential Ancient Beginnings of Baccarat

Potential Influence from China

The historical documentation of baccarat can be traced back to the 1300s; however, some hints point that its origin could be beyond that and might go back a lot further than that. Perhaps this game came into being by incorporating the elements of the 4,000-year-old Chinese tile game, Pai Gow, which means ‘make nine’. You can notice the similarities between the two games. Today, an adapted version, based on the ancient Chinese game, namely, Pai Gow Poker, is experiencing its second round of popularity and can be easily found in multiple online casinos.

Rome’s Vestal Virgin Ritual

A very probable source initiating baccarat in the Roman times may be the vestal virgins’ ritual. Although not a conventional game, the vestal virgins needed to pass a test where rolling a six or higher was critical to survival, and getting an eight or nine would mean that they had the chance of becoming a high priestess.

The embedding of the number nine in these games might be only the human factor since the ancient human race has been inclined to this number. The nine important entities, in contrast, exist in Indian astrology while the dragon is connected with the number nine in Chinese culture. According to Egyptian mythology, the choice of a king was done by a council of nine deities known as the Ennead. The ruling Ennead was chosen by them. The Nine-layered underworld of the Mayans, which is Xibalba, plays a major role in their beliefs. Along with this, the Norse worldview contains a depiction of nine realms within the universe.

Hence, that myth number nine was associated with a historical event concerning the origin of baccarat might be an accident.

The Italian Origins of Baccarat

The history of Baccarat and card games in general can be traced back to ancient Italy and there is a substantial amount of evidence pointing in this direction. The study of Tarrochi, a predecessor to modern Italian card game Tarot, is considered the root for all card games, and is believed to be part of the lineage leading to Baccarat. Macao, an 18th-century game that originally bore resemblances to its modern descendant, baccarat, and is now commonly referred to as Italian Baccarat.

A lot of people believe Felix Falguiere, an Italian, invented the game of baccarat. The first known version that came to be known as the “Baccara” gave zeros to all the tens in the face cards while each of the four players served consecutively as the Banker. Ultimately, the game evolved and reached France which was a gambling Mecca of Europe by then.

The card game is thought to have originated around the time of the return of certain soldiers from Italy at a time when the late 15th century was coming to a close. This might explain why France has two popular variations of the game now. Initially it was Baccarat en Banque where three-players took part and then the Chemin de fer appeared where two-player games were played.

But, the first written reference of baccarat that has been dated didn’t appear until Album des Jeux by Charles Van Tenac in 1847. He was, not only, the witness of the game, but also, the mathematician who proved that the history of baccarat must be considered before the mid-1800s. This event has become known as the beginning of baccarat, but the game in that period was totally different from the game now played and loved around the world.

The Evolution of Modern-Day Baccarat

Nowadays, the most common kind of baccarat is Punto Banco. The word “banco” in this game means “banker”. This variation of Blackjack found its way to the mainstream gambling arena in Vegas in 1959 and would eventually replace the existing popularity of Chemin de Fer after Tommy Renzoni’s adaptation of the game went big.

This newest baccarat version derived from the Argentine city of Mar del Plata as tradition goes, where it was used to play at the casinos before they transferred to Las Vegas. House-banked baccarat, also referred to as Latin or French baccarat, was played in Havana, Cuba’s top city, in the 1940s. This version offered even payouts at 1:1 in 2 was played, when bankers took 0.5% from gamblers’ stakes.

“The Warrior” Aiko Kashiwagi, whose biggest win in baccarat was $6 million using $200k bets per hand at Trump Plaza Casino in Atlantic City, is the holder of the record for the largest win at the baccarat game. Nevertheless, Aiko has the distinction for being the one who lost the most since she went through a string of bad luck that caused her to lose $10 million to the casino using high stakes baccarat.

Advancements of Baccarat in the Digital Era

Baccarat and its dynamics have been witness to a number of regional influences and alterations over time. However, in the digital age, the fact that the standard version of Punto Banco has undergone dramatic transformation is perhaps most remarkable. One of the few gambling options to emerge among individual casinos is making side bets which have been embraced by the online baccarat considerably due to the huge market and if you also wanted to experience this fascinating game, more info here.

The video and live baccarat casino games brings a choice of side bets that players can filter upon through a variety of staked bets as well as odds.

Although the sources of the baccarat may be under mystery, the plot of its historical development and globalization as one of the games of luck everywhere is really interesting.


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