Baccarat is one of the most popular card games played in many casinos. It is also one of the oldest casino games, played as far back as the fifteenth century in France. While some believe baccarat originated in France, there are those that believe the game was actually brought to France from Italy. Regardless of its true origins, baccarat became a game played exclusively by the French nobility during that period of time.
Baccarat became popular with the French nobility, who slowly spread it throughout Europe, to be played exclusively by the elite. As the game spread, different variations of the game developed – though in France and most of Europe, the most popular version was called chemin de fer. This game, translated as way of iron, received this name as a result of the cards being placed in an iron box, the predecessor of the dealer’s shoe that is used today.
In England, the nobles played a different variation that would eventually be called punto banco. One of the main differences between the two is that in punto banco, the dealer plays both a banker hand and a player hand using a certain set of rules, and players choose which hand to bet on. In chemin de fer, the dealer plays against two players or groups of players who can only bet on their own hands. In this way, punto banco was more a game of chance than chemin de fer, though both used the same basic rules of baccarat.
Baccarat remained a game played by the elite, though no longer exclusively by those of noble blood. Baccarat was eventually played in gambling houses in Europe, and any player who could afford the high stakes was allowed to play. In this way, the game eventually crossed the seas to America, via the first South American casinos.
Punto banco was the variation played in these south American casinos, though chemin de fer remained popular throughout most of Europe. When baccarat made its way to the casinos in Las Vegas, thanks in part to the Cuban government closing down the casinos in Havana in the 1950s, it was punto banco that arrived in the United States.
Baccarat was highly popular among high-rollers, and often millions could be bet in just one night – and sometimes even in just one hand! This made the game very lucrative for casinos, while restricting the game to an exclusive club of players only.
In an effort to make the game more popular among other casino players, casinos began introducing mini baccarat tables. These tables offered lower betting limits and minimums, as well as simpler procedures, with games being played using the rules for American baccarat, or punto banco. This strategy successfully introduced the game to a wider range of players, and now even non high-rollers could enjoy the game at casinos.
As technology allowed the development of online casinos, where players could play from the comfort of their homes, baccarat, specifically mini baccarat, became one of the most standard online casino games. Many online casinos today offer baccarat as one of the games provided on their websites, while others even offer live play via live streaming and specialized software.
Today, baccarat remains one of the most recognizable and popular casino games, played not only in high-stakes tables in real casinos, but also on mini Baccarat tables both in real casinos, and online virtual casinos. This elegant game, once played only by royalty, can now be played by almost anyone, at any time, and almost anywhere.