The origin of the baccarat game is uncertain; some great historians claim that’s there is no record of the baccarat game before the 19th century. Baccarat in its modern form is thought to have originated in Italy in the late 15th century, derived from the Italian word Baccara, meaning zero, thus depicting the main rule of the game that all face cards (except the ace) and tens have a value of zero.
Meaning of Baccarat
Baccarat is thought to be a “spin-off” of the French game, ‘vingt-et-un’ (Means 21). It quickly become the house favorite with French upper class bettors, and eventually adapted to become the French game Chemin De Fer (French for railroad). An early version of Baccarat was played using a Tarot deck in the Middle Ages.
Baccarat made its trip from Europe to America in the mid 20th century but underwent a few rule changes from Chem De Fer, that turned it into American baccarat. What is known as American Baccarat actually originated in England and subsequently spread to South America. The American casino’s attempted to keep the same grandiose atmosphere as it’s French counterpart and was allocated roped off playing areas with added security.
While the aura surrounding the game does intimidate many people, baccarat is a simple game of chance that involves no degree of skill on the part of the player or dealer. By the early 20th century it had become the game of choice for the French nobility, and later was adopted by much of the European aristocracy. Eventually Baccarat evolved into two forms, European Baccarat, or Banque, and the French game Chemin de Fer. In Europe, the game of Baccarat is still one of the most popular casino games.
Modern Baccarat History
The North American version of the game that is played today came from the Capri Casino in Havana, Cuba. It was introduced into Las Vegas at the famous Dunes casino after the Cuban government closed the Havana casinos.
Because it is so grandly appointed, with marble, chandeliers, plush chairs and more, one might think that Baccarat is still the game of the aristocracy. That could be right. Many of the world’s highest rollers make it their game of choice. Stories abound about rich men and women, who bet millions of dollars during a single session.
Since the baccarat’s introduction in Nevada land based casinos, the game has assumed an aura of glamour. When Baccarat was first introduced to Nevada in the late 1950’s, the casinos there successfully adopted the glamorous aura associated with the European game, played in a roped-off area, closely monitored and sometimes even guarded.
In most land based casinos, the baccarat players are very well dressed and the baccarat table minimums are high. The basic baccarat table is about the size of the craps table with 2 casino dealers and up to 14 or 12 players. Each seat on the baccarat table corresponds to a number on the layout, one through 16. 3 dealers service each baccarat table. The dealer standing between positions 1, He also known as the ‘caller’.
Each baccarat player, including the dealer, can bet on either the banker or the player but dealer must bet on the banker. There are no options or decisions no skill or degree it’s required for either dealer or player. Players can sit in any open seat at the baccarat table; the seating position does not affect the baccarat game.
The majority of the largest baccarat bettors are from Asia including Japan, China and Hong Kong. In Macau, baccarat is both the most popular and highest stakes game available. There are many great stories surrounding modern baccarat, but the best stories seem to surround the high rollers and none better than Akio Kashiwagi.
Akio had such a strong influence in casinos in Las Vegas that in the move “Casino”, the character of K.K. Ichikawa, the Japanese high roller, is based on the life of high roller Akio Kashiwagi.
During the 70’s and 80’s, Kashiwagi was a big scene at Las Vegas casinos. By the end of the 1980s, however, Kashiwagi had used up his casino credit, owing many casino executives, among them Donald Trump, millions of dollars.
Probably his most famous story is the non confirmed game of “freeze out” at Trump Plaza. The terms of play stipulated that Kashiwagi wager $200,000 per hand on the game of Baccarat until he either won or lost $12,000,000 USD after which point the game would be terminated.
Although it is unclear as to how he perceived his chances, Kashiwagi accepted the challenge and subsequently went on to play for a total of 70 hours over 6 days. At this point the game was prematurely terminated and Kashiwagi found himself $9,400,000 down. According to the New York Times, both sides denied responsibility for ending the game.