The history of Baccarat

Baccarat is based on the Italian game Baccara, a word which means zero in Italian. Baccara in turn was developed from a game named Tarrochi that was popular during medieval times. Unlike modern Baccarat, Tarrochi is believed to have been played using Tarot card.

We know that baccarat has been played in France since at least the 1500s, and during the reign of Louis XIV (1643-1715) it was one of most popular games within the French upper class. After the French Revolution, it was enjoyed by the courtiers of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821).

In 1837, public gambling became illegal in French, but this didn’t stop the Parisians from enjoying baccarat in the privacy of their own homes. Private games kept the knowledge of baccarat alive in France and when casinos began to pop up along the Riviera in the late 19th century the game was brought out into the open again.

Throughout the years, several different variants of baccarat had developed. In France, players had started rotating the deal by using an elongated iron box suitable for up to eight decks of cards. The box was called a sabot, since it was said to resemble the sabots (chunky wodden clogs) worn by French peasants. Since the metal sabot was passed around the table, this type of baccarat became known as “way of iron”, chemin de fer in French. Unlike the other major types of baccarat, Chemin de Fer does have an element of skill, since certain choices can be made.

When Chemin de Fer was introduced in Great Britain, it quickly got the nickname Chemmy and a few new rules were added by the Brits. Since Britain was a world-wide empire with lot’s of seafarers, Chemmy Baccarat soon spread across the globe. In South America, it underwent a new metamorphosis and was given the name Punto Banco.

Strangely enough, it wasn’t English settlers and merchants that established baccarat in the United States. Instead, the game had to make a little Latino detour and become established in Cuba first. Punto Banco was a hot and highly sought after game in the casinos of Havana and this was were visitors from the U.S. encountered it and brought it with them back U.S. soil. By the time Punto Banco reached Las Vegas, it’s name had been changed to Mini-Baccarat.

Back in Europe, baccarat had spawned yet another off-shoot; Baccarat en Banque (Banker’s Baccarat). Baccarat en Banque was a casino game without where no player had to deal or resume the responsibility of being the banker. The house covered all bets and each player could wager as much as they wanted, within the limits set by the specific baccarat table. For more info on european baccarat, visit

In Monaco, the Monte Carlo Casino developed a “double-table” version of Baccarat en Banque that could accommodate more players. The new invention was aptly named Baccarat à Deux Tableaux and featured a new layout with room for sixteen participants. Instead of dealing two hands, the croupier dealt three – one for Banco and one for each Punto at the two conjoined tables. Today, Baccarat à Deux Tableaux is more common than the older Baccarat en Banque.