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The History of Baccarat

Baccarat, pronounced "bac-car-ah" is derived from the Italian word baccara meaning zero, which refers to the zero value given to all of the face cards and tens. This game has long held the attention of gamblers, and has always been a firm favorite in many various gaming environments, however it is also one of the oldest games in casino history.

There are many sources which may lead us to the games first form, however its true roots may now be lost in the shadows of time. There is however a very real possibility that it can be traced back to a game named "Tarrochi" that was played in the Middle Ages using a deck of Tarot cards. Another source believes that it is based on an ancient Etruscan ritual, where a virgin would throw a nine sided dice and according to the outcome, it was decided whether she would become a priestess, be banned from religious activities completely, or alternatively be condemned to die. A more modern variant has the game originating in Italy (Europe) at around 1490, but whichever case may be correct the fact remains that it is now the most popular game in European casinos at this present time in history.

In the 1500s, the game was introduced into France, to the aristocracy in particular who were looking for a new and exciting game of chance. They named it "Chemin De Fer," which translated into English means railroad, although as its popularity grew it became nicknamed either "Chemmy" or "Shimmy." By the 1900s, the game had become extremely fashionable on the French Riviera with the French nobility in particular.

"Chemin De Fer" then traveled from Europe across the ocean to South America and found a new home in Argentina. Casinos in Mar Del Plata (Argentina) became a gambling paradise for wealthy South Americans. When the game reached Cuba, it underwent a change in its rules that turned it into American Baccarat (in American Baccarat each player bets against the house; in Chemin De Fer, players bet among themselves). In 1958, at Capri Hotel Casino in Havana (Cuba), a young casino executive named Francis "Tommy" Renzoni, spent countless hours watching gamblers playing the game and then went on to take it further.

When Renzoni left Cuba and settled in Nevada, he persuaded the owners of the Sands Hotel to open up a baccarat pit, but the game was not an overnight success in the United States. The separated gaming arena combined with the game's sophisticated aura intimidated many American gamblers, who at this time had picked up a liking for the dice during military service in World War II and had become, for the vast majority craps players. In order to compensate for this a special form of Baccarat was introduced in many Las Vegas casinos and the game became more popular. In this variation of Baccarat the role of banker is usually held permanently by the House or Casino; only one non-Banker hand is dealt, and bets may be played either with or against the Banker. Its popularity has increased steadily in the United States, Australia and England during the past century. Traditionally, the baccarat pit is still set aside from the main casino arena, giving the illusion that many believe the game deserves of being away from all of the "common" games.

In February of 1990, the late Akio Kashiwagi, who at one time was the world's highest roller, made history books when he won over $6 million at an Atlantic City baccarat table. Playing in Atlantic City's Trump Plaza casino, and betting $200,000 a hand, Mr. Kashiwagi, also known as "The Warrior," put a significant dent in the Plaza's bottom line for the month! But like many winners, he came back for more and the following May, after six grueling days of play, Kashiwagi made the record books for the second time losing close to $10 million. At this point "The Warrior" recorded the largest loss at a baccarat table in casino history.

Whatever the ancient sources of baccarat are, there is no doubt that it is now among the most played games in casinos today worldwide, where an aura of mystery still surrounds it and the minimums are kept high. Although in most countries the game still holds the name of Baccarat today, in France it has retained its title and rules as "Chemin de Fer" with Spain also adopting this version. Baccarat history has proved to be as fascinating as the game itself.

Now that the internet is fast evolving into becoming a highly diversified meeting place and playground in the modern world, it has grown to include Online Baccarat. Gambling has now become firmly rooted in the electronic age, so it is only natural that it should include Baccarat gravitating this way as well. The number of internet users is increasing steadily each week and a huge amount of money and resources are being poured into the infrastructure constantly. The resulting increase in bandwidth has provided an extremely high standard of interaction for online baccarat players giving it a permanent place, not only in history but also as a favorite choice amongst users of the internet based entertainment world.