“Baccarat” is a French analogue of the Italian word “baccara”, which means “zero” or “nothing.” Based on that obvious ethimological connection, some players respectable in the gambling world concluded that the game of bacarrat takes its origin from the Italian game named Baccara.
There is another opinion based on structural similarity: according to it, baccarat evolved from early blackjack variations in the beginning of the 19th century, during the reign of Louis Philipp (1793-1850). Baccarat is very similar to blackjack, but due to less freedom given to a player, bets in baccarat change their owners much more often and luck plays the key role.
Some historians of gambling games, did research back to the depths of the times, trying to discover the roots of baccarat. They tied the origins of that gambling game with certain religious rituals of the Etruscan civilization (1500 BC.). The rituals were held to select a suitable candidate for the role of a high priestess. The high priestess was chosen after throwing a 9-sided dice. If the dice showed 9 or 8 points (the numbers equal or close the number of honored gods), the candidate was approved. Numbers 6 and 7 just meant denial, but smaller numbers could result in a girl’s execution.
History of Chemin-de-Fer and Baccarat-En-Banque
While discussion about the true origins of baccarat, its structural development and history may go on forever, the rules and special characteristics of the modern baccarat were invented by the French. Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, baccarat was very popular both among the French aristocrats and common people. During the reign of Napoleon, baccarat was played in many illegal gambling clubs.
Early in the 20th century, baccarat was the most popular gambling game in the casinos of Cote d’Azur (French Riviera). Back at that time, there were two baccarat variations - Chemin-de-Fer (“railroad” in French) and Baccarat-en-Banque. The two versions differed by a dealer and the number of active players. In Chemin-de-Fer, a shoe was in the hands of the player with the highest bet. That player (Banker) dealt cards and collected bets. A player with a second-highest bet represented all the remaining players who played against the Banker. In Baccarat-en-Banque, the casino collects bets and the dealer deals cards. In addition, baccarat has a double table that could accommodate five players to the left and five players to the right of the Banker. Two players (one on the left and the other on the right) represented all players playing against the Dealer (each one from his side). Rules of dealing cards and refusing to take more cards, as well as players’ options were identical in both versions.