There really is no casino game that says high roller quite like baccarat does. It’s a conundrum that many have tried to unravel. Compared with many games in casinos baccarat is no more complex or tough to understand that any other, so it has been a mystery to many why it’s so popular with those who have a bigger budget to spend. In fact, one could argue that baccarat is one of the simplest games, so how did it come to be the game it is today.
If we go back through time, we can see how it all began. Baccarat originates in France, though there are some that state that the versions of the game actually made their way across the border into France from Italy. In fact, this is so strongly contested that there are even two different versions of how the game got its name.
Some say the name derives from an old Italian word for zero, in reference to the fact that all face cards, and all 10s hold a value of zero in the game. Contenders state that the name began as Baccara and is French and was bastardised by the English when they added a t to the end, for no apparent reason.
Despite all the disagreements on the topic of the very first origins of the game, everyone agrees that the game first appeared in France, and that this occurred somewhere in the 1400’s. However, it wasn’t a particularly popular game and stayed in relative obscurity until about the 1700’s when it popped back up in history as a game thoroughly enjoyed by the French nobility. As is usually the way, what is enjoyed by the royal family, is very popular with nobility, and when visitors came to France the game was passed on. In this way baccarat made its way across the English Channel and became popular with the lords and ladies of the royal court in England.
When the English continued their Imperial takeover of huge swathes of the world, they naturally took all of their favourite pastimes with them. So when the English headed to South America, baccarat did too, and continued to be a favourite pastime of moneyed individuals on the new continent. With the movement of people up to Central America and into the lower United States, baccarat followed and soon made its way onto the famous casino boats on the Mississippi River. Once it had become a staple of the American gambling culture there was no stopping the game, and it has been a firm favourite ever since.
A High Roller Favourite
The question remains, why is it so popular with high rollers? There are a number of theories on the topic and the one that appears to make to the most sense is that it’s in the casinos interest to keep it that way. Because it was always popular with people who had a good bit of spare change to play with, the minimum bets have always been very high. While the odds are probably some of the lowest in favour of the house, the bets staying large ensures that losses are substantial.
However, this only applies to brick and mortar casinos. As recently as the last 15 years online casinos have hit the gaming industry like a hurricane and absolutely every game is now available online. This certainly includes baccarat. The best part about playing online is that a player can try it out for free, and if they love it, there are a variety of games that start with very modest bets. Once again, the Internet has proved the great equaliser for a very popular game.