With a history dating back to the 1400's, Baccarat is one of the oldest card games still played in casinos today. The word "baccara" is Italian for zero, which is the value of tens and face cards in the game. Although the origins of the game are still up for debate, it's believed to be invented by the Italian gambler Felix Falguerein, who used a deck of Tarot cards in the initial design. The Tarot cards were later replaced with a standard 52-card deck.


The game grew in popularity when it made its way from Italy to France, where it became known as Chemin de Fer, and not long after, an offshoot called Baccarat en Banque started. For a period of time, the game was exclusive to French nobility, which is why it has traditionally been associated with high rollers. The game spread through Europe, and different countries developed their own versions of the popular game.


America was first introduced to Baccarat in the late 19th century, but the game struggled to gain popularity because of the prevalence of Blackjack. Baccarat made its way down south to Cuba, where it found a following and a new name: Punto Banco.  


A casino player and writer by the name of Tommy Renzoni brought the game from Cuba to Las Vegas, where it finally stuck. Ian Fleming's James Bond novels definitely helped the game gain popularity. The plot of Casino Royale (published in 1953) has Bond defeat his nemesis through a high rollers Chemin de Fer game in Northern France. The full-length version even comes with a set of rules on how to play the game.


As the game caught on, more variants were created, including the very popular Mini Baccarat, which was created to cater to players with an average bankroll. As suggested by the name, Mini Baccarat lowers the betting minimums and reduces the baccarat table to the size of a seven-seat blackjack table. The traditional (non mini) game can be played with up to 12 or 14 players.


The Punto Banco version is the standard in North America and allows players to bet on either the banker, the player, or a tie. The game is simple enough; everything from 2s to 9s are taken at face value, aces are worth 1, and as previously mentioned 10s and face cards are worth zero. When you bet on either the banker, player, or tie, you're betting on who will have a hand closer to 9 or if the result will be a tie.


Each player is dealt two cards, and the value of the hand is the sum of both cards – as long as the value is under 10. If the score is 10 or above, simply drop the first digit to obtain the score. For example, if the banker gets a 6 and an 8, the score is 14. Drop the 1-digit, and the banker is left with a score of 4. For more information on how to play Baccarat, check out the table games section at Bovada Casino.