A Brief History of James Bond’s Baccarat and Its Popularity

When it comes to table games, Baccarat is undeniably one of the most popular ones and also often depicted as a high stakes game in James Bond movies, such as Casino Royale and License to Kill. With the history of Baccarat going back more than 500 years, its true origin is still a bit unclear. For a long time it was simply known as the card game for aristocrats but over the years its popularity grew and it is now one of the most popular games for all players, especially with the help of online casinos.

Whether or not players are drawn to the baccarat tables because it is quite easy to play, thanks to the low house edge or the simple fact that 007 made it cool remains to be seen but let’s take a look at its history to better understand its evolution.

Cast the Dice to Save Your Life

As mentioned, the true history is a bit vague but one theory brings us back to the 1400’s Italy where it is said to be based on an old legend of a virgin having to cast a dice. The result of the throw would determine her fate and if she threw an 8 or a 9, she would be elevated to the glory of becoming a high priestess. If she happened to throw a 6 or a 7, her status would be revoked and she would not be able to partake in any religious events, while throwing any other number meant that she would be banished to the sea in which she would drown.

We can’t imagine having our life depending on the outcome of the dice but this is one version of where the initial rules of baccarat were born, regardless of how harsh it may sound.


From Italy, to France, to the Underground

From Italy, the game moved on to France by soldiers returning home from the conflicts in Italy during the late 1400’s. The game quickly became a favorite of the French socialites where two versions of the game were used, Baccarat en Banque and Chemin de Fer. When Louis Phillip made casinos illegal in 1837, Baccarat continued to be played off the grid, mostly in underground gambling operations, away from the authorities. The game never lost its appeal and was still highly popular in the rest of Europe as well.

Baccarat Hits the Las Vegas Strip

Over time, Baccarat made its way across the ocean to South America and the Caribbean, where it was referred to as Punto banco and often adapted to the local cultures.

During the late 1950’s Castro closed down all the Cuban casinos and this is when the game made its way all the way to the Nevada desert and the Las Vegas Sands casino. On November 20th, 1959, they opened the first Punto Banco table. Even though there were some tough times initially and the owners lost a bunch of money, they rode the wave all the way into the 70’s. By that time there were only 15 tables used on the entire Vegas strip. With the right marketing they turned the game into an exclusive one because of the extremely limited number of seats, the only way you could get it was if you were a celebrity or very rich, preferably both.


Online Casino Made It a Game for Everyone

This is the brief version of the journey that game has taken to get to where it is today. Thanks to the secret rooms and the high stakes, it scared most people off (unless you were part of the exclusive bunch of course) but when the booming online casino industry took over a lot of the action, the game changed. With lower betting minimums and no flight and accommodation needed, we can all enjoy this fantastic game whenever we want to.

If you like to learn some tips and tricks on how to become a Baccarat master, there is plenty of information on our BitStarz blog. Enjoy!

Now when you know a little bit more about the history, why not take part of the action at one of our many Baccarat live tables?