Baccarat is one of the most prestigious and dramatic casino games, enjoyed by high rollers across the world. Originally from Italy and France, this game has become one of the most popular card games in the world, with casinos making huge profits off it.
A History of the Game
The game is played on a very large table, which has 12 seats on either side of the dealer. Green felt covers the whole table and the numbers 1 to 12 are marked on it, indicating where bets can be placed.
Players place bets on the Player or Banker hand, with a range of amounts to choose from. The croupier deals cards from a shoe, which releases one card at a time, face down. In some games, six packs are used.
Cards are ranked according to their value, with the ace being worth a single point, and numbered cards having face values. If a hand contains eight or nine, it is a “natural”, and wins automatically. If neither hand produces a natural, further cards are drawn to determine the winner.
Despite its high profile, Baccarat is also a relatively low-stakes game, with a house edge of only 1.2 percent on player and banker bets. Some casinos offer specialty baccarat variations, including a “Lunar New Year” version that uses the lunar calendar to decide whether the Banker or Player has a higher hand.
During the 19th Century, Baccarat produced a wide variety of glassware, from tables and mirrors to lamps and chandeliers. A particular favourite of Victorian collectors were its milky opaline glass vases, which resembled fine porcelain and were often decorated with flowers.
The glassware was engraved, and sometimes gilded with gold powder before being tempered to a high temperature. The engraving process can take months to complete, and pieces are usually referred to as “french ware” or “enameled”.
Baccarat was founded in 1764 by King Louis XV of France. It was not the first glass workshop in Europe, but it would soon become one of the most successful.
It became famous for its opulent lighting fixtures, with many of them exhibited at the Great Exhibitions of the 19th Century. Its candelabra, for example, astonished contemporary audiences in 1855 at Paris’ Exposition Universelle.
In addition to its stunning glassware, Baccarat also made windows and a range of tableware. The most impressive of these were the massive candelabra stems crafted in green-tinted crystal, which contemporary observers referred to as “malachite glass”.
Baccarat was not only a highly profitable business, but it had an unrivalled reputation for quality and design. The factory’s glassware was admired and prized worldwide. In the 19th Century, it won a number of medals at major fairs in France and throughout Europe. It also provided the furnishings for Dolmbahce Palace, the Ottoman Sultan’s residence in Istanbul.