What’s the history of baccarat?

Nowadays, baccarat is the most popular gambling game in the world, accounting for the majority of casino revenue in Macau and Singapore and, even on the Las Vegas Strip, playing second fiddle only to the ubiquitous slot machines in terms of profitability.

Like many ancient card games, the origin of baccarat is disputed. The name ‘baccarat’ is derived from the French word ‘baccara’, which dates from the mid-nineteenth century, but the origin of which is unknown. One suggestion, by independent game historian Thierry Depaulis, that the name is derived from the Provençal expression ‘fa bacarrat’, which translates into English as ‘go bankrupt’, seems at least as plausible, if not more so, than unsubstantiated rumours of an Italian heritage. In his ‘Dictionary of Conversation and Reading’, published in 1867, William Duckett claims that baccarat was originally an Italian game, imported into the south of France in the late fifteenth century, but provides no supporting evidence.

Whatever the origin of the game, the first printed records of baccarat being played in the United States appeared in ‘The New York Times’ in the late nineteenth century. Baccarat was not played in Nevada casinos until 1958 but, the following year, a new version of the game, known as ‘punto banco’ was imported to Las Vegas from Cuba by Tommy Rezoni. The original version featured a side bet on ‘naturals’, which has since been replaced by the ‘tie’ bet but, otherwise, punto banco was virtually indistinguishable from modern baccarat.

What is ‘floating the flop’ in Texas hold’em poker?

In Texas hold’em poker, ‘floating the flop’ is an intermediate, or advanced, bluffing technique used to defend against the continuation bet, or ‘c-bet’, which can, itself, be a bluffing technique. Aggressive players frequently follow a pre-flop raise with a bet on the flop – that is, a continuation bet – regardless of whether or not they hit the flop, but floating the flop allows player to turn a continuation bet on a weak, non-made hand against his opponent.

Floating the float is best done when in position – that is, when you are the last player to act in a hand – in a heads-up pot, against a tight-aggressive opponent, who frequently raises pre-flop and continuation bets. The idea is that you lead your opponent to believe that you have a legitimate hand, by calling pre-flop and calling his or her continuation bet on the flop, with a view to forcing him or her to check on the turn card.

If your opponent shows any sign of weakness, by checking to you, you are in perfect position to take the pot by betting heavily on the turn, at three-quarters of the pot size, to make it too expensive for him or her to continue. Otherwise, if your opponent bets heavily on the turn, you can fold safe in the knowledge that you probably have an inferior hand in any case or, if he or she bets weakly on the turn, perhaps re-raise, although this is a dangerous tactic, especially against an unfamiliar opponent.

How strong is ace-king as a starting hand in Texas hold’em poker?

Ace-king – often known as ‘Big Slick, if suited, and ‘Big Ugly’, if not – is a strong, and therefore favourite, starting hand in Texas hold’em poker. Ace-king is, of course, a ‘drawing hand’ or, in other words, a hand that has the potential to become very strong indeed, but needs to hit the board in order to do so. Nevertheless, before the first three community cards, collectively known as ‘the flop’, are dealt, ace-king can be considered likely to win against any non-paired hand. The probability of ace-king beating, say, ace-queen is 71.62%. Indeed, even against any pair less than a pair of kings, the odds of winning with ace-king in the hole are still roughly 50:50.

Paired aces or kings are more problematic; paired aces reduce the probability of ace-king winning to just 5.86%, while paired kings reduce the probability to 29.74%. So, while ace-king is, no doubt, a valuable hand in Texas hold’em poker, its real value needs to be considered in the context of the position of the holder, the number of players in the game and their playing styles. Granted that ace-king will almost certainly lose if it fails to hit the board, it may be judicious to play the hand passively – that is, as a typical drawing hand – if you are facing, say, four or more opponents, but to play the hand aggressively in a heads up situation. If you fancy yourself as a poker pro in the making, the casino site list https://newcasinostar.co.uk/  is a great starting point, on your way proving your credentials!

Whether you’re playing in a casino setting, at home with your friends, or online or one of countless online casino options, remember, practice makes perfect! Have fun!

When were casino chips first used?

Prior to the invention of gambling tokens in the mid-nineteenth century, early gamblers wagered cash, in the form of notes or coins, or small valuable objects, such as pieces or gold and silver. Early, unmarked, gambling tokens, typically made of bone, ivory or shellac were a step in the right direction but, because they could be easily forged, it became necessary to engrave, emboss or inlay them with identifiable markings.

The precursor of the modern casino chip, made of 100% clay, in uniform size, using a compression mould technique, started to be mass produced in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Although fragile, 100% clay chips served their purpose until well into the twentieth century, when minerals, such as chalk and sand, were added to the clay mixture to improve durability, giving rise to the modern clay composite chip. The spots around the edge of the chip are created by removing sections and replacing them with material of a contrasting colour, before subjecting the whole chip to a heated compression process.

The next major advance in chip technology came in the Eighties, with the introduction of ceramic chips, which allowed lettering and graphics any where on the surface, rather than just on the inlay in the centre of the chip. Nowadays, standard casino chips measure 39mm, or 1.5”, in diameter and weigh between 8.5g, or 0.30oz, and 20.5g, or 0.7oz, but their exact composition varies from one manufacturer to the next.

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