When visiting a casino, everyone has ideas about which games they want to play or where they think they will be the luckiest. Of course, slot machines are always popular because people enjoy the instant rush of excitement that comes with the spin of a reel telling them whether they are a winner or not. Table games, on the other hand, are consistently popular. Even the transition to online casinos, like the BetMGM one, hasn’t diminished the popularity of table games, as they are still available in online casinos that people want to visit. But where did these fantastic games originate? What is the history behind them? Let’s look at some of the most popular games and delve deeper into their roots.
Blackjack is a fantastic and sophisticated game that many people worldwide enjoy. Since the 16th century, the game has evolved and adapted to become one of the most popular casino card games. This is one game that is not going out of style anytime soon! The origins of Blackjack are still debated; the most widely held belief is that it originated in French casinos around 1700 as a result of its mention in Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote, which dates from the late 16th/early 17th century. The game was then known as ‘Vingt-et-un,’ which translates to 21 in French.
The game’s popularity spread to North America in the late 17th/early 18th centuries due to French colonists, with the first legalized banked game taking place in New Orleans. When Nevada was granted state gambling legalization in 1931, the game grew to become the casino staple we know today. Because of the European colonization period, the game was introduced worldwide and is now available in over 140 countries, making it one of the most well-known casino games today.
The Roulette wheel was invented by Blaise Pascal, a French physicist, inventor, and mathematician. However, Pascal did not set out to create a casino game. Instead, Pascal attempted to develop a perpetual motion machine in 1655. A perpetual motion machine continues to function in the absence of external energy. The laws of physics state that it is impossible, but as an inventor, Pascal attempted to defy the odds. His experiment failed, but the process produced one of the most popular casino games.
However, roulette would not be free of American influence. In the 1800s, roulette made its way across the ocean and onto US shores. A second zero was added to the Roulette wheel to give the house an even greater advantage. Instead of 37 numbers, the American Roulette wheel would have 38.
The origins of baccarat are still debated today. Still, most believe it was invented in Italy in the 1400s by Felix Falguiere or Falguierein. He named the game baccara, which means “zero” in Italian, because all of the tens and face cards were worth zero. Baccarat originated in Italy but was popularised in France and was known as Chemin de Fer (Chemmy). King Charles VIII and the noblemen who surrounded him were fans of the game. Baccarat quickly became popular among the French aristocracy and remained so for centuries.
Baccarat spread across the Atlantic to South America and the Caribbean over time. Baccarat was known as Punto Banco and was heavily influenced by local culture. One of the significant differences was that the players only competed against the house rather than each other. Furthermore, the casinos served as the bank; this privilege was not extended to individual players. This variant of baccarat came to be known as American Baccarat.
According to legend, Roman soldiers invented craps using pig knucklebones as dice and armor shields as a table. Others believe craps evolved from an Arabic dice game called Al Dar, which means “dice” in Arabic. However, the most widely accepted version of the game’s origins is that it was invented in 1125 during the Crusades by Sir William of Tyre and named after a castle.
Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville, a wealthy gambler and politician descended from colonial Louisiana landowners, brought the American version to New Orleans. A flaw in the game allowed players to take advantage of the casino until American dice maker John H. Winn, also known as the “Father of the Modern Game,” fixed the problem in the 19th century by introducing the “don’t pass” betting option. His version thrived throughout the French Louisiana colony of Arcadia and later along the Mississippi River in gambling boats. The explosion of Las Vegas gambling in 1931 increased the game’s popularity even further.