Tuesday, January 29, 2013


The Tarot c.1450-present

Game Type
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Faro is a very old card game. Introduced in France in the court of King Louis XIV, its name is derived from the picture of an Egyptian Pharaoh on one of the cards in the French deck. It was once the most widely played gambling game in England. Faro was also very popular in America, and during the 19th century, many referred to it as "the national card game." It is of historical interest to note that during the Civil War era there were more than 150 gambling houses in Washington D.C., and Faro was the principal attraction at every one of them. Today, with the advent of Black Jack and the dice game called Craps, Faro has almost vanished from casinos except in Nevada.

Number of Players
Any number of people can play. All bets are placed against the dealer (banker). The banker is usually selected by auction - that is, the player who agrees to put up the largest stake as the amount of his bank, becomes the banker.

The Pack
The standard 52-card pack is used, plus 13 spades from another pack which are used for the layout.

The Layout
The complete spade suit, either pasted to a board or enameled on felt, is placed on a table. Players indicate their bets by placing chips on any card on the layout. (The spade suit is selected arbitrarily-all suits are equivalent; only the ranks of the cards are relevant.)

The Deal
The cards are shuffled by the dealer and cut by any player. After bets have been placed against the dealer (banker), as described below, the dealer turns up the top card of the pack and places it to his left. This card is called "soda" and has no bearing on bets. The dealer then turns up the next card and places it face up on his right. He then turns up a third card and places it on top of soda, to his left. The dealing of these three cards constitutes a turn.

The first card turned up in any turn (except soda) always loses. The second card wins. Before the turn begins, the players may place their bets on cards in the layout. Chips placed on any card are a bet that the card will win unless a copper (penny or similar disc) is put on top of the chips. In this case, the player is betting that the card will lose. Any bet is settled the next time that a card of the indicated rank is turned up. For example: A player puts a chip on the 6♠ in the layout. The dealer turns up two cards, neither of which is a six, so the player's bet remains on the layout, unsettled. But on the next turn, the first card turned by dealer is the 6♥; this means that the six loses, and the dealer takes the player's bet. If the player had bet on the six to lose (by coppering his bet), the dealer would have paid him; or if the 6♥ had been the second card in that turn, instead of the first, the player would have won.

After each turn, all bets settled at that turn are paid and collected. Other bets remain on the layout or may be withdrawn, and new bets may be placed. In many regions, other types of bets are permitted.

As the deal progresses, all the cards that lose form one pile, and all cards that win form another pile.

If two cards of the same rank come up on the same turn, so that a bet on that rank both wins and loses, it is called a split, and the dealer takes half of all bets on that rank. This is the dealer's only advantage in the game.

Calling the Turn
A record of all cards turned is kept on a "casekeeper" which is similar to an abacus. Each spindle has four counters which are moved when each of the four cards of a denomination (ace through king) are played. By using a casekeeper, players always know which cards remain undealt. When only three cards remain, a player may bet on the exact order in which those cards will come up, and the dealer pays off the player's bet at 4 to 1 if he is correct. This is referred to as "calling the turn." There are six ways in which the cards may come up, so the actual odds against the player are 5 to 1. If two of the last three cards are a pair, it is called a "cat-hop," and the dealer pays only 2 to 1.

The rules are the same as for Faro, except there are no elaborate side bets and no soda card. The dealer simply turns up two cards at each turn. Also, when there is a split, the dealer receives the full amount of the bet, rather than half.

Trente et Quarante
This game is popular at the famous casino in Monte Carlo. Trente et Quarante (which means 30 and 40 in French) is also played in Nice, on the French Riviera.

Number of Players
Any number of people can play, though more than 20 participants at the table can get somewhat cumbersome. Usually, a casino will open up another table when there are more than 20 players.

The Pack
Six packs of the standard 52-card pack are used. These are shuffled together.

The Play
The croupier (dealer) always deals. Any one of the players cuts the cards after the croupier has prepared them, and then the croupier places the cards in a shoe (dealing box). Before the deal begins, a player may bet on "rouge" (red), "noir" (black), "couleur" (color) or "inverse" (reverse).

Aces count 1, face cards count 10, and all other cards are equal to their pip value. Once the bets have been made, the croupier lays out a row of cards, announcing the cumulative total as each card is dealt, until the total hits 31 or more. This row of cards represents "noir." Below the first row, a second row is then dealt in the same way, and represents "rouge."

A bet on noir or rouge wins if the row of that designation counts nearer to 31. A bet on "couleur" wins if the first card dealt in a rouge or noir row is of the color designating that row. For example, a diamond is dealt first for the rouge row. If this first card is of the alternative color, the "inverse" bet wins.

When both rows total the same number, it is a "refait" or stand-off, and all bets are called off. However, when the same number for each row is 31, the house takes half of all the bets that have been made; this represents the house advantage, which is only a little more than one per cent because a refait of 31 occurs only about once in 40 coups (deals).

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