Faro is a card game that is often compared to poker because of similar qualities such as its good odds, fast playing action and the fact that it is also easy to learn. It is an old and once very popular game that had been referred to as Pharaoh and Pharo but it is not a commonly found casino game anymore.
Faro was first played in the 17th century in France and is a descendent of another popular casino card game, Basset. Basset was eventually outlawed in 1691 but it had been an extremely popular game to play amongst high society due to huge amounts of money that were both won and lost.
When Faro First Originated
Faro emerged a few years after Basset had been outlawed and eventually it too was outlawed in France. The birth of Faro was during the reign of King Louis XIV where it was mostly known as Pharaoh.
The British changed the name to Pharo in the 18th century where it was thoroughly enjoyed and played regardless of the French outlawing it. When the 19th century rolled around, the game became popular in America where it was called Faro.
It was quite popular to play, especially in the old west, and could be found in all gambling halls across the country from 1825 to 1915. By the 1880’s it was the most played casino game and no other type of game could surpass it.
It was only after the Second World War that Faro seemed to lose its popularity but certain casinos in America offered it until the 1980’s.
Faro Setup and Betting Options
Any number of players could take part in a round of faro but one player was the designated banker. Chips, which were referred to as checks, were purchased from the banker. The value of the checks and bets varied.
Faro was played on an oval shaped table with an area for the banker to operate from. A suit of cards, usually spades, was placed on a board in numerical order. This was the betting layout, which had three different ways for players to bet.
These included the option to bet on one of thirteen cards, to bet on multiple cards by betting on the area between them and betting on the high valued cards that were lined up at the top of the board. As the game progressed, further betting options became available. The cards were valued for their numerical value and not the suits.
The banker would shuffle a deck of 52 cards that were then placed into a dealing box. The first card drawn from the box was called the soda and removed from play. The banker would then draw two cards and place one on either side of the box.
The card on the right was the dealer’s card and the losing card. The card on the left was the player’s card and the winning card. Any bets matching the dealer’s card were lost and any bets matching the player’s card were paid out. High card bets were only won if the player’s card was valued higher than the dealer’s.
Each two-card draw resulted in a pay out or loss and any bets that were neither could remain or be changed before the next two cards were drawn. A token was used to reverse the intent of bets and when the last three cards remained in the box, a special bet could be placed to predict the order of the draw.
Faro may not often be found online, but it will be interesting to see whether this game grows in popularity in the years to come.