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September 28, 2020

The history of casino table games

History is littered with games which have been long discarded and forgotten, but there have been some casino table games which have stood the test of time. Games like roulette, baccarat, craps and blackjack can trace their ancestry back hundreds of years, yet remain as popular today as they ever were. In fact, because the best games casino are readily available online now it means that many millions more people enjoy table games today than at any other time in history. Let’s take a brief look at the history of the most popular casino table games.

Roulette is one of the most popular games at any casino, whether land-based or online. The name of the game translates from French into ‘little wheel’, and of course the game was born in the gambling houses of France in the 18th century. The first written description of roulette as we know it today came from 1796, although the game itself is a mix of various different games which were played in Europe before then.

The original wheels used ‘0’ and ‘00’ symbols – as American Roulette games do to this day – but the single zero version of the wheel was introduced in the middle of the nineteenth century and came to dominate in European casinos. As the double-zero wheels give an extra advantage to the house, players are best advised to stick to the European version of the game when playing online.

Roulette table (Paris, 1796)
Players around a roulette table (Illustration - Paris, 1796)

Blackjack is one of the most widely played casino table games, and it dates back at least to the early 18th century, another table game coming out of French casinos at that time. Its exact origins are a little hard to pin down, because as with most games developed hundreds of years ago there is little documentation as to how it began. There were many similar games being played around Europe such as One and Thirty in Spain and Chemin de Fer in France which lent some of their rules to the modern game of blackjack. French settlers brought the game to the US where it became hugely popular in the early 20th century, and this simple card game still retains that popularity in online casinos today.

While Baccarat may not be as well-known as the two games mentioned above, it is far older than either of them. The game dates back to Italy in the 15th century and the name ‘baccarat’ is the Italian word for ‘zero’, used because 10s and face cards have a value of zero in this game. Early versions of the game became popular with the French aristocracy, but it took hundreds of years for the game to gain widespread appeal across Europe. Today the game is popular with high-rolling players, as the fast-paced action and low house edge suits gamblers who want to enjoy some high stakes casino gaming. For that reason alone, you will find baccarat tables at all major online casinos.

Dice games have been played since as long ago as Ancient Roman times, making it one of the oldest forms of gambling which exists. The modern game of Craps is available at many casinos, and is one of the more sociable games to play at a land-based casino. Loaded dice were a problem for early versions of this game, a problem which was solved by changes to the rules made by American dice-maker John Winn. His version of the game is the one played to this day, even though weighted dice are not an issue when it comes to online versions of the game!

Virtual dice table (online craps)
A virtual dice table (online craps) powered by Microgaming software

Although the craps table can be off-putting to newcomers with its complex looking betting options, in fact this is one of the best value games in the casino and one which any serious players should be familiar with.

Visit any casino in Vegas or Atlantic City today and you will find that slot machines dominate the lobby, arranged in columns and rows and attracting customers with their jangling siren call. The same can be said for online casinos, where a majority of the games on offer will be video slots as these tend to offer a higher return to the casinos. However, you will also see plenty of traditional table games available in every online casino.

Today, most will also offer live dealer casino games in an attempt to attract players who would traditionally only have played in physical casinos. Despite all the modern alternatives, these centuries old casino table game have never been more popular and continue to find new audiences via laptops, tablets and smartphones all over the globe.

Author: Jeff Grant (info)


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