Faro – The Card Game
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Faro – The Card Game

The game of Faro originates from Basset, which was a popular 18th century card game played in England and France. Faro gained popularity in the United States in the 19th century. The name Faro is said to be the corruption of Pharaoh, referring to the Egyptian theme decorating French playing cards. Another theory is that the name came from the Irish word Fairadh, which means ‘to turn’, referring to the rotation of the players. Faro can be likened to the contemporary card game of Mini-Baccarat.

Faro, also called Faro Bank in the past, is played with 52 cards of a pack. Any number of players can play this game who became ‘punters’ and one of them a ‘banker’. Played on a square table that had a cut out for the banker, the layout of the game included an entire suit of cards arranged from ace to king in two rows, with seven at the side, in between the rows, such that face cards occupied the upper row and the lower cards occupied the lower row. These cards were not part of the 52 card pack; these were essentially what formed the Faro board layout. Players are supposed to place their bets on one of the 13 cards on the board. Multiple bets on one cards, and simultaneous bets on multiple cards are allowed.

A deck of cards is kept in a dealing box, so that there is a fair deal made to the players. The first card out of the box is called the ‘soda’ and is discarded, leaving the rest of the 51 cards for play. When the ‘soda’ card is thrown off, the top most card that is exposed becomes the ‘banker’s card’ is placed on the right to the dealing box. The banker draws two cards the first of which is the ‘losing card’ and the second the ‘winning card’. The players lose their bets placed on the losing card with the bank winning the amount, with the winning card it is just the opposite. All bets placed on that card are returned cent per cent to the players. The banker collects the money from the losing card, and pays double amounts to bets placed on the remaining cards in the dealing box. Players can ‘copper their bets’, or place a hexagonal token, the copper reverses the win/ loss meanings for that bet.

The banker had certain advantages when compared to the punters, for example if he draws two equal cards or a doublet; he wins half the stakes for the card which equals the doublet. If the banker drew the last card of the pack, he did not have to double the stakes on the card. If three cards remained, the dealer can offer a special bet, called ‘betting the turn’. This bet has a 4 to 1 payout if the players can identify the correct order of the last three cards. There are other variations that made this game more challenging for the punters. Although Faro has since lost its popularity that it enjoyed earlier it is still played with enthusiasm in some parts of the world.
May 6, 2008, 8:40 am

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