There’s nothing more thrilling than betting it all on your favorite casino table game. From Blackjack to Roulette, these games continue to draw crowds. Not only do they offer a chance to win big, but they provide a traditional casino experience.
These days, many modern players associate gambling with the contemporary glitz and glam of Vegas. However, casino table games are much older than most people realize! There’s a reason why they’re considered classics.
Table games stand the test of time and exemplify the core appeal of gambling. Some date back hundreds of years. Others have roots that go back to the early Stone Age! Like many facets of human culture, casino table games went through a massive evolution to become what they are today.
You don’t need to understand a game’s history to enjoy it. However, learning how your favorite game became part of the gambling zeitgeist can provide some newfound appreciation.
The Evolution of Popular Casino Table Games
Modern casino table games are a product of centuries of evolution. The rules and gameplay style of popular titles are long-established. However, most games have changed a lot since their infancy. Many offered completely different experiences!
Want to learn how these classics began? Check out the history and origins of your favorites below.
Poker is, arguably, one of the most popular table games out there. The game recently experienced a massive resurgence. Thanks to televised tournaments and celebrity endorsements, Poker is everywhere!
The exact origins of this card game are a little fuzzy. However, most historians agree that it’s a derivative of As-Nas.
As-Nas was an old Persian card game. The deck only consisted of 20 to 25 cards with five designs. It was a simple game, but the foundation for Poker is not hard to see.
Some argue that Poker is more inspired by a French game called Poque. But it gets even deeper than that. Poque draws inspiration from a German game called Pochen, which means “To bluff.”
The version we know today got its start around the 19th century. It began with the adoption of a standard 52-card deck.
Poker became wildly popular on riverboats in America. There, it continued to evolve even more. Back then, the rules were simple, and the hands were rudimentary. However, new hands like the Flush added fresh zest to the classic gameplay.
During the American Civil War, some of the most popular variations emerged. Stud Poker was created during this time.
Poker is one of the most adapted table games in history. The sheer number of Poker variations is enough to make even the most seasoned card player overwhelmed. Some of the most popular variants include Texas Hold ‘Em, Follow the Queen, and Chinese Poker.
All variants use similar hands. However, slight changes to the rules keep things fresh!
Blackjack is another casino table game that anyone can play. The rules are simple: Try to get as close to 21 as possible! Even novice gamblers can get the hang of things quickly. Thanks to its accessibility and fast-paced nature, Blackjack continues to be a casino mainstay.
Like Poker, the origins aren’t well-known. Some historians believe that early iterations started in Ancient Rome. Roman soldiers reportedly developed the game with a smaller and simpler deck.
The modern version dates back to the 1600s. French gamers brought even more innovation. They called the game Vingt-et-Un, which translates to “21.” The standard 52-card deck came from another popular table game called Chemin de Fer.
When Vingt-et-Un came to English-speaking countries, it was referred to as 21. Even at the start of the 20th century, most called it 21 to reflect the rules. At the time, the deck was shortened. It didn’t include seven or eight cards, which made things much more manageable.
21 became Blackjack in Las Vegas. The reintroduction to a full deck added some new flare and more challenging gameplay. Even still, Blackjack continues to have one of the lowest house edges in the casino.
The term “roulette” translates to “little wheel” in French. As you can guess, the game started in France. However, it wasn’t initially a game. It was the brainchild of famed mathematician Blaise Pascal.
The wheel was pretty similar to the one we use today. However, it has zero and double zero spots instead of the green we use now. That addition of the green was to avoid confusion with the zeros. It came during the 19th century and is primarily referred to as the American roulette wheel.
Another version of the wheel was developed in Germany for the Homburg Casino. This wheel, known as the European wheel, has no double zero.
It wasn’t just the wheel that saw improvements. Playing roulette requires you to make bets on a specialized table. The design of the table and the subsequent wagers evolved a lot throughout history. Some differences exist between the variations. However, all are far more complex than the tables of yesteryear.
Craps is a thrilling dice game. It’s reportedly inspired by games that Ancient Roman soldiers played. Some say that it pulls elements from an Arabic dice game called Al Dar, too.
Whatever the origins, Craps saw major revisions throughout history. During the 12th century, it became known as Hazard. Then, it saw a massive rise in popularity on the streets. Craps games don’t require any specialized equipment. You don’t even need a table. As a result, it was a favorite among street players and back-alley gambling houses.
Fast forward a century or two, and the game evolved even more in France. The French adopted the “Craps” moniker. They took it from the word “crapaud,” which roughly translates to “toad.”
The French version of the game spread rapidly. It made its way to New Orleans and became a staple in casinos. One cunning dice maker realized that players could easily exploit the casino through Craps. So, he developed new rules. One was the “Don’t Pass” bet. This version is the one that most casinos offer these days.
Last but not least, we have Baccarat!
This game is thought to originate in medieval Italy. However, it quickly became a game for aristocracy! Baccarat became popular in France. There, it was known as Chemin de Fer. King Charles VIII adored the game, making it a big hit among noblemen.
Eventually, the game made its way across Europe and to South America. In South America, new rules resulted in a brand-new iteration. Initially, it was called Punto Banco. However, most refer to it as American Baccarat today.
This version lets the casino act as the banker. Players can also bet against the banker instead of other players.
Baccarat made its debut in Las Vegas in the 1950s. It never reached the popularity of roulette or craps. But, it’s still popular by comparison. Today, the game comes with a low house edge and very high stakes. You’ll see baccarat most in the high-rollers section of the casino.