Faro, also known as Farobank and Pharaoh, is a card game that found its origin in late 17th century France. The game is a descendent of the Monte Bank and Iansquenet family of casino games, which all have one dealer and multiple players at one game. Winning and losing in Faro is decided by the cards that match up against the cards that are exposed by the banker or dealer.
Faro, while similar in some ways, is not a relative of poker, but was considered to be just as popular. Its popularity was thanks to its fast paced card play, easy rules, and generally better odds than most other card games on offer. Only one deck of cards can be used in a game of Faro, but any number of players is allowed to join in.
The History of Faro
During the reign of Louis XIV in 17th century France, the extremely popular card game of Basset was outlawed by the government of the time. Years later, a game called Pharaoh emerged to take the place of Basset, and the game quickly shot up in popularity. The game was soon banned alongside Basset. Despite the bans in France, the two games became popular in England during the start of the 18th century. In England, the game was known as pharo, which was a shortened version of Pharaoh.
At the turn of the 18th to the 19th century, pharo made its way across the ocean to the United States. Here, the game became further shortened to the more commonly known name of Faro. While in the United States, it became even more widespread than ever, becoming a favourite among gambling games. The game was especially popular in the Wild West, being played across the country in various saloons and hotels. Eventually, as the Second World War came to an end, Faro became less popular until it was mainly played in casinos in Reno and Last Vegas.
Faro received a lot of criticism during its more popular years, with many detractors claiming that the game was a scam, designed to rob players of their money. These allegations were not completely false, however, as many Faro games were, in fact, scams, and often players were cheated out of their money. There were even criminal prosecutions involving Faro in the early 19th century, with some of the cases being used as precedents for modern legal cases of similar nature.
The Rules of Faro
The rules of Faro are simple and easy to learn, which is one of the reasons the game became so popular. A round of Faro would start with a standard deck of cards, which were placed inside a dealing box. This was done to ensure that the cards were not manipulated in any way. The first card in the deck, known as the soda, was removed from the deck, leaving the remaining cards. The dealer then removed cards one by one, and placed them on certain spots on the table. Players were given cards, and would win the game if their random cards were of a higher value than the cards of the dealer. The player, conversely, would lose if their card were of a lower value. The chance of players having a higher value card was frequent, which meant that players had much better odds in Faro than in most other card games.