Baccarat in the UK: From Bond Films to Casino Royalty

When we think of casino games, blackjack and roulette usually come to mind. But there’s one game that has a certain air of sophistication and mystery: baccarat. Whether you’ve seen it played in James Bond films or heard it mentioned in the gossip columns of celebrities, baccarat has a long and fascinating history in the UK.

So, let’s take a closer look at how this game of kings (and spies?) became a British obsession.

Baccarat: The Game of Kings…and Spies?

Baccarat is a card game that originated in Italy in the 15th century. Its name comes from the Italian word “baccarà,” which means zero, and refers to the value of the face cards and tens in the game. The goal is to have a hand with a total value of nine, or as close to nine as possible.

But why is baccarat associated with spies? Well, during World War II, baccarat gained popularity among the British intelligence community. MI6 agents would play the game to pass the time and also to sharpen their poker faces. In fact, Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond books, was a baccarat enthusiast and even gave his famous spy the nickname “007” because it was the code name for a baccarat hand worth seven points.

How Baccarat Became a British Obsession

Baccarat made its way to the UK in the 19th century and quickly became a favorite among the upper class. It was seen as a game of refinement and elegance, and only the wealthiest members of society were able to play. In fact, the first baccarat table in London was set up in the exclusive Crockford’s Club, which catered to the aristocracy.

But it wasn’t just the rich who enjoyed baccarat. The game became popular among royalty as well. Queen Victoria’s son, the future King Edward VII, was a fan of baccarat and would often play with his guests at Sandringham Palace. Even today, baccarat is a favorite of the royal family, with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle reportedly enjoying the game on their honeymoon in Botswana.

In the 20th century, baccarat spread beyond the exclusive clubs and into casinos. Today, you can find baccarat tables in casinos throughout the UK, where it remains a popular game among both high rollers and casual players.

Baccarat may not be as well-known as some other casino games, but it has a rich and fascinating history in the UK. From its origins in Italy to its popularity among British spies and royalty, baccarat has always been associated with refinement and elegance. So, the next time you’re at a casino, why not try your hand at this game of kings (and spies)? Who knows, you might just get lucky and score a hand worth 007 points.

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