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Faro

30 April 2016

By John Marchel
Faro, pharaoh, pharaon or pharo were all the names of the late 17th-century French gambling card game known today as simply faro. It is descended from the card game of basset, and belongs to the monte bank family of games due to the use of a banker and several players.

After being introduced by French immigrants in New Orleans, it became extremely popular in the U.S. Later, Faro was played in every saloon hall in the Old West from 1825 to 1915. By the late 1800s it was considered to be the most popular form of gambling in the country. However, it is no longer played in casinos or card rooms anywhere in the country today.

The game is one of the simplest card games to learn and play. The “house” puts up the money to cover the bets and players bet against the house. The player places a bet on a card and two cards are drawn. If the player’s card is drawn first, he loses, and if his card is drawn second, he wins. However, if neither card is drawn it is a push; no win and no loss. If a pair is drawn (the first and second card) the house takes half the bet on the paired card, and is said to be the bank’s maximum percentage gain.

The main reason why this popular card game vanished from casinos lies in the fact that the game offered an extremely small advantage for the house. The house edge was so small that it was virtually insignificant. To help the house overcome their low win-rate, things had to change.

Extra “skills” were needed to improve the small advantage for the house. Dealers began to adjust the way cards were placed in the dealing box; lots of pairs seemed to appear. In time, even companies that produced legitimate gambling devices began to make dealing boxes with a special button that could be pressed to release two cards instead of one. That cheating device greatly increased the odds in favor of the house.

Due to the natural speed of the game, slight of hand in moving bets around the layout became common by dealers which also helped the house. In the heyday of faro, a first-class dealer was called a “mechanic” or an “artist” and paid from $100.00 to $200.00 a week plus a percentage of the profits.

Cheating at faro became so prevalent that 19th century editors of Hoyle’s Rules of Games book began their faro section with a disclaimer, warning readers that an honest faro bank could not be found in the U.S. As time went on other games, like poker, 21 and roulette, became more popular and profitable for both the house and player.

The last known faro casino bank game was played at the Ramada Hotel and Casino in Reno, Nevada, in 1985.


BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW

• It's been documented that Casanova’s favored card game was faro. He mentions the game several times in his autobiography.

• The earliest references to a game named pharaoh were found in a document in southwestern France during the reign of Louis XIV in the late 1690s.

• In the 1830’s Elijah Skaggs, a note gambler, who had been barred from faro games in the East and South, trained teams on how to cheat at faro and sent them all around the U.S.

• At Brook’s, an eighteenth-century London gambling club, the pharaoh table had a large semicircular section cut out of one of its sides in order to accommodate the enormous stomach of the U.K.’s first Foreign Secretary, Charles James Fox.

• On March 1, 1907, The Prescott, Arizona Journal-Miner newspaper ran a headline reading “The Tiger is Dying.” At midnight the faro card game was outlawed in the Arizona Territory.

• When it came to faro, sometimes there was an additional “lookout” involved. That individual, who was normally armed with a pistol, was assigned the duty of restraining any player who might became unhappy with the action and became violent.

• There is an old faro table in the Delta Saloon on South C St. in Virginia City, Nevada called the Suicide Table. It gained that name after three previous owners were reported to have committed suicide because of heavy losses over the table.

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at fscobe@optonline.net.

 

Canceled playing cards

9 April 2016
The playing cards used in casinos today are manufactured to a much higher quality than standard decks sold to the general public. However, since they are used at a much higher rate than cards played at home, they are also discarded at a much greater rate. Some casinos will change a deck of cards every few ... (read more)
 

The five steps for blackjack players

19 March 2016
1. Learn basic blackjack strategy This is one of the foundations to your program. You must know “basic strategy” for blackjack. This is knowing when to hit, stand, double down and split. When do you take insurance, how do you surrender? These are all part of basic strategy for blackjack. If you expect to be a winner you must know this strategy. ... (read more)
 

Roulette tips

27 February 2016
1. The Single-Zero Wheel When playing the game of roulette, try to find a wheel that only has one zero rather than the double zero. The single zero is known as a French or European wheel. The odds for a player are greatly improved when playing against a single zero. The odds of minus 5.26% on the American wheel drop to only minus 2.70% when the double zero is removed from the wheel. ... (read more)

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John Marchel
John Marchel is an author, speaker, teacher and player -- what John plays are casino games. He’s been a casino player for over 25 years and has played successfully in Europe, Panama, the Caribbean, Canada, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, on Indian reservations, cruise ships and in over 350 casinos throughout the US. He is also the author of six books about gambling, and has written numerous magazine articles and is currently a columnist for three gambling magazines and one internet magazine.

Since 1988 John has combined his experience as a manager, teacher and player to present seminars and lectures about gambling. In addition, John has had an Internet website since 1995 that offers books, special reports and tips about gambling. He also publishes a monthly Internet gambling newsletter. The newsletter keeps subscribers alert to trends, information and winning techniques that allows them to be more successful when visiting casinos.

John Marchel Websites:

johnmarchelgambling.com

Books by John Marchel:

101 Casino Gambling Tips: Affordable Strategies & Techniques for Maximizing Profits & Reducing Loses

> More Books By John Marchel

John Marchel
John Marchel is an author, speaker, teacher and player -- what John plays are casino games. He’s been a casino player for over 25 years and has played successfully in Europe, Panama, the Caribbean, Canada, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, on Indian reservations, cruise ships and in over 350 casinos throughout the US. He is also the author of six books about gambling, and has written numerous magazine articles and is currently a columnist for three gambling magazines and one internet magazine.

Since 1988 John has combined his experience as a manager, teacher and player to present seminars and lectures about gambling. In addition, John has had an Internet website since 1995 that offers books, special reports and tips about gambling. He also publishes a monthly Internet gambling newsletter. The newsletter keeps subscribers alert to trends, information and winning techniques that allows them to be more successful when visiting casinos.

John Marchel Websites:

johnmarchelgambling.com

Books by John Marchel:

KISS Guide to Gambling

> More Books By John Marchel