For many years prior to the mid-20th century, baccarat was a relatively obscure casino game that took a decided backseat to games like blackjack and poker. Then, around the mid-1950s, the game was introduced to casinos in South America and England. It soon took off and became the game favored by elite gamblers with plenty of cash. That remains the case today, and it’s due to both literal and cultural factors that have affected baccarat’s reception from the beginning of its reign in modern casinos.
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Unlike many table games, including blackjack and poker, the minimum bet limit for a game of baccarat is typically quite high. Generally, this limit is so high that it simply is out of reach for those gamblers who brought a relatively small sum of money with them to the casino. For this reason, only those with thousands of dollars on hand are able to start or join a game. These people are also the only ones who can easily absorb a baccarat loss.
Ever Seen James Bond?
For fans of the 007 saga, it’s no secret that James Bond really loves a good game of baccarat. Of course, James Bond is a millionaire socialite who just happens to solve international crimes for a living. Even so, baccarat’s prominence in more than five decades of James Bond films has elevated its social prominence as a game enjoyed by only high rollers on the casino floor.
Slick Marketing in Vegas Helped Turn the Tide
While baccarat prior to the 1950s was a game that high rollers would not have dreamed of playing, things changed during the 1950s and 1960s thanks to slick Las Vegas marketing. The city was then at the center of casino gambling and high roller society, and it engaged in a series of print ads that raised baccarat’s profile, and its minimum bet, so that only those with a seriously large amount of cash could or would place bets.
Ropes Make Everything More Ritzy and Elusive
Perhaps baccarat wouldn’t be considered such a glamorous and high-roller pursuit if casinos didn’t rope the baccarat tables off with those famous velvet rope dividers. But they do, and the lack of access to most baccarat tables by average gamblers only increases its status as the playground for the rich and high rollers in society. That remains true even when people learn the true purpose of these ropes: To let in only those who are properly dressed and able to afford the minimum bet without doing themselves and their financial underpinnings a serious amount of harm.
Thanks to Marketing, Media, and Restricted Access, Baccarat Reigns Supreme
The combination of 20th century Las Vegas marketing, Hollywood fit and finish, and the restricted nature of today’s modern baccarat tables has combined to keep this fascinating casino game out of reach for many average gamblers. Even so, those determined to play a real game of baccarat still have hope. With bigger bets, more frequent casino visits, and a diverse portfolio of games played, casinos might just extend an invitation to their baccarat tables and their exclusive VIP clubs in the future.