Baccarat, a game traditionally associated with the rich and famous, has long been enveloped in an aura of glamour and intrigue. Conjuring images of Monte Carlo’s opulent casinos, James Bond’s thrilling escapades, and the glittering allure of the world’s elite, Baccarat has always been a game that exudes an air of exclusivity.
The Scandalous History of Baccarat: The Prince and the Game
One of the most infamous incidents in the annals of Baccarat history involves the then Prince of Wales, “Bertie,” who would later ascend to the throne as Edward VII. This episode unfolded in 1890 and provides a fascinating glimpse into the game’s storied past.
Bertie, the son of Queen Victoria and heir to the British throne, was a renowned bon-vivant with a penchant for gambling. In September of that year, the 48-year-old Prince and Sir William Gordon-Cumming, a 42-year-old Scottish landowner and soldier, were among the guests at a house party at Tranby Croft. This country house and estate, located near Hull in East Yorkshire, was owned by shipbuilder Arthur Wilson.
During the evening, the guests engaged in a game of Baccarat, which was, at the time, illegal in England. As the game progressed, Arthur Wilson’s son, Stanley, alleged that he witnessed Sir William cheating by altering the totals of bets on the table after the outcome was known. Stanley promptly informed his mother, brother-in-law, and friend about the incident.
Over the course of the next evening, several guests and members of the Wilson household claimed they had independently observed Sir William’s deceitful actions. By this point, Sir William had amassed winnings totalling £225 over two evenings. The guests convened the following day to discuss the situation and collectively decided to inform the Prince of the alleged cheating.
Sir William vehemently denied the accusations but agreed to sign a pledge vowing never to play cards again. In exchange, the incident would remain a secret. However, as is often the case with scandalous affairs, the secret didn’t stay hidden for long.
The Fallout: A Scandal Unleashed
The tantalizing gossip proved too irresistible for the upper-class social circles, and word of the incident spread like wildfire. The ensuing scandal resulted in Sir William becoming a social pariah. Desperate to salvage his reputation, he sued his accusers for libel.
Although not named as a defendant, the Prince was summoned to appear as a witness, causing a scandal in its own right. Unfortunately for Sir William, the overwhelming evidence presented by the witnesses led to a swift verdict in favour of the defendants. Following the trial, Sir William was dismissed from the army and retreated to his estate, never to reenter high society.
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The day after the trial, Sir William married his fiancée, the American heiress Florence Garner. They had four children, but by 1905, Florence had lost most of her fortune, forcing them to surrender their Scottish estates.
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The family relocated to Bridge House at Dawlish in Devon, living with fewer servants. Sir William, who reportedly despised the town, became increasingly derisive towards his wife and engaged in various affairs. He passed away in 1930 at the age of 81.
In the wake of the scandal, the Prince of Wales adjusted his behaviour, continuing his gambling habits more discreetly and ceasing to play Baccarat.
Baccarat in the Modern Era
Today, Baccarat is not only legal but also widely enjoyed by many. Once you grasp its rules, you’ll find it to be an engaging and entertaining game. It’s a casino table game that stands out for its simplicity, making it an ideal choice for beginners. The game’s objective is straightforward: bet on the winning hand, either the player’s or the banker’s.
In a typical game of Baccarat, two-card hands are dealt to both the dealer and the player. The hand that comes closest to nine is declared the winner. Your role is to predict which hand will win.
Baccarat comes in various formats and variations, adding to its appeal. Most UK online casinos even offer the option to play live against a dealer, further enhancing the gaming experience.
If you’re intrigued by the prospect of playing Baccarat, you can check out our comprehensive guide here. It’s time to enter Baccarat’s world and experience this timeless game’s thrill.
Royalty and Gambling
The thrill of chance, the allure of risk, and the potential for reward have made games of chance irresistible to many a royal figure. This fascination has shaped the personal lives of these monarchs and influenced their realms’ cultural and political landscapes.
Here are some fascinating historical facts about gambling and its entanglement with royalty, revealing a side of the world’s monarchs that often remained hidden behind the grandeur of the throne.
- King Henry VIII of England: Known for his love of gambling, King Henry VIII was an avid player of dice and cards. However, his gambling habits were so severe that he reportedly lost the bells of St. Paul’s Church in a dice game.
- Chinese Emperors: Ancient Chinese emperors were known to have promoted gambling, especially during the Chinese New Year, as it was believed to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits. Games like Keno were invented in China and used to fund state projects, such as the Great Wall of China.
- Louis XIV of France: Known as the “Sun King,” Louis XIV was a great patron of gambling. His reign saw the opening of several state-controlled casinos, and many modern casino games trace their origins back to this period.
- King Charles II of England: Charles II was known for his love of horse racing. He was instrumental in establishing the Newmarket Racecourse, which is still one of the most famous horse racing tracks in the world.
- Roman Emperors: Several Roman emperors were known to be avid gamblers. Emperor Augustus, for instance, was known to play dice games, even writing about his gambling exploits in his memoirs.
- Japanese Shoguns: During the Tokugawa period in Japan, the ruling shoguns implemented strict anti-gambling laws. However, this didn’t stop the proliferation of underground gambling dens, which often featured games like Hanafuda, a type of Japanese playing card.
- Russian Tsars: Many Russian tsars were known for their love of gambling. Tsar Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia, was known to host poker games in his court.
- Prince Charles of Monaco: In the 19th century, Prince Charles III of Monaco established the famous Monte Carlo Casino to save his ruling family, the Grimaldis, from bankruptcy. The casino became one of the most famous gambling establishments in the world.
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