The Great Royal Baccarat Scandal

For those of you not familiar with the game, Baccarat is traditionally enjoyed by the rich and famous. There’s a certain glamour associated with the game that conjures up images of Monte Carlo, James Bond and generally demur glitterati.

Today, all that is changing in the game’s online versions at least. Playing online can be a great way of understanding the rules of baccarat and various strategies etc…, but it’s important to remember, too, that this is a game of pure chance.

The Prince And Baccarat

Perhaps the most famous incident in the whole history of baccarat is one concerning the then Prince of Wales, “Bertie” later to be crowned Edward VII, back in 1890.

The son of Queen Victoria and heir to the British throne was a well-known bon-vivant who loved gambling. In September of that year, the 48-year-old Prince along with Sir William Gordon-Cumming (a Scottish landowner and soldier who was then 42) were amongst the guests at a house party at Tranby Croft, a country house and estate at Anlaby, near Hull in East Yorkshire.

The estate belonged to the shipbuilder Arthur Wilson and during the evening, the guests played baccarat. At this time, baccarat was illegal in England.

During the evening, Arthur Wilson’s son, Stanley, claimed he saw Sir William cheating. Apparently, Sir William was changing the totals of bets on the table after he had won or lost. Stanley informed his mother, his brother-in-law, and his friend.

The following evening various guests and members of Wilson’s household said they’d independently seen Sir William cheating. By this time he had won a total of £225 over the two evenings.

The next day, the guests discussed what to do and collectively decided to inform the Prince of what had occurred. Sir William denied cheating but as a matter of discretion, agreed to sign a pledge saying he would never play cards again – in return for which the whole incident would be kept secret.

The Fallout

Of course, this didn’t happen. The gossip in upper-class social circles was just too delicious to be kept under wraps. As a result, it quickly got about resulting in Sir William becoming something of a social outcast.

So Sir William decided to sue his accusers for libel. The Prince wasn’t named as a defendant but was asked to appear as a witness which was a scandal in itself.

Unfortunately for Sir William, the sheer weight of testimony provided by the witnesses saw him lose the case as the jury quickly found in favour of the defendants.

Following the trial, he was dismissed from the army and retired to his estate. He never again entered high society.

The day after the trial, he married his fiancée, the American heiress Florence Garner. They had four children, but in 1905, Florence lost most of her fortune and they had to surrender their Scottish estates.

They then moved to Bridge House at Dawlish in Devon with far fewer servants. Sir William reputedly hated the town and was increasingly derisory about his wife as he engaged in various affairs. He died in 1930 aged 81.

After the scandal, the Prince of Wales tempered his behaviour a little. He carried on gambling but more discreetly, and he stopped playing baccarat.

Modern Day Baccarat

Of course, these days playing baccarat is not illegal. In fact, it’s quite good fun when you wrap your head around how it is played. And honestly, it’s not that difficult.

It is a casino table game and one of the simplest available. It’s very easy to play for beginners as it is a game of chance, with little-to-no strategy required.

The overall objective is to bet on the winning hand – either the player’s or the banker’s hand.

Two-card hands are dealt to both the dealer and the player. The hand that’s valued closest to a final total of nine deemed the winner. You bet on which one you think it will be.

There are plenty of variations and formats. And you can even play live against a dealer on most UK online casinos. So if you fancy playing you can check out our guide here.