As most of you know I while I was Marshal in many of the cowtowns, I was also a Faro Dealer. After a desciption of the game I highly recommend you find you a nice Saloon, get you a hand made Cigar and enjoy. However I do need to warn you, this game is very addicting!
Faro or as it is also known, "Bucking the Tiger" was a very popular card game in the 19th Century. Faro actually originated in the late 17th Century as a gambling card game from 'basset'. Below is a picture from the website "Legends of America", in which some are playing this game in a Saloon in Tombstone around 1895.
This is not a difficult card game to learn and honestly very addicting. Faro is played with entire deck of cards. One person is the "banker" and/or "dealer". Several number of players could participate and place bets. Much of the time there was also a "look-out" to assist the dealer in keeping track of the bets.
As you see in the photo just below the table is rectangular with a cut out where the dealer would sit. Most Faro Tables are 3.5' by 6', the one you see below is 3'x5', this is portable so that I can take it on the road, which is what many of us did. Visiting the saloons on the gambling route.
On the top of the table was a board that had the layout of an entire suit of cards (13), generally spades, many times you would find the cards painted on the layout or just laquered on as you see just below.
And entire deck of cards was placed in a "dealing box" with all cards facing up, this had a mechanical spring or shoe to keep the 'banker' from manipulating the cards to his advantage. Or so they thought when this contraption was invented. The Jewish version of Faro, called Stuss was dealt from the hand, no deal box was used.
The first card out of the dealing box is called the "soda" and is "burned" off, leaving the remaining 51 cards to be played. Each player, also known as punters, would place a wager on any one of the 13 cards on the layout, betting that the card or cards they choose would be in the winning card which was the second card shown by the dealer, the first card pull by the dealer is the loosing card, the second card pulled is the winning card, all bets placed on the winning card would win, unless the punters (or players) coppered their bet, which would reverse the bet.
A "case keeper" is used to assist the players in counting which cards have been used. This is similar to an abacus device. Each card that is played is kept count by a "Casekeep", as shown below. Much of the time this would be done by the players or there would be a hired Case-keepter by the dealer.
Each two cards dealt is called a turn, in between each turn the "Punters" or players would place new bets or take off old bets, this would continue until you have gone thru the entire deck of 52 cards. The last play of the game there are 3 cards left and this is termed, "call the turn" in which the punter would place a bet on which order the last 3 cards came out. Unless you were playing Stuss, in this case there is not "call the turn" bet, for there was not a soda card or burned card at the end of the game.
No use in re-inventing the wheel, when all the information is out there.
In continued research I have compiled a list of places that speak of Faro from the "rule" books. The dates cover a period form 1856 to 1897.
Also fun for the entire family or any fundsraiser or company party, please see the Contact page for booking of Wyatt, Faro & Co.