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Faro

Although both Basset and Faro were forbidden in France, on severe penalties, yet these games still continued in great vogue in England during the 18th century, especially Faro; for the alleged reasons that it was easy to learn, that it appeared to be very fair, and, lastly, that it was a very quiet game. It was, however, the most dangerous game for the destruction of families ever invented. The Faro bankers seem to have employed some 'gentlemen' to give a very favourable report of the game to the town, and so every one took it upon trust without further inquiry. Faro was the daughter of Basset -- both alike notorious frauds, there being no one, except professed gamblers, who could be said to understand the secrets of these games.

Faro was played with an entire pack of cards, and admitted of an indeterminate number of players, termed 'punters,' and a 'banker.' Each player laid his stake on one of the 52 cards.

The banker held a similar pack, from which he drew cards, one for himself, placed on the right, and the other, called the carte anglaise, or English card, for the players, placed on the left.

The banker won all the money staked on the card on the right, and had to pay double the sums staked on those on the left. Certain advantages were reserved to the banker: -- if he drew a doublet, that is, two equal cards, he won half of the stakes upon the card which equalled the doublet; if he drew for the players the last card of the pack, he was exempt from doubling the stakes deposited on that card.

Suppose a person to put down 20s. upon a card when only eight are in hand; the last card was a cipher, so there were four places to lose, and only three to win, the odds against being as 4 to 3.

If 10 cards only were in, then it was 5 to 4 against the player; in the former case it was the seventh part of the money, whatever it was, 1 or 100; in the latter case, a ninth. The odds from the beginning of the deal insensibly stole upon the player at every pull, till from the first supposed 4 per cent. it became about 15 per cent.

At the middle of the 18th century the expenses of a Faro bank, in all its items of servants, rent, puffs, and other incidental charges of candles, wine, arrack-punch, suppers, and safeguard money, &c., in Covent Garden, amounted to 1000 per annum.

Throughout this century Faro was the favourite game. 'Our life here,' writes Gilly Williams to George Selwyn in 1752, 'would not displease you, for we eat and drink well, and the Earl of Coventry holds a Pharaoh-bank every night to us, which we have plundered considerably.' Charles James Fox preferred Faro to any other game.



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