How to Play Faro
Faro is an extremely old banking game that is sometimes referred to as farobank. During the reign of Louis XIV it was called pharaoh. During the 1700s it was England’s most popular house game. Then, within a century it was very popular in the United States and was known as “bucking the tiger.”
Equipment used in Faro
For Faro, a green baize covered table is needed that has the faro layout. Usually, the layout is made up of the complete spades suit.
Also needed is a dealing box where one card can be slid out one at a time. Also, a casekeeper is needed and this is basically like an abacus frame that shows what cards from the deck have been played. A standard deck of cards are also needed in addition to betting chips. Faro “coppers” are also part of the game and these are chips that are black or red and they may be round or hexagonal. They are used for betting on a denomination that will lose. Finally, bet markers are needed that may be made of plastic or ivory. These are used to make bets over a bettor’s limit.
As many as 10 players can play. The house official includes the dealer, a lookout who watches the betting, and an official casekeeper. The house is always the bank.
Objective of Faro
The objective of Faro is for the players to predict what the next card will be that appears as well as the denomination to bet on that will be next in the pile. Cards are played two at a time and the first one is always the losing card and the second is always the winning card.
Shuffle, Cut, and Bet
The cards are shuffled, cut, and placed face up in the dealing box by the dealer. The card that is on top and exposed is called the “soda” and is ignored during the betting process. At this point the bets are placed.
The soda card is placed to one side face up by the dealer and this creates the “soda stack”, which is actually the discard pile. The next exposed card is then taken from the box by the dealer and is placed to the right of the box face up. This card is the card that lost. The winning card exposed at the top of the box is the winning card.
Between turns and bets that were placed on the two denominations that were exposed will be settled. At this time all other bets may be made as well as changed. The cards are shown by altering the casekeeper to show what has appeared already.
The game is played continuously through the deck. For every turn the dealer will take the card from the box that was the last winner and place it in the discard pile face up. Also, a new card sill be taken from the box for the losing card at the first turn. Then, the new winning card will be turned over on the top of the box.
The casekeeper has pictures of every denomination, which totals 13, and there are four large buttons made of wood on a spindle that are placed across from each button. Before the deal all of the buttons are at the inside end of the spindle. Once a card is removed from the box one of the buttons on the correct spindly will be moved toward the outer portion of the frame.
The distance the button is moved depends on whether the card represented a winning card or a losing card. A losing card is moved to the point where it actually touches the frame or a button that has been moved previously on the same spindle. A winning card is moved towards the frame, but about a ½ an inch is left between the bottom and the frame or else between the button and any other buttons that have been moved previously. When the fourth card making up a denomination is turned over regardless of whether it is a winning card or a losing card then all four of the buttons will be pushed together towards the edge of the outer frame to show that there is no more betting on this denomination.
The Last Turn
For the last turn there are three cards left in the box. The cards are shown by the casekeeper and the last card left in the box is called the “hock” or “hoc” card.
On the last turns players may act as follows:
They may choose to bet as usual on a card to win or lose. Or, they may “call the turn” and this means that they try to predict what order the three cards will come out in. For example, that the queen would lose first and the six would win second with the ace winning last. The turn is played the same as other turns except that once the winning card has been removed from the box the losing card will be slid out a bit so the hoc card’s denomination can be determined. If the card that he player bets on to either win or lose ends up being the hoc card then the player will receive his bet back.
Continuing the Game
Once the last turn is over then all of the cards will be collected and then shuffled to prepare for the next deal.
Betting in Faro
Besides the bet on the last turn there are three other kids of bets. These include bets on single denominations, bets on denomination sets, and bets that require action on every turn.
Bets on Single Denominations
Bets on single denominations will be settled once a card from that denomination shows up. In order to make the same bet again then the players will place a new stake on the layout for the new bet.
Bets on Denomination Sets
Bets on denomination sets are bets that are placed on different numbers that are close together on the Faro table’s layout. As soon as one of the denominations appears then the bets are settled. Players must place a new stake on the Faro layout to make the same bet again.
Bets Requiring Action
Bets that require action at every turn will remain on the layout until the player removes them. Two of these bets include ea bet on an “even or odd card” or a bet on a “high card.”
A high card bet is one where the player bets that the highest denomination to appear in each pair will win at each turn or if the bet has been “coppered” then the bet is that the higher card will lose at each turn. In this bet, the ace is a low bet.
For even and odd card bets the player will bet that at each turn either the even card or odd card will win. For this bet the king, ace, and jack are all odd and the queen is even. With these two particular bets the player will either win on every turn or lose on every turn. When a player loses he will give the deal chips that are equal to his stake. When the player wins he will receive an equal number of chips. The actual amount of the stake will stay on the table until the bet is no longer made by the player.
Bets to Win with
One or More Chips
Bets for Faro may be made with one chip or more chips. IF multiple chips are used then they will be stacked vertically except for some bets where they are “heeled” or “titled.”
Bets to Lose Using One or More Chips
In general, bets to use are placed as if they were bets to win but then they are “coppered” by placing faro copper on top of the chip. The exception to this is made when there is only a single chip.
Betting One to Win/One to Lose
Betting on one card to win and one card to lose may be done by placing a chip on any two adjacent denominations. When the bet is made with just one chip then a copper is place on the chip's edge. If multiple chips are used then the chip is placed on the edge of the lose card and the rest of the chips are tilted towards the win card.
Calling the Turn
The last turn bet of “calling the turn” is placed on t eh card that is bet on to lose and then angled toward the card that is bet on to win.
Last Turn Bet: Cat Hop
The cat hop is placed the same as for making a call on the turn.
In Faro bet markers are used when a player needs to make more bets on the layout than he actually has funds for. For every marker that is placed on the player the player must have at least that amount on the layout in other chips. Should one of the bets lose then the dealer will take payments in chips.
A split takes place when a single bet covers both the losing and winning cards.
Betting on Cases
When only one card of a denomination is left in the box then this is a “case” this means “cases on the queens.” Generally, it is forbidden by the house to bet on a case until after he has bet on a denomination that could potentially split.
Cat Hop Bet
On the last turn the casekeeper might show that not all of the three cards left are of different denominations.
A player that happens to call the turn correctly will be paid at odds of 4 to 1. Players that have bets on the cat hop that are successful will be paid at 2 to 1 and every other bet is paid even money, i.e. 1 to 1.