Ancient Games the Modern Casino Games Evolved From

Gaming with money involved is not a new thing. You will be surprised that several modern casino games actually have an ancient past! To fully appreciate casino games, we need to look back and see where they came from.

Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow Poker is commonplace in online casinos today. Almost all online casinos like have it. In ancient times, people called it simply a card game or double-hand poker. However, its origin can be traced to the real Pai Gow. 

Pai Gow is the first documented form of the modern dominos. It came from China, and it literally means “make nine.” It was called so because that was the maximum hand. Players who had the best hand won. 

In ancient China, Pai Gow was a popular game. Essentially, the game was a battle between the player and the dealer. In Pai Gow, the player and the dealer have two hands. What they do is distribute two domino pieces to the player and the dealer. Those two pieces comprise the hand. Because dominos have two sides, the player has a front hand and a rear hand. 

Both front and rear hands must beat the dealer’s for a player to win—the same thing with the dealer’s hand. If a player’s one hand beats the dealer’s but the other losses, then the game is a push or a draw. Eventually, these numbers and pairings evolved into a variant of poker that we know today.


There are many theories about the origins of baccarat. However, the consensus is that it came from Italy. 

According to legends, baccarat was created by a man named Felix Falguire back in the 1400s. At that time, the name of the game was “baccara.” In Italian, this word means “zero.” In this game, all the face cards and tens had no value—they were equivalent to zero. The game spread out and reached France, and the French spelled it “baccarat.” 

According to stories, Felix based the game on Etruscan folklore. The story was about a virgin who had to throw one piece of a die with nine sides. If the woman managed to throw an eight or a nine, she got a promotion. If she threw a six or a seven, she stayed alive, but then she was stripped of her promotion. Any value less than six means a sentence of death by drowning. 

For many years, only the aristocrats played the game. It was King Charles VIII who made it so. When he heard about the game, he was intrigued and made it a game for noble people only. 


Keno came from China, and it is widely believed that playing cards also came from China. The Chinese invented paper, and pretty much they learned how to shuffle paper. 

Keno can be traced as far back as 2,000 years ago. Initially, the game was called “white pigeon ticket.” By 900 AD, the Chinese created cards with human forms. The trend became so popular in Europe that they adopted the design—it is the card that gave rise to the ones we use today. The thing is that Europeans changed the design to kings and queens, which are still prevalent now.

In ancient Keno, the Chinese used tickets in a betting game. This betting game involved homing pigeons. At that time, gambling was illegal unless there was a permit from the governor. In return, the government shared the profits. From the third century BCE, Keno was popular in the entire mainland. 


The history of blackjack is debatable. However, many experts believe that it must have come from French casinos since the 1700s. At that time, the game was called “Vingt-et-Un”, which means “21” in French. According to historians, the card game was based on “Chemin de Fer”. It was a game during the reign of King Louis XV. 

There is also a story that blackjack came from Ancient Rome. Ancient Romans loved to gamble, and it is widely believed they used to play with wooden blocks—these blocks had numbers painted on them. 

Face Up or Face Down

Archaeologists found out that ancient caves in Utah were probably casinos. In these caves, there are 10,000 objects that could have been used in gambling. Among other things, they found carved sticks. 

Ancient Native Americans threw these objects and guessed whether they would land face up or face down. This game has evolved into something today. However, people toss coins, not sticks.

In ancient Greece, people also played a game called Heads and Tails. They tossed shells, not coins. But when coins were introduced to their society, they abandoned the shells. 

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