July 2011 ~~~~ Editor:  Cliff Hanger ~~~~
Faro (card game) from Wikipedia
Faro, Pharaoh, or Farobank, is a late 17th century French gambling card game descendant of basset, and belongs to the lansquenet and Monte Bank family of games, in that it is played between a banker and several players winning or losing according to the cards turned up matching those already exposed or not.

Although not a direct relative of poker, faro was played by the masses alongside its other popular counterpart, due to its fast action, easy-to-learn rules, and better odds than most games of chance. The game of faro is played with only one deck of cards and allows for any number of players, usually referred to as "punters".



playing faro in an Arizona saloon
in 1895.
The earliest references to a card game named pharaon are found in Southwestern France in the late 17th century (1688) during the reign of Louis XIV.


Pharaoh and basset, the most popular card games of 18th and 19th century Europe, were forbidden in France during the reign of Louis XIV on severe penalties, but these games continued to be widely played in England during the 18th century. Pharo, the English alternate spelling of Pharaoh, was easy to learn, quick and, when played honestly, the odds for a player were the best of all gambling games, as records Gilly Williams in a letter to George Selwyn in 1752.

United States

With its name shortened to faro, it soon spread to the United States in the 19th century to become the most widespread and popularly favored gambling game. Also called "Bucking the Tiger", which comes from early card backs that featured a drawing of a Bengal Tiger, it was played in almost every gambling hall in the Old West from 1825 to 1915.

Faro's detractors regarded it as a dangerous scam that destroyed families and reduced men to poverty because of rampant rigging of the dealing box. Crooked faro equipment was so popular that many sporting-house companies began to supply gaffed dealing boxes specially designed so that the bankers could cheat their players. Cheating was prevalent enough that editions of Hoyle’s Rules of Games began their faro section warning readers that not a single honest faro bank could be found in the United States. While the game became scarce after World War II, it continued to be played at a few Las Vegas and Reno casinos through 1985.


Historians have suggested that the name Pharaon comes from Louis XIV's royal gamblers who called the game pharaon because of the motif that commonly adorned one of the French-made court cards. Another idea traces the name to the Irish word fairadh, pronounced "fearoo", meaning "to turn". It could have been brought to England and France through the mass emigration from Ireland, in particular in the aftermath of the Flight of the Wild Geese. Also the Irish Brigade served in France and may have brought the term with them.


The layout of a faro board.

A game of faro was often called a "faro bank". It was played with an entire deck of playing cards. One person was designated a "banker" and an indeterminate number of players could be admitted. Chips (called "checks") were purchased by the punter from the banker (or house) from which the game originated. Bet values and limits were set by the house. Usual check values were 50 cents to $10 each.

The faro table was oval, covered with green baize, and had a cutout for the banker. A board with a standardized betting layout consisting of one card of each denomination pasted to it, called the "layout", was placed on top of the table. Traditionally, the suit of spades was used for the layout. Each player laid his stake on one of the 13 cards on the layout. Players could place multiple bets and could bet on multiple cards simultaneously by placing their bet between cards or on specific card edges. Players also had the choice of betting on the “high card” bar located at the top of the layout.


A deck of cards was placed face-up inside a "dealing box", a mechanical shoe used to prevent manipulations of the draw by the banker and intended to ensure players of a fair game.

The first card in the dealing box is called the "soda" and is "burned" off, leaving 51 cards in play. As the soda is pulled out of the dealing box, it exposes the first card in play, called the "banker's card". This is placed on the right side of the dealing box. The next card exposed after the banker's card is called the carte Anglaise (English card) or simply the "player's card", and it is placed on the left.

The banker's card is the "losing card". All bets placed on that card are lost by the players and won by the bank. The player's card is the "winning card". All bets placed on that card are returned to the players with a 1 to 1 (even money) payout by the bank (e.g. a dollar bet wins a dollar). A “high card” bet won if the player’s card had a higher value than the banker’s card. The banker collects on all the money staked on the card laid on the right, and he pays double the sums staked on those on the card remaining on the left (in the dealing box). The dealer settles all bets after each two cards drawn. This allows players to bet before drawing the next two cards.

A player could "copper" his bet by placing a hexagonal (6-sided) token called a "copper" on it. Some histories said a penny was sometimes used in place of a copper. This reversed the meaning of the win/loss piles for that particular bet. An abacus-like device, called a "case keep", is employed to assist the players and prevent dealer cheating by counting cards. The operator of the case keep is called the "case keeper".

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 equaled the doublet. In a fair game, this provided the only "house edge". If the banker drew the last card of the pack, he was exempt from doubling the stakes deposited on that card. In most cases, when three cards remained, the dealer would offer a specialized bet called "calling the turn", with the house paying to the players who can identify the exact order of the last three cards a 4-to-1 (since the real odds of naming the order is 5 to 1) payout and a 1-1 payout if there is a pair, called a "cat-hop".

French terms used in Faro
        By 1870, the words used in the game were a mixture of French and English words and spellings. 

* Banker - The person who keeps the table.
* Taillèur (Dealer) - Generally the banker.
* Couche or Enjeu - The stake.
* Coup (a Stroke or Pull) - Any two cards dealt alternately to the right and left.
* Croupier (Croup) - An assistant to the dealer
* Doublet - When the punter's card is turned up twice in the same coup, then the bank wins half the stake. A single paroli must be 
     taken down, but if there are several, only one retires.
* Fasse - The first card turned up by the Banker, by which he gained half the value of the money laid upon every card of that sort by 
     the punters or players.
* Hocly - The last card but one, the chance of which the banker claims, and may refuse to let any punter withdraw a card when eight or 
     less remain to be dealt.
* Livret - A suit of 13 cards, with 4 others called Figures. One named the little figure, has a blue cross on each side and represents ace, 
     deuce, tray; another yellow on both sides, styled the yellow figure, signifies, 4, 5, 6; a third with a black lozenge in the centre, named 
     the black figure, stands for 7, 8, 9. 10; and a red card, called the great or red figure, for Jack, Queen, King: those figures are useful for 
     those who punt on several cards at once.
* L'une pour l'autre (One for the other) - Means a drawn game, and is said when two of the punter's cards are dealt in the same coup.
* Masque - Means turning a card, or placing another face downwards, during any number of coups, on that whereon the punter has
     staked, and which he may afterward play at pleasure.
* Oppose - Reversing the game, and having the cards on the right for the punter, and those on the left for the dealer.
* Pli (Bending) - Used when a punter, having lost half his stake by a doublet, bends a card in the middle, and setting it up with the 
     points and foot towards the dealer, signifies thereby a desire either of recovering the moiety, or of losing all.
* Ponte or Punt (Point) - The punter or player.
* Pont (Bridge) - The same as paix.
* Paix (Peace) - Equivalent to double or quits; that is, when the punter having won, does not choose to paroli and risk his stake, but 
     bends or makes a bridge of his card, signifying that he ventures his gains only. A double paix is, when the punter having won twice, 
     bends two cards one over the other. Treble paix, thrice, etc. A paix may follow a seven, fifteen, or thirty, etc.
* Paroli or Parolet-Double - Sometimes called cocking, is when a punter, being fortunate, chooses to venture both his stake and wins, 
     which he intimates by bending a corner of his card upwards.
* Cocking - See Paroli.
* Paix-Paroli - When a punter has won a paroli, wishes then to play double or quits, and save his original stake, which he shows by 
    doubling a card after making his first paroli; double-paix-paroli succeeds to winning a paix-paroli; treble-paix-paroli follows double, 
* Sept et le Va (Seven and it goes) - Succeed the winning of a paroli, by which the punter being entitled to triple his stake, risks the 
    whole again, and, bending his card a second time, tries to win seven-fold.
* Quinze et le Va (Fifteen and it goes) - When the punter having won a sept, &c., bends the third corner of the card, and ventures for 15 
     times his stake.
* Trente et le Va (Thirty and it goes) - Follows a fifteen, etc., when the punter again tries his luck, and makes a fourth paroli.
* Soitraitte et le Va (Sixty and it goes) - When the player having obtained a thirty, ventures all once more, which is signified by making
    a fifth paroli, either on another card, if he has parolied on one only before, or by breaking the side of that one which contains four, to 
    pursue his luck in the next deal.
Evans Repeating Rifle from imfdb
One of the oddest rifles to ever be produced in the United States. Released in 1873 the Evans was invented by Warren Evans. Mr. Evans was a dentist from Thomaston, Maine. It was manufactured by the Evans Rifle Manufacturing Company of Mechanic Falls, Maine and marketed by Merwin & Hulbert. The hope was that the rifle would be picked up by the United States Army, but the rifle failed the standard dust test. It was then offered 
Evans Repeating Rifle in carbine configuration with 22 inch barrel.
as a sporting rifle. The rifle had a radial block reciever similar to the Spencer, but the rounds were fed from a Archimedean-screw magazine which formed the spine of the rifle stock and could hold up to thirty-four rounds. The fluted cartridge carrier made a quarter turn each time the lever was operated, feeding a new cartridge into the breech. The company went out of business in 1879. There were several things that the rifle had against it. The round was unique to the rifle and hard to find. As stated earlier the mechanism of the rifle was not very sturdy and did not do well with such things as dust. Not a good thing in the Wyoming Territory in 1875. The rifle was heavy. I have held an actual Evans rifle and in my opinion the ergonomics are poor and the rifle is clumsy when moving. It isn't a natural pointer. Nevertheless the Evans Repeating Rifle has lately become something of a collector's item and prices are going up. Whatever it's faults it's a fascinating part of United States firearms history. 

A close up look at the Evans Archimedean-screw magazine. It would hold between 28 and 34 of the Evans 44 rimfire round depending on the configuration.
Guns used in the movie Tombstone --- Link to this article.
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