1880s Historical Reenactor

1880s Historical Reenactor

Old West, Bat Masterson,
 Dodge City, Tombstone,
 Ft. Worth, cowboy reenactor

FARO or "Bucking the Tiger"


FARO, was the most popular gambling game of the Old west. I realize many of you believe it was some sort of Poker, but truth be known; it was FARO.

FARO was started in France about the 1500s. It traveled to the United Kingdom and then to the US through New Orleans and the colonies.

The game is simple to play, but can become complex as more rules are added.  When a person came into town and discovered a FARO game, he needed to know the rules of that game before he placed his wager, or problems could ensue.

 In its simplest terms, Faro has a layout and a deck of 52 cards. Rules are simple. Place your money on the card you believe will be turned over next and win/lose. Simple huh?  Well this is where the rules become interesting and the game becomes complicated.

The following information is borrowed from "Evil Swede" who has allowed me to use his information.

 The game begins with each player (called a "punter") laying their wagers with chips (or coins & cash placed under colored markers), on or around the 13 card images on the table (called a faro “layout”).

The seven was to the dealer’s (Banker) right. So as you see this layout, you would be the dealer.

Click to edit table header

After bets are placed, the dealer discards the top card in the deck (called the "soda card") displaying the next card. That is the “losing card” and is placed in the “losing” position, to the right of the dealing box. The house wins any wagers on that card (e.g. if the card should be an Ace, the dealer collects all stakes on the Ace).  The dealer then reveals the losing card to show the “winning card”, which is left face-up in the dealing box. If that card is, for example, a Five, he pays off all bets wagered on the Five. The payoff is even money (one-to-one, i.e. a dollar bet wins a dollar).


 This concludes a single "turn." In the intervals between turns, the punters may place additional wagers or increase existing ones, or move wagers from one card to another. New players may also join the game between the turns and players who still have money/chips on the table, may withdraw their wagers and leave the game.


The game continues for 24 turns, with the first draw going to the house (“losing card”) and the second to the punters (“winning card”), until the deck is nearly exhausted. The banker pays even money (2 for 1) on all bets except for the last turn… When only three cards remain, they must fall in one of six ways.  The bank pays four-to-one (5 for 1) to punters that “call the turn” of the cards.  That is to say, if the player can correctly say in which order the final 3 cards will be dealt. If two of the remaining 3 cards are the same rank, it is called a “cat hop,” the bank pays winners two-to-one (3 for 1). The deck is shuffled and/or replaced.  The house customarily collects any bets remaining on the table after the last card is turned.

Simple huh?  

My faro layout. Shown from left to right, card press, dealers box, dealers shoe, case keeper.

Items used in the game of Faro. Shown left to right, top to bottom: Marker, used for money denomination or identify a punter, 2 clay token with tigers printed on them, copper, used to reverse a bet, and a tab keeper, used by punter to "keep tabs" on cards played.