Rules for the Faro Card Game

By Cam Merritt
Rules for the Faro Card Game
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Faro is a card game that shares certain elements with roulette: players bet against the house, not each other, and they bet on which number will come up. Popular in the Old West, the game has developed many variations over the past century and a half, but the basic rules are the same.

The Layout

The dealer, or banker, sits before a layout, or "bank," that has images of the 13 cards, Ace to King, arranged in two horizontal rows. The bottom row has images of cards Ace to 6 in ascending order from left to right. The top row has images of cards King to 8 in descending order from left to right, so that the King is directly above the Ace, the Queen is directly above the 2, and so on. The 7 is at the far right end, with half of the card in each row. See the first link in References for a picture of a Faro bank.

The Bets

Players bet on what number of card they think will turn up from the top of the deck, regardless of suit. Players mark their bet by placing chips atop that card on the layout. If house rules allow, players may "split" their bets by placing chips between two adjacent cards on the layout or at a corner where three or four cards meet. Once all bets are placed, the deal begins for the first turn.

The Deal

Faro cards are traditionally dealt from a deck placed faceup. Since everyone can see the top card, it is "burned"--used to start a discard pile--at the beginning of play. That reveals the next card in the deck. This is the "banker's card" or "loser's card." All bets on this card lose and are collected by the house. The dealer then removes the loser's card from the deck and sets it on top of the discard pile. This reveals the next card, which is the "player's card" or "winner's card." The house pays all bets on that card 1-to-1, so if you had bet $5 on a card, you get your money back plus another $5.

Split bets are handled as if the entire bet is placed on each card. Say a player has split her bet between the King and the Ace. If the loser's card is a King, the player loses her entire bet. Even if the winner's card is an Ace, it doesn't matter, because she has already lost.

Once all bets are paid, the turn ends, and players bet for the next turn. They may leave their non-winning bets on the table, make a different bet, or remove their bets entirely. To begin the next turn, the dealer removes the old winner's card from the top of the deck, revealing the loser's card for the next turn. A Faro round consists of 24 turns.

Coppering

At any time before the deal, a player may "copper" his bet by putting some kind of token on top of his chips. (This was commonly a penny, hence the name.) Coppering "reverses" the bet, meaning that the player wins if the bet is on the loser's card and loses if the bet is on the winner's card.

Betting the Turn

After 24 turns have been played, only three cards will remain in the deck. Players who have kept track of the cards used in the game now have the opportunity to "bet the turn" by betting on the order in which the final three cards will turn up. Players who make a correct prediction are paid at 4-to-1 or 5-to-1. If the final three cards include two of the same rank (say, two 8s), a correct prediction pays only 2-to-1. If all three are of the same rank, no turn bets are allowed.