Faro is a traditional casino game involving cards, chips, bets, and some basic tactics for two or more players. It is a simple game to learn but intricate enough to keep even experienced players entertained. Learn how to play Faro with our instructions.
If you ever dreamt about experiencing the real Wild West-era casino, Faro offers an opportunity to fulfill it. This game (also known as Pharaoh, Pharao, or Farobank) was invented in France but gained popularity mainly in the 1800s in North America.
At times Faro was just as popular as Poker (see Follow the Queen Poker guide for a great alternative to this iconic game). Although it nowadays has competition in modern games such as the In-Between card game, it is still widely played worldwide.
Faro rules are pretty simple – the game requires just a good focus and basic counting. After all, even though tactics can be helpful, the outcome of each Faro round depends largely on fortune and coincidence.
This Faro rules guide will cover the following:
- What is Faro?
- A Brief History of Faro
- What you’ll need to play Faro
- Faro rules
- How to play Faro (video tutorial)
- Other similar games to Faro (our guides)
Learn how to play Faro with the following instructions.
What is Faro?
In Faro, players try to predict the next card from the draw pile by placing their bets. In the beginning, it is just a pure guessing game.
But as the gameplay continues, focused players can calculate the odds by observing which cards were already drawn. This gives you a chance to master your tactics and get better each time you play this game.
Number of Players: 2+
Length of Play: 10 – 20 minutes
Category: Betting card game
Similar to: Baccarat, Basset, Tempeln
Main Objective: Win bets and gather more chips than your opponents.
Why We Love It: Faro is an exciting and straightforward card betting game stripped from any unnecessary complications and enhancement.
A Brief History of Faro
Faro was invented in 17th century France under the reign of Louis XIV. But since gambling was frowned upon as a symbol of degeneration and a hotbed of crime at the time, the game was soon outlawed and almost forgotten.
Nevertheless, underground casinos kept Faro alive. Players even invented numerous alternatives to the game, including Jewish Faro, German Faro, and Ladies’ Faro (created specifically for female players, which were officially banned from gambling).
In the 19th century, the game spread to the U.S., where it became an instant hit. Besides the casinos, Faro was also widely played among soldiers of the Civil War and later World War II. Faro was later a regular table game in some Las Vegas and Reno casinos too.
What You’ll Need to Play Faro
To play Faro, you will need:
- a bundle of multiple 52-card decks (at least two decks are required)
- a set of casino-style chips (for the bets)
- and one penny (or a similar small coin) per each player
Faro Rules and Gameplay
Faro has many variations and alternative rules. The following guideline covers probably the most widespread and traditional interpretation of the gameplay.
Starting the Game
As with most card games, start by shuffling the cards thoroughly. You only need to shuffle one deck, though. When the deck is ready:
- Place the pile of shuffled cards face-down in front of the players.
- The dealer takes another deck and sorts out 13 cards of the same suit (forming two rows). He lays them side by side face-up on the table. This will be the tableau.
- Now the dealer flips over the top card from the pile and lays it face-up on the side of the tableau. This card is called “soda,” and it won’t play any other role in the game.
Cards are ready, and the game can begin.
How to Play Faro
Once the cards are laid out on the table, players start placing their bets:
- Each player bets on some of the up-facing cards in the tableau, trying to predict what card will be flipped over next.
- The dealer now flips over two more cards from the deck.
- The first card is a loser, so any bets placed on the same rank of the card, regardless of the suit, will be lost and collected by the dealer (e.g., if the first card is a Jack of hearts, bets on a Jack of any suit will be lost).
- The second card is a winner. Any bets placed on a card of the same rank receive a 1:1 payout from the dealer (e.g., the second card is a Queen of spades, so any bets placed on a Queen of any suit will be doubled and returned to the players).
The pair of revealed cards can now be set aside (face-up), and a new round begins. Players can move their bets, increase/decrease them, or leave them all the same.
The game goes on until the deck is reduced to the last three cards. For the final round, you can bet on the exact order of the final cards.
To do so, place your bet next to the deck and declare the expected order. The stakes for such a bet are higher – 4:1 (or 5:1 – as the players decide upfront).
Additional rules for Faro
- Players can place bets on multiple cards.
- Multiple players can also place bets on the same card.
- By placing a penny on the chips, players can place a bet on a losing card.
- If the winning and losing cards are of the same rank(e.g., 9 and 9), the dealer collects half of all the bets placed on such a card.
- If a player bets on a card already drawn four times, another player or dealer can declare it a “Dead Bet” and collect the chips.
- Players can choose to avoid risking their stake by declaring to bar a bet for a turn.
- Players can also reduce their stakes by half by declaring it upfront.
When the draw pile runs out of cards, the game is over. Each player counts their chips, and the one who has the most becomes a winner.
How to Play Faro – Video Tutorial
Faro Frequently Asked Questions
What does the phrase Bucking the Tiger in Faro mean?
Bucking the Tiger is a historical phrase that used to refer, in general, to gambling in the game of Faro.
How to do the Faro shuffle?
Faro shuffle is a specific technique for card shuffling that was historically connected with the game of Faro. The dealer cuts the deck into two and allows one-half of the cards to slide in between the cards from the second half by pressing them vertically against each other.
Can you play Faro with real money?
Sure. Faro was originally a popular gambling game played for real money in pubs and casinos. The value of chips (also called “checks” in Faro) usually ranged from 50 cents to 10 dollars each.
Other Similar Games to Faro (Our Guides)
Are you looking for more amusing betting games? Check our guides to some Faro alternatives: