Faro, Or Pharo, a game of chance at cards, said to derive its name from the figure of an Egyptian Pharaoh which was formerly placed on one of the cards. It may be played by any number of persons, who sit at a table generally covered with green cloth. The keeper of the table is called the banker. The player, called the punter (from Ital. puntare, to point), receives a livret or small book from which to choose his cards, upon which he may at his option set any number of stakes, which are limited in amount in accordance with the capital of the banker. The banker turns up the cards from a complete pack, one by one, laying them first to his right for the bank and then to his left for the player, till all the cards are dealt out. The first card is considered blank. The banker wins when the card equal in points to that on which the stake is set turns up on his right hand, but loses when it is dealt to the left. The drawing of each two cards is called a "turn." The player loses half the stake when his card comes out twice in the same turn. This is called a "split." The last card but one, the chance of which the banker claims, but which is now frequently given up, is called hocly (a certainty). The last card neither wins nor loses.
Where a punter gains, he may either take his money or paroli; that is to say, double his chance by venturing both his stake and gains, which he intimates by bending a corner of his card upward. If he wins again, he may play sept et le va, which means that after having gained a paroli he tries to win seven fold, bending his card a second time. Should he again be successful, he can paroli for quinze et le va, for trente et le va, and finally for soixante et le va, which is the highest chance in the game. Faro was formerly in vogue in France, England, and Europe generally, and still retains its popularity in various parts of the world. The method of play in the United States is as follows: The dealer, with a large array of checks at his right hand, representing 81, 85. 820, and upward, takes his seat at a table. In the centre of the table is a suit of cards, called "the lay-out," arranged in the following order:
The king, queen, and knave are called the big figure;" the ace, deuce, and trey,the little figure;" and the 6, 7, and 8,the pot." On these cards the player places the sums he wishes to bet. The dealer shuffles a pack of cards (the option of shuffling resting also with any of the players who call for it), has them cut, and then places them in a box, from which he deliberately slides them one by one. The first is called the soda card," and is set aside; the next is the banker's card, and wins for him all sums bet upon it; the next is the player's card, and so on alternately. It is in the power of the player, by placing a small copper on the amount he places on the card, to reverse the chance. This, which is called "coppering," enables the player to bet on or against whichever card he pleases. The dealer stops between each two cards while new bets are being made as checks change from one card to another, and thus the game proceeds to the close of the pack, when a fresh deal is made, and the process is repeated.
The bank wins on "splits," which is supposed to be the only odds in its favor; but it possesses others in its superior amount of capital, and in the inclination of most players to stake heavier in the effort to recover than to support good luck.When but two cards are left in the box, the player has the privilege of "calling the last turn," that is, guessing in which order they will appear; if correct, he wins four times the amount of his stake. In Germany the cards are not dealt from a box, but nailed to a pine board and torn off one by one by the dealer. Here the dealer is generally assisted also by one or two croupiers, who attend to the playing and receiving, guarding against errors, and shuffling the pack.