Tommy Renzoni is described in various sources as a hotel executive or as a gangster. It all depends on one's point of view, apparently. In any event, Tommy Renzoni is now known as the "Father of American Baccarat." Renzoni had played baccarat in Cuba and, in the late 1950s, just around the time that the new Castro government was closing down the Havana casinos, he came to Las Vegas and convinced the owners of the Sands casino to open up a baccarat table.
Baccarat at the Sands was successful enough that the game of baccarat was soon adopted by other Las Vegas casinos. Because of its image of exclusivity, however, it never achieved the widespread popularity among casino gamblers that would ultimately come only with the introduction of online baccarat some 40 years later.
Tommy Renzoni remained involved with baccarat and was a successful casino baccarat player for many years. He also wrote a couple of important baccarat books: “Renzoni on Baccarat” and “Baccarat: Everything You Want to Know About Playing and Winning.” Both books are considered must-reads by all serious baccarat players.
Akio Kashiwagi — also known as The Warrior — was a wealthy Japanese real estate investor. Kashiwagi was a man who lived large. Everything he did, he did big. His wins were big, and his losses were big. In fact, The Warrior holds the world records for both the biggest baccarat win and the biggest baccarat loss.
Kashigawi's biggest win came in February 1990 at the Trump Plaza casino in Atlantic City. Betting $200,000 a hand, he won $6 million. His biggest loss came in May 1990 at the same casino. Over the course of a 6-day spree, he lost $10 million at the casino baccarat table. Thus, the biggest baccarat win and the biggest baccarat loss were achieved by the same player in the same casino in the same year.
The Warrior lived on a grand scale, and his death was also writ large. In January 1992 he was stabbed to death, with more than 150 stab wounds, in his Mount Fuji home. The murder was never solved. It was an untimely but dramatic end to a dramatic casino gambling career.
The most famous baccarat gambler of all time was not even a real person, but a fictional character. He was, of course, Secret Agent 007 — James Bond. A high-stakes game of baccarat has become a James Bond trademark as much as his famous martinis — shaken not stirred.
The first James Bond novel, “Casino Royale” by Ian Fleming (1953) concerned a baccarat game between Bond and bad guy Le Chiffre upon which the fate of the free world depended. Bond also played baccarat in many of the movies, including Dr. No, Thunderball, the 1967 version of Casino Royale, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, For Your Eyes Only, and Golden Eye.
For many people, watching James Bond movies was their first introduction to the exotic game of baccarat and was their inducement to start playing baccarat online
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