Faro, Pharaoh, or Farobank is a late 17th-century French gambling card game.
It is descended from basset, and belongs to the lansquenet and Monte Bank family of games due to the use of a banker and several players.
Winning or losing occurs when cards turned up by the banker match those already exposed.
It is not a direct relative of poker, but faro was often just as popular, due to its fast action, easy-to-learn rules, and better odds than most games of chance.
The game of faro is played with only one deck of cards and admits any number of players.
Wildy popular in North America during the 1800s, Faro eventually was taken over by poker as the preferred card game of gamblers in the early 1900s.
The earliest references to a card game named pharaon are found in Southwestern France during the reign of Louis XIV.
Basset was outlawed in 1691, and pharaoh emerged several years later as a derivative of basset, before it too was outlawed.
With its name shortened to faro, it spread to the United States in the 19th century to become the most widespread and popularly favored gambling game.
It was played in almost every gambling hall in the Old West from 1825 to 1915.
The faro game was also called "bucking the tiger" or "twisting the tiger's tail", a reference to early card backs that featured a drawing of a Bengal tiger.
By the mid 19th century, the tiger was so commonly associated with the game that gambling districts where faro was popular became known as "tiger town", or in the case of smaller venues, "tiger alley".