The Gaming Table, Its Votaries and Victims Volume #2
Andrew Steinmetz

Part 3 out of 5

unfair play against Lord de Ros, whilst the latter was at Baden,
and he returned to England and commenced an action for libel
against the newspaper.

He was charged with being in the habit of marking the cards, the
effect being to create a very slight and almost imperceptible
indentation, and to make a ridge or wave on the back, so that a
practised eye would be able, on looking at the right place,
knowing where to expect a mark, to discern whether the ace was
there or not. He was also charged with cheating by reversing the
cut--that is, when the cards had come to him, after having been
cut by his adversary, instead of putting the bottom card at the
top, keeping the bottom card at the bottom, by some shuffling
contrivance when he dealt. Another witness said:--

'When he took up the two parcels of cards, after the operation of
cutting the pack by his right-hand adversary, he was always
attacked with a hacking cough, or what I may properly denominate,
especially from the result it produced, a 'king cough,' because a
king or an ace was invariably its effect. The cough always came
on at the most convenient moment to distract the attention of the
other players, and was evidently indulged in for the purpose of
abstracting their attention from the table and from the manoeuvre
he was about to perform. However, I never saw him "slip the
card," and I never had cognizance of its execution, but certain
it was that the ace or the king, which was at the bottom of the
pack prior to the cut, invariably found its way to the same
position after the cut, and hence was the turn-up card. With
regard to the operation of dealing, his Lordship delivered the
cards particularly slow, examining every card minutely towards
its corners, as if looking for some mark.'

Many curious facts came out during the trial.

It was Mr Brooke Greville who admitted that he was a considerable
winner at play--having 'no hesitation in saying that he had won
L35,000 in the course of 15 years,' chiefly at Whist; that he had
followed play as an occupation, at Graham's Club. He lost,
however, L14,000 at Brighton in 1828, a considerable portion of
it to Lord de Ros; but this loss he made up in three or four
years (that is, won L14,000 in that time), and, excepting that
reverse, he was generally fortunate at play.'

A Captain J. Alexander, half-pay R. N., declared that he had won
as much as L700 at a time, having, however, to pay half to
another partner; his winnings might be L1600 a-year. 'I began to
play,' he said, 'about 25 or 28 years ago, and, expecting that I
should be asked the question, I have looked into my accounts, and
find that I am about L10,000 better than as though I had not
played. That is a yearly average of L500.' He had, however,
lost about L1000 during the previous year.

This Captain Alexander was asked how many hours he played before
dinner, and he answered--'From three to five hours'--adding,
however, that 'he HAD played ALL NIGHT.' Then the counsel said,
'I suppose you take but a slight dinner?' He replied:--

'Why, I generally make as good a dinner as I can get.' The
learned counsel continued:--

'A small boiled chicken and a glass of lemonade, perhaps?' This
seemed an offensive question, and the captain said,--

'I believe never, and (with increased earnestness of manner)
mind, I DENY THE LEMONADE ALTOGETHER; I never take lemonade.
(Laughter, in which the noble lords on the bench joined

Sir W. Ingilby entered into a description and practical
illustration of the trick of sauter la coupe with a pack of
cards, and it is said that the performance of the honourable
baronet elicited demonstrations of laughter, which the judge
suppressed, and even REPROBATED. Altogether, it must have been a
most interesting and exciting trial.

As before stated, Lord Denman was the presiding judge; there was
a special jury; the attorney-general, Sir W. Follet, and Mr
Wightman appeared for the noble plaintiff; and the keen-witted
and exquisitely polished Mr Thesiger (now Lord Cholmondeley), Mr
Alexander, and Mr W. H. Watson for the defendant. A great many
of the nobility were present, together with several foreigners of


This was a house notorious for very high gaming, and was
frequented by the most desperate of gamblers, among the rest Fox,
Brummell, and Alderman Combe. According to Captain Gronow:--

At Brookes's, for nearly half a century, the play was of a more
gambling character than at White's. . . . On one occasion Lord
Robert Spencer contrived to lose the last shilling of his
considerable fortune given him by his brother, the Duke of
Marlborough. General Fitzpatrick being much in the same
condition, they agreed to raise a sum of money, in order that
they might keep a Faro bank. The members of the club made no
objection, and ere long they carried out their design. As is
generally the case, the bank was a winner, and Lord Robert
bagged, as his share of the proceeds, L100,000. He retired,
strange to say, from the fetid atmosphere of play, with the money
in his pocket, and never again gambled. The lowest stake at
Brookes' was L50; and it was a common event for a gentleman to
lose or win L10,000 in an evening. Sometimes a whole fortune was
lost at a single sitting.[38]

[38] Walpole, passim.


White's Club seems to have won the darkest reputation for
gambling. Lord Lyttleton, writing to Dr Doddridge, in 1750,
says:--'The Dryads of Hogley are at present pretty secure, but I
tremble to think that the rattling of a dice-box at White's may
one day or other (if my son should be a member of that noble
academy) shake down all our fine oaks. It is dreadful to see,
not only there, but almost in every house in the town, what
devastations are made by that destructive fury, the spirit of
play.' A fact stated by Walpole to Horace Mann shows the
character of the company at this establishment:--'There is a man
about town, Sir William Burdett, a man of very good family, but
most infamous character. In short, to give you his character at
once--there is a wager in the bet-book at White's (a MS. of which
I may one day or other give you an account), that the first
baronet that will be hanged is this Sir William Burdett.' Swift
says:--'I have heard that the late Earl of Oxford, in the time of
his ministry, never passed by White's chocolate-house (the common
rendezvous of infamous sharpers and noble cullies) without
bestowing a curse upon that famous academy as the bane of half
the English nobility.'

It was from the beginning a gaming club, 'pure and simple.' The
play was mostly at Hazard and Faro. No member was to hold a Faro
bank. Whist was comparatively harmless. Professional gamblers,
who lived by dice and cards, provided they were free from the
imputation of cheating, procured admission to White's. It was a
great supper-house, and there was play before and after supper,
carried on to a late hour and to heavy amounts.

At White's they betted on every possible thing, as shown by the
betting-book of the establishment--on births, deaths, and
marriages; the length of a life; the duration of a ministry; a
placeman's prospect of a coronet; the last scandal at Ranelagh or
Madame Cornely's; or the shock of an earthquake! 'A man dropped
down at the door of White's; he was carried into the house. Was
he dead or not? The odds were immediately given and taken for
and against. It was proposed to bleed him. Those who had taken
the odds that the man was dead protested that the use of a lancet
would affect the fairness of the bet.' I have met with a similar
anecdote elsewhere. A waiter in a tavern in Westminster, being
engaged in attendance on some young men of distinction, suddenly
fell down in a fit. Bets were immediately proposed by some of
the most thoughtless on his recovery, and accepted by others.
The more humane part of the company were for sending immediately
for medical assistance, but this was overruled; since, by the
tenor of the bets, he was to be 'left to himself,' and he died

According to Walpole--'A person coming into the club on the
morning of the earthquake, in 1750, and hearing bets laid whether
the shock was caused by an earthquake or the blowing up of
powder-mills, went away in horror, protesting they were such an
impious set that he believed if the last trump were to sound they
would bet puppet-show against Judgment.'

And again: 'One of the youths at White's, in 1744, has committed
a murder, and intends to repeat it. He betted L1500 that a man
could live twelve hours under water; hired a desperate fellow,
sunk him in a ship, by way of experiment, and both ship and man
have not appeared since. Another man and ship are to be tried
for their lives instead of Mr Blake, the assassin.'

He also tells us of a very curious entry in the betting-book.
Lord Mountford bets Sir John Bland twenty guineas that Nash
outlives Cibber.' 'How odd,' says Walpole, 'that these two old
creatures, selected for their antiquities, should live to see
both their wagerers put an end to their own lives! Cibber is
within a few days of eighty-four, still hearty, and clear, and
well. I told him I was glad to see him look so well. "Faith,"
said he, "it is very well that I look at all." Lord Mountford
would have been the winner: Cibber died in 1757, Nash in 1761.'

Hogarth's scene at the gambling house is taken at White's. 'We
see the highwayman, with his pistols peeping out of his pocket,
waiting by the fireside till the heaviest winner takes his
departure, in order to "recoup" himself for his losings; and in
the Beaux' Stratagem, Aimwell asks of Gibbet--"Ha'n't I seen your
face at White's?" "Ay, and at Will's too," is the highwayman's

According to Captain Gronow, George Harley Drummond, of the
famous banking-house, Charing Cross, only played once in his
whole life at White's Club, at Whist, on which occasion he lost
L20,000 to Brummell. This even caused him to retire from the
banking-house, of which he was a partner.

'Walpole and a party of friends (Dick Edgecumbe, George Selwyn,
and Williams), in 1756, composed a piece of heraldic satire--a
coat of arms for the two gaming clubs at White's--which was
"actually engraven from a very pretty painting of Edgecumbe, whom
Mr Chute, as Strawberry King at Arms," appointed their chief
herald-painter. The blazon is vert (for a card-table); three
parolis proper on a chevron sable (for a Hazard table); two
rouleaux in saltire between two dice proper, on a canton sable; a
white ball (for election) argent. The supporters are an old and
young knave of clubs; the crest, an arm out of an earl's coronet
shaking a dice-box; and the motto, Cogit amor nummi--"The love of
money compels." Round the arms is a claret-bottle ticket by way
of order.'


This great Macao gaming house was of short duration. Mr Raikes
says of it:--'The club did not endure for twelve years
altogether; the pace was too quick to last; it died a natural
death in 1819, from the paralyzed state of its members. The
house was then taken by a set of blacklegs, who instituted a
common bank of gambling. To form an idea of the ruin produced by
this short-lived establishment among men whom I have so
intimately known, a cursory glance to the past suggests the
following melancholy list, which only forms a part of its
deplorable results: none of the dead reached the average age of
man.' Among the members were Beau Brummell and the madman Bligh.


This once celebrated gaming house is now 'The Wellington,' where
the rattle of knives and forks has succeeded that of dice. It
was erected in 1827, and at its opening it was described as 'the
new Pandemonium--the drawing-rooms, or real hell, consisting of
four chambers: the first an ante-room, opening to a saloon
embellished to a degree which baffles description; thence to a
small curiously-formed cabinet or boudoir, which opens to the
supper-room. All these rooms are panelled in the most gorgeous
manner; spaces are left to be filled up with mirrors and silk, or
gold enrichments; while the ceilings are as superb as the walls.
A billiard-room on the upper floor completes the number of
apartments professedly dedicated to the use of the members.
Whenever any secret manoeuvre is to be carried on, there are
smaller and more retired places, both under this roof and the
next, whose walls will tell no tales.'

'It rose,' says a writer in the Edinburgh Review, 'like a
creation of Aladdin's lamp; and the genii themselves could hardly
have surpassed the beauty of the internal decorations, or
furnished a more accomplished maitre d'hotel than Ude. To make
the company as select as possible, the estabishment was regularly
organized as a club, and the election of members vested in a
committee. "Crockford's" became the rage, and the votaries of
fashion, whether they like play or not, hastened to enroll
themselves. The Duke of Wellington was an original member,
though (unlike Blucher, who repeatedly lost everything he had at
play) the great captain was never known to play deep at any game
but war or politics. Card-tables were regularly placed, and
Whist was played occasionally; but the aim, end, and final cause
of the whole was the Hazard bank, at which the proprietor took
his nightly stand, prepared for all comers. Le Wellington des
Joueurs lost L23,000 at a sitting, beginning at twelve at night,
and ending at seven the following evening. He and three other
noblemen could not have lost less, sooner or later, than L100,000
a piece.[39] Others lost in proportion (or out of proportion) to
their means; but we leave it to less occupied moralists and
better calculators to say how many ruined families went to make
Mr Crockford a MILLIONNAIRE--for a millionnaire he was in the
English sense of the term, after making the largest possible
allowance for bad debts. A vast sum, perhaps half a million, was
sometimes due to him; but as he won, all his debtors were able to
raise, and easy credit was the most fatal of his lures. He
retired in 1840, much as an Indian chief retires from a hunting
country when there is not game enough left for his tribe, and the
club tottered to its fall.'

[39] 'Le Wellington des Joueurs was the name given to Lord Rivers
in Paris. The other three, we believe, were Lord Sefton, Lord
Chesterfield, and Lord Granville or Lord Talbot.' Times, 7 Jan.

Crockford was originally a FISHMONGER, keeping a shop near Temple
Bar. By embarking in this speculation he laid the foundation of
the most colossal fortune that was ever made by play.

It was said there were persons of rank and station, who had never
paid their debts to Crockford, up to 1844, and that some of his
creditors compounded with him for their gambling debts. His
proprietorship had lasted 15 or 16 years.

Crockford himself was examined by the committee of the House of
Commons on the Gaming Houses; but in spite of his assurance by
the members that were indemnified witnesses in respect of pending
actions, he resolutely declined to 'tell the secrets of his
prison-house.' When asked whether a good deal of play was
carried on at his club, he said:--'There may have been so; but I
do not feel myself at liberty to answer that question--to DIVULGE
feel myself at liberty to do so. I do not feel myself at liberty
to answer that question.'

When asked to whom he had given up the house, he fenced in like
manner, saying that he had given it up to a 'committee' of about
200 gentlemen,--concerning which committee he professed to 'know
absolutely nothing'--he could not even say to whom he had given
up the house--he gave it up to the gentlemen of the club four
years before--he could not even say (upon his word) whether he
signed any paper in giving it up--he believed he did not--
adding--'I said I grew too old, and I could not continue in the
club any longer, and I wished to give up the club to the
gentlemen, who made their own arrangement.'

Being asked, 'Do you think that a person is just as honourably
bound to pay a debt which he loses upon a game of Hazard, as he
would be to pay a bet which he loses on a horse-race?' Crockford
replied--'I think most certainly he would honourably be bound to
pay it.'--'Do you think that if the loser of a bet on a game at
Hazard had no charge to make of any kind of unfairness, and he
were to commence an action to recover that money back again, he
would lay himself open to a charge in the world of having acted
dishonourably?' The old gambler's reply was most emphatic,
overwhelming, indignant--'I should take all the pains I could to
avoid such a man.'

If this evidence was not satisfactory, it was, at any rate, very

A few interesting facts came out before the parliamentary
committee on Gaming, in 1844, respecting Crockford's.

It was said that Crockford gave up the business in 1840, because
there were no more very high players visiting his house.

'A number of persons,' according to the admission of the
Honourable Frederick Byng, 'who were born to very large
properties, were very nearly ruined at Crockford's.'

The sums won on the turf were certainly larger than those won by
players at Crockford's; a man might lose L20,000 in one or more
bets, to one or more persons; but against this he might have won
an equivalent amount in small sums from 200 or more persons.[40]

[40] This is not very clearly put, but the meaning is that much
more money was lost at Crockford's than on the turf.

Some years previously to Crockford's retirement, it is said that
he found the debts so bad that he was obliged to leave off his
custom of paying cheques; and said he would cancel all previous
debts, but that in future gentlemen would have to pay with money.

He made them play for money instead of with counters, in
consequence of the large sums that were owing to him upon those


next the Athenseum in Pall Mall, originated soon after the peace
of 1814, in a suggestion of the late Lord Londonderry, then Lord
Castlereagh, for the resort of gentlemen who had resided or
travelled abroad, as well as with a view to the accommodation of
foreigners, who, when properly recommended, receive an invitation
for the period of their stay.[41] Here Prince Talleyrand was
fond of a game at Whist. With all the advantage of his great
imperturbability of face, he is said to have been an indifferent

[41] Quarterly Review, No. cx. p. 481.

Rule 10 of the club directs, 'that no dice and no game of hazard
be allowed in the rooms of the club, nor any higher stake than
guinea points, and that no cards be introduced before dinner.'



Besides the aristocratic establishments just described, there
were numerous houses or places of resort for gambling, genteel
and ungenteel. In vain did the officers of the law seem to exert
their utmost vigilance; if they drove the serpent out of one hole
it soon glided into another; never was the proverb--'Where
there's a will there's a way'--more strikingly fulfilled.


Sir John Fielding thus describes the men in the year 1776. 'The
deceivers of this denomination are generally descended from
families of some repute, have had the groundwork of a genteel
education, and are capable of making a tolerable appearance.
Having been equally profuse of their own substance and character,
and learnt, by having been undone, the ways of undoing, they lie
in wait for those who have more wealth and less knowledge of the
town. By joining you in discourse, by admiring what you say, by
an officiousness to wait upon you, and to assist you in anything
you want to have or know, they insinuate themselves into the
company and acquaintance of strangers, whom they watch every
opportunity of fleecing. And if one finds in you the least
inclination to cards, dice, the billiard table, bowling-green, or
any other sort of Gaming, you are morally sure of being taken in.

For this set of gentry are adepts in all the arts of knavery and
tricking. If, therefore, you should observe a person, without
any previous acquaintance, paying you extraordinary marks of
civility; if he puts in for a share of your conversation with a
pretended air of deference; if he tenders his assistance, courts
your acquaintance, and would be suddenly thought your friend,
avoid him as a pest; for these are the usual baits by which the
unwary are caught.'[42]

[42] The Magistrate: Description of London and Westminster.

In 1792, Mr Br--gh--n, the son of a baronet, one day at a
billiard-table in St James's Street, won L7000 from a Mr B--, but
the latter, at the close of the day, recovered the loss, and won
L15,000 more. Payment was thus arranged--L5000 on the death of
the father of the former, and L10,000 secured by a reversionary
annuity, to commence on the father's decease, on the life of the
Duc de Pienne, between whom and B-- a previous gaming account

In 1794, Mr ---- was a billiard player of the first class,
ranking with Brenton, Phillips, Orrel, and Captain Wallis, who
were the leaders of the day in this noble game of skill, tact,
and discretion.[43] Having accidentally sported his abilities
with two other players, he was marked as a 'pigeon' whom every
preparation was made for 'plucking.' Captain Cates, of Covent
Garden celebrity, was pitted against him at the coffee-room
billiard-table, during Epsom races, to play 21 games, for two
guineas each game, and five guineas the odds. Mr ---- won 13
games to eight from his veteran opponent, who was invariably
backed by the leading sportingmen of the day, whilst the company
at large were casually the adherents of Mr ----.

[43] The game of Chess may be played in application of the
principles of Strategy; the game of Billiards in application of
Tactics; indeed, all man's favourite diversions and pastimes most
significantly relate to war--which has been called his natural
state--exemplifying always either the brute-force that crushes,
the skill that foils, the stratagem that surprises, or the ruse
that deceives; and such is war to all intents and purposes. The
philosophic diversions of science also come in and lend their aid
in the game of war--the pastime of heroes and the necessary
defence of nations.

The match was renewed at the ensuing Ascot meeting, at the rooms
of the celebrated Simson, so much frequented by the Etonians--
where Mr ---- again obtained the victory, by 36 games to 17.
Immense sums were sported on these occasions.

Mr ---- resided at Windsor, and was surprised by a message on the
Sunday evening preceding the Winchester races, purporting that a
gentleman wished to see him on very particular business. It
proved to be a request to play a match at Billiards during the
races at Winchester, for which the parties offered 10 guineas for
the journey. But it was explained to him that the match was of a
particular kind, and must be played in a PARTICULAR way-- either
to WIN or LOSE--so that those concerned might be sure of winning
upon the whole, let the match terminate how it would! . . . .
villainous proposal being made without the presence of a
third person, Mr ---- indignantly rejected it, instantly left the
room, and communicated the facts for the protection of the unwary
against a set of desperate sharpers.


In 1796, one Thomas Miller was indicted for keeping a gaming
house; and wished to have the matter settled summarily by
admitting conviction; but Lord Kenyon, the presiding judge, chose
to have evidence brought forward. John Shepherd, an attorney of
the King's Bench, who had himself been plundered, stated that he
was at the defendant's, Leicester Street, on a certain night, and
saw Hazard played. Sometimes L20 or L30 depended on a throw.
One morning between three and four o'clock, a gentleman came in
much intoxicated. He had a great deal of money about him.
Miller said--'I did not mean to play; but now I'll set to with
this fellow.' Miller scraped a little wax with his finger off
one of the candles, and put the dice together, so that they came
seven every way. Seven was the main, and he could not throw
anything but seven. A dispute arose, and the persons at the
table gave it in Miller's favour. The young man said he had lost
about L70. Miller observed--'We have cleaned him.' If the
attorney had remarked on this at the time, they would have broken
his head, or thrown him out of the window.

He had often seen men pawn their watches and rings to Miller, and
once a man actually pawned his coat, and went away without it!
When articles were offered to be pawned, Liston, who was a
partner in the concern, said--'I don't understand the value of
these things well,' and he would then call Miller.[44]

[44] Even at the present day it is said that other 'articles'
besides 'valuables' are 'left' with the marker at billiards 'for
a consideration.' A fine umbrella, very little used, was lately
shown to me as having been sold for five shillings, by a marker;
it probably cost twenty-five.

Miller said there was no disgrace in standing in the pillory for
gaming. He could spare L500 out of his coffers without missing
it. His gaming table was once broken up by a warrant from Bow
Street, when he said it was too good a thing to relinquish, and
he set up another, one large enough for 20 or 30 persons to sit
at. They played at it all night, and on one or two occasions all
the next day too, so that Miller said to witness on his return in
the evening--'Some of the people are still here who came last
night. They stick to it rarely.' Sunday was the grand day. He
had seen more than 40 persons at a time there, and they
frequently offered half-a-crown for a seat. Wine and suppers
were furnished gratis. Some looked over the backs of others and
betted. A Mr Smith, the very man who had pawned his coat,
confirmed the above evidence. Miller was convicted, and the
judge, Lord Kenyon, made the following solemn observations before
passing sentence:--

'Gaming is a crime of greater enormity, and of more destructive
consequences to society, than many which the laws of the country
have made capital. What is the crime of stealing a sheep, or
picking a pocket of a handkerchief, when placed in comparison
with this crime, traced through all its consequences?

'With regard to those in the higher walks of life, experience
tells us it often leads to self-murder and duelling, about
gambling debts, which terminate in the total ruin of families
once opulent, and reduce to beggary their innocent and helpless
children; and as for those in a lower sphere of life, when they
have lost their money, they often betake themselves to
housebreaking and the highway, in order to replenish their
coffers, and at last end their lives by the hand of justice.'

With many other most excellent observations on the tendency of
this selfish and avaricious vice, he concluded by sentencing
Miller to a fine of L500, one year's imprisonment, and security
for his good behaviour for seven years, himself in L500 and two
others in L250 each, adding:--'It appeared that you played with
loaded dice. The Court has not taken that into consideration,
because it was not charged in the indictment.'


In 1797 the Bedford Arms, Covent Garden, kept by one John
Twycross, was attacked, under warrant. The gaming-room stood an
hour's siege, for the doors were so plated with iron that the
repeated blows of a sledge-hammer made no impression on them.
The officers at length entered the back through the window. They
found fifteen persons at table, but not actually playing, so no
conviction could take place.

In the same year a party of Bow Street officers searched a gaming
house at 19, Great Suffolk Street. They were an hour in
effecting their entrance. Two very stout doors, strongly bolted
and barred, obstructed them. All the gamesters but one escaped
by a subterraneous passage, through a long range of cellars,
terminating at a house in Whitcomb Street, whence their leader,
having the keys of every door, conducted them safely into the
open air.

In the previous year a party, mostly French emigrants, were taken
at a house in Oxendon Street, with the table, cards, &c. A city
magistrate and a city officer had a dispute at cards, and a
knock-down game ensued.

In 1799 the Marlborough Street officers apprehended at the gaming
house, No. 3, Leicester Square, thirteen out of twenty persons,
from the first floor, playing at Rouge et Noir. One of the
gamblers, when they first entered, threw up the sash, and,
stepping from the leads, fell into the area, and died in being
conveyed to the hospital.

In the same year, two notorious gaming houses, Nos. 1 and 3,
King's Place, were attacked, by authority of a search warrant.
All the paraphernalia of the profession, as tables, dice,
counters, &c., were seized; but the inmates effected their escape
over the roofs of the adjoining houses. The proprietor of No. 3
was smoked in a chimney, and three French emigrants intercepted
in their retreat. On one of them was found a gold watch, which
appeared, by the robbery-book, to have been stolen about five
years previously. The banks had been conveyed away,--at least,
they were not among the captures.


It is stated as highly honourable to the British flag that, among
the gamesters of the first quarter of the present century, no
Admirals were seen at the INFERIOR tables. Their proper pride
kept them from a familiar association with pursers, clerks,
grocers, horse-dealers, linen-drapers, silk-mercers, masons,
builders, timber-merchants, booksellers, &c., &c., and men of the
very lowest walks of life.


'I heard those who, in another place, even in the most polished
courts, would take a high rank for good breeding and gentlemanly
education, at these tables make use of language which, I hope,
Billingsgate itself would turn from with disgust. It cannot be
repeated; neither would it be believed, unless by such as, like
myself, have had "confirmation strong," too strong to be
rejected, if I did not, at the same time, reject the evidence of
my senses.'[45]

[45] Seymour Harcourt, The Gaming Calendar.


'On one occasion I was at the Pigeon Hole, in St James's Square
(since removed to King Street), when the apprehensions which the
rapid sale of The Greeks (a work exposing the system) excited
among the players were warmly debated. To my great astonishment,
a person who I supposed was a proprietor, boasted the
impenetrability of HIS house, and on what ground, think you?
Why, on that of it having the countenance of the Lord Chief
Justice of England! True or false, it seemed to revive the
flagging spirits of its visitors. They knew better. Not even
the warm feelings of a father would turn the scale of justice in
the even hand of Lord Ellenborough.'

It must not, however, be taken for granted, merely because these
fellows assert it, that the sons of the late Chief Justice really
frequented that den of iniquity. It is part of the system of
these houses to delude the ignorant, by pretending that this or
the other person uses their tables. I had an instance of that
myself at ----, in Pall Mall. Asking who that gentleman was,
pointing to the party, I was answered--'That is Mr Hay, private
secretary to Lord Melville, the First Lord of the Admiralty.'
Now, I believe I may safely say, and from my own knowledge, too,
that Mr Hay, whose character and conduct is deservedly held in
the highest estimation, NEVER was at that or any such house; yet
his name was constantly quoted, and particularly to young
officers of the navy and marines, to whom his acquaintance held
out hopes of future advantage in their profession![46]

[46] Id. ibid.


'A waitership at a club sometimes led to fortune. Thomas
Rumbold, originally a waiter at White's gaming club, got an
appointment in India, and suddenly rose to be Sir Thomas, and
Governor of Madras! On his return, with immense wealth, a bill
of pains and penalties was brought into the House by Dundas, with
the view of stripping Sir Thomas of his ill-gotten gains. This
bill was briskly pushed through the earlier stages; suddenly the
proceedings were arrested by adjournment, and the measure fell to
the ground. The rumour of the day attributed Rumbold's escape to
the corrupt assistance of Rigby; who, in 1782, found himself, by
Lord North's retirement, deprived of his place in the Pay Office,
and called upon to refund a large amount of public moneys
unaccounted for. In this strait, Rigby was believed to have had
recourse to Rumbold. Their acquaintance had commenced in earlier
days, when Rigby was one of the boldest "punters" at White's, and
Rumbold bowed to him for half-crowns as waiter. Rumbold is said
to have given Rigby a large sum of money, on condition of the
former being released from the impending pains and penalties.
The truth of the report has been vehemently denied; but the
circumstances are suspicious. The bill was dropped; Dundas, its
introducer, was Rigby's intimate associate. Rigby's nephew and
heir soon after married Rumbold's daughter. Sir Thomas himself
had married a daughter of Dr Law, Bishop of Carlisle. The worthy
bishop stood godfather to one of Rumbold's children; the other
godfather was the Nabob of Arcot, and the child was christened
"Mahomet." So, at least, Walpole informs Mann.'[47]

[47] Timbs, Club Life in London.

PLAY IN 1820.

According to the Morning Post of May 15, 1820, at one of the
gaming houses at the West End, in one night, property to the
amount of L50,000 is said to have changed hands.


The following account of a game at Hazard was given by a young
man, who, in the year 1820, was decoyed into one of the gambling
houses in the city, kept by one John Morley, who was convicted by
the Lord Mayor, in the penalty of L200, 'for keeping Hazard;' but
who, it is stated, left this country for Ireland the moment
proceedings were instituted.

'The house in question was to all appearance devoted to the
game of billiards, and most of those who frequented it engaged
merely in that game. Through the agency of professed gamesters,
who shared in the profits of the concern, those who appeared to
be proper objects of plunder were soon introduced to the Hazard
table, which was kept in a retired and private part of the house.

'The evidence of the young man was to the following effect:--He
had been in Morley's house; the game of Hazard was played in the
front room on the second floor; a door led into it from the
landing-place, and another from the public billiard-room, which
was the back room on the same floor; both these doors were during
the time of play kept barred and locked, and never opened except
to the voice of some person known to the master of the house.
During the play the door was seldom or never opened, but before
the play commenced there was an understanding given that
proceedings were about to begin.

'In the centre of the room was a large circular table, over which
a lamp was suspended, and round the table the players sat, in
number, generally, from six to ten.

'The play commenced by one of the players taking the dice-box
with two dice in it; two other dice were covered on the table,
and might be substituted for those in the box, upon application
to Morley, who acted as "groom porter." The person who held the
box was called the caster, and he called a main, that is, he
mentioned aloud any number on the dice from five to nine; and
throwing the dice on the table, counted the number on the two
dice as his chance, the number which he called being the chance
of his setter. Before the main is called, the caster throws down
his stake, which any person present has the option of covering,
or, as it is called, "setting," by placing a similar sum on the
table. For instance, if the caster, after being "set," call five
the main, and throws immediately four and one, or three and two,
he "nicks" it, that is, wins his money at once. If he throws six
and one, five and two, or four and three, each of which two
numbers makes seven, he bets the ODDS, which are three to two in
his favour--inasmuch as there are three ways of throwing seven,
and only two of throwing five; and he continues throwing until
either five or seven come off. By the former he loses, by the
latter he wins.

'If he calls seven the main, and throws three and one, or six and
four, the odds are two to one against him--inasmuch as there are
only three ways each of throwing, the four and the ten and six
wins, throwing the seven, that is, three on each die.[48] If the
caster wishes, he calls a main, and continues to do so till he
loses, which, in the technical phraseology, is "throwing out."
He then passes the bow to the person next on the left hand, who,
in like manner, passes it to his neighbour. Morley is
remunerated for his table very handsomely. When the caster
throws in three mains successively, he pays to Morley what is
called a box (one of the pieces of the house with which the game
is played). The prices are eighteen-pence each, and he gives
them in exchange for notes, and retakes them. The caster pays
nothing unless he wins. The players generally leave off play at
eleven or twelve o'clock. On Saturday there is most play, as
Morley on that day always gives a dinner at four o'clock,
immediately after which the play commences. On other days tea
and coffee are given.'

[48] I confess I do not understand the above passage.

A number of young men, most of whom were clerks, were called to
confirm the evidence as to the system, but none of them appeared.

In a letter published in the Times of July 22, 1824, we read as

'The action against the keepers of a certain notorious "hell,"
which was noticed in the different journals as "coming on," is
withdrawn, or, more properly speaking, is "compromised." Thus it
will always be; and the different hells still flourish with
impunity, to the enrichment of a few knaves, and the ruin of many
thousands, till more effectual laws are framed to meet the evil.
As they net thousands a night, a few hundreds or even thousands
can be well spared to smother a few actions and prosecutions,
which are very rarely instituted against them, and never but by
ruined men, who are easily quieted by a small consideration,
which, from recent judgments, will not be withheld; therefore we
shall see recorded but very few convictions if any at all. At
the head of these infamous establishments is one yclept
"Fishmollgers' Hall,"[49] which sacks more plunder than all the
others put together, though they consist of about a dozen. This
place has been fitted up at an expense of L40,000, and is the
most splendid house, interiorly and exteriorly, in all the
neighbourhood. It is established as a bait for the fortunes of
the great, many of whom have already been severe sufferers.
Invitations to dinner are sent to noblemen and gentlemen, at
which they are treated with every delicacy, and the most
intoxicating wines.

[49] Otherwise called Crock-odile Hall.

'After such "liberal" entertainment, a visit to the French Hazard
table, in the adjoining room, is a matter of course, when the
consequences are easily divined. A man thus allured to the den
may determine not to lose more than the few pounds he has about
him; but in the intoxication of the moment, and the delirium of
play, it frequently happens that, notwithstanding the best
resolves, he borrows money on his cheques, which are known to be
good, and are readily cashed to very considerable amounts. In
this manner L10,000, L20,000, L30,000, or more, have been often
swept away!

They left King Street about three years ago, when, in conjunction
with T ---- (a man who a few years ago took the benefit of the
act, and subsequently took one or two "hells" in Pall Mall, but
has amassed full L150,000 of plunder) and A ----, who has L70,000
of plunder, they opened a club-house in Piccadilly, with a French
Hazard bank of L10,000, when in a short time they divided between
the four--after all their heavy expenses were covered--upwards of
L200,000. In proportion to the extent of the bank and the
stakes, so do they collect the plunder.'


In the minor gaming houses the players assembled in parties of
from 40 to 50 persons, who probably brought on an average, each
night, from one to twenty shillings to play with. As the money
was lost, the losers fell off, if they could not borrow or beg
more; and this went on sometimes in the winter season for 14 to
16 hours in succession; so that from 100 to 150 persons might be
calculated to visit one gaming table in the course of a night;
and it not unfrequently happened that ultimately all the money
brought to the table got into the hands of one or two of the most
fortunate adventurers, save that which was paid to the table for
'box-hands'--that is, when a player won three times in
succession. At these establishments the price of a box varied
from one shilling to half-a-crown. Every man thus engaged was
destined to become either a more finished and mischievous
gambler, or to appear at the bar of the Old Bailey. The
successful players by degrees improved their external appearance,
and obtained admittance into houses of higher play, where two
shillings and sixpence or three shillings and fourpence was
demanded for the box-hand. If success attended them in the first
step of advancement, they next got initiated into better houses,
and associated with gamblers of a higher grade.

PLAY IN 1838.

About the year 1838 the gaming houses were kept open all day, the
dice were scarcely ever idle, day or night. From Sunday to
Sunday, all the year round, persons were to be found in these
places, losing their money, and wasting away their very bodies by
the consuming anxiety consequent on their position at the Hazard
or Roulette table.


The following facts came out in evidence before the committee of
the House of Commons, in 1844.

Down to that year there were no less than 12 gaming houses in St
James's and St George's. The play was higher in old times, but
not so GENERAL.

'The increase of gambling houses was entirely the offspring of
Crockford's.' Such was the opinion of the Honourable Frederick
Byng, before the committee, who added, 'that the facility to
everybody to gamble at Crockford's led to the establishment of
other gambling houses fitted up in a superior style, and
attractive to gentlemen who never would have thought of going
into them formerly.'

Previously, in the clubs, the gambling was confined to a very
high rate and to a very few people. The above-named witness said
he 'could have named all the gamblers in his early days at the
clubs. No person coming into a room where Hazard was carried on
would have been permitted to play for a SMALL SUM, and therefore
he left it.'

The same gentleman remembered the time when gambling tables were
kept in private houses.

'It is a fact that most of those who played very high were pretty
well cleaned out.'

'Crockford increased gambling everywhere.' 'Persons of the
middling classes, butchers, and gentleman's servants went to the
low gambling houses.'

These places held out inducements to robbery. 'If a servant or
shopman could scrape together L200 or L300, he had, by the agency
of the keepers of these houses, the opportunity of lending out
his money to the losers at 60 per cent.'


The most particular inspection was made of the player's person by
the gaming house keeper's spies, and even his dress was strictly
observed. He was obliged, before entering the saloon, to deposit
his great coat and cane, which might perchance afford the
introduction of some WEAPON; and the elegance of the covering did
not save him from the humiliation of having it taken from him at
the door. The attempts which were sometimes made on the lives of
the bankers led to these precautions--like the indignities which
are practised only in prisons for the security of the unhappy
inmates. It is certain that gamesters, reduced to desperation,
and on the eve of committing suicide, have conveyed into these
places infernal machines with an intention of destroying at once
their cruel plunderers and themselves.


In 'Doings in London,' a work published as lately as the year
1850, we find under this startling title a strange story.

'A scandalous scene of violence, which often happens at these
places, but seldom becomes publicly known, on account of the
disgrace attending exposures, occurred lately at a low "hell" in
King Street, St James's. A gentleman who had lost considerable
sums of money at various times, announced his full determination
never to come to a place of the sort again with money. His
visits, therefore, were no longer wanted, and so orders were
given to the porters not to admit him again. About two o'clock
on a subsequent night, which happened to be Saturday, he sought
admittance, and was refused. A warm altercation ensued in the
passage between him and the porters, which brought down some of
the proprietors. One of them--a powerful man--a bankrupt
butcher--struck him a tremendous blow, which broke the bridge of
his nose, covered his face with blood, and knocked him down. On
getting up he was knocked down again. He arose once more, and
instantly received another blow, which would have laid him upon
his back, but one of the porters by this time had got behind him,
and as he was falling struck him at the back of his head, which
sent him upon his face. The watch had now arrived, into whose
hands the keeper of the "hell" and the porter were given. At the
watch-house they were ordered to find bail. The gentleman was
then about quitting, when he was suddenly called back. A certain
little lawyer, who alternately prosecutes and defends keepers of
gaming houses, was sent for. He whispered to the ex- butcher to
charge the gentleman with stealing his handkerchief and hat,
which, it was alleged, had been lost in the affray. Though
nothing was found upon the gentleman, who desired to be searched,
this preposterous and groundless charge was taken, and the
hellites admitted to bail; but the gentleman who had been so
cruelly beaten, being charged with a felony on purpose to cause
his detention, and the power held by magistrates to take bail in
doubtful cases not extending to night-constables, he was locked
up below with two wretches who had stolen lead, and five
disorderlies--his face a mass of blood and bruises--and there
detained till Monday morning, in a most pitiable condition. The
magistrate before whom the party appeared on that day,
understanding that the affair took place at a gaming house,
dismissed both complaints, leaving the parties to their remedy at
the sessions.'


Gaffing is or was one of the ten thousand modes of swindling
practised in London. Formerly it was a game in very great vogue
among the macers, who congregated nightly at the 'flash houses.'
One of these is described as follows:--This gaffer laughed a
great deal and whistled Moore's melodies, and extracted music
from a deal table with his elbow and wrist. When he hid a
half-penny, and a flat cried 'head' for L10, a 'tail' was sure to
turn up. One of his modes of commanding the turn-up was this: he
had a half-penny with two heads, and a half-penny with two tails.

When he gaffed, he contrived to have both half-pence under his
hand, and long practice enabled him to catch up in the wrinkles
or muscles of it the half-penny which it was his interest to
conceal. If 'tail' was called a 'head' appeared, and the 'tail'
half-penny ran down his wrist with astonishing fidelity. This
ingenious fellow often won 200 or 300 sovereigns a night by
gaffing; but the landlord and other men, who were privy to the
robbery, and 'pitched the baby card' (that is, encouraged the
loser by sham betting), always came in for the 'regulars,' that
is, their share of the plunder.

This gaffer contrived to 'bilk' all the turnpikes in the kingdom.

In going to a fight or to a race-course, when he reached a
turnpike he held a shilling between his fingers, and said to the
gatekeeper--'Here, catch,' and made a movement of the hand
towards the man, who endeavoured to catch what he saw. The
shilling, however, by a backward jerk, ran down the sleeve of the
coat, as if it had life in it, and the gate-keeper turned round
to look in the dust, when the tall gaffer drove on, saying--'Keep
the change.'

A young fellow, who previously was a marker at a billiard-table,
and who had the appearance of a soft, inexperienced country-lad,
was another great hand at gaffing. There was a strong adhesive
power in his hand, and such exquisite sensibility about it, that
he could ascertain by dropping his palm, even upon a worn-out
half-penny or shilling, what side was turned up. Indeed, so
perfect a master was he of the science that Breslaw could never
have done more upon cards than he could do with a pair of 'grays'

A well-known macer, who was celebrated for slipping an 'old
gentleman' (a long card) into the pack, and was the inheritor by
birth of all the propensities of this description, although the
inheritance was equally divided between his brother and himself,
got hold of a young fellow who had L170 in his pocket, and
introduced him to one of the 'cock-and-hen' houses near Drury
Lane Theatre, well-primed with wine. Gaffing began, and the
billiard-marker before described was pitched upon to 'do' the
stranger. The macer 'pitched the baby card,' and of course lost,
as well as the unfortunate victim. He had borrowed L10 of the
landlord, who was to come in for the 'regulars;' but when all was
over, the billiard-marker refused to make any division of the
spoil, or even to return the L10 which had been lost to him in
'bearing up' the cull. The landlord pressed his demand upon the
macer, who, in fact, was privately reimbursed by the marker; but
he was coolly told that he ought not to allow such improper
practices in his house, and that the sum was not recoverable, the
transaction being illegal.

How these spurious coins are procured is a question; but I am
assured that they are still in use and often made to do service
at public-houses and other places.


This is a mode of gambling very much in vogue at the present
time. It is often played at public-houses among parties to
decide who is to pay the reckoning. Each party turns down a
half-penny, and, on uncovering it, the matter is decided as in
'heads or tails.' Of course this expeditious method is also used
in gambling for money. Not long ago a retired tradesman,
happening to be in a public-house, where such things were
connived at, allowed himself to be induced to play at Tommy Dodd
with two low sharpers. They soon eased him of all the cash he
had about him. A bright idea, however, occurred to him. 'Stop a
bit,' he said, 'I must have my revenge. Just wait till I go home
for more money.' The sharpers were rejoiced at the idea, and
rubbed their hands with delight, whilst the tradesman went, as
they felt sure, only to bring more money into their 'till.' The
man made all haste, for he was determined to have his revenge,
and soon returned with a large bag of money, which he clinked on
the table.

He first pulled out some coppers, telling them to choose from the
lot the coins they would play with. They assented, although they
did not seem 'much to like it.' 'And now,' said the tradesman,
'let's set to business.'

The game proceeded with alternate success on both sides; but the
OR WON, and, of course, at length completely broke their bank,
and went off with their money.


The gambling which was carried on in the private rooms of the
wine and oyster houses, about thirty years ago, and perhaps
later, was just such as that which had so long flourished in the
low vicinity of St James's. Indeed, the constant frequenters of
the former had attained the most profound knowledge of the art of
robbing at the West End gaming houses. The blacklegs visited the
saloons every night, in order to pick up new acquaintances among
the young and inexperienced. They were polite, well-dressed,
gentlemanlike persons; and if they could trace anything 'soft' in
the countenance of a new visitor, their wits went to work at once
to establish an acquaintance with him. Wine was set a- going,
and cards were proposed. The master of the concern soon provided
a room, and play advanced, accompanied by the certainty of loss
to the unfortunate stranger. But if the invitation to play was
rejected, they made another plant upon him. The ruffians
attacked him through a passion of a different kind. They gave
the word to one of their female 'pals,' who threw herself in his
way, and prevailed upon him to accompany her to HER
establishment. In the morning the 'gentleman,' who in vain had
solicited him to play at the saloon the night before, would
call--just to pay 'a friendly visit.' Cards were again spoken
of, and again proposed, with the additional recommendation of the
'lady,' who offered to be the partner of her friend in the game.
The consequence was inevitable. Many young noblemen and
gentlemen were plundered by this scheme, of hundreds, nay, of
thousands of pounds. To escape without loss was impossible.
They packed and distributed the cards with such amazing
dexterity, that they could give a man, as it were, whatever cards
they pleased.


A number of sharpers were detected in a trick by which they had
won enormous sums. An Ecarte party, consisting of a nobleman, a
captain in the army, an Armenian gentleman, and an Irish
gentleman, sat down in one of the private chambers attached to
one of the large wine and shell-fish rooms. The Armenian and the
Irishman were partners, and were wonderfully successful; indeed,
so extraordinary was their luck in turning up cards, that the
captain, who had been in the town for some time, suspected the
integrity of his competitors, and, accordingly, handled the cards
very minutely. He soon discovered that there was an 'old
gentleman' (a card somewhat larger and thicker than the rest of
the pack, and in considerable use among the LEGS) in the midst of
them. The captain and his partner exclaimed that they were
robbed, and the cards were sealed up, and referred to a card-
maker for his opinion.

'The old saying,' said the referee, 'that THE CARDS WOULD BEAT
THE CARD-MAKER, was never more true than it is in this instance,
for this pack would beat not only me, but the very d--l himself;
there is not only an OLD GENTLEMAN, but an OLD LADY (a card
broader than the rest) amongst them.'

The two 'gentlemen' were immediately accused of the imposition,
but they feigned ignorance of the fraud, refused to return a
farthing of the 'swag,' and, in their turn, charged the losers
with having got up the story in order to recover what they had
fairly lost.


A young West Indian chanced one night to enter one of the gaming
houses in London, and began trying his chance at Roulette.
Fortune favoured him at first, and he won about a hundred pounds.

Instead of leaving off he only became the more excited by his
success, when his luck began to change, and he lost and lost
until he staked the last coin he had in his pocket. He then
pawned to the master of the table successively every ring and
trinket he had, for money to continue the stakes. All in vain.
His luck never returned; and he made his way down-stairs in a
mood which may well be imagined. But what was his surprise when
the master of the table came running after him, saying--'Sir,
these things may be valuable to you--do me the favour to take
them with you. Next time I hope you will be more lucky,' and
returned all his rings and trinkets.

The moon was shining brightly at the time, and the young man
swore by it, that he would never again enter a gaming house, and
he kept his oath. Of course the generosity was but a decoy to
entice the youth to further ruin.


Joseph Atkinson and his wife, who for many years kept a gaming
house at No. 15 under the Piazza, Covent Garden, gave daily
magnificent play dinners,--cards of invitation for which were
sent to the clerks of merchants, bankers, and brokers in the
city. Atkinson used to say that he liked CITIZENS--whom he
called FLATS--better than any one else, for when they had DINED
they played freely, and after they had lost all their money they
had credit to borrow more. When he had CLEANED THEM OUT, when
THE PIGEONS WERE COMPLETELY PLUCKED, they were sent to some of
their solvent friends. After dinner play was introduced, and,
till dinner time the nest day, different games at cards, dice,
and E O were continually going on.


Theophilus Bellasis, an infamous character, was well known at Bow
Street, where he had been charged with breaking into the
counting-house of Sir James Sanderson, Bart. Bellasis was
sometimes clerk and sometimes client to John Shepherd, an
attorney of Bow Street; while at other times Shepherd was
prosecutor of those who kept gaming houses, and Bellasis
attorney. Sir William Addington, the magistrate, was so well
aware that these two men commenced prosecutions solely for the
purpose of HUSH MONEY, that he refused to act. The Joseph
Atkinson just mentioned at one time gave them L100, at another
L80; and in this way they had amassed an immense sum, and
undertook, for a specific amount, to defend keepers of gaming
houses against all prosecutions!


The runaway son of an extensive linen-draper went to a gaming
house in King Street, and pocketed a L200 bank-note from the
table. He was not kicked out, because it would not be safe for
the proprietors of these houses to run the risk of getting
involved in law; but he was civilly walked down-stairs by the
master of the establishment, who forbad him the house evermore.
The dashing youth, however, put both the money and the affront in
his pocket, and was only too thankful to get away in so good a


A waiter in one of the gambling houses in St James's Street
received in Christmas boxes above L500. A nobleman, who had in
the course of a week won L80,000, gave him L100 of his winnings.
He was said to have actually borrowed of the waiter the money
which led to his extraordinary success!


Paul Roubel was a gaming house keeper, who seems to have been an
exception to his class, according to the following account:--'A
foreigner once applied for the situation of croupier at old Paul
Roubel's, stating as his qualification that he could cut or turn
up whatever card he pleased. The old man (for he was nearly
eighty, and a very good hearty fellow in his way) declined the
offer, saying--"You are too clever for me; my customers must have
some chance!" It is true Roubel kept a gambling house; but it is
also true that few men in higher walks of life possessed a kinder
heart, or a hand which opened more freely or more liberally to
the calls of humanity! Peace be to his manes!'


In all the gaming houses of any note there were unprincipled and
reckless persons paid by the hellites, employed in various
capacities, and for various purposes. Sometimes they played for
the proprietors against any one who chose to put down his money;
at other times, when there were no other individuals playing at
all, they pretended to be strangers themselves, and got up sham
games with the proprietors, with the view of practising a
deception on any strangers who might be in the room, and by that
means inducing them to put down their money. They were dressed
in the most fashionable manner, always exhibiting a profusion of
jewellery, and living in great splendour when they have any
particular person in their eye, in the various hotels throughout

[50] Grant, Sketches in London.

In some cases, in the higher class of gaming establishments, the
Greeks, or decoys, being men of title or considerable standing in
society, did not receive a fixed salary for seducing young men of
fortune, but being in every case very needy men, they nominally
borrowed, from time to time, large sums of money from the hell-
keepers. It was, however, perfectly understood on both sides
that the amount so borrowed was never to be repaid.[51]

[51] Grant, Ubi supra.


M. Robert-Houdin says that this application of the term 'Greek'
originated from a certain modern Greek, named Apoulos, who in the
reign of Louis XIV. was caught cheating at court, and was
condemned to 20 years at the galleys. I think this a very
improbable derivation, and unnecessary withal. Aristotle of old,
as before stated, ranked gamesters 'with thieves and plunderers,
who for the sake of gain do not scruple to despoil their best
friends.' We afterwards find them bearing just as bad a
character among the Romans. Says Juvenal--

Graeculus esuriens in coelum jusseris, ibit.
'Bid the hungry Greek to heaven, to heaven he goes.'

Dr Johnson translated the words, 'Bid him to h--l, to h--l he
goes'--which is wrong. A DIFFICULTY is implied, and everybody
knows that it is easier to go to the latter place than the
former. It means that a needy Greek was capable of doing
anything. Lord Byron protested that he saw no difference between
Greeks and Jews--of course, meaning 'Jews' in the offensive sense
of the word. Among gamblers the term was chiefly applied to


Captain Sharp. A cheating bully, whose office it was to bully
any 'Pigeon,' who, suspecting roguery, refused to pay what he had

St Hugh's bones. Dice. A bale of bard cinque deuces; a bale of
flat cinque deuces; a bale of flat size aces; a bale of bard
cater treys; a bale of flat cater treys; a bale of Fulhams; a
bale of light graniers; a bale of gordes, with as many highmen
and lowmen for passage; a bale of demies; a bale of long dice for
even or odd; a bale of bristles; a bale of direct
contraries,--names of false dice.

Do. To cheat.

Done up. Ruined.

Down-hills. False dice which run low.

Elbow-shaker. A gamester.

Fulhams. Loaded dice.

Fuzz. To shuffle cards closely: to change the pack.

Game. Bubbles, Flats, Pigeons.

Gull Gropers. Usurers who lend money to gamesters.

Greeks. Cheats at play.

Hedge. To secure a bet by betting on the other side.

High Jinks. A gambler who drinks to intoxicate his Pigeon.

Hunting. Drawing in the unwary.

Main. Any number on the dice from five to nine.

Paum. To hide a card or die.

Pigeons. Dupes of sharpers at play.

Vincent's Law. The art of cheating at cards, by the banker, who
plays booty, Gripe, who bets, and the Vincent, who is cheated.
The gain is called termage.

Vowel. To give an I. O. U. in payment.

Up-hills. False dice which run high.


'SIR,--I hope you will join with the rest of the parishioners in
recommending what friends you can to my shops. They shall have
good candles and fair play. Sir, we are a not gang of swindlers,

Like other Gaming Houses,
We are men of character.
Our Party is,
Tom Carlos--alias Pistol,
Ned Mogg,--from Charing Cross,
Union Clarke, ------------

{The best in the world at
A Frenchman,{
{sleight of hand.
My poor Brother,
Melting Billy,
Your humble Servant.
To the Church-Wardens, Overseers, and each
respectable inhabitant in the Parish.'

A card was enclosed, as follows:--
Gaming House Keeper,
and **** **** to
The Honourable House of Commons
No. 7 and 8 **** St, St James's.'

This circular was sent to Stockdale, the publisher, in 1820, who
published it with the names in asterisks suppressed. It was
evidently intended to expose some doings in high places.



A distinction must be made between games of skill and games of
chance. The former require application, attention, and a certain
degree of ability to insure success in them; while the latter are
devoid of all that is rational, and are equally within the reach
of the highest and lowest capacity. To be successful in throwing
the dice is one of the most fickle achievements of fickle
fortune; and therefore the principal game played with them is
very properly and emphatically called 'Hazard.' It requires,
indeed, some exertion of the mental powers, of memory, at least,
and a turn for such diversions, to play well many games at cards.

Nevertheless, it is often found that those who do so give no
further proofs of superior memory and judgment, whilst persons of
superior memory and judgment not unfrequently fail egregiously at
the card-table.

The gamester of skill, in games of skill, may at first sight seem
to have more advantage than the gamester of chance, in games of
chance; and while cards are played merely as an amusement, there
is no doubt that a recreation is more rational when it requires
some degree of skill than one, like dice, totally devoid of all
meaning whatever. But when the pleasure becomes a business, and
a matter of mere gain, there is more innocence, perhaps, in a
perfect equality of antagonists--which games of chance, fairly
played, always secure--than where one party is likely to be an
overmatch for the other by his superior knowledge or ability.

Nevertheless, even games of chance may be artfully managed; and
the most apparently casual throw of the dice be made subservient
to the purposes of chicanery and fraud, as will be shown in the

In the matter of skill and chance the nature of cards is mixed,--
most games having in them both elements of interest,--since the
success of the player must depend as much on the chance of the
'deal' as on his skill in playing the game. But even the chance
of the deal is liable to be perverted by all the tricks of
shuffling and cutting--not to mention how the honourable player
may be deceived in a thousand ways by the craft of the sharper,
during the playing, of the cards themselves; consequently
professed gamblers of all denominations, whether their games be
of apparent skill or mere chance, may be confounded together or
considered in the same category, as being equally meritorious and
equally infamous.

Under the name of the Doctrine of Chances or Probabilities, a
very learned science,--much in vogue when lotteries were
prevalent,--has been applied to gambling purposes; and in spite
of the obvious abstruseness of the science, it is not impossible
to give the general reader an idea of its processes and

The probability of an event is greater or less according to the
number of chances by which it may happen, compared with the whole
number of chances by which it may either happen or fail.
Wherefore, if we constitute a fraction whereof the numerator be
the number of chances whereby an event may happen, and the
denominator the number of all the chances whereby it may either
happen or fail, that fraction will be a proper designation of the
probability of happening. Thus, if an event has 3 chances to
happen, and 2 to fail, then the fraction 3/5 will fairly
represent the probability of its happening, and may be taken to
be the measure of it.

The same may be said of the probability of failing, which will
likewise be measured by a fraction whose numerator is the number
of chances whereby it may fail, and the denominator the whole
number of chances both for its happening and failing; thus the
probability of the failing of that event which has 2 chances to
fail and 3 to happen will be measured by the fraction 2/5.

The fractions which represent the probabilities of happening and
failing, being added together, their sum will always be equal to
unity, since the sum of their numerators will be equal to their
common denominator. Now, it being a certainty that an event will
either happen or fail, it follows that certainty, which may be
conceived under the notion of an infinitely great degree of
probability, is fitly represented by unity.

These things will be easily apprehended if it be considered that
the word probability includes a double idea; first, of the number
of chances whereby an event may happen; secondly, of the number
of chances whereby it may either happen or fail. If I say that I
have three chances to win any sum of money, it is impossible from
the bare assertion to judge whether I am likely to obtain it; but
if I add that the number of chances either to obtain it or miss
it, is five in all, from this will ensue a comparison between the
chances that are for and against me, whereby a true judgment will
be formed of my probability of success; whence it necessarily
follows that it is the comparative magnitude of the number of
chances to happen, in respect of the whole number of chances
either to happen or to fail, which is the true measure of

To find the probability of throwing an ace in two throws with a
single die. The probability of throwing an ace the first time is
1/6; whereof 1/ is the first part of the probability required.
If the ace be missed the first time, still it may be thrown on
the second; but the probability of missing it the first time is
5/6, and the probability of throwing it the second time is 1/6;
therefore the probability of missing it the first time and
throwing it the second, is 5/6 X 1/6 = 5/36 and this is the
second part of the probability required, and therefore the
probability required is in all 1/6 + 5/36 = 11/36.

To this case is analogous a question commonly proposed about
throwing with two dice either six or seven in two throws, which
will be easily solved, provided it be known that seven has 6
chances to come up, and six 5 chances, and that the whole number
of chances in two dice is 36; for the number of chances for
throwing six or seven 11, it follows that the probability of
throwing either chance the first time is 11/36, but if both are
missed the first time, still either may be thrown the second
time; but the probability of missing both the first time is
25/36, and the probability of throwing either of them on the
second is 11/36; therefore the probability of missing both of
them the first time, and throwing either of them the second time,
is 25/36 X 11/36 = 275/1296, and therefore the probability
required is 11/36 + 275/1296 = 671/1296, and the probability of
the contrary is 625/1296.

Among the many mistakes that are committed about chances, one of
the most common and least suspected was that which related to
lotteries. Thus,supposing a lottery wherein the proportion of
the blanks to the prizes was as five to one, it was very natural
to conclude that, therefore, five tickets were requisite for the
chance of a prize; and yet it is demonstrable that four tickets
were more than sufficient for that purpose. In like manner,
supposing a lottery in which the proportion of the blanks to the
prize is as thirty-nine to one (as was the lottery of 1710), it
may be proved that in twenty-eight tickets a prize is as likely
to be taken as not, which, though it may contradict the common
notions, is nevertheless grounded upon infallible demonstrations.

When the Play of the Royal Oak was in use, some persons who lost
considerably by it, had their losses chiefly occasioned by an
argument of which they could not perceive the fallacy. The odds
against any particular point of the ball were one and thirty to
one, which entitled the adventurers, in case they were winners,
to have thirty-two stakes returned, including their own; instead
of which, as they had but twenty-eight, it was very plain that,
on the single account of the disadvantage of the play, they lost
one-eighth part of all the money played for. But the master of
the ball maintained that they had no reason to complain, since he
would undertake that any particular point of the ball should come
up in two and twenty throws; of this he would offer to lay a
wager, and actually laid it when required. The seeming
contradiction between the odds of one and thirty to one, and
twenty-two throws for any chance to come up, so perplexed the
adventurers that they began to think the advantage was on their
side, and so they went on playing and continued to lose.

The doctrine of chances tends to explode the long-standing
superstition that there is in play such a thing as LUCK, good or
bad. If by saying that a man has good luck, nothing more were
meant than that he has been generally a gainer at play, the
expression might be allowed as very proper in a short way of
speaking; but if the word 'good luck' be understood to signify a
certain predominant quality, so inherent in a man that he must
win whenever he plays, or at least win oftener than lose, it may
be denied that there is any such thing in nature. The asserters
of luck maintain that sometimes they have been very lucky, and at
other times they have had a prodigious run of bad luck against
them, which whilst it continued obliged them to be very cautious
in engaging with the fortunate. They asked how they could lose
fifteen games running if bad luck had not prevailed strangely
against them. But it is quite certain that although the odds
against losing so many times together be very great, namely,
32,767 to 1,--yet the POSSIBILITY of it is not destroyed by the
greatness of the odds, there being ONE chance in 32,768 that it
may so happen; therefore it follows that the succession of lost
games was still possible, without the intervention of bad luck.
The accident of losing fifteen games is no more to be imputed to
bad luck than the winning, with one single ticket, the highest
prize in a lottery of 32,768 tickets is to be imputed to good
luck, since the chances in both cases are perfectly equal. But
if it be said that luck has been concerned in the latter case,
the answer will be easy; for let us suppose luck not existing, or
at least let us suppose its influence to be suspended,--yet the
highest prize must fall into some hand or other, not as luck
(for, by the hypothesis, that has been laid aside), but from the
mere necessity of its falling somewhere.

Among the many curious results of these inquiries according to
the doctrine of chances, is the prodigious advantage which the
repetition of odds will amount to. Thus, 'supposing I play with
an adversary who allows me the odds of 43 to 40, and agrees with
me to play till 100 stakes are won or lost on either side, on
condition that I give him an equivalent for the gain I am
entitled to by the advantage of my odds;--the question is, what I
am to give him, supposing we play at a guinea a stake? The
answer is 99 guineas and above 18 shillings,[52] which will seem
almost incredible, considering the smallness of the odds--43 to
40. Now let the odds be in any proportion, and let the number of
stakes played for be never so great, yet one general conclusion
will include all the possible cases, and the application of it to
numbers may be worked out in less than a minute's time.'[53]

[52] The guinea was worth 21s. 6d. when the work quoted was

[53] De Moivre, Doctrine of Chances.

The possible combinations of cards in a hand as dealt out by
chance are truly wonderful. It has been established by
calculation that a player at Whist may hold above 635 thousand
millions of various hands! So that, continually varied, at 50
deals per evening, for 313 evenings, or 15,650 hands per annum,
he might be above 40 millions of years before he would have the
same hand again!

The chance is equal, in dealing cards, that every hand will have
seven trumps in two deals, or seven trumps between two partners,
and also four court cards in every deal. It is also certain on
an average of hands, that nothing can be more superstitious and
absurd than the prevailing notions about luck or ill-luck. Four
persons, constantly playing at Whist during a long voyage, were
frequently winners and losers to a large amount, but as
frequently at 'quits;' and at the end of the voyage, after the
last game, one of them was minus only one franc!

The chance of having a particular card out of 13 is 13/52, or 1
to 4, and the chance of holding any two cards is 1/4 of 1/4 or
1/16. The chances of a game are generally inversely as the
number got by each, or as the number to be got to complete each

The chances against holding seven trumps are 160 to 1; against
six, it is 26 to 1; against five, 6 to 1; and against four nearly
2 to 1. It is 8 to 1 against holding any two particular cards.

Similar calculations have been made respecting the probabilities
with dice. There are 36 chances upon two dice.

It is an even chance that you throw 8. It is 35 to 1 against
throwing any particular doublets, and 6 to 1 against any doublets
at all. It is 17 to 1 against throwing any two desired numbers.
It is 4 to 9 against throwing a single number with either of the
dice, so as to hit a blot and enter. Against hitting with the
amount of two dice, the chances against 7, 8, and 9 are 5 to 1;
against 10 are 11 to 1; against 11 are 17 to 1; and against
sixes, 35 to 1.

The probabilities of throwing required totals with two dice,
depend on the number of ways in which the totals can be made up
by the dice;--2, 3, 11, or 12 can only be made up one way each,
and therefore the chance is but 1/36;--4, 5, 9, 10 may be made up
two ways, or 1/8;--6, 7, 8 three ways, or 1/12. The chance of
doublets is 1/36, the chance of PARTICULAR doublets 1/216.

The method was largely applied to lotteries, cock-fighting, and
horse-racing. It may be asked how it is possible to calculate
the odds in horse-racing, when perhaps the jockeys in a great
measure know before they start which is to win?

In answer to this a question may be proposed:--Suppose I toss up
a half-penny, and you are to guess whether it will be head or
tail--must it not be allowed that you have an equal chance to win
as to lose? Or, if I hide a half-penny under a hat, and I know
what it is, have you not as good a chance to guess right, as if
it were tossed up? My KNOWING IT TO BE HEAD can be no hindrance
to you, as long as you have liberty of choosing either head or
tail. In spite of this reasoning, there are people who build so
much upon their own opinion, that should their favourite horse
happen to be beaten, they will have it to be owing to some fraud.

The following fact is mentioned as a 'paradox.'

It happened at Malden, in Essex, in the year 1738, that three
horses (and no more than three) started for a L10 plate, and they
were all three distanced the first heat, according to the common
rules in horse-racing, without any quibble or equivocation; and
the following was the solution:--The first horse ran on the
inside of the post; the second wanted weight; and the third fell
and broke a fore-leg.[54]

[54] Cheany's Horse-racing Book.

In horse-racing the expectation of an event is considered as the
present value, or worth, of whatsoever sum or thing is depending
on the happening of that event. Therefore if the expectation on
an event be divided by the value of the thing expected, on the
happening of that event, the quotient will be the probability of

Example I. Suppose two horses, A and B, to start for L50, and
there are even bets on both sides; it is evident that the present
value or worth of each of their expectations will be L25, and the
probabilities 25/50 or 1/2. For, if they had agreed to divide
the prize between them, according as the bets should be at the
time of their starting, they would each of them be entitled to
L25; but if A had been thought so much superior to B that the
bets had been 3 to 2 in his favour, then the real value of A's
expectation would have been L30, and that of B's only L20, and
their several probabilities 30/50 and 20/50.

Example II. Let us suppose three horses to start for a
sweepstake, namely, A, B, and C, and that the odds are 8 to 6 A
against B, and 6 to 4 B against C--what are the odds--A against
C, and the field against A? Answer:--2 to 1 A against C, and 10
to 8, or 5 to 4 the field against A. For
A's expectation is 8
B's expectation is 6
C's expectation is 4

But if the bets had been 7 to 4 A against B; and even money B
against C, then the odds would have been 8 to 7 the field against
A, as shown in the following scheme:--
7 A
4 B
4 C

But as this is the basis upon which all the rest depends, another
example or two may be required to make it as plain as possible.

Example III. Suppose the same three as before, and the common
bets 7 to 4 A against B; 21 to 20 (or 'gold to silver') B against
C; we must state it thus:--7 guineas to 4 A against B; and 4
guineas to L4, B against C; which being reduced into shillings,
the scheme will stand as follows:--

147 A's expectation.
81 B's expectation.
80 C's expectation.

By which it will be 164 to 147 the field against A, (something
more than 39 to 35). Now, if we compare this with the last
example, we may conclude it to be right; for if it had been 40 to
35, then it would have been 8 to 7, exactly as in the last
example. But, as some persons may be at a loss to know why the
numbers 39 and 35 are selected, it is requisite to show the same
by means of the Sliding Rule. Set 164 upon the line A to 147
upon the slider B, and then look along till you see two whole
numbers which stand exactly one against the other (or as near as
you can come), which, in this case, you find to be 39 on A,
standing against 35 on the slider B (very nearly). But as
164/311 and 147/311 are in the lowest terms, there are no less
numbers, in the same proportion, as 164 to 147,--39 and 35 being
the nearest, but not quite exact.

Example IV. There are four horses to start for a sweepstake,
namely, A, B, C, D, and they are supposed to be as equally
matched as possible. Now, Mr Sly has laid 10 guineas A against
C, and also 10 guineas A against D. Likewise Mr Rider has laid
10 guineas A against C, and also 10 guineas B against D. After
which Mr Dice laid Mr Sly 10 guineas to 4 that he will not win
both his bets. Secondly, he laid Mr Rider 10 guineas to 4 that
he will not win both his bets.

Now, we wish to know what Mr Dice's advantage or disadvantage is,
in laying these two last-mentioned wagers.

First, the probability of Mr Sly's winning both his bets is 1/3
of 14 guineas; and Mr Dice's expectation is 2/3 of 14 guineas, or
L9 16s., which being deducted from his own stake (10 guineas),
there remains 14s., which is his disadvantage in that bet.

Secondly, Mr Rider's expectation of winning his two bets is 1/4,
and, therefore, Mr Dice's expectation of the 14 guineas, is 3/4,
or L11 0s. 6d., from which deduct 10 guineas (his own stake), and
there remains 10s. 6d., his advantage in this bet,--which being
deducted from 14s. (his disadvantage in the other), there remains
3s 6d., his disadvantage in paying both these bets.

These examples may suffice to show the working of the system;
regular tables exist adapted to all cases; and there can be no
doubt that those who have realized large fortunes by horse-racing
managed to do so by uniformly acting on some such principles, as
well as by availing themselves of such 'valuable information' as
may be secured, before events come off, by those who make
horse-racing their business.

The same system was applied, and with still greater precision, to
Cock-fighting, to Lotteries, Raffles, Backgammon, Cribbage, Put,
All Fours, and Whist, showing all the chances of holding any
particular card or cards. Thus, it is 2 to 1 that your partner
has not one certain card; 17 to 2 that he has not two certain
cards; 31 to 26 that he has not one of them only; and 32 to 25
(or 5 to 4) that he has one or both--that is, when two cards are
in question. It is 31 to 1 that he has three certain cards; 7 to
2 that he has not two; 7 to 6 that he has not one; 13 to 6 that
he has either one or two; 5 to 2 that he has one, two, or three
cards; that is, when three cards are in question.

With regard to the dealer and his partner, it is 57,798 to 7176
(better than 8 to 1) that they are not four by honours; it is
32,527 to 32,448 (or about an even bet) that they are not two by
honours; it is 36,924 to 25,350 (or 11 to 7 nearly) that the
honours count; it is 42,237 to 22,737 (or 15 to 8 nearly) that
the dealer is nothing by honours.[55]

[55] Proctor, The Sportsman's Sure Guide. Lond. A.D. 1733.

Such is a general sketch of the large subject included under the
term of the calculation of probabilities, which comprises not
only the chances of games of hazard, insurances, lotteries, &c.,
but also the determination of future events from observations
made relative to events of the same nature. This subject of
inquiry dates only from the 17th century, and occupied the minds
of Pascal, Huygens, Fermot, Bernouilli, Laplace, Fourier,
Lacroix, Poisson, De Moivre; and in more modern times, Cournot,
Quetelet, and Professor De Morgan.

In the matter of betting, or in estimating the 'odds' in betting,
of course an acquaintance with the method must be of some
service, and there can be no doubt that professional gamesters
endeavoured to master the subject.

M. Robert-Houdin, in his amusing work, Les Tricheries des Grecs
devoilees, has propounded some gaming axioms which are at least
curious and interesting; they are presented as those of a
professional gambler and cheat.

1. 'Every game of chance presents two kinds of chances which are
very distinct,--namely, those relating to the person interested,
that is, the player; and those inherent in the combinations of
the game.'

In the former there is what must be called, for the want of a
better name, 'good luck' or 'bad luck,' that is, some mysterious
cause which at times gives the play a 'run' of good or bad luck;
in the latter there is the entire doctrine of 'probabilities'
aforesaid, which, according to M. Houdin's gaming hero, may be
completely discarded for the following axiom:--

2. 'If chance can bring into the game all possible combinations,
there are, nevertheless, certain limits at which it seems to
stop. Such, for instance, as a certain number turning up ten
times in succession at Roulette. This is possible, but it has
never happened.'

Nevertheless a most remarkable fact is on record. In 1813, a Mr
Ogden betted 1000 guineas to ONE guinea, that calling seven as
the main, the caster would not throw that number ten times
successively. Wonderful to relate! the caster threw seven nine
times following. Thereupon Mr Ogden offered him 470 guineas to
be off the bet--which he refused. The caster took the box again
and threw nine,--and so Mr Ogden won his guinea![56] In this
case there seems to have been no suspicion whatever of unfair
dice being used.

[56] Seymour Harcourt, The Gaming Calendar.

3. 'In a game of chance, the oftener the same combination has
occurred in succession, the nearer we are to the certainty that
it will not recur at the next cast or turn up. This is the most
elementary of the theories on probabilities; it is termed the

'Hence,' according to this great authority, 'a player must come
to the table not only "in luck," but he must not risk his money
excepting at the instant prescribed by the rules of the maturity
of the chances.'

Founded on this theory we have the following precepts for

1. 'For gaming, prefer Roulette, because it presents several
ways of staking your money[57]--which permits the study of

[57] 'Pair, impair, passe, manque, and the 38 numbers of the
Roulette, besides the different combinations of POSITION' and
'maturities' together.

2. 'A player should approach the gaming table perfectly calm and
cool--just as a merchant or tradesman in treaty about any affair.

If he gets into a passion, it is all over with prudence, all over
with good luck--for the demon of bad luck invariably pursues a
passionate player.

3. 'Every man who finds a pleasure in playing runs the risk of

4. 'A prudent player, before undertaking anything, should put
himself to the test to discover if he is "in vein"--in luck. In
all doubt, you should abstain.'

I remember a curious incident in my childhood, which seems much
to the point of this axiom. A magnificent gold watch and chain
were given towards the building of a church, and my mother took
three chances, which were at a very high figure, the watch and
chain being valued at more than L100. One of these chances was
entered in my name, one in my brother's, and the third in my
mother's. I had to throw for her as well as myself. My brother
threw an insignificant figure; for myself I did the same; but,
oddly enough, I refused to throw for my mother on finding that I
had lost my chance, saying that I should wait a little longer--
rather a curious piece of prudence for a child of thirteen. The
raffle was with three dice; the majority of the chances had been
thrown, and 34 was the highest. After declining to throw I went
on throwing the dice for amusement, and was surprised to find
that every throw was better than the one I had in the raffle. I
thereupon said--'Now I'll throw for mamma.' I threw thirty-six,
which won the watch! My mother had been a large subscriber to
the building of the church, and the priest said that my winning
the watch for her was quite PROVIDENTIAL. According to M.
Houdin's authority, however, it seems that I only got into
'vein'--but how I came to pause and defer throwing the last
chance, has always puzzled me respecting this incident of my
childhood, which made too great an impression ever to be effaced.

5. 'There are persons who are constantly pursued by bad luck.
To such I say--NEVER PLAY.

6. 'Stubborness at play is ruin.

7. 'Remember that Fortune does not like people to be overjoyed
at her favours, and that she prepares bitter deceptions for the
imprudent, who are intoxicated by success.'

Such are the chief axioms of a most experienced gamester, and M.
Houdin sums up the whole into the following:--

8. 'Before risking your money at play, you must deeply study
your "vein" and the different probabilities of the game--termed
the maturity of the chances.'

M. Robert-Houdin got all this precious information from a
gamester named Raymond. It appears that the first meeting
between him and this man was at a subscription-ball, where the
sharper managed to fleece him and others to a considerable
amount, contriving a dexterous escape when detected. Houdin
afterwards fell in with him at Spa, where he found him in the
greatest poverty, and lent him a small sum--to practise his grand
theories as just explained--but which he lost--whereupon Houdin
advised him 'to take up a less dangerous occupation.' He then
appears to have revealed to Houdin the entertaining particulars
which form the bulk of his book, so dramatically written. A year
afterwards Houdin unexpectedly fell in with him again; but this
time the fellow was transformed into what he called 'a demi-
millionnaire,' having succeeded to a large fortune by the death
of his brother, who died intestate. According to Houdin the
following was the man's declaration at the auspicious meeting:--
'I have,' said Raymond, 'completely renounced gaming. I am rich
enough, and care no longer for fortune. And yet,' he added
proudly, 'if I now cared for the thing, how I could BREAK those
bloated banks in their pride, and what a glorious vengeance I
could take of BAD LUCK and its inflexible agents! But my heart
is too full of my happiness to allow the smallest place for the
desire of vengeance.'

A very proper speech, unquestionably, and rendered still more
edifying by M. Houdin's assurance that Raymond, at his death
three years after, bequeathed the whole of his fortune to various
charitable institutions at Paris.

With regard to the man's gaming theories, however, it may be just
as well to consider the fact, that very many clever people, after
contriving fine systems and schemes for ruining gaming banks,
have, as M. Houdin reminds us, only succeeded in ruining
themselves and those who conformed to their precepts.

Et s'il est un joueur qui vive de son pain, On en voit tous les
jours mille mourir de faim.

'If ONE player there be that can live by his gain, There are
thousands that starve and strive ever in vain!'



The knights of hazard and devotees of chance, who live in and by
the rattle of the box, little know, or care, perhaps, to whom
they are indebted for the invention of their favourite cube.
They will solace themselves, no doubt, on being told that they
are pursuing a diversion of the highest antiquity, and which has
been handed down through all civilized as well as barbarous
nations to our own times.

The term 'cube,' which is the figure of a die, comes originally
from the Arabic word 'ca'b,' or 'ca'be,' whence the Greeks
derived their cubos, and cubeia, which is used to signify any
solid figure perfectly square every way--such as the geometrical
cube, the die used in play, and the temple at Mecca, which is of
the same figure. The Persic name for 'die' is 'dad,' and from
this word is derived the name of the thing in Spanish,
Portuguese, and Italian, namely, dado. In the old French it is
det, in the plural dets; in modern French de and dez, whence our
English name 'die,' and its plural 'dies,' or 'dice.'

Plato tells us that dice and gaming originated with a certain
demon, whom he calls Theuth, which seems very much like the
original patronymic of our Teutonic races, always famous for
their gambling propensity. The Greeks generally, however,
ascribed the invention of dice to one of their race, named
Palamedes, a sort of universal genius, who hit upon many other
contrivances, among the rest, weights and measures. But this
worthy lived in the times of the Trojan war, and yet Homer makes
no mention of dice--the astragaloi named by the poet being merely
knuckle-bones. Dice, however, are mentioned by Aristophanes in
his comedies, and so it seems that the invention must be placed
between the times of the two poets, that is, about 2300 years
ago. At any rate the cube or die has been in use as an
instrument of play, at least, during that period of time.

The great antiquity, therefore, of the die as an instrument of
pastime is unquestionable, and the general reason assigned for
its invention was the amusement and relaxation of the mind from
the pressure of difficulties, or from the fatigues and toils of
protracted war. Indeed, one conjecture is, that gaming was
invented by the Lydians when under the pressure of a great
famine; to divert themselves from their sufferings they contrived
dice, balls, tables, &c. This seems, however, rather a bad joke.

The afflicted Job asks--'Can a man fill his belly with the east
wind?' And we can imagine that plenty of tobacco to smoke and
'chaw' would mitigate the pangs of starvation to an army in the
field, as has been seriously suggested; but you might just as
well present a soldier with a stone instead of bread, as invite
him to amuse himself with dice, or anything else, to assuage the
pangs of hunger.

Be that as it may, time soon matured this instrument of
recreation into an engine of destruction; and the intended
palliative of care and labour has proved the fostering nurse of
innumerable evils. This diminutive cube has usurped a tyranny
over mankind for more than two thousand years, and continues at
this day to rule the world with despotic sway-- levelling all
distinctions of fortune in an instant by the fiat of its single

The use of dice was probably brought into this island by the
Romans, if not before known; it became more frequent in the times
of our Saxon ancestry, and has prevailed with almost unimpaired
vigour from those days to our own.

The Astragalos of the Greeks and Talus of the Romans were, as
before stated, nothing but the knuckle-bones of sheep and goats,
numbered, and used for gaming, being tossed up in the air and
caught on the back of the hand. Two persons played together at
this game, using four bones, which they threw up into the air or
emptied out of a dice-box (fritillus), observing the numbers of
the opposite sides. The numbers on the four sides of the four
bones admitted of thirty-five different combinations. The lowest
throw of all was four aces; but the value of the throw was not in
all cases the sum of the four numbers turned up. The highest in
value was that called Venus, in which the numbers cast up were
all different; the sum of them being only fourteen. It was by
obtaining this throw, hence called basilicus, that 'the King of
the Feast' was appointed by the Romans. Certain other throws
were called by particular names, taken from the gods, heroes,
kings, courtesans, animals; altogether there were sixty- four
such names. Thus, the throw consisting of two aces and two
treys, making eight, was denominated Stesichorus. When the
object was simply to throw the highest number, the game was
called pleistobolinda, a Greek word of that meaning. When a
person threw the tali, he often invoked either a god or his

Dice were also made of ivory, bone, or some close-grained wood,
especially privet ligustris tesseris utilissima, Plin. H. N.).
They were numbered as at present.

Arsacides, King of the Parthians, presented Demetrius Nicator,
among other presents, with golden dice--it is said, in contempt
for his frivolous propensity to play--in exprobationem puerilis


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