according to hoyle: dicing on the card sharpers

In Las Vegas, the hotel windows are always locked to prevent jumping. Samuel Pepy’s was one of the first to articulate the phenomenon, calling it “deep gaming”, a kind of instinct deep rooted based on the idea, counter to Einstein, that god does indeed play dice with the universe, we should play the averages and go with the hot hand. For Pepy’s as he saw it, gaming was prolonged periods of time spent on high stakes, usually money, precious metals, or securities based on land and property. Although “dicing” had been around,it was really Charles II who linked gaming to aristocratic leisure and ironically opening up English society to the world of art. Since then, the English psyche has tilted back and forth betwen a conflict over the restorative powers of gmes of chance, and the pathologies that seem intrinsic to the activity.

Theologically, gambling posits that our life is random;”the unseen hand” of Adam Smith notwithstanding, it implies an atheist principle that lucky conjunctions produced the initial catalyst and the weight of evolutionary destiny is too much inertia and karma, good and bad to create or prevent our outcome.The science of chance,filled with an underlying belief, or lack of belief that there is any purpose, anything greater than ourselves, and anything meaningful behind what we do. If our being in this world is random, there might be a predisposition to gambling, calculating the odds, but if our actions in this world are not random, one has to question whether the famous experiment of throwing darts at a stock exchange company listing and picking those stocks, random selection,or by blindfold, can result in higher returns than analysis and conscious decision.

Read More: in 1705, Susanna Centlivre’s The Basset Table refers to a now-unfashionable game, one with complex rules and obscure French terms. I’ve read over the rules a couple times now and still cannot make any sense of it, except that at the height of its popularity in England, it was nearly banned because of its potential to destroy a family’s wealth. Despite the round of basset in its second half, familiarity with the game is not necessary to enjoy The Folger Theatre’s production of The Gaming Table, which takes Centlivre’s text and adds cheerfully cynical flourishes.---

( see link at end) …These moral writings about play do not tell the whole story about eighteenth-century gambling, for there were at least as many texts instructing readers how to play games – and how to gamble profitably – as there were moralizations about the evils of gambling. If edition numbers can be taken as an indication of a text’s consumer appeal by far the most popular eighteenth-century work about gambling was Edmund Hoyle’s guide to whist (frequently revised and supplemented with instructions for other games), which was first published in 1742 and reached its ninth edition in 1748. A further eleven editions followed up to 1807 and versions of the work remain in print even to this day. By comparison most of the sermons, political pamphlets and academic treatises that criticized gambling were published in a single edition….

Image: Read More: ---From high-stakes Faro to lottery insurance to petty wagers, even to the very instruments of the Financial Revolution, gambling permeated the daily lives of eighteenth-century Britons of all classes. Jessica Richard argues that the romance of gambling, its celebration of the chance incalculable event, the heroic achievement against all odds, the lucky break, is foundational to eighteenth-century British culture and as such a central concern for the period's novels. Analyzing works by Richardson, Brooke, Smollett, Henry and Sarah Fielding, Burney, Radcliffe, Edgeworth, and Austen, along with gambling ephemera such as playing cards and games manuals, Richard shows that novelists use gambling scenarios not to tame chance but to interrogate its role in generic form and in a transforming capital economy inspired by and dependent on gambling. ---

…Northbrooke derived the immorality of play from its profane misuse of lots. In games of chance such as those played with dice, gamblers made a vain petition for manifestations of the determining presence of God. This contravened the divine purpose of the lot which had been ordained for the resolution of serious controversies. As Northbrooke warned, any game that admitted the operation of chance thus implied the invocation of God in a lusory lot, “as thoughe wee would make God seruant to our Pastymes and Sportes, and trye what care hee hadde of them.”  Northbrooke’s arguments were repeated by other theologians including the Puritan James Balmford in his treatise from 1593, A short and plain dialogve concerning the unlawfulnes of playing at cards or tables. In 1619, however, another Puritan divine, Thomas Gataker, published a sermon entitled Of the nature and use of lots, in which he asserted that lots were not subject to direct divine intervention but were rather fortuitous events which should only to be used to resolve frivolous matters.Read More:


Aged sixteen when she was affianced to the monosyllabic twenty-four-year old Duke, Georgiana naively assumed that her marriage, like her parents’, would offer bonds of shared emotions and intellectual pursuits. No such luck. The Duke, whose milliner girlfriend, unbeknownst to his wife, was suckling his newborn daughter in a country cottage as he took his wedding vows, looked on Georgiana merely as good breeding stock. His notion of marital affection was to barge into his bride’s room after his stint at Brooks’s was over and make a determined effort to produce an heir. Faced with such conjugal frustrations, a woman of Georgiana`s temperament and resources tends to find ways to rechannel her energies. Georgiana found solace in gambling, and particularly in the popular game of faro, which became her favorite diversion. She turned Devonshire House into London’s most exclusive gambling club, even charging professional faro dealers fifty guineas a night, illegally, for the right to set up tables there. Read More:

Read More: ---One of the enduring legacies of the period was the creation of London’s gaming houses, which evolved because of crackdowns that drove gambling from public places, like coffeehouses, to private clubs. In the club called White’s, John Montagu, Earl of Sandwich, allegedly invented the food item that bears his name. In time, these establishments became the playgrounds of the rich and powerful, who also carried their activities to fashionable spas in the nation. Americans visiting London frequently played in the casinos. Virginia grandee William Byrd III lost thousands of pounds in them, and in the end his gambling losses led to his suicide. Another legacy was

creation of two occupations—professional gamblers and cheats. Because cheats were detested, attracting such nicknames as rooks, wolves, and rogues in the eighteenth century, games began to be codified. Preeminent among the rule makers was Edmond Hoyle, who gave his name to the expression “according to Hoyle.”---



One chapter deals with gambling addiction in the context of Dostoevsky and Freudian analysis, another looks at betting in 16th-century Italy, where the doctor, author and mathematician Jerome Cardano first came up with probability theory, which meant that, for the first time, bets could be guided by something more than pure chance. He is particularly good on the explosion in gambling in 18th-century England, when the casual disposal of wealth almost became a badge of virility in the aristocracy. As Atherton shows, the mania for gambling in privileged circles reached levels of absurdity, with ever more outlandish wagers being struck. In 1770, for instance, two earls struck a bet that one could ride from Edinburgh to London and back in less time than it took the other to draw a million dots. He also recounts the story of the northern peer who won a large wager by going to Lapland and bringing back two native females and two reindeer within an allotted time. Read More:

Read More: ---The Gaming House, the sixth painting in William Hogarth's ‘A Rake's Progress’ series, showing Tom Rakewell gambling away his fortune, 1733. © By courtesy of the Trustees of Sir John Soane's Museum---

…Although Charles II gave gaming a kingly cachet, wagering had come to America long before his time. Native Americans were gambling before colonists arrived, and early arrivals were surprised to find native peoples risking all they owned on games of chance.

Early on, Jamestown colonists encountered native gambling, said Nancy Egloff, historian with the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation. One English report compared stick and straw games to cards. “They will play at this for their bows and arrows, their copper beads, hatchets, and their leather coats,” an observer wrote.

Elsewhere, colonists saw Native Americans bet on the outcome of athletic events. Roger Williams witnessed an intense football-like game accompanied by enthusiastic sideline wagers. Native Americans also played a game that used peach pits as dice, and some eastern Indians had six-sided dice made from animal bones and painted black and yellow. Games could go on for days, during which villages and tribes played and exchanged huge amounts of goods. Some of this zeal stemmed from native beliefs that gaming was a gift from the gods and had a spiritual dimension.Read More:

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