The ancient games of gambling
Gambling, as we know today, isn’t a concept that has emerged of late in the world. If we check upon the records related to gambling, we would stumble upon a number of facts that would direct us towards this activity and its inception that dates back to the ancient time. The history of gambling isn’t some hundreds of years ago, in fact, some record consider gambling to be as old as the existence of the human civilization on the planet.
Today, when we discuss about gambling, we only talk about the concepts of casinos, lottery, baccarat, poker, roulette, etc. As a matter of fact, gambling during the ancient times was much more than these wheel games, card games and fruit machines. The concept of gambling kept on evolving over the time and today the same has taken the shape of the activities and ideas mentioned above. The origin of gambling entertains a number of interesting facts. One such fact is that some forms of gambling have taken an existence in virtually the similar form for thousands of years in the history of mankind.
Here are some astonishing facts about the ancient games of gambling:
- A number of studies reveal that the concept of gambling has been originated from the Greek land and the same was considered to be the center of interest of the Greeks since the very ancient times. Gambling among the Greeks was as old as 3,500 years ago. The most popular game of gambling that was enjoyed and looked upon by the people back then was poker. Yes, the origin of Poker goes back to the Minoan civilization that existed thousands of years ago. Also, the game of dice, as we play today too has an ancient origin. It is said that thousands of years ago, rolling two sixes was addressed as the ‘throw of Aphrodite’. This would indicate a person’s victory in the game.
- The references of Homer and other texts from the ancient times reveal that the games of gambling were widely perceived by the ancient Greeks. The most popular form of games apart from poker were the games of dice, heads and tails as well as various other games that were based on sheer luck and were played in different groups of people. The people were so enthusiastic about gambling that they had also introduced special places where they could entertain their passion for gambling. However, these places weren’t looked up to be the decent places and they mostly carried a bad reputation. In fact, the gamblers who visited these places were also looked upon as the low-key gentry. Interestingly, the ancient Greek gamblers also had the support of Gods with them. It is believed that a couple of Gods, Herms and Pan looked up to gambling and supported those who perceived the same. The Greek mythology also states that Hades, Zeus and Poseidon involved themselves in ‘throw the dice’ to split the universe in between them.
- Even though gambling was very widespread throughout the land of Greece, it was still condemned by most ancient Greek philosophers as well as authors. According to them, gambling at some point of time surfaced like plague which resulted in the reduction of those activities by the government. The reduction of gambling wasn’t because of the widespread fashion of gambling, it was because people began to cheat in order to claim their victory which eventually gave rise to a number of chaos.
- Just like the Greeks, the Romans too, involved themselves into gambling. The game of checkers called ‘tilia’ was played and enjoyed by the people of Greece and Romans. This game was also addressed as the game of the 12 lines. Various sightings on ancient pottery reveal that the betting on animal fights, especially on birds, chickens as well as dogs became a huge fashion there and a number of locals bred these animals to further bet on them.
- Another ancient game of gambling which was very popular among the people was the game of heads and tails. It is believed that initially the game was played using a shell as later during the Roman period shell was replaced by a coin. Dice became a popular game among the ancient Greeks and they would make the use of three different cubes made of clay. The game of dice was also continued later in the Roman Era with an exception – the number of dice was now reduced to two. Even today, the game of dice is played using two dices.
- The games of gambling weren’t just restricted up to the masters’ class in ancient Rome, but the same was enjoyed by the slaves as well. In fact, these games were also played by the Emperors. The fashion of gambling wasn’t just restricted to Rome or Greece, but the same was popular among Egypt, Islam and China. Not only this, the references of gambling have also been made in Buddhism as well as Jewish Talmud. In all these cases, the instances of gambling were restricted at some point of time and the gamblers were subjected to punishment. Another ancient game called ‘casting of Lots’ became popular throughout Rome.
- The ancient game of gambling that was played and enjoyed by the people of China was Keno. This game was played using the cards having numbers from 1 to 80 in different squares. It is considered that this game was originated more than 2,000 years ago and the original game was referred to as ‘white pigeon ticket’. This game was allowed to be played in the gambling houses only after the permission of the province governor, who would also receive a share of profits. The Chinese also invented another game of chance in 2,300 BC which was developed using tiles. The game of cards was invented by the Chinese in 900 AD. The latter was then extended throughout the provinces of Europe by the Mamalukes.