The Universe Is A Great Casino

George Bernard Shaw has said: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.” To agree or not is up to you and, though the facts below from the gaming(gambling) world might not be helpful in making that decision, I find them interesting enough to share. 

 – The term “Casino” is of Italian origin, the root word being “Casa” (house) and originally meant a small country villa. The word changed to refer to a building built for pleasure, usually on the grounds of a larger Italian villa or palazzo that were used to host civic town functions – including dancing, music listening, and gambling.

 – Not all casinos were used for gaming. For example, the Copenhagen Casino was a theatre, known for the use made of its hall for mass public meetings during the 1848 Revolution which made Denmark a constitutional monarchy. The Hanko Casino located in  Finland was a banquet hall for the Russian nobility which frequented this spa resort in the late 19th century, and is presently used as a restaurant.

 – The earliest versions of Blackjack, also known as Twenty-one are about 500 years old. It was invented by either the French or the Italians. Napoleon was a big fan of the game and used to play it frequently during his exile in Elba, then later in St. Helena.

– Poker was invented in 1820 by sailors in New Orleans. The USA president Richard Nixon used a large sum of money that he won in a poker game to fund his first campaign for Congress – after winning a cool six grand playing poker with his Navy buddies; Nixon won his way into office with his big poker winnings. There is a total of 2,598,960 (almost 2.6 MILLION) possible poker hands with a standard deck of 52 cards.

 – The first Roulette wheel was not built for gambling purposes. It was instead developed by French mathematician and inventor Blaise Pascal, who was attempting to devise a machine that would stay in perpetual motion. The roulette wheel is considered a masterpiece comparable to the Swiss watch and has attracted many mathematicians, physicists and engineers to study the game due to its close relation to fields of science like physics and mechanics.

 – Felix Falguerein, an Italian gambler, is believed to be a father of Baccarat history and modern baccarat itself: he created the rules of the game and made it to be a very popular in the Italy of the 14thcentury.  He has created the game after the well-known myth about Etrustan ritual: Every virgin lady had to throw a nine-sided dice to determine her future, and the number of points she got determined her destiny. If she got 8 or 9 points she would become a priestess; if the number of points were 6 or 7 she would stay alive but had no right to come to a temple; but if a virgin had less than 6 points she would jump into the water from a mountain and end her life in such a tragic way.

 – Craps was first named “crapaud”; a French word which means “toad” in reference to the way that people would crouch or scoot over the floor or sidewalk to play. It is coming originally from a simplification of an old English game called Hazard and could go back as far even as the Crusades. It’s considered bad luck to say the word seven while in a game.

 – The first version of Bingo was a 1530  Italian lottery game known as Lo Giuco del Lotto d’Italia. The first prototype of bingo was played with dried beans and the game was actually called Beano. The largest bingo game in history took place at New York’s Teaneck Armory with 60,000 players in all and an additional 10,000 being turned away at the door. Bingo addicts are known for being superstitious – they have lucky chairs, lucky pens, lucky numbers and even lucky underwear.

 – Over a thousand years ago in China Cheung Leung created Keno – as a game of chance to produce revenue to provision his army. The game was success and the city was saved. Keno became known as the White Pigeon Game because carrier pigeons were used to send the results from the games in the big cities to the smaller villages. It was also used to help fund the building of the Great Wall. The original game itself consisted of 120 Chinese characters that were part of an ancient poem. 

 – The original slot machine was invented by Charles Fey in 1899 in San Francisco and the first slots were based on poker and had free cigars and beer for the payouts. Big Bertha” was the world’s biggest slot machine, measuring a huge two metres across and 2.5 metres high. It was impossible for a human being to pull the lever in order to get the eight massive reels into motion, so it was powered by a five horsepower motor.

There are no clocks in Las Vegas gambling casinos. Why? Is time there an illusion?