The Oldest Casino Games That We Still Play Today
The casino has a long and storied historical pedigree. We think of casino games in history, we can easily recall depictions of Gold Rush-era gambling dens, elegant Monte Carlo casinos, Victorian London poker rooms, and Atomic Era Las Vegas. The thrill of the casino has attracted players for countless generations.
However, one thing that is less widely known is which casino games have been around for the longest time. Although casinos themselves are largely a 19th-century invention, the games that are played within them have roots that go back much, much further in time. If you’re curious about which casino games that we play today are the oldest, read on to find out more.
The roots of roulette are somewhat murky, but we know for sure where the idea for the game first originated. The game was a hit in the aristocratic gaming parlours of pre-revolutionary Paris, with records of the game being played in at least the 1780s. It is largely believed that the game was first invented by accident by the celebrated French mathematician Blaise Pascal, who was trying to create a perpetual motion machine and ended up with a roulette wheel. Today, roulette has moved into the digital realm, where popular online roulette sites now use RNG technology to recreate the unpredictable mechanics of the wheel for online players.
Keno is an immensely popular lottery-style game that is sort of a cross between bingo and the Powerball jackpot. Like roulette, it too is now immensely popular as a form of real money online entertainment. Although the game first became popular in the late 19th-century, its roots actually go back all the way to the 16th century, when it is alleged that the game was used by government authorities to raise funds for the construction of the Great Wall of China.
Craps, as we know it today, was first popularized in the gambling halls of New Orleans in the early 1800s, when the wealthy socialite Bernard de Marigny brought the game over from London. However, the roots of the popular dice game are actually to be found much earlier. The first version of craps was known as ‘hazard’, a virtually identical game of which the earliest known mention is in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a collection of stories written in the 14th century!
Blackjack has enjoyed many names over the course of its long, long history as a real money game, such as ‘Vingt-Un’, Pontoon, and ‘Twenty One’. However, the oldest version of blackjack that we know of was called Veintiuna, which is, of course, Spanish for twenty-one. The game was first referenced in the foundational epic novel by Miguel de Cervantes: Don Quixote. The text, which was written in the early 1600s, references the game as being played by cunning cheats in the city of Seville, with the rules that are described as being identical to blackjack.
Although many of us might have distinctly modern associations with casinos (or at least modern-ish associations), these classic games show us that the roots of our favourite card, dice, and tables games stretch back much further than most people might think.
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