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Deepening Our Inquiry: Toward a Modern Gambling Culture


Deepening Our Inquiry: Toward a Modern Gambling Culture Today s Agenda Short Lec A History of Gambling in America: High Rollers (Solowoniuk 2007-2009). * – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Deepening Our Inquiry: Toward a Modern Gambling Culture

Deepening Our Inquiry Toward a Modern Gambling
  • Todays Agenda
  • Short Lec
  • A History of Gambling in America High Rollers

Enter Cards
  • In the first half of the second century, AD,
    bones, dice, and other games of gambling would
    give way in popularity to a new revolutionary
    form of gambling . . .
  • CARDS.
  • The whereabouts of cards and who actually
    invented them remains a subject of debate with
    two central theories of origination, in Korea or

Korean Hypothesis
  • The anthropologist Steward Culin, who is devoted
    to studying Asian and American Indian games,
    concluded that playing cards (6th century)
    descended from Korean divinatory arrows.
  • He hypothesized this because of the similarity of
    divinatory arrows and due to the their name
    htou-tjyen, meaning fighting tablets,
  • Most Korean packs of cards had eight suits of ten
    cards each the suits were man, fish, crow,
    pheasant, antelope, star, rabbit, and horse.

Korean Playing Cards
  • The cards were made from oiled silk and were
    approximately eight inches long and one half inch

Chinese Hypothesis Card Shen or Fan
  • The Chinese have not acknowledged this cultural
    adaptation and legend holds that dotted cards
    were played as far back as the 8 century AD in
  • Supposedly cards arose as a game to occupy the
    emperors ladies of the house, all 1500 hundred
    of them.
  • Other hypothesis about card creation site India
    as the birthplace of cards.

Cards A Rampant Explosion
  • It is likely that idea of gambling with cards
    filtered westward from china.
  • Leaving each culture free to develop its own
    kinds of games.

From Italy to England
  • On theory holds, that cards spread via Venetian
    trade routes. These networks of ships and
    caravans spanned from India and China, through
    south of Russia, into the Saharan desert, and far
    west as England.
  • Early Italian decks had 52 cards, but the first,
    hand painted cards were extremely expensive
    (hundreds of dollars in todays terms)
  • However, as the European Renaissance took hold
    along with the advent of block printing the price
    of a deck cards was minimized
  • And by the late 1400s card playing was set to
    became a world wide obsession.

Rise of the Modern Deck
  • Credited with ushering in the modern playing deck
    are the French.
  • French playing card design jelled around 1480.
    The design here is from the 1500s.
  • Although there has been some general appearance
    modifications, French suit signs are immediately

Rise of the Modern Deck
  • Although the French have been credited with the
    creation of the modern deck it is unsure who
    personally should be given credit.
  • A former knight and hero, a royal secretary, or
    wealthy merchant.

Cards Come to the New-World
  • According to legend, Spanish voyagers brought
    cards to the New world during Columbuss 1492
    transatlantic journey.
  • But dropped them overboard believing that divine
    anger would doom their ships.
  • Spanish playing cards would eventually filter
    northward during and after colonialism
  • And in years to come, English colonists would
    further add to the spawning of a new gambling

Gambling Becomes A Profession The 17th Century
  • In 1654, a well-known gambler, the Chevalier de
    Méré was perplexed by some seemingly inconsistent
    results in a popular game of chance.
  • Why, if it is profitable to wager that a 6 will
    appear within 4 rolls of one die, is it not then
    profitable to wager that double 6s will appear
    within 24 rolls of two dice?
  • De Méré took his question to his friend Blaise

The Mathematicians
  • Stimulated by de Mérés question, Pascal began a
    now famous chain of correspondence with fellow
    mathematician Pierre de Fermat.
  • It was evident that no existing theory adequately
    explained these phenomenon.
  • What resulted was the foundation on which the
    theory of probability rests today (crudely).

Blaise Pascal
Pierre de Fermat
Probability Rolling Dice
  • At its most basic form probability is the
    likelihood that an event will occur or for the
    gambler what is the chance that I will win.
  • Essentially, probability is used for modelling
    situations when the result of an event, realized
    under the same circumstances, produces different
    results (i.e., typically throwing a dice or a

Probability (contd).
  • Lets say , we want to determine the probability
    of rolling a 1 so the number of favorable
    results is one.
  • And because there are six sides to a die, so
    there are six possible results.
  • Similarly, the probability that you will roll
    either a 1 or a 2 on a single roll is 2/6, since
    there are two favorable results (i.e., a one or a
    two) and six possible outcomes.

Lottery Example
  • A lottery works by picking 6 numbers from 1 to
    49. How many combinations of 6 numbers could you
  • To many to count.

But calculating your probability of winning, we
know that our odds are 1/13,983,816
Probability theory spawned considerable
mathematic progress, but it did not have an
immediate impact on the society of gamblers
  • Most gamblers took no notice. While others hoped
    that mathematicians might cure the reckless of
    their passion for cards and dice with a strong
    dose of calculation (Defoe, 1719).
  • There were a few exceptions, however
  • Marquis de Dangeau (1638-1720) took advantage of
    the new knowledge.

  • He played to win and he based his play on
    rational calculation, thus bringing the bourgeois
    value of financial accumulation to the gaming

Marquis de Dangeau
  • Thus, the meaning and implications of probability
    theory gradually seeped into the collective
    consciousness of western society over the next
    200 years.
  • Whereby, gambling for the most part, gradually
    lost its religious, divinative connotations and
    became more of a recreational pursuit or
    economical pursuit.
  • Ultimately, probability theory allowed for
    another path Using a discrepancy between true
    odds and actual payouts to carve out a
    statistically guaranteed profit.

A Short Look at Probability Theory and the game
of Roulette
Start at 412 go to 1000
The Ridotto Revolution The First Casino
  • First Noted 1567
  • ridotto ridurre, to reduce, close, or make
  • Originally aristocratic gathering places for
    social games
  • Ridotto opens in San Moise Palace (Northern
  • First legal sanctioned gambling house (1630s).

  • Entrance, rooms for refreshment
  • Six smaller rooms
  • Also had the chamber of sighs
  • Open 8 am to midnight depending on season

  • All gamblers (except nobility) had to wear a
    three-cornered hat, cape, and mask
  • High minimum stakes
  • Curious visitors, nobles, prostitutes, pimps,
    usurers, police informants, and degenerate

Closure and aftermath
Anti-Ridotto sentiment
  • Concerns over nobles gambling problems
  • 1774 Giorgio Pisani, reform-minded Barnabot
    (card dealer/ hustler / loan shark) makes a
  • To preserve the piety, sound discipline, and
    moderate behavior close the Ridotto
  • And eventually Ridotto is shut down (November 27,
  • Great Council votes to 720 to 21 close

A Fitting Epitaph?
  • Usurers look as sour as lemons, shop-keepers
    cant sell a thing, mask-makers are starving, and
    the Barnabot noblemen, accustomed to dealing
    cards ten hours a day, find their hands are
    withering away. Clearly, no state can keep going
    without the aid of vice.

The Ridotti Legacy
  • Hundreds of illegal Ridotti, known then as
  • Casini
  • Casino small house, clubhouse
  • By end of century,136 casinis operating in

Toward the Future Poker a Home Grown Western Game
  • The birth of Poker has been convincingly dated to
    the first or second decade of the 19th century.
  • It appeared in former French territory centered
    in New Orleans which was ceded to the infant
    United States by the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
  • Its cradle was the gambling saloon in general
    and, in particular, those famous or notorious
    floating saloons, the Mississippi steamers, which
    began to ply their trade from about 1811.

Poker (cont).
  • From the middle of the 19th century Poker
    experienced rapid changes and innovations as it
    became more widespread through the upheavals of
    the Civil War.
  • Stud, or stud-horse Poker, a cowboy invention
    said to have been introduced around Ohio,
    Indiana, and Illinois, first appears in The
    American Hoyle of 1864.
  • Speaking about stud poker Doc Holliday said
  • "Five Card Stud - one down, four up - is the
    cleanest, the clearest, and the only true game.
    It requires more instinct, more judgment, and
    more raw nerve than any other form. The rest is
    for amateurs and with extreme prejudice to be
    scrupulously avoided.
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Do Gamblers Really Know the Odds?
Gambling Games, Skill, Pure Chance, Some Skill.
  • Games of Pure chance
  • Dice
  • Bingo Halls
  • Keno
  • Roulette
  • Craps
  • Etc
  • While luck may help you win, repeated play
    ultimately brings ruin.

Lets Look at the Slot/EGM/VLT
  • Essentially the same machine
  • Run by a computer
  • Some games may offer a subtle more skill (i.e.,
    video poker).
  • But all ultimately electronic gaming machines can
    not be beaten.

EGM The Random Generator
  • The odds of a symbol landing on the pay line have
    little relationship to the number of images on
    the reel / video or otherwise.
  • Instead the computer generates a number between 1
    and 64 and maps this onto the physical reel.
  • Perhaps only 1 out of 64 virtual stops lends
    itself to the diamond.

Gambling Early Origins Summation
  • Gambling can be said to embedded in our brain and
  • Gambling derives from game play, which goes back
    10s of thousands of years.
  • Gambling is mentioned in the oldest written
    documents and oral traditions, so it is at least
    4000 5000 years old and probably much older.
  • Gambling is found in almost all cultures. It is
    somewhat less common in nomadic herding tribal
    societies and more common in capitalistic states
    with money, leisure time, and socio-economic

Where does this leave us?
  • In all, this leads us to the question of what is
  • Is it just a cultural pass time.
  • Is it part of human heritage.
  • Is it about playing games.
  • Is it evil, is it played for amusement, to gain
    notoriety, to understand the future, ect.
  • Thus, how do we define gambling?

Defining Gambling
  • The definition of gambling depends somewhat on
    the cultural and historical context in which it
    is used.
  • Currently, in western society, it has largely an
    economic definition and meaning.

Current Definition used Today.
  • It generally refers to wagering money or
    something of material value on something with an
    uncertain outcome in hope of winning additional
    money or material goods.
  • Furthermore, The outcome is typically evident
    within a short period of time.
  • The wagering is typically done on things with a
    negative mathematical expectation.

But IT Excludes
  • Emotional or physical risk-taking where money or
    material goods are not being risked (e.g.,
    skydiving, running for office, asking someone for
    a date, etc.).
  • Usually excludes all forms of long-term
    investment (stock market, real estate) with
    positive expected returns and economic utility.
  • Usually excludes starting a new business, as time
    and effort are being wagered in addition to
    money and material goods and the outcome is not
    determined for a considerable period of time.

But IT Excludes
  • Usually excludes buying insurance, as the primary
    intent of the purchase is to protect against
    loss, rather than to collect or win.
  • Usually excludes buying raffle tickets (if the
    primary intent of the purchase is to support a
    worthy cause).
  • Why the exclusions, have we just witnessed the
    exclusions as being integral to the origins and
    history of gambling.
  • Is it because gambling can then be controlled,
    sanctioned, psychologized.