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The Gaming Table: Its Votaries and Victims by Andrew Steinmetz

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perfect indifference to exclusiveness, requiring only the hat to
be taken off upon entering, and rejecting only short jackets,
cigar, pipe, and meerschaum. A room of this description, a
temple dedicated to fashion, fortune, and flirtation, requires a
pen more current, a voice more eloquent, than mine to trace,
condense, vivify, and depict. Taking everything, therefore,
for granted, let us suppose a vast saloon of regular proportions,
rather longer than broad, at either end garnished by a balcony;
beneath, doors to the right and left, and opposite to the main
entrance, conduct to other apartments, dedicated to different
purposes. On entering the eye is at once dazzled by the blaze of
lights from chandeliers of magnificent dimensions, of lamps,
lustres, and sconces. The ceiling and borders set off into
compartments, showered over with arabesques, the gilded pillars,
the moving mass of promenaders, the endless labyrinth of human
beings assembled from every region in Europe, the costly dresses,
repeated by a host of mirrors, all this combined, which the eye
conveys to the brain at a single glance, utterly fails in
description. As with the eye, so it is with the ear; at every
step a new language falls upon it, and every tongue with
different intonation, for the high and the low, the prince, peer,
vassal, and tradesman, the proud beauty, the decrepit crone, some
fresh budding into the world, some standing near the grave, the
gentle and the stern, the sombre and the gay, in short, every
possible antithesis that the eye, ear, heart can perceive, hear,
or respond to, or that the mind itself can imagine, is here to be
met with in two minutes. And yet all this is no Babel; for all,
though concentrated, is admirably void of confusion; and evil or
strong passions, if they do exist, are religiously suppressed--a
necessary consequence, indeed, where there can be no sympathy,
and where contempt and ridicule would be the sole reciprocity.
In case, however, any such display should take place, a gendarme
keeps constant watch at the door, appointed by government, it is
true, but resembling our Bow-street officers in more respects
than one.

`Now that we have taken a survey of the brilliant and moving
throng, let us approach the stationary crowd to the left hand,
and see what it is that so fascinates and rivets their
attention. They are looking upon a long table covered with green
cloth, in the centre of which is a large polished wooden basin
with a moveable rim, and around it are small compartments,
numbered to a certain extent, namely 38, alternately red and
black in irregular order, numbered from one to 36, a nought or
zero in a red, and a double zero upon the black, making up the
38, and each capable of holding a marble. The moveable rim is
set in motion by the hand, and as it revolves horizontally from
east to west round its axis, the marble is caused by a jerk of
the finger and thumb to fly off in a contrary movement. The
public therefore conclude that no calculation can foretell where
the marble will fall, and I believe they are right, inasmuch as
the bank plays a certain and sure game, however deep, runs no
risk of loss, and consequently has no necessity for superfluously
cheating or deluding the public. It also plays double, that is,
on both sides of the wheel of fortune at once.

`When the whirling of both rim and marble cease, the latter
falls, either simultaneously or after some coy uncertainty, into
one of the compartments, and the number and colour, &c., are
immediately proclaimed, the stakes deposited are dexterously
raked up by the croupier, or increased by payment from the bank,
according as the colour wins or loses. Now, the two sides or
tables are merely duplicates of one another, and each of them is
divided something like a chess-board into three columns of
squares, which amount to 36; the numbers advance arithmetically
from right to left, and consequently there are 12 lines down, so
as to complete the rectangle; as one, therefore, stands at the
head, four stands immediately under it, and so on. At the bottom
lie three squares, with the French marks 12 p--12 m--12 d, that
is, first, middle, third dozen. The three large meadows on
either side are for red and black, pair and odd, miss and pass--
which last signify the division of the numbers into the first and
second half, from 1 to 18, and from 19 to 36, inclusive. If a
number be staked upon and wins, the stake is increased to six
times its amount, and so on, always less as the stake is placed
in different positions, which may be effected in the following
ways--by placing the piece of gold or silver on the line (_a
cheval_, as it is called), partly on one and partly on its
neighbour, two numbers are represented, and should one win,
the piece is augmented to eighteen times the sum; three
numbers are signified upon the stroke at the end or beginning of
the numbers that go across; six, by placing the coin on the
border of a perpendicular and a horizontal line between two
strokes; four, where the lines cross within; twelve numbers are
signified in a two-fold manner, either upon the column where the
figures follow in the order of one, four, seven, and so on, or on
the side-fields mentioned above; these receive the stake trebled;
and those who stake solely upon the colour, the two halves, or
equal and odd, have their stake doubled when they win. Now, the
two zeros, that is, the simple and compound, stand apart and may
be separately staked upon; should either turn up, the stake is
increased in a far larger proportion.

`To render the game equal, without counting in the zeros and
other trifles, the winner ought to receive the square of 36,
instead of 36.

`It is a melancholy amusement to any rational being not
infatuated by the blind rage of gold, to witness the incredible
excitement so repeatedly made to take the bank by storm,
sometimes by surprise, anon by stealth, and not rarely by digging
a mine, laying intrenchments and opening a fire of field-
pieces, heavy ordnance, and flying artillery; but the fortress,
proud and conscious of its superior strength, built on a rock of
adamant, laughs at the fiery attacks of its foes, nay, itself
invites the storm.

`For those classes of mankind who possess a little more prudence,
the game called _Trente-et-un_, and _Quarante_, or _Rouge et
Noir_ are substituted.

`The lord of the temple or establishment pays, I believe, to
government a yearly sum of 35,000 florins (about L3000) for
permission to keep up the establishment. He has gone to immense
expense in decorating the building; he pays a crowd of croupiers
at different salaries, and officers of his own, who superintend
and direct matters; he lights up the building, and he presides
over the festivities of the town--in short, he is the patron of
it all. With all this liberality he himself derives an enormous
revenue, an income as sure and determined as that of my Lord
Mayor himself.'[73]

[73] City of the Fountains, or Baden-Baden. By R. H.
Whitelocke. Carlsruhe, 1840.

The Baden season begins in May; the official opening takes place
towards the close of the spring quarter, and then the fashionable
world begins to arrive at the rendezvous.

It cannot be denied that everything is right well regulated,
and apart from the terrible dangers of gambling, the place does
very great credit to the authorities who thrive on the nefarious
traffic. Perfect order and decency of deportment, with all the
necessary civilities of life, are rigorously insisted on, and
summary expulsion is the consequence of any intolerable conduct.
If it so happens that any person becomes obnoxious in any way,
whatever may be his or her rank, the first intimation will be--
`Sir, you are not in your place here;' or, `Madame, the air of
Baden does not suit you.' If these words are disregarded, there
follows a summary order--`You must leave Baden this very day, and
cross the frontiers of the Grand Duchy within twenty-four hours.'

Mr Sala, in his novel `Make your Game,'[74] has given a spirited
description of the gambling scenes at Baden.

[74] Originally published in the `Welcome Guest.'

Whilst I write there is exhibited at the Egyptian Hall, London,
Dore's magnificent picture of the _Tapis Vert_, or Life in
Baden-Baden, of which the following is an accurate description:--

`The _Tapis Vert_ is a moral, and at the same time an
exceedingly clever, satire. It is illustrative of the life,
manners, and predilections and pursuits of a class of society
left hereafter to enjoy the manifold attractions of fashionable
watering-places, without the scourge that for so many years held
its immoral and degrading sway in their sumptuous halls.

`In one of these splendid salons the fashionable crowd is eagerly
pressing round an oblong table covered with green cloth (_le
tapis vert_), upon which piles of gold and bank-notes tell the
tale of "_noir perd et la couleur gagne_," and vice versa. The
principal group, upon which Dore has thrown one of his
powerful effects of light, is lifelike, and several of the actors
are at once recognized. Both croupiers are well-known
characters. There is much life and movement in the silent scene,
in which thousands of pounds change hands in a few seconds. To
the left of the croupier (dealer), who turns up the winning card,
sits a finely-dressed woman, who cares for little else but gold.
There is a remarkable expression of eagerness and curiosity upon
the countenance of the lady who comes next, and who endeavours,
with the assistance of her eye-glass, to find out the state of
affairs. The gentleman next to her is an inveterate
_blase_. The countenance of the old man reckoning up needs no
description. Near by stands a lady with a red feather in her
hat, and whose lace shawl alone is worth several hundred pounds--
for Dore made it. The two female figures to the left are
splendidly painted. The one who causes the other croupier to
turn round seems somewhat extravagantly dressed; but these
costumes have been frequently worn within the last two years both
at Baden and Hombourg. The old lady at the end of the table, to
the left, is a well-known habituee at both places. The
bustling and shuffling eagerness of the figures in the background
is exceedingly well rendered.

`As a whole, the _Tapis Vert_ is a very fine illustration of real
life, as met with in most of the leading German watering-

[75] `Illustrated Times.'

`At the present moment,' says another authority, writing more
than a year ago, `there are three very bold female gamblers at
Baden. One is the Russian Princess ----, who plays several hours
every day at _Rouge et Noir_, and sometimes makes what in our
money would be many hundreds, and at others goes empty away. She
wins calmly enough, but when luck is against her looks
anxious. The second is the wife of an Italian ex-minister, who
is well known both as an authoress and politician. She
patronizes _Roulette_, and at every turn of the wheel her money
passes on the board. She is a good gambler--smirking when she
wins, and smirking when she loses. She dresses as splendidly as
any of the dames of Paris. The other night she excited a flutter
among the ladies assembled in the salons of the "Conversation"
by appearing in a robe flaming red with an exaggerated train
which dragged its slow length along the floor. But the greatest
of the feminine players is the Leonie Leblanc. When she is at
the _Rouge et Noir_ table a larger crowd than usual is collected
to witness her operation. The stake she generally risks is 6000
francs (L240), which is the maximum allowed. Her chance is
changing: a few days back she won L4000 in one sitting; some
days later she lost about L2000, and was then reduced to the,
for her, indignity of playing for paltry sums--L20 or

Among the more recent chronicles, the _Figaro_ gives the
following account of the close of the campaign of a gaming hero,
M. Edgar de la Charme, who, for a number of days together,
never left the gaming-room without carrying off the sum of 24,000

`The day before yesterday, M. de la Charme, reflecting that there
must be an end even to the greatest run of luck, locked his
portmanteau, paid his bill, and took the road to the railway
station, accompanied by some of his friends. On reaching the
wicket he found it closed; there were still three-quarters of an
hour to pass before the departure of the train. "I will go and
play my parting game," he exclaimed, and, turning to the
coachman, bade him drive to the Kursaal. His friends surrounded
him, and held him back; he should not go, he would lose all his
winnings. But he was resolute, and soon reached the Casino,
where his travelling dress caused a stir of satisfaction among
the croupiers. He sat down at the _Trente-et-quarante_, broke
the bank in 20 minutes, got into his cab again, and seeing the
inspector of the tables walking to and fro under the arcades, he
said to him, in a tone of exquisite politeness, "I could not
think of going away without leaving you my P.P.C." '


`The gambling houses of Spa are in the Redoute, where _Rouge et
Noir_ and _Roulette_ are carried on nearly from morning to night.

The profits of these establishments exceed L40,000 a year. In
former times they belonged to the Bishop of Liege, who was a
partner in the concern, and derived a considerable revenue from
his share of the ill-gotten gains of the manager of the
establishment, and no gambling tables could be set up without his

[76] Murray's Handbook for Travellers on the Continent.

`The gambling in Spa is in a lower style than elsewhere. The
croupiers seem to be always on the look-out for cheating. You
never see here a pile of gold or bank notes on the table, as at
Hombourg or Wiesbaden, with the player saying, "Cinquante louis
aux billet," "Cent-vingt louis a la masse," and the
winnings scrupulously paid, or the losings raked carefully away
from the heap. They do not allow that at Spa; there is an order
against it on the wall. They could not trust the people that
play, I suppose, and it is doubtful if the people could trust the
croupiers. The ball spins more slowly at _Roulette_--the
cards are dealt more gingerly at _Trente-et-quarante_ here than
elsewhere. Nothing must be done quickly, lest somebody on one
side or other should try to do somebody else. Altogether Spa is
not a pleasant place to play in, and as, moreover, the odds are
as great against you as at Ems, it is better to stick to the
promenade _de sept heures_ and the ball-room, and leave the two
tables alone. Outside it is cheery and full of life. The Queen
of the Belgians is here, the Duke of Aumale, and other nice
people. The breeze from the hills is always delicious; the
Promenade Meyerbeer as refreshing on a hot day as a draught of
iced water. But the denizens, male and female, of the _salons de
jeu_ are often obnoxious, and one wishes that the old Baden law
could be enforced against some of the gentler sex.

`By way of warning to any of your readers who propose to visit
the tables this summer, will you let me tell a little anecdote,
from personal experience, of one of these places--which one I had
perhaps better not say. I took a place at the Roulette table,
and had not staked more than once or twice, when two handsomely
dressed ladies placed themselves one on either side of me, and
commenced playing with the smallest coins allowed, wedging
me in rather unpleasantly close between them. At my third or
fourth stake I won on both the colour and a number, and my
neighbour on the right quietly swept up my coins from the colour
the instant they were paid. I remonstrated, and she very
politely argued the point, ending by restoring my money. But
during our discussion my far larger stake, paid in the mean
while, on the winning number, had disappeared into the pocket of
my neighbour on the left, who was not so polite, and was very
indignant at my suggestion that the stake was mine. An appeal to
the croupier only produced a shrug of the shoulders and regret
that he had not seen who staked the money, an offer to stop the
play, and a suggestion that I should find it very difficult to
prove it was my stake. The "plant" between the two women was
evident. The whole thing was a systematically-planned robbery,
and very possibly the croupier was a confederate. I detected the
two women in communication, and I told them that I should change
my place to the other side of the table where I would trouble
them not to come. They took the hint very mildly, and could
afford to do so, for they had got my money. The affair was
very neatly managed, and would succeed in nearly every case,
especially if the croupier is, as is most probable, always on the
side of the ladies.'


`In 1842 Hombourg was an obscure village, consisting of the
castle of the Landgraf, and of a few hundred houses which in the
course of ages had clustered around it. Few would have known of
its existence except from the fact of its being the capital of
the smallest of European countries. Its inhabitants lived poor
and contented--the world forgetting, by the world forgot. It
boasted only of one inn--the "Aigle"--which in summer was
frequented by a few German families, who came to live cheaply and
to drink the waters of a neighbouring mineral spring. That same
year two French brothers of the name of Blanc arrived at
Frankfort. They were men of a speculative turn, and a recent and
somewhat daring speculation in France, connected with the old
semaphore telegraph, had rendered it necessary for them to
withdraw for a time from their native land. Their stock-in-trade
consisted in a Roulette wheel, a few thousand francs, and an
old and skilful croupier of Frascati, who knew a great deal about
the properties of cards. The authorities of the town of
Frankfort, being dull traders, declined to allow them to initiate
their townsmen into the mysteries of cards and Roulette, so
hearing that there were some strangers living at Hombourg, they
put themselves into an old diligence, and the same evening
disembarked at the "Aigle." The next day the elder brother
called upon the prime minister, an ancient gentleman, who, with a
couple of clerks, for some L60 a year governed the Landgrafate
of Hombourg to his own and the general satisfaction. After a
private interview with this statesman the elder Blanc returned
poorer in money, but with a permission in his pocket to put up
his Roulette wheel in one of the rooms of the inn. In a few
months the money of the innocent water-drinkers passed from their
pockets into those of the brothers Blanc. The ancient man of
Frascati turned the wheel, and no matter on what number the
water-drinkers risked their money, that number did not turn up.
At the close of the summer season a second visit was made to the
prime minister, and the Blancs returned to Frankfort with an
exclusive concession to establish games of hazard within the wide
spreading dominions of the Landgraf. For this they had agreed to
build a kursaal, to lay out a public garden, and to pay into the
national exchequer 40,000 florins (a florin is worth one shilling
and eight-pence) per annum. Having obtained this concession, the
next step was to found a company. Frankfort abounds in Hebrew
speculators, who are not particular how they make money, and as
the speculation appeared a good one, the money was soon
forthcoming. It was decided that the nominal capital was to be
400,000 florins, divided into shares of 100 florins each. Half
the shares were subscribed for by the Hebrew financialists, and
the other half was credited to the Blancs as the price of their
concession. During the winter a small kursaal was built and a
small garden planted; the mineral well was deepened, and flaming
advertisements appeared in all the German newspapers announcing
to the world that the famous waters of Hombourg were able to cure
every disease to which flesh is heir, and that to enable visitors
to while away their evenings agreeably a salon had been opened,
in which they would have an opportunity to win fabulous sums
by risking their money either at the game of _Trente et Quarante_
or at _Roulette_. From these small beginnings arose the
"company" whose career has been so notorious. It has enjoyed
uninterrupted good fortune. During the twenty-six years that
have elapsed since its foundation, a vast palace dedicated to
gambling has been built, the village has become a town, well
paved, and lighted with gas; the neighbouring hills are covered
with villas; about eighty acres have been laid out in pleasure-
grounds; roads have been made in all directions through the
surrounding woods; the visitors are numbered by tens of
thousands; there are above twenty hotels and many hundred
excellent lodging-houses.'[77]

[77] Correspondent of _Daily News._

`Let those who are disposed to risk their money inquire what is
the character of the managers, and be on their guard. The
expenses of such an enormous and splendid establishment amount to
L10,000, and the shares have for some years paid a handsome
dividend--the whole of which must be paid out of the pockets of
travellers and visitors.'[78]

[78] Murray, _ubi supra_.

Mr Sala in his interesting work, already quoted, furnishes the
completest account of Hombourg, its Kursaal, and gambling,
which I have condensed as follows:--

`In Hombourg the Kursaal is everything, and the town nothing.
The extortionate hotel-keepers, the "snub-nosed rogues of
counter and till," who overcharge you in the shops, make their
egregious profits from the Kursaal. The major part of the
Landgrave's revenue is derived from the Kursaal; he draws
L5000 a year from it. He and his house are sold to the
Kursaal; and the Board of Directors of the Kursaal are the real
sovereigns and land-graves of Hesse Hombourg. They have
metamorphosed a miserable mid-German townlet into a city of
palaces. Their stuccoed and frescoed palace is five hundred
times handsomer than the mouldy old Schloss, built by William
with the silver leg. They have planted the gardens; they have
imported the orange-trees; they have laid out the park, and
enclosed the hunting-grounds; they board, lodge, wash, and tax
the inhabitants; and I may say, without the slightest attempt at
punning, that the citizens are all _Kursed_.

`In the Kursaal is the ball or concert-room, at either end of
which is a gallery, supported by pillars of composition marble.
The floors are inlaid, and immense mirrors in sumptuous
frames hang on the walls. Vice can see her own image all over
the establishment. The ceiling is superbly decorated with bas-
reliefs in _carton-pierre_, like those in Mr Barry's new
Covent Garden Theatre; and fresco paintings, executed by Viotti,
of Milan, and Conti, of Munich; whilst the whole is lighted up by
enormous and gorgeous chandeliers. The apartment to the right is
called the _Salle Japanese_, and is used as a dining-room for a
monster _table d'hote_, held twice a day, and served by the
famous Chevet of Paris.

`There is a huge Cafe Olympique, for smoking and imbibing
purposes, private cabinets for parties, the monster saloon, and
two smaller ones, where _FROM ELEVEN IN THE FORENOON TO ELEVEN
after year--(the "administration" have yet a "_jouissance_"
of eighty-five years to run out, guaranteed by the incoming
dynasty of Hesse Darmstadt), knaves and fools, from almost every
corner of the world, gamble at the ingenious and amusing games of
_Roulette_, and _Rouge et Noir_, otherwise _Trente et Quarante_.

`There is one table covered with green baize, tightly
stretched as on a billiard-field. In the midst of the table
there is a circular pit, coved inwards, but not bottomless, and
containing the Roulette wheel, a revolving disc, turning with an
accurate momentum on a brass pillar, and divided at its outer
edge into thirty-seven narrow and shallow pigeon-hole
compartments, coloured alternately red and black, and numbered--
not consecutively--up to thirty-six. The last is a blank, and
stands for _Zero_, number _Nothing_. Round the upper edge, too,
run a series of little brass hoops, or bridges, to cause the ball
to hop and skip, and not at once into the nearest compartment.
This is the regimen of Roulette. The banker sits before the
wheel,--a croupier, or payer-out of winnings to and raker in of
losses from the players, on either side. Crying in a voice
calmly sonorous, "_Faites le Jeu, Messieurs_,"--"Make your
game, gentlemen!" the banker gives the wheel a dexterous twirl,
and ere it has made one revolution, casts into its Maelstrom of
black and red an ivory ball. The interval between this and the
ball finding a home is one of breathless anxiety. Stakes are
eagerly laid; but at a certain period of the revolution the
banker calls out--"_Le Jeu est fait. Rien ne va plus_,"--
and after that intimation it is useless to lay down money.
Then the banker, in the same calm and impassable voice, declares
the result. It may run thus:--"_Vingt-neuf, Noir, Impair, et
Passe," "Twenty-nine, Black, Odd, and Pass the Rubicon_" (No.
18); or, "_Huit, Rouge, Pair, et Manque_," "Eight, Red, Even,
and _NOT_ Pass the Rubicon."

`Now, on either side of the wheel, and extending to the extremity
of the table, run, in duplicate, the schedule of _mises_ or
stakes. The green baize first offers just thirty-six square
compartments, marked out by yellow threads woven in the fabric
itself, and bearing thirty-six consecutive numbers. If you place
a florin (one and eight-pence)--and no lower stake is permitted--
or ten florins, or a Napoleon, or an English five-pound note, or
any sum of money not exceeding the maximum, whose multiple is the
highest stake which the bank, if it loses, can be made to pay, in
the midst of compartment 29, and if the banker, in that calm
voice of his, has declared that 29 has become the resting place
of the ball, the croupier will push towards you with his rake
exactly thirty-three times the amount of your stake, whatever it
might have been. You must bear in mind, however, that the bank's
loss on a single stake is limited to eight thousand francs.
Moreover, if you have placed another sum of money in the
compartment inscribed, in legible yellow colours, "_Impair_,"
or Odd, you will receive the equivalent to your stake--twenty-
nine being an odd number. If you have placed a coin on _Passe_,
you will also receive this additional equivalent to your stake,
twenty-nine being "Past the Rubicon," or middle of the table of
numbers--18. Again, if you have ventured your money in a
compartment bearing for device a lozenge in outline, which
represents black, and twenty-nine being a black number, you will
again pocket a double stake, that is, one in addition to your
original venture. More, and more still,--if you have risked
money on the columns--that is, betted on the number turning up
corresponding with some number in one of the columns of the
tabular schedule, and have selected the right column--you have
your own stake and two others;--if you have betted on either of
these three eventualities, _douze premier, douze milieu_, or
_douze dernier_, otherwise "first dozen," "middle dozen," or
"last dozen," as one to twelve, thirteen to twenty-four,
twenty-five to thirty-six, all inclusive, and have chanced to
select _douze dernier_, the division in which No. 29 occurs,
you also obtain a treble stake, namely, your own and two more
which the bank pays you, your florin or your five-pound note--
benign fact!--metamorphosed into three. But, woe to the wight
who should have ventured on the number "eight," on the red
colour (compartment with a crimson lozenge), on "even," and on
"not past the Rubicon;" for twenty-nine does not comply with
any one of these conditions. He loses, and his money is coolly
swept away from him by the croupier's rake. With reference to
the last chances I enumerated in the last paragraph, I should
mention that the number _EIGHT_ would lie in the second column--
there being three columns,--and in the first dozen numbers.

`There are more chances, or rather subdivisions of chances, to
entice the player to back the "numbers;" for these the stations
of the ball are as capricious as womankind; and it is, of course,
extremely rare that a player will fix upon the particular number
that happens to turn up. But he may place a piece of money _a
cheval_, or astride, on the line which divides two numbers, in
which case (either of the numbers turning up) he receives
sixteen times his stake. He may place it on the cross lines
that divide four numbers, and, if either of the four wins, he
will receive eight times the amount of his stake. A word as to
_Zero_. Zero is designated by the compartment close to the
wheel's diameter, and zero, or blank, will turn up, on an
average, about once in seventy times. If you have placed money
in zero, and the ball seeks that haven, you will receive thirty-
three times your stake.'

The twin or elder brother of _Roulette_, played at Hombourg,
_Rouge et Noir_, or _Trente et Quarante_, is thus described by Mr

`There is the ordinary green-cloth covered table, with its
brilliant down-coming lights. In the centre sits the banker,
gold and silver in piles and _rouleaux_, and bank-notes before
him. On either hand, the croupier, as before, now wielding the
rakes and plying them to bring in the money, now balancing them,
now shouldering them, as soldiers do their muskets, half-pay
officers their canes, and dandies their silk umbrellas. The
banker's cards are, as throughout all the Rhenish gaming-places,
of French design; the same that were invented, or, at least,
first used in Europe, for crazy Charles the Simple. These
cards are placed on an inclined plane of marble, called a

`The dealer first takes six packs of cards, shuffles them, and
distributes them in various parcels to the various punters or
players round the table, to shuffle and mix. He then finally
shuffles them, and takes and places the end cards into various
parts of the three hundred and twelve cards, until he meets with
a _court card_, which he must place upright at the end. This
done, he presents the pack to one of the players to cut, who
places the pictured card where the _dealer_ separates the pack,
and that part of the pack beyond the pictured card he places at
the end nearest him, leaving the pictured card at the bottom of
the pack.

`The dealer then takes a certain number of cards, about as many
as would form a pack, and, looking at the first card, to know its
colour, puts it on the table with its face downwards. He then
takes two cards, one red and the other black, and sets them back
to back. These cards are turned, and displayed conspicuously, as
often as the colour varies, for the information of the company.

`The gamblers having staked their money on either of the colours,
the dealer asks, "_Votre jeu est-il fait?_" "Is your game
made?" or, "_Votre jeu est-il piet?_" "Is your game
ready?" or, "_Le jeu est pret, Messieurs_," "The game is
ready, gentlemen." He then deals the first card with its face
upwards, saying "_Noir;_' and continues dealing until the cards
turned exceed thirty points or pips in number, which number he
must mention, as "_Trente-et-un_," or "_Trente-six_," as the
case may be.

`As the aces reckon but for one, no card after thirty can make up
forty; the dealer, therefore, does not declare the _tens_ after
_thirty-one_, or upwards, but merely the units, as one, two,
three; if the number of points dealt for _Noir_ are thirty-five
he says "_Cinq_."

`Another parcel is then dealt for _rouge_, or _red_, and with
equal deliberation and solemnity; and if the players stake beyond
the colour that comes to _thirty-one_ or nearest to it, he wins,
which happy eventuality is announced by the dealer crying--
"_Rouge gagne_," "Red wins," or "_Rouge perd_," "Red
loses." These two parcels, one for each colour, make a _coup_.
The same number of parcels being dealt for each colour, the
dealer says, "_Apres_," "After." This is a "doublet,"
called in the amiable French tongue, "_un refait_," by which
neither party wins, unless both colours come to _thirty-
one_, which the dealer announces by saying, "_Un refait Trente-
et-un_, and he wins half the stakes posted on both colours. He,
however, does not take the money, but removes it to the middle
line, and the players may change the _venue_ of their stakes if
they please. This is called the first "prison," or _la
premiere prison_, and, if they win their next event, they draw
the entire stake. In case of another "_refait_," the money is
removed into the third line, which is called the second prison.
So you see that there are wheels within wheels, and Lord
Chancellor King's dictum, that walls can be built higher, but
there should be no prison within a prison, is sometimes reversed.

When this happens the dealer wins all.

`The cards are sometimes cut for which colour shall be dealt
first; but, in general, the first parcel is for _black_, and the
second for _red_. The odds against a "_refait_" turning up are
usually reckoned as 63 to 1. The bankers, however, acknowledge
that they expect it twice in three deals, and there are generally
from twenty-nine to thirty-two coups in each deal. The odds in
favour of winning several times are about the same as in the
game of Pharaon, and are as delusive. `He who goes to Hombourg
and expects to see any melodramatic manifestation of rage,
disappointment, and despair in the losing players, reckons
without his host. Winners or losers seldom speak above a
whisper; and the only sound that is heard above the suppressed
buzz of conversation, the muffled jingle of the money on the
green cloth, the "sweep" of the croupiers' rakes, and the
ticking of the very ornate French clocks on the mantel-pieces, is
the impassibly metallic voice of the banker, as he proclaims his
"_Rouge perd_," or "_Couleur gagne_." People are too genteel
at Hombourg-von-der-Hohe to scream, to yell, to fall into
fainting fits, or go into convulsions, because they have lost
four or five thousand francs or so in a single coup.

`I have heard of one gentleman, indeed, who, after a ruinous
loss, put a pistol to his head, and discharging it, spattered his
brains over the Roulette wheel. It was said that the banker,
looking up calmly, called out--`_Triple Zero,' `Treble
Nothing_,'--a case as yet unheard of in the tactics of Roulette,
but signifying annihilation,--and that, a cloth being thrown over
the ensanguined wheel, the bank of that particular table was
declared to be closed for the day. Very probably the whole story
is but a newspaper _canard_, devised by the proprietors of some
rival gaming establishment, who would have been delighted to see
the fashionable Hombourg under a cloud.

`When people want to commit suicide at Hombourg, they do it
genteelly; early in the morning, or late at night, in the
solitude of their own apartments at the hotels. It would be
reckoned a gross breach of good manners to scandalize the refined
and liberal administration of the Kursaal by undisguised _felo-
de-se_. The devil on two _croupes_ at Hombourg is the very
genteelest of demons imaginable. He ties his tail up with
cherry-coloured ribbon, and conceals his cloven foot in a patent-
leather boot. All this gentility and varnish, and elegant
veneering of the sulphurous pit, takes away from him, if it does
not wholly extinguish, the honour and loathing for a common
gaming-house, with which the mind of a wellured English
youth has been sedulously imbued by his parents and guardians.
He has very probably witnessed the performance of the
"Gamester" at the theatre, and been a spectator of the
remorseful agonies of Mr Beverly, the virtuous sorrows of
Mrs B., and the dark villanies of Messieurs Dawson and Bates.

`The first visit of the British youth to the Kursaal is usually
paid with fear and trembling. He is with difficulty persuaded to
enter the accursed place. When introduced to the saloons--
delusively called _de conversation_, he begins by staring fixedly
at the chandeliers, the ormolu clocks, and the rich draperies,
and resolutely averts his eyes from the serried ranks of punters
or players, and the Pactolus, whose sands are circulating on the
green cloth on the table. Then he thinks there is no very great
harm in looking on, and so peeps over the shoulder of a
moustached gamester, who perhaps whispers to him in the interval
between two coups, that if a man will only play carefully, and be
content with moderate gains, he may win sufficient--taking the
good days and the evil days in a lump--to keep him in a decent
kind of affluence all the year round. Indeed, I once knew a
croupier--we used to call him Napoleon, from the way he took
snuff from his waistcoat pocket, who was in the way of expressing
a grave conviction that it was possible to make a capital
living at Roulette, so long as you stuck to the colours, and
avoided the Scylla of the numbers and the Charybdis of the Zero.
By degrees, then, the shyness of the neophyte wears off. Perhaps
in the course of his descent of Avernus, a revulsion of feeling
takes place, and, horror-struck and ashamed, he rushes out of the
Kursaal, determined to enter its portals no more. Then he
temporizes; remembers that there is a capital reading-room,
provided with all the newspapers and periodicals of civilized
Europe, attached to the Kursaalian premises. There can be no
harm, he thinks, in glancing over "Galignani" or the
"Charivari," although under the same roof as the abhorred
_Trente et Quarante;_ but, alas! he finds _Galignani_ engaged by
an acrid old lady of morose countenance, who has lost all her
money by lunch-time, and is determined to "take it out in
reading," and the _Charivari_ slightly clenched in one hand by
the deaf old gentleman with the dingy ribbon of the Legion of
Honour, and the curly brown wig pushed up over one ear, who
always goes to sleep on the soft and luxurious velvet couches of
the Kursaal reading-room, from eleven till three, every day,
Sundays not excepted. The disappointed student of home or
foreign news wanders back to one of the apartments where
play is going, on. In fact, he does not know what to do
with himself until table-d'hote time. You know what the moral
bard, Dr Watts says:--

"Satan finds some mischief still,
For idle hands to do."

The unfledged gamester watches the play more narrowly. A stout
lady in a maroon velvet mantle, and a man with a bald head, a
black patch on his occiput, and gold spectacles, obligingly makes
way for him. He finds himself pressed against the very edge of
the table. Perhaps a chair--one of those delightfully
comfortable Kursaal chairs--is vacant. He is tired with doing
nothing, and sinks into the emolliently-cushioned _fauteuil_. He
fancies that he has caught the eye of the banker, or one of the
gentlemen of the _croupe_, and that they are meekly inviting him
to try his luck. "Well, there can't be much harm in risking a
florin," he murmurs. He stakes his silver-piece on a number or
a colour. He wins, we will say, twice or thrice. Perhaps he
quadruples his stake, nay, perchance, hits on the lucky number.
It turns up, and he receives thirty-five times the amount of his
_mise_. Thenceforth it is all over with that ingenuous
British youth. The Demon of Play has him for his own, and he may
go on playing and playing until he has lost every florin of his
own, or as many of those belonging to other people as he can beg
or borrow. Far more fortunate for him would it be in the long
run, if he met in the outset with a good swinging loss. The
burnt child _DOES_ dread the fire as a rule; but there is this
capricious, almost preternatural, feature of the physiology of
gaming, that the young and inexperienced generally win in the
first instance. They are drawn on and on, and in and in. They
begin to lose, and continue to lose, and by the time they have
cut their wise teeth they have neither sou nor silver to make
their dearly-bought wisdom available.

`At least one-half of the company may be assumed to be arrant
rascals--rascals male and rascals female--_chevaliers
d'industrie_, the offscourings of all the shut-up gambling-houses
in Europe, demireps and _lorettes_, single and married women

In the course of the three visits he has paid to Hombourg, Mr
Sala has observed that `nine-tenths of the English visitors to
the Kursaal, play;' and he does not hesitate to say that the
moths who flutter round the garish lamps at the Kursaal Van
der Hohe, and its kindred Hades, almost invariably singe their
wings; and that the chaseer at _Roulette_ and _Rouge_, generally
turn out edged tools, with which those incautious enough to play
with them are apt to cut their fingers, sometimes very

The season of 1869 in Hombourg is thus depicted in a high class

`Never within the memory of the oldest inhabitant (who in this
instance must undoubtedly be that veteran player Countess
Kisselef) has the town witnessed such an influx of tourists of
every class and description. Hotels and lodging-houses are
filled to overflowing. Every day imprudent travellers who have
neglected the precaution of securing rooms before their arrival
return disconsolately to Frankfort to await the vacation of some
apartment which a condescending landlord has promised them after
much negotiation for the week after next. The morning promenade
is a wonderful sight; such a host of bilious faces, such an
endless variety of eccentric costumes, such a Babel of tongues,
among which the shrill twang of our fair American cousins is
peculiarly prominent, could be found in no other place in
the civilized world. A moralist would assuredly find here
abundant food for reflection on the wonderful powers of self-
deception possessed by mankind. We all get up at most
inconvenient hours, swallow a certain quantity of a most nauseous
fluid, and then, having sacrificed so much to appearances, soothe
our consciences with the unfounded belief that a love of early
rising and salt water was our real reason for coming here, and
that the gambling tables had nothing whatever to do with it.
Perhaps, in some few instances, this view may be the correct one;
some few invalids, say one in a hundred, may have sought Hombourg
solely in the interest of an impaired digestion, but I fear that
such cases are few and far between; and, as a friend afflicted
with a mania for misquotation remarked to me the other day, even
"those who come to drink remain to play."

`Certainly the demon of Rouge et Noir has never held more
undisputed sway in Hombourg than in the present season; never
have the tables groaned under such a load of notes and rouleaux.
It would seem as if the gamblers, having only two or more years
left in which to complete their ruin, were hurrying on with
redoubled speed to that desirable consummation, and where a stake
of 12,000 francs is allowed on a single coup the pace can be made
very rapid indeed. High play is so common that unless you are
lucky enough to win or rich enough to lose a hundred thousand
francs at least, you need not hope to excite either envy or
commiseration. One persevering Muscovite, who has been punting
steadily for six weeks, has actually succeeded in getting rid of
a million of florins. As yet there have been no suicides to
record, owing probably to the precautionary measures adopted by a
paternal Administration. As soon as a gambler is known to be
utterly cleared out he at once receives a visit from one of M.
Blanc's officials, who offers him a small sum on condition he
will leave the town forthwith; which viaticum, however, for fear
of accidents, is only handed to him when fairly seated in the
train that bears him away, to blow out his brains, should he feel
so inclined, elsewhere. One of the most unpleasant facts
connected with the gambling is the ardour displayed by many
ladies in this very unfeminine pursuit: last night out of twenty-
five persons seated at the Roulette table I counted no fewer than
fifteen ladies, including an American lady with her two

`The King of Prussia has arrived, and, with due deference to the
official editors who have described in glowing paragraphs the
popular demonstrations in his honour, I am bound to assert that
he was received with very modified tokens of delight. There was
not even a repetition of the triumphal arch of last year; those
funereal black and white flags, whose sole aspect is enough to
repress any exuberance of rejoicing, were certainly flapping
against the hotel windows and the official flagstaffs, but little
else testified to the joy of the Hombourgers at beholding their
Sovereign. They manage these things better in France. Any
French _prefet_ would give the German authorities a few useful
hints concerning the cheap and speedy manufacture of loyal
enthusiasm. The foreigners, however, seem determined to atone
amply for any lack of proper feeling on the part of the
townspeople. They crowd round his Majesty as soon as he appears
in the rooms or gardens, and mob the poor old gentleman with a
vigour which taxes all the energies of his aides-de-camp to save
their Royal master from death by suffocation. Need I add
that our old friend the irrepressible "'Arry" is ever foremost
in these gentlemanlike demonstrations?

`Of course the town swarms with well-known English faces; indeed,
the Peers and M.P.s here at present would form a very respectable
party in the two Houses. We are especially well off for dukes;
the _Fremdenliste_ notifies the presence of no fewer than five of
those exalted personages. A far less respectable class of London
society is also, I am sorry to say, strongly represented: I
allude to those gentlemen of the light-fingered persuasion whom
the outer world rudely designate as pickpockets. This morning
two gorgeously arrayed members of the fraternity were marched
down to the station by the police, each being decorated with a
pair of bright steel handcuffs; seventeen of them were arrested
last week in Frankfort at one fell swoop, and at the tables the
row of lookers-on who always surround the players consists in
about equal proportions of these gentry and their natural
enemies--the detectives. Their booty since the beginning of the
season must be reckoned by thousands. Mustapha Fazyl Pasha had
his pocket picked of a purse containing L600, and a Russian
lady was lately robbed of a splendid diamond brooch valued
at 75,000 francs.[79]

[79] Pall Mall Gazette, Aug. 1869.

But the days of the Kursaal are numbered, and the glories or
infamies of Hombourg are doomed.

`The fiat has gone forth. In five years[80] from this time the
"game will be made" no longer--the great gambling establishment
of Hombourg will be a thing of the past. The town will be
obliged to contend on equal terms with other watering-places for
its share of the wool on the backs of summer excursionists.

[80] In 1872.

`As most of the townspeople are shareholders in this thriving
concern, and as all of them gain either directly or indirectly by
the play, it was amusing to watch the anxiety of these worthies
during the war between Austria and Prussia. Patriotism they had
none; they cared neither for Austrian nor Prussian, for a great
Germany nor for a small Germany. The "company" was their god
and their country. All that concerned them was to know whether
the play was likely to be suppressed. When they were annexed to
Prussia, at first they could not believe that Count Bismarck,
whatever he might do with kings, would venture to interfere
with the "bank." It was to them a divine institution--
something far superior to dynasties and kingdoms. . . .

`For a year the Hombourgers were allowed to suppose that their
"peculiar institution" was indeed superior to fate, to public
opinion, and to Prussia; but at the commencement of the present
year they were rudely awakened from their dreams of security.
The sword that had been hanging over them fell. The directors of
the company were ordered to appear before the governor of the
town, and they were told that they and all belonging to them were
to cease to exist in 1872, and that the following arrangement was
to be made respecting the plunder gained until that date. The
shareholders were to receive 10 per cent. on their money; 5000
shares were to be paid off at par each year, and if this did not
absorb all the profits, the surplus was to go towards a fund for
keeping up the gardens after the play had ceased. By this means,
as there are now 36,000 shares, 25,000 will be paid off at par,
and the remaining 11,000 will be represented by the buildings and
the land belonging to the company, which it will be at liberty to
sell to the highest bidder. Since this decree has been
promulgated the Hombourgers are in despair. The croupiers
and the clerks, the Jews who lend money at high interest, the
Christians who let lodgings, all the rogues and swindlers who one
way or another make a living out of the play, fill the air with
their complaints.

`Although no doubt individuals will suffer by the suppression of
public play here, it is by no means certain that the town itself
will not be a gainer by it. Holiday seekers must go somewhere.
The air of Hombourg is excellent; the waters are invigorating;
the town is well situated and easy of access by rail; living is
comparatively cheap--a room may be had for about 18_s_. a week,
an excellent dinner for 2_s_.; breakfast costs less than a
shilling. Hombourg is now a fixed fact, and if the townspeople
take heart and grapple with the new state of things--if they buy
up the Kursaal, and throw open its salons to visitors; if they
keep up the opera, the cricket club, and the shooting; if they
have good music, and balls and concerts for those who like them,
there is no reason why they should not attract as many visitors
to their town as they do now.'[81]

[81] Correspondent of _Daily News._


The gaming at Aix-la-Chapelle is equally desperate and
destructive. `A Russian officer of my acquaintance,' says a
writer in the Annual Register for 1818, `was subject, like many
of his countrymen whom I have known, to the infatuation of play
to a most ridiculous excess. His distrust of himself under the
assailments which he anticipated at a place like Aix-la-Chapelle,
had induced him to take the prudent precaution of paying in
advance at his hotel for his board and lodging, and at the
bathing-house for his baths, for the time he intended to stay.
The remaining contents of his purse he thought fairly his own;
and he went of course to the table all the gayer for the license
he had taken of his conscience. On fortune showing him a few
favours, he came to me in high spirits, with a purse full of
Napoleons, and a resolute determination to keep them by venturing
no more; but a gamester can no more be stationary than the tide
of a river, and on the evening he was put out of suspense by
having not a Napoleon left, and nothing to console but
congratulation on his foresight, and the excellent supper
which was the fruit of it.'

Towards the end of the last century Aix-la-Chapelle was a great
rendezvous of gamblers. The chief banker there paid a thousand
louis per annum for his license. A little Italian adventurer
once went to the place with only a few louis in his pocket, and
played crown stakes at Hazard. Fortune smiled on him; he
increased his stakes progressively; in twenty-four hours won
about L4000. On the following day he stripped the bank
entirely, pocketing nearly L10,000. He continued to play for
some days, till he was at last reduced to a single louis! He now
obtained from a friend the loan of L30, and once more resumed
his station at the gaming table, which he once more quitted with
L10,000 in his pocket, and resolved to leave it for ever. The
arguments of one of the bankers, however, who followed him to his
inn, soon prevailed over his resolution, and on his return to the
gaming table he was stripped of his last farthing. He went to
his lodgings, sold his clothes, and by that means again appeared
at his old haunt, for the half-crown stakes, by which he
honourably repaid his loan of L30. His end was unknown to the
relater of the anecdote, but `ten to one,' it was ruin.

At the same place, in the year 1793, the heir-apparent of an
Irish Marquis lost at various times nearly L20,000 at a
billiard table, partly owing to his antagonist being an excellent
calculator, as well as a superior player.

A French emigrant at Aix-la-Chapelle, who carried a basket of
tarts, liqueurs, &c., for regaling the gamesters, put down
twenty-five louis at _Rouge et Noir_. He lost. He then put down
fifteen, and lost again; at the third turn he staked ten; but
while the cards were being shuffled, seeming to recollect
himself, he felt all his pockets, and at length found two large
French crowns, and a small one, which he also ventured. The deal
was determined at the ninth card; and the poor wretch, who had
lost his all, dashed down his basket, started from his seat,
overturning two chairs as he forced the circle, tore off his
hair, and with horrid blasphemies, burst the folding doors, and
rushing out like a madman, was seen no more.

Another emigrant arrived here penniless, but meeting a friend,
obtained the loan of a few crowns, nearly his all. With these he
went to the rooms, put down his stake, and won. He then
successively doubled his stakes till he closed the evening with a
hundred louis in his pocket. He went to his friend, and with
mutual congratulations they resolved to venture no more, and
calculated how long their gains would support them from absolute
want, and thus seemed to strengthen their wise resolution.

The next night, however, the lucky gambler returned to the room--
but only to be a spectator, as he firmly said. Alas! his
resolution failed him, and he quitted the tables indebted to a
charitable bystander for a livre or two, to pay for his petty

It is said that the annual profit to the bankers was 120,000
florins, or L14,000.

`The very name of Aix-la-Chapelle,' says a traveller, `makes one
think (at least, makes me think) of cards and dice,--sharks and
pigeons. It has a "professional odour" upon it, which is
certainly not that of sanctity. I entered the Redoute with my
head full of sham barons, German Catalinas, and the thousand-and-
one popular tales of renowned knights of the green cloth,--their
seducing confederates, and infatuated dupes.

`The rooms are well distributed; the saloons handsome. A
sparkling of ladies, apparently (and really, as I understood) of
the best water, the _elite_, in short, of Aix-la-Chapelle,
were lounging on sofas placed round the principal saloon, or
fluttering about amidst a crowd of men, who filled up the centre
of the room, or thronged round the tables that were ranged on one
side of it.

`The players continued their occupation in death-like silence,
undisturbed by the buzz or the gaze of the lookers-on; not a
sound was heard but the rattle of the heaped-up money, as it was
passed from one side of the table to the other; nor was the
smallest anxiety or emotion visible on any countenance.

`The scene was unpleasing, though to me curious from its novelty.

Ladies are admitted to play, but there were none occupied this
morning. I was glad of it; indeed, though English travellers are
accused of carrying about with them a portable code of morality,
which dissolves or stiffens like a soap-cake as circumstances may
affect its consistency, yet I sincerely believe that there are
few amongst us who would not feel shocked at seeing one of the
gentler sex in so unwomanly a position.'[82]

[82] Reminiscences of the Rhine, &c. Anon.


The gambling here in 1868 has been described in a very vivid

`Since the enforcement of the Prussian Sunday observance
regulations, Monday has become the great day of the week for the
banks of the German gambling establishments. Anxious to make up
for lost time, the regular contributors to the company's
dividends flock early on Monday forenoon to the play-rooms in
order to secure good places at the tables, which, by the
appointed hour for commencing operations (eleven o'clock), are
closely hedged round by persons of both sexes, eagerly waiting
for the first deal of the cards or the initial twist of the brass
wheel, that they may try another fall with Fortune. Before each
seated player are arranged precious little piles of gold and
silver, a card printed in black and red, and a long pin,
wherewith to prick out a system of infallible gain. The
croupiers take their seats and unpack the strong box; rouleaux--
long metal sausages composed of double and single florins,--
wooden bowls brimming over with gold Frederics and Napoleons,
bank notes of all sizes and colours, are arranged upon the
black leather compartment, ruled over by the company's officers;
half-a-dozen packs of new cards are stripped of their paper
cases, and swiftly shuffled together; and when all these
preliminaries, watched with breathless anxiety by the surrounding
speculators, have been gravely and carefully executed, the chief
croupier looks round him--a signal for the prompt investment of
capital on all parts of the table--chucks out a handful of cards
from the mass packed together convenient to his hand--ejaculates
the formula, "Faites le jeu!" and, after half a minute's pause,
during which he delicately moistens the ball of his dealing
thumb, exclaims "Le jeu est fait, rien ne va plus," and
proceeds to interpret the decrees of fate according to the
approved fashion of Trente et Quarante. A similar scene is
taking place at the Roulette table--a goodly crop of florins,
with here and there a speck of gold shining amongst the silver
harvest, is being sown over the field of the cloth of green, soon
to be reaped by the croupier's sickle, and the pith ball is being
dropped into the revolving basin that is partitioned off into so
many tiny black and red niches. For the next twelve hours the
processes in question are carried on swiftly and steadily,
without variation or loss of time; relays of croupiers are laid
on, who unobtrusively slip into the places of their fellows when
the hours arrive for relieving guard; the game is never stopped
for more than a couple of minutes at a time, viz., when the cards
run out and have to be re-shuffled. This brief interruption is
commonly considered to portend a break in the particular vein
which the game may have happened to assume during the deal--say a
run upon black or red, an alternation of coups (in threes or
fours) upon either colour, two reds and a black, or _vice
versa_, all equally frequent eccentricities of the cards; and
the heavier players often change their seats, or leave the table
altogether for an hour or so at such a conjuncture. Curiously
enough, excepting at the very commencement of the day's play, the
_habitues_ of the Trente et Quarante tables appear to
entertain a strong antipathy to the first deal or two after the
cards have been "re-made." I have been told by one or two
masters of the craft that they have a fancy to see how matters
are likely to go before they strike in, as if it were possible to
deduce the future of the game from its past! That it is possible
appears to be an article of faith with the old stagers, and,
indeed, every now and then odd coincidences occur which tend to
confirm them in their creed. I witnessed an occurrence which was
either attributable (as I believe) to sheer chance, or (as its
hero earnestly assured me) to instinct. A fair and frail Magyar
was punting on numbers with immense pluck and uniform ill
fortune. Behind her stood a Viennese gentleman of my
acquaintance, who enjoys a certain renown amongst his friends for
the faculty of prophecy, which, however, he seldom exercises for
his own benefit. Observing that she hesitated about staking her
double florin, he advised her to set it on the number 3. Round
went the wheel, and in twenty seconds the ball tumbled into
compartment 3 sure enough. At the next turn she asked his
advice, and was told to try number 24. No sooner said than done,
and 24 came up in due course, whereby Mdlle L. C. won 140 odd
gulden in two coups, the amount risked by her being exactly four
florins. Like a wise girl, she walked off with her booty, and
played no more that day at Roulette. A few minutes later I saw
an Englishman go through the performance of losing four thousand
francs by experimentalizing on single numbers. Twenty times
running did he set ten louis-d'ors on a number (varying the
number at each stake), and not one of his selection proved
successful. At the "Thirty and Forty" I saw an eminent
diplomatist win sixty thousand francs with scarcely an
intermission of failure; he played all over the table, pushing
his rouleaux backwards and forwards, from black to red, without
any appearance of system that I could detect, and the cards
seemed to follow his inspiration. It was a great battle; as
usual, three or four smaller fish followed in his wake, till they
lost courage and set against him, much to their discomfiture and
the advantage of the bank; but from first to last--that is, till
the cards ran out, and he left the table--he was steadily
victorious. In the evening he went in again for another heavy
bout, at which I chanced to be present; but fortune had forsaken
him; and he not only lost his morning's winnings, but eight
thousand francs to boot. I do not remember to have ever seen the
tables so crowded--outside it was thundering, lightening, and
raining as if the world were coming to an end, and the whole
floating population of Wiesbaden was driven into the Kursaal by
the weather. A roaring time of it had the bank; when play
was over, about which time the rain ceased, hundreds of hot and
thirsty gamblers streamed out of the reeking rooms to the glazed-
in terrace, and the next hour, always the pleasantest of the
twenty-four here and in Hombourg--at Ems people go straight from
the tables to bed,--was devoted to animated chat and unlimited
sherry-cobbler; all the "events" of the day were passed in
review, experiences exchanged, and confessions made. Nobody had
won; I could not hear of a single great success--the bank had had
it all its own way, and most of the "lions," worsted in the
fray, had evidently made up their minds to "drown it in the
bowl." The Russian detachment--a very strong one this year--was
especially hard hit; Spain and Italy were both unusually low-
spirited; and there was an extra solemnity about the British
Isles that told its own sad tale. Englishmen, when they have
lost more than they can afford, generally take it out of
themselves in surly, brooding self-reproach. Frenchmen give vent
to their disgust and annoyance by abusing the game and its
myrmidons. You may hear them, loud and savage, on the terrace,
"Ah! le salle jeu! comment peut-on se laisser eplucher par
des brigands de la sorte! Tripot, infame, va! je te
donne ma malediction!" Italians, again, endeavour to conceal
their discomfiture under a flow of feverish gaiety. Germans
utter one or two "Gotts donnerwetterhimmelsapperment!" light up
their cigars, drink a dozen or so "hocks," and subside into
their usual state of ponderous cheerfulness. Russians betray no
emotion whatever over their calamities, save, perhaps, that they
smoke those famous little `Laferme' cigarettes a trifle faster
and more nervously than at other times; but they are excellent
winners and magnificent losers, only to be surpassed in either
respect by their old enemy the Turk, who is _facile princeps_ in
the art of hiding his feelings from the outer world.

`The great mass of visitors at Wiesbaden this season, as at
Hombourg, belong to the middle and lower middle classes, leavened
by a very few celebrities and persons of genuine distinction.
There are a dozen or two eminent men here, not to be seen in the
play-rooms, who are taking the waters--Lord Clarendon, Baron
Rothschild, Prince Souvarof, and a few more--but the general run
of guests is by no means remarkable for birth, wealth, or
respectability; and we are shockingly off for ladies. As a
set-off against this deficiency, it would seem that all the aged,
broken-down courtesans of Paris, Vienna, and Berlin have agreed
to make Wiesbaden their autumn rendezvous. Arrayed in all the
colours of the rainbow, painted up to the roots of their dyed
hair, shamelessly _decolletees_, prodigal of "free" talk
and unseemly gesture, these ghastly creatures, hideous
caricatures of youth and beauty, flaunt about the play-rooms and
gardens, levying black-mail upon those who are imprudent enough
to engage them in "chaff" or badinage, and desperately
endeavouring to hook themselves on to the wealthier and younger
members of the male community. They poison the air round them
with sickly perfumes; they assume titles, and speak of one
another as "cette chere comtesse;" their walk is something
between a prance and a wriggle; they prowl about the terrace
whilst the music is playing, seeking whom they may devour, or
rather whom they may inveigle into paying for their devouring:
and, _bon Dieu!_ how they do gorge themselves with food and drink
when some silly lad or aged roue allows himself to be bullied
or wheedled into paying their scot! Their name is legion; and
they constitute the very worst feature of a place which,
naturally a Paradise, is turned into a seventh hell by the
uncontrolled rioting of human passions. They have no friends--no
"protectors;" they are dependent upon accident for a meal or a
piece of gold to throw away at the tables; they are plague-spots
upon the face of society; they are, as a rule, crassly ignorant
and horribly cynical; and yet there are many men here who are
proud of their acquaintance, always ready to entertain them in
the most expensive manner, and who speak of them as if they were
the only desirable companions in the world!

`Amongst our notabilities of the eccentric sort, not the least
singular in her behaviour is the Countess C----o, an aged
patrician of immense fortune, who is as constant to Wiesbaden as
old Madame de K----f is to Hombourg on the Heights. Like the
last-named lady, she is daily wheeled to her place in the Black
and Red temple, and plays away for eight or nine hours with
wonderful spirit and perseverance. She has with her a _suite_ of
eight domestics; and when she wins (which is not often), on
returning to her hotel at night, she presents each member of her
retinue with--twopence! "not," as she naively avows, "from
a feeling of generosity, but to propitiate Fortune." When
she loses, none of them, save the man who wheels her home, get
anything but hard words from her; and he, happy fellow, receives
a donation of six kreutzers. She does not curse the croupiers
loudly for her bad luck, like her contemporary, the once lovely
Russian Ambassadress; but, being very far advanced in years, and
of a tender disposition, sheds tears over her misfortunes,
resting her chin on the edge of the table. An edifying sight is
this venerable dame, bearing an exalted title, as she mopes and
mouths over her varying luck, missing her stake twice out of
three times, when she fain would push it with her rake into some
particular section of the table! She is very intimate with one
or two antediluvian diplomatists and warriors, who are here
striving to bolster themselves up for another year with the
waters, and may be heard crowing out lamentations over her fatal
passion for play, interspersed with bits of moss-grown scandal,
disinterred from the social ruins of an age long past: Radetzky,
Wratislaw (le beau sabreur), the two Schwarzenbergs (he of
Leipsic, and the former Prime Minister), Paul Eszterhazy,
Wrangel, and Blucher were friends of her youth; judging from
her appearance, one would not be surprised to hear that she
had received a "poulet" from Baron Trenck, or played whist with
Maria Theresa. She has outlived all human friendships or
affections, and exists only for the chink of the gold as it
jingles on the gaming table. I cannot help fancying that her
last words will be "Rien ne va plus!" She is a great and
convincing moral, if one but interpret her rightly.'[83]

[83] Daily Telegraph, Aug. 15, 1868.

The doom of the German gaming houses seems to be settled. They
will all be closed in 1872, as appears by the following

`The Prussian government, not having been able to obtain from the
lessees of the gaming tables at Wiesbaden, Ems, and Hombourg
their consent to their cancelling of their contracts, has
resolved to terminate their privileges by a legislative measure.
It has presented a bill to the Chamber of Deputies at Berlin,
fixing the year 1872 as the limit to the existence of these
establishments, and even authorizing the government to suppress
them at an earlier period by a royal ordinance. No indemnity is
to be allowed to the persons holding concessions.'--_Feb_. 23,

A London newspaper defends this measure in a very successful

`Prussia has declared her purpose to eradicate from the
territories subject to her increased sway, and from others
recognizing her influence, the disgrace of the _Rouge et Noir_
and the Roulette table as public institutions. Her reasoning is
to the effect that they bring scandal upon Germany; that they
associate with the names of its favourite watering-places the
appellation of "hells;" that they attract swindlers and
adventurers of every degree; and that they have for many a year
past been held up to the opprobrium of Europe. For why should
this practice be a lawful practice of Germany and of no other
country in Europe? Why not in France, in Spain, in Italy, in the
Northern States, in Great Britain itself? Let us not give to
this last proposition more importance than it is worth. The
German watering-places are places of leisure, of trifling, of
_ennui_. That is why, originally, they were selected as
encampments by the tribes which fatten upon hazards. But there
was another reason: they brought in welcome revenues to needy
princes. Even now, in view of the contemplated expurgation,
Monaco is named, with Geneva, as successor to the perishing
glories of Hombourg, Wiesbaden, and the great Baden itself. That
is to say, the gamblers, or, rather, the professionals who live
upon the gambling propensities of others, having received from
Prussia and her friends notice to quit, are in search of new

`The question is, they being determined, and the accommodation
being not less certainly ready for them than the sea is for the
tribute of a river, will the reform designed be a really
progressive step in the civilization of Europe? Prussia says--
decidedly so; because it will demolish an infamous privilege.
She affirms that an institution which might have been excusable
under a landgrave, with a few thousand acres of territory, is
inconsistent with the dignity and, to quote continental
phraseology, the mission of a first-class state. Here again the
reasoning is incontrovertible. Of one other thing, moreover, we
may feel perfectly sure, that Prussia having determined to
suppress these centres and sources of corruption, they will
gradually disappear from Europe. Concede to them a temporary
breathing-time at Monaco; the time left for even a nominally
independent existence to Monaco is short: imagine that they
find a fresh outlet at Geneva; Prussia will have represented the
public opinion of the age, against which not even the
Republicanism of Switzerland can long make a successful stand.
Upon the whole, history can never blame Prussia for such a use
either of her conquests or her influence. Say what you will,
gambling is an indulgence blushed over in England; abroad,
practised as a little luxury in dissipation, it may be pardoned
as venial; habitually, however, it is a leprosy. And as it is by
habitual gamblers that these haunts are made to flourish, this
alone should reconcile the world of tourists to a deprivation
which for them must be slight; while to the class they imitate,
without equalling, it will be the prohibition of an abominable

[84] Extracts from a `leader' in the Standard of Sept. 4, 1869.



It is not surprising that a people so intensely speculative,
excitable, and eager as the Americans, should be desperately
addicted to gambling. Indeed, the spirit of gambling has
incessantly pervaded all their operations, political, commercial,
and social.[85] It is but one of the manifestations of that
thorough license arrogated to itself by the nation, finding its
true expression in the American maxim recorded by Mr Hepworth
Dixon, so coarsely worded, but so significant,--`Every man
has a right to do what he _DAMNED_ pleases.'[86]

[85] In the American correspondence of the Morning Advertiser,
Feb. 6, 1868, the writer says:--`It was only yesterday (Jan. 24)
that an eminent American merchant of this city (New York) said,
in referring to the state of affairs--"we are socially,
politically, and commercially demoralized." '

[86] `Spiritual Wives.'--A work the extraordinary disclosures
of which tend to show that a similar spirit, destined, perhaps,
to bring about the greatest social changes, is gaining ground
elsewhere than in America.

Although laws similar to those of England are enacted in America
against gambling, it may be said to exist everywhere, but, of
course, to the greatest extent in the vicinity of the fashionable
quarters of the large cities. In New York there is scarcely a
street without its gambling house--`private,' of course, but well
known to those who indulge in the vice. The ordinary public game
is Faro.

High and low, rich and poor, are perfectly suited in their
requirements; whilst at some places the stakes are unlimited, at
others they must not exceed one dollar, and a player may wager as
low as five cents, or twopence-halfpenny. These are for the
accommodation of the very poorest workmen, discharged soldiers,
broken-down gamblers, and street-boys.

`I think,' says a recent writer,[87] `of all the street-boys in
the world, those of New York are the most precocious. I have
seen a shoe-black, about three feet high, walk up to the
table or `Bank,' as it is generally called, and stake his money
(five cents) with the air of a young spendthrift to whom "money
is no object." '

[87] `St James's Magazine,' Sept., 1867.

The chief gambling houses of New York were established by men who
are American celebrities, and among these the most prominent have
been Pat Hern and John Morrissey.


Some years ago this celebrated Irishman kept up a splendid
establishment in Broadway, near Hauston Street. At that time his
house was the centre of attraction towards which `all the world'
gravitated, and did the thing right grandly--combining the
Apicius with the Beau Nash or Brummell. He was profusely lavish
with his wines and exuberant in his suppers; and it was generally
said that the game in action there, _Faro_, was played in all
fairness. Pat Hern was a man of jovial disposition and genial
wit, and would have adorned a better position. During the trout-
fishing season he used to visit a well-known place called Islip
in Long Island, much frequented by gentlemen devoted to angling
and fond of good living.

At Islip the equally renowned Oby Snedecker kept the tavern
which was the resort of Pat Hern and his companions. It had
attached to it a stream and lake to which the gentlemen who had
the privilege of the house were admitted. Mrs Obadiah Snedecker,
the buxom wife of `mine host,' was famous for the exquisite way
in which she cooked veal cutlets. There were two niggers in the
establishment, named Steve and Dick, who accompanied the
gentlemen in their angling excursions, amusing them with their
stolidity and the enormous quantity of gin they could imbibe
without being more than normally fuddled.

After fishing, the gentlemen used to take to gambling at the
usual French games; but here Pat Hern appeared not in the
character of gambler, but as a private gentleman. He was always
well received by the visitors, and caused them many a hearty
laugh with his overflowing humour. He died about nine years ago,
I think tolerably well off.


John Morrissey was originally a prize-fighter,--having fought
with Heenan and also with Yankee Sullivan, and lived by
teaching the young Americans the noble art of self-defence. He
afterwards set up a `Bar,' or public-house, and over this he
established a small Faro bank, which he enlarged and improved by
degrees until it became well known, and was very much frequented
by the gamblers of New York. He is now, I believe, a member of
Congress for that city, and immensely wealthy. Not content with
his successful gambling operations in New York, he has opened a
splendid establishment at the fashionable summer resort of
Saratoga, consisting of an immense hotel, ballrooms, and
gambling-rooms, and is said to have a profit of two millions of
dollars (about L400,000) during the season.[88] He is
mentioned as one of those who pay the most income tax.

[88] _Ubi supra_.

Morrissey's gambling house is in Union Square, and is said to be
magnificently furnished and distinguished by the most princely
hospitality. At all hours of the day or night tables are laid
out with every description of refreshment, to which all who visit
the place are welcome.

This is a remarkable feature in the American system. At all
`Bars,' or public-houses, you find provided, free of charge,
supplies of cheese, biscuits, &c., and sometimes even some
savoury soup--which are often resorted to by those unfortunates
who are `clean broke' or `used up,' with little else to assuage
the pangs of hunger but the everlasting quid of tobacco,
furiously `chawed.' Another generous feature of the American
system is that the bar-man does not measure out to you, after our
stingy fashion, what drink you may require, but hands you the
tumbler and bottle to help yourself, unless in the case of made
drinks, such as `mint-juleps,' &c. However, you must drink your
liquor at a gulp, after the Yankee fashion; for if you take a sip
and turn your back to the counter, your glass will disappear--as
it is not customary to have glasses standing about. Morrissey's
wines are very good, and always supplied in abundance.

Almost every game of chance is played at this establishment, and
the stakes are very high and unlimited. The visitors are the
wealthy and wild young men of New York, and occasionally a
Southern-looking man who, perhaps, has saved some of his
property, being still the same professional gambler; for it may
be affirmed that all the Southern planters were addicted to

`The same flocks of well-dressed and fashionable-looking men
of all ages pass in and out all through the day and night; tens
of thousands of dollars are lost and won; the "click" of the
markers never ceases; all speak in a low tone; everything has a
serious, quiet appearance. The dealers seem to know every one,
and nod familiarly to all who approach their tables. John
Morrissey is occasionally to be seen, walking through the rooms,
apparently a disinterested spectator. He is a short, thick-set
man, of about 40 years, dark complexion, and wears a long beard,
dresses in a slovenly manner, and walks with a swagger. Now and
then he approaches the table; makes a few bets, and is then lost
in the crowd.'[89]

[89] _Ubi supra_.


The same writer furnishes other very interesting facts.

`After the opera-house and theatres are closed, Morrissey's
gambling house becomes very full; in fact, the best time to see
it to advantage is about two or three o'clock in the morning.

`A little below the New York Hotel, and on the opposite side
of Broadway, there is a gambling house, not quite so
"respectable" as the one I have been describing; here the
stakes are not below a dollar, and not more than twenty-five;
there are no refreshments gratis, and the rooms are not so well
furnished. The men to be seen gaming in this house differ but
very little in appearance from those in Union Square, but there
seems to be less discipline amongst them, and more noise and
confusion. It is a rare thing to see an intoxicated man in a
gambling house; the door-keepers are very particular as to whom
they admit, and any disturbance which might call for the
interference of the police would be ruinous to their business.
The police are undoubtedly aware of everything going on in these
houses, and do not interfere as long as everything goes on

`Now and then a clerk spends his employer's money, and if it is
discovered where he lost it then a _RAID_ is made by the police
in force, the tables and all the gaming paraphernalia are carried
off, and the proprietors heavily fined.

`I witnessed a case of this: a young man in the employment of a
commission merchant appropriated a large sum of his
employer's money, and lost it at Faro. He was arrested, and
confessed what he had done with it. The police at once proceeded
to the house where the Faro bank was kept, and the scene, when it
was known that the police were below, beggars description. The
tables were upset, and notes and markers were flying about in all
directions. Men, sprawling and scrambling on the floor, fought
with one another for whatever they could seize; then the police
entered and cleared the house, having arrested the owners of the
bank. This was in one of the lowest gaming houses, where
"skin" games (cheating games) are practised.

`In the gambling house in Broadway, near the New York Hotel, I
have often noticed a young man, apparently of some 18 or 20 years
of age, fashionably dressed, and of prepossessing appearance. On
some days he would play very high, and seemed to have most
remarkable luck; but he always played with the air of an old
gamester, seeming careless as to whether he won or lost. One
night he lost so heavily that he attracted the notice of all the
players; every stake of his was swept away; and he still played
on until his last dollar was lost; then he quietly walked out,
whistling a popular Yankee air. He was there next day
_MINUS_ his great-coat and watch and chain--he lost again, went
out and returned in his shirt sleeves, having pawned his coat,
studs, and everything he could with decency divest himself of.
He lost everything; and when I next saw him he was selling
newspapers in front of the post-office!

`The mania for gambling is a most singular one. I have known a
man to win a thousand dollars in a few hours, and yet he would
not spend a dollar to get a dinner, but when he felt hungry he
went to a baker's shop and bought a loaf of bread, and that same
night lost all his money at Roulette.

`There is another house on the corner of Centre and Grand
Streets, open during night and day. The stakes here are the same
as in the one in Broadway, and the people who play are very much
the same--in fact, the same faces are constantly to be met with
in all the gambling houses, from the highest to the lowest. When
a gambler has but small capital, he will go to a small house,
where small stakes are admissible. I saw a man win 50 or 60
dollars at this place, and then hand in his checks (markers) to
be cashed. The dealer handed him the money, and said--"Now
you go off, straight away to Union Square, and pay away all you
have won from here to John Morrissey. This is the way with all
of them; they never come here until they are dead broke, and have
only a dirty dollar or so to risk." There was some truth in
what he said, but notwithstanding he managed to keep the bank
going on. There is a great temptation to a man who has won a sum
of money at a small gambling house to go to a higher one, as he
may then, at a single stake, win as much as he could possibly win
if he had a run of luck in a dozen stakes at the smaller bank.

`In No. 102, in the Bowery, there is one of the lowest of the
gaming houses I have seen in the Empire city. The proprietor is
an Irishman; he employs three men as dealers, and they relieve
one another every four hours during the day and night. The
stakes here are of the lowest, and the people to be seen here of
the roughest to be found in the city. The game is Faro, as

`In this place I met an old friend with whom I had served in the
army of Northern Virginia, under General Lee, in his Virginia
campaign of 1865. He told me he had been in New York since
the end of the war, and lived a very uncertain sort of life.
Whatever money he could earn he spent at the gaming table.
Sometimes he had a run of luck, and whilst it lasted he dressed
well, and stopped at the most expensive hotels. One night he
would sleep at the Astor House; and perhaps the next night he
would not be able to pay for his bed, and would stay all night in
the parks. Strange to say, hundreds live in this way, which is
vulgarly called "scratching" in New York. I afterwards saw my
friend driving an omnibus; and when I could speak to him, I found
that he was still attending the banks with every cent he earned!

`It is amusing to watch the proprietor of this place at the
Bowery; he has a joke for every one he sees. "Hallo, old
sport!" he cries, "come and try your luck--you look lucky this
evening; and if you make a good run you may sport a gold watch
and chain, and a velvet vest, like myself." Then to another,
"Young clear-the-way, you look down at the mouth to-night! Come
along and have a turn--and never mind your supper tonight.' In
this way the days and nights are passed in those gambling

There is also in New York an association for the prevention
of gambling. The society employs detectives to visit the
gambling saloons, and procure evidence for the suppression of the

It is the business of these agents also to ascertain the names
and occupations of those who frequent the gambling rooms, and a
list of the persons thus detected is sent periodically to the
subscribers to the society, that they may know who are the
persons wasting their money, or perhaps the money of their
employers, in gambling. Many large houses of business subscribe.

In the month of August the society's agents detected among the
gamblers 68 clerks of mercantile houses, and in the previous six
months reported 623 cases. It is stated that there are in New
York and Brooklyn 1017 policy and lottery offices, and 163 Faro
banks, and that their net annual gains are not less than
36,000,000 dollars.


At American gambling houses `it is very easy,' says the same
writer, `to distinguish the professional from the ordinary
gambler. The latter has a nervous expression about the
mouth, and an intense gaze upon the cards, and altogether a very
serious nervous appearance; while the professional plays in a
very quiet manner, and seems to care but little how the game
goes; and his desire to appear as if the game was new to him is
almost certain to expose him to those who know the manoeuvre.

`Previous to the struggle for independence in the South, there
were many hundreds of gamblers scattered through the Southern
towns, and the Mississippi steam-boats used to abound with them.
In the South, a gambler was regarded as outside the pale of
society, and classed with the slave-trader, who was looked upon
with loathing by the very same men who traded with him; such was
the inconsistency of public opinion.

`The American gambler differs from his European brethren in many
respects. He is very frequently, in education, appearance, and
manner, a gentleman, and if his private history were known, it
would be found that he was of good birth, and was at one time
possessed of considerable fortune; but having lost all at the
gambling table, he gradually came down to the level of those who
proved his ruin, and having no profession nor means of
livelihood left to him, he adopted their mode of life.

`On one occasion I met a brother of a Southern General (very
famous in the late war and still a wealthy man) who, at one time,
was one of the richest planters in the State of Louisiana, and is
now acting as an agent for a set of gamblers to their gaming
houses. After losing everything he had, he became a croupier to
a gambling house in New Orleans, and afterwards plied his trade
on the Mississippi for some years; then he went into Mexico, and
finally to New York, where he opened a house on his own account.

`During the war he speculated in "greenbacks," and lost all his
ill-gotten gains, and had to descend to his present

[90] _Ubi supra_.


Draw Poker, or Bluff, is a favourite game with the Americans. It
is played by any number of persons, from four to seven; four,
five, or six players are preferred; seven are only engaged
where a party of friends consists of that number, and all
require to be equally amused.

The deal is usually determined by fixing on a card, and dealing
round, face upwards, until such card appears. The dealer then
places in the pool an _Ante_, or certain agreed-upon sum, and
proceeds to deal to each person five cards. The player next to
the dealer, before looking at his cards, has the option of
staking a certain sum. This is called the `blind,' and makes him
the elder hand, or last player; and when his turn comes round he
can, by giving up his first stake, withdraw from the game, or, if
he pleases, by making good any sum staked by a previous player,
raise the stakes to any sum he pleases, provided, of course, that
no limit has been fixed before sitting down. The privilege of
raising or doubling on the _blind_ may be exercised by any one
round the table, provided he has not looked at his cards. If no
intervening player has met the original _blind_, that is, staked
double the sum, this must be done by all who wish to play, and,
of course, must be made good by the last player. Each person
then looks at his cards, and decides on his plan of action. It
should be understood that every one, except the _blind_, may
look at his cards in his turn before deciding if he will
meet the _blind_. Before speaking of the manner of drawing it
will be better to give the relative value of the hands, which
will much simplify the matter, and make it more easily
understood. Thus: four aces are the best cards that can be held;
four kings next, and so on, down to four twos; four cards of the
same value beating anything except four of a higher denomination.

The next best hand is called a _full_, and is made up thus:--
three aces and a pair of sixes; three nines and pair of twos; in
fact, any three cards of the same value and a pair constitute a
full hand, and can only be beaten by a full hand of a higher
denomination or fours. The next hand that takes precedence is a
_flush_, or five cards of one colour; after this comes _threes_,
vis., three cards all of the same value, say, three aces, kings,
queens, and so on, downwards (the two remaining, being odd ones,
are of no value). The next is a sequence, as five following
cards, for instance, nine. eight, seven, six, five; it is not
necessary they should all be of one colour, as this, of course,
would constitute a _flush_. Next come two pairs, say, two knaves
and two fives; and, last of all, is a single pair of cards.
Having explained the value of the hands, let us show how you
endeavour to get them. The bets having been made, and the
_blind_ made good or abandoned, or given up, the dealer proceeds
to ask each player in his turn how many cards he wants; and here
begins the first study of the game--_TO KNOW WHAT TO THROW AWAY_
in order to get in others to make the hand better if possible.
Your hand may, of course, be so utterly bad as to make it
necessary to throw away the whole five and draw five new ones;
this is not very likely, as few players will put a stake in the
pool unless, on looking first at his cards, he has seen
something, say a pair, to start with. We will suppose he has
this, and, of course, he throws away three cards, and draws three
in place of them. To describe the proper way to fill up a hand
is impossible; we can but give an instance here and there to show
the varying interest which attaches to the game;--thus, you may
have threes in the original hand dealt; some players will throw
away the two odd cards and draw two more, to try and make the
hand fours, or, at least, a full; while a player knowing that his
is not a very good hand, will endeavour to _DECEIVE_ the rest by
standing out, that is, not taking any fresh cards; of course
all round the table make remarks as to what he can possibly have.

It is usually taken to be a sequence, as this requires no
drawing, if originally dealt. The same remark applies to a
_flush;_ two pairs or four to a flush, of course, require one
card to make them into good hands, a player being only entitled
to draw once; and the hands being made good, the real and
exciting part of the game begins. Each one endeavours to keep
his real position a secret from his neighbours. Some put on a
look of calm indifference, and try to seem self-possessed; some
will grin and talk all sorts of nonsense; some will utter sly
bits of _badinage;_ while others will study intently their cards,
or gaze at the ceiling--all which is done merely to distract
attention, or to conceal the feelings, as the chance of success
or failure be for or against; and then begins the betting or
gambling part of the game. The player next the _blind_ is the
first to declare his bet; in which, of course, he is entirely
governed by circumstances. Some, being the first to bet, and
having a very good card indeed, will `bet small,' in hopes that
some one else will see it, and `go better,' that is, bet more, so
that when it comes round to his turn again he may see all
previous bets, and bet as much higher as he thinks proper; for it
must be borne in mind that a player's first bet does not preclude
him from coming in again if his first bet has been raised upon by
any player round the table in his turn; but if once the original
bet goes round and comes to the _blind_, or last player, without
any one going better, the game is closed, and it becomes a _show
of hands_, to see who takes the pool and all the bets. This does
not often happen, as there is usually some one round the table to
raise it; but my informant has seen it occur, and has been highly
amused at watching the countenance of the expectant _small
better_ at having to show a fine hand for a mere trifle. Some
players will, in order to conceal their method of play,
occasionally throw their cards among the waste ones and abandon
their stakes; this is not often done; but it sometimes happens
where the stakes have been small, or the player has been _trying
a bluff_, and has found some one whom he could not _bluff off_.
The foregoing is a concise account of the game, as played in
America, where it is of universal interest, and exercises great
fascination. It is often played by parties of friends who
meet regularly for the purpose, and instances can be found where
fortunes have been lost in a night.

The game of Pokers differs from the one just described, in so far
that the players receive only the original five cards dealt
without drawing fresh ones, and must either play or refuse on
them. In this game, as there are more cards, as many as ten
persons can play.


Lansquenet is much played by the Americans, and is one of the
most exciting games in vogue.

The dealer or banker stakes a certain sum, and this must be met
by the nearest to the dealer first, and so on. When the stake is
met, the dealer turns up two cards, one to the right,--the latter
for himself, the former for the table or the players. He then
keeps on turning up the cards until either of the cards is
matched, which constitutes the winning,--as, for instance,
suppose the five of diamonds is his card, then should the five of
any other suit turn up, he wins. If he loses, then the next
player on the left becomes banker and proceeds in the same

[91] This name is derived from the German `_landsknecht_'
(`valet of the fief'), applied to a mercenary soldier.

When the dealer's card turns up, he may take the stake and pass
the bank; or he may allow the stake to remain, whereat of course
it becomes doubled if met. He can continue thus as long as the
cards turn up in his favour--having the option at any moment of
giving up the bank and retiring for that time. If he does that,
the player to whom he passes the bank has the option of
continuing it at the same amount at which it was left. The pool
may be made up by contributions of all the players in certain
proportions. The terms used respecting the standing of the stake
are, `I'll see' (_a moi le tout)_ and _Je tiens_. When
_jumelle_ (twins), or the turning up of similar cards on both
sides, occurs, then the dealer takes half the stake.

Sometimes there is a run of several consecutive winnings; but on
one occasion, on board one of the Cunard steamers, a banker at
the game turned up in his own favour I think no less than
eighteen times. The original stake was only six-pence; but had
each stake been met as won, the final doubling would have
amounted to the immense sum of L3,236 16_s_.! This will
appear by the following scheme:--

L s. d. L s. d.
1st turn up 0 0 6 10th turn up 12 16 0
2nd ,, 0 1 0 11th ,, 25 12 0
3rd ,, 0 2 0 12th ,, 51 4 0
4th ,, 0 4 0 13th ,, 102 8 0
5th ,, 0 8 0 14th ,, 204 16 0
6th ,, 0 16 0 15th ,, 409 12 0
7th ,, 1 12 0 16th ,, 819 4 0
8th ,, 3 4 0 17th ,, 1,618 8 0
9th ,, 6 8 0 18th ,, 3,236 16 0

In fair play, as this is represented to have been, such a long
sequence of matches must be considered very remarkable, although
six or seven is not unfrequent.

Unfortunately, however, there is a very easy means by which card
sharpers manage the thing to perfection. They prepare beforehand
a series of a dozen cards arranged as follows:--

1st Queen 6th Nine
2nd Queen 7th Nine
3rd Ten 8th Ace
4th Seven 9th Eight
5th Ten 10th Ace

Series thus arranged are placed in side pockets outside the
waistcoat, just under the left breast. When the sharper becomes
banker he leans negligently over the table, and in this position
his fingers are as close as possible to the prepared cards,
termed _portees_. At the proper moment he seizes the cards
and places them on the pack. The trick is rendered very easy by
the fact that the card-sharper has his coat buttoned at the top,
so that the lower part of it lies open and permits the
introduction of the hand, which is completely masked.

Some sharpers are skilful enough to take up some of the matches
already dealt, which they place in their _costieres_, or side-
pockets above described, in readiness for their next operation;
others keep them skilfully hidden in their hand, to lay them, at
the convenient moment, upon the pack of cards. By this means,
the pack is not augmented.[92]

[92] Robert Houdin, `Les Tricheries des Grecs devoilees.'

In France the stakes commence at 5 francs; and it may be easily
imagined how soon vast sums of money may change hands if the
players are determined and reckless.


This is also a game much played in the States. I suppose it is a
Yankee invention, named by one of their learned professors, from
the Greek (eucheir), meaning `well in the hand '
or `strong'--a very appropriate designation of the game, which is
as follows:--

In this game all the cards are excluded up to the sixes,--seven
being the lowest in the Euchre pack. Five cards are dealt out,
after the usual shuffling and cutting, with a turn-up, or trump.
The dealer has the privilege of discarding one of his cards and
taking up the trump--not showing, however, the one he discards.
The Knave is the best card in the game--a peculiar Yankee
`notion.' The Knave of trumps is called the Right Bower, and the
other Knave of the _same colour_ is the Left Bower. Hence it
appears that the nautical propensity of this great people is
therein represented--`bower' being in fact a sheet anchor. If
both are held, it is evident that the _point_ of the deal is
decided--since it results from taking three tricks out of the
five; for, of course, the trump card appropriated by the dealer
will, most probably, secure a trick, and the two Knaves must
necessarily make two. The game may be five or seven points, as
agreed upon. Euchre is rapid and decisive, and, therefore,
eminently American.


Some of the games played by the Americans are peculiar to
themselves. For instance, vast sums of money change hands over
Fly Loo, or the attraction existing between lumps of sugar and
adventurous flies! This game is not without its excitement. The
gamblers sit round a table, each with a lump of sugar before him,
and the player upon whose lump a fly first perches carries off
the pool--which is sometimes enormous.

They tell an anecdote of a 'cute Yankee, who won invariably and
immensely at the game. There seemed to be a sort of magical or
mesmeric attraction for the flies to his lump. At length it was
ascertained that he touched the lump with his finger, after
having smeared it with something that naturally and irresistibly
attracts flies whenever they can get at it. I am told that this
game is also played in England; if so, the parties must insist
upon fresh lumps of sugar, and prevent all touching.

The reader will probably ask--what next will gamblers think
of betting on? But I can tell of a still more curious source of
gambling infatuation. In the _Oxford Magazine_,[93] is the
following statement:--

[93] Vol. V.

`A few days ago, as some sprigs of nobility were dining together
at a tavern, they took the following conceit into their heads
after dinner. One of them observing a maggot come from a
filbert, which seemed to be uncommonly large, attempted to get it
from his companion, who, not choosing to let it go, was
immediately offered five guineas for it, which was accepted. He
then proposed to run it against any other two maggots that could
be produced at table. Matches were accordingly made, and these
poor reptiles were the means of L500 being won and lost in a
few minutes!'


Suicides, duels, and murders have frequently resulted from
gambling here as elsewhere. Many of the duels in dark rooms
originate in disputes at the gaming table. The combatants rush
from play to an upper or adjoining room, and settle their
difference with revolver-shots, often fatal to both.

One of these was a serio-comic affair which is perhaps worth
relating. Two players had a gambling dispute, and resolved to
settle it in a dark room with pistols. The door was locked and
one of them fired, but missed. On this the other exclaimed--
`Now, you rascal, I'll finish you at my leisure.' He then began
to search for his opponent. Three or four times he walked
stealthily round the room--but all in vain--he could not find his
man; he listened; he could not hear him breathe. What had become
of him? `Oh!' at length he exclaimed--`Now I've got you,
you ---- sneak--here goes!' `Hold! Hold!' cried a voice from the
chimney, `Don't fire! I'll pay you anything.--Do take away
that ---- pistol.' In effect his adversary held the muzzle of
his pistol close to the seat of honour as the fellow stood
stuffed up the chimney!

`You'll pay, will you?' said the former; `Very well--800
dollars--is 't a bargain?'

`Yes, yes!' gasped the voice in the chimney.

`Very well,' rejoined the tormentor, `but just wait a bit; I must
have a voucher. I'll just cut off the bottom of your breeches by
way of voucher.' So saying he pulled out his knife and
suited the action to the words.

`Now get down,' he said, `and out with the money;' which was
paid, when the above-named voucher was returned to the chimney-

The town of Vicksburg, on the Mississippi, was formerly notorious
as the rendezvous of all sorts of desperadoes. It was a city of
men; you saw no women, except at night; and never any children.
Vicksburg was a sink of iniquity; and there gambling raged with
unrestricted fury. It was always after touching at Vicksburg
that the Mississippi boats became the well-known scene of

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