Gambling in the Old West has been an interest of mine for some time. There are a number of excellent books written dealing with certain aspects of 19th Century gambling but it seems that no one has put together a complete book on all the games played in the mining camps and the cow towns from just after the end of the Civil War to the turn of the century.
Card games played back then were mainly poker style games like; Bluff, Stud, Whiskey and Monte. Other games played with cards included banked games like Vingt-Et-Un ( pronounced Van-Ta-Un ) which is French for 21. Today, most people refer to it as Blackjack and Faro, the King of all gambling games back then. It seems everyone wanted to Buck-the-Tiger and contrary to what Doc Holliday ( Val Kilmer) had to say in the movie Tombstone, Faro was a game that offered the very best odds a player could get when played on the square. In part, this is the reason Faro is no longer played today in Casinos.
Other games of chance ranged from dice games such as Chuck-A-Luck, Craps, High Dice ( also known as Beat the Dealer, The Bartender’s Game and Bing), Grand Hazard ( advanced form of Chuck-A-Luck), Diana, Crown & Anchor and Slot Machine Dice.
Wheel games such as Wheel of Fortune and Roulette were also played.
Slot machines first premiered in 1895 in San Francisco and didn’t make it to the Old West until later but there were Trade Stimulators, forerunner of the Slot Machine, that could be played in many saloon’s in the 1890′s.
For more information about gambling in the Old West stop by Frontier Gamblers.