Iconic Historical Gamblers That Have Shaped Antiquity

Iconic Historical Figures and Gambling

The character composite of gamblers entails a love of the game and of playing the odds. In the same way, historical figures possess similar risk-taking behaviors that comprise a punter’s mindset whilst gambling. Particularly in the ability to size up the probability factor of odds before making a bet. More importantly, in devising winning strategies to overcome adversity. 

As a result, historical gamblers have shaped the pages of history. As a matter of fact, these important pioneers of art, thought and political nature were literal and metaphorical gamblers. For example, Roman and Ancient Greek soldiers are supposedly responsible for inventing roulette. The human spirit is a warrior and the gambler overcomes an opponent or a stacked house with discipline, confidence and critical thinking.

Historical figures that loved playing the odds

The connection between gambling and criminals has created negative stereotypes about gamblers. No matter how successful historical gamblers are they have also experienced losing streaks which come with playing games of chance. While some losses are devastating, some are also a lesson learned in time. Legendary icons in history have also had to learn to accept the fact that lady luck isn’t always in their favor.

From famous philosophers to writers to painters, iconic figures throughout the pages of history enjoyed the thrills and spills of gambling. Herein we review notable personalities who not only had a reputation for contributing to the wealth of history but also won big.

Bet you didn’t know these iconic figures were gamblers

Charles II (1630-1685) – He’s considered the father of modern gambling in the U.K. Even more, he successfully restored the English monarchy in 1660. His passion for risk and the adrenaline of the bet had him playing heavily in dice and cards.  He was particularly fond of playing “Games of Chance.”

His reputation as the ‘Father of Modern Gambling’ came as a result of having created the written rules of horse racing in 1665. As a gambler Charles II became known as the “Merrie Monarch.” During the Merrie Monarch’s reign, gambling became one of the most popular social activities in Britain.

Thanks to Charles II’s love of the game, the impact he had on gambling eventually spread not only throughout England, but later on to Colonists in North America. Before he died, Charles II effectively purged illicit gambling dens and instituted licensing for legal gaming in London.

Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky (1821-1881)

The Russian author of “Crime and Punishment” and “The Gambler” was also a notorious gambler. Not only did he quite literally write about gambling, he was also a problem gambler. Fyodor Dostoyevsky alike many artists have their art imitate their life. His stories arise from his gambling experience as he often lost large sums of money and was in debt most of his life because of it. 

According to Wiesbaden, a city where Fyodor had lived and wrote, the sentence:“Fyodor Dostoyevsky owes a certain amount of money” was scrawled on a table. The supposed debt in question was about 250.000 euro. Roman Abramovich, a Russian business man in 2013 essentially wiped Dostoyevsky’s debt clean and stated that Dostoyevsky doesn’t have any outstanding debt. 


Dostoyevsky wrote the last section of Crime and Punishment all in order to secure an advance from his publisher in order to settle his gambling debts. Above all, he wrote about his life and therein, the psychology and effects of gambling addiction. His stories are about the risk that gamblers inherently experienced while playing the game of chance.

CLAUDE MONET  (1840-1926)

In 1891, Claude Monet won nearly $13,450 in the French lottery. With the jackpot, Monet quit his day job as a messenger. Using bankroll management, critical thinking and dedication, Monet chose to walk away from gambling. Be that as it may he took the jackpot and paid his way so he could focus solely on his painting. He was no ordinary painter, Claude Monet was in fact the founding Father of French Impressionism.

For a great deal of his life, Oscar-Claude Monet struggled financially. Due to the expensive nature of the hobby, it was almost impossible for him to pursue his true calling until that lucky day he played the lottery. Monet illustrates that a good roll of the dice can make dreams come true as well as change the course of history. In regards to historical figures rolling the dice, Claude Monet gambled strategically and won a prize role in history.

René Descartes (1596-1620)

René Descartes was a famous French mathematician, natural scientist, philosopher and gambler. Dubbed the “Father of Modern Philosophy” and the “Father of Modern Science,” Descartes coined the famous statement, “I think, therefore I am.” Descartes decided to go pro in gambling after he had attended law school and the military.

However Descartes’s pro career didn’t last very long, yet he continued to gamble throughout his life. Rumors had it that his favorite gambling partner was the Swedish queen Kristina herself. In other words, the “Father of Modern Philosophy and Modern Science” was just as passionate about game-changing bets as he was about being a pioneer of innovation. Descartes enjoyed nationwide fame for his game-changing theories as well as his outstanding gambling abilities.

Casanova de Seingalt (1725-1798)

Casanova de Seingalt is a Venetian writer and adventurer of the eighteenth century. Considering this, he was well known for the portrayals of many passions including and not limited to gambling. Casanova was a very distinguished personality in the 1800s throughout European society where he was known as an author, lawyer, seducer and pro gambler. 

Even at the young age of 21, Casanova’s gambling abilities made him popular throughout Europe. Some of his reported favorite games were lotteries, basset, piquet, faro, biribi, primero and quinze. He’s thought to have been the first punter to describe the popular betting progression technique of doubling the size of the stake following each loss until a wager is eventually won.

According to Casanova’s memoirs in 1754, this strategic system served him successfully at the Ridotto Casino. This concept of “doubling up on a loss” is quite popular today. Casanova walked away from his wish to become a professional gambler because according to his own words he “lacked the prudence to leave off when fortune was adverse.”

Maintaining sufficient control over yourself when you’ve won demonstrates if you can handle victory which is just as important as a handling a loss and not chasing it. Learn more about winning tips in choosing an online casino and come up on your next bet.

Wild Bill Hickok (1837-1876)

Wild Bill was a quite the historical figure in the American Old West. He was an accomplished drover, wagon master, soldier, spy, scout, lawman, gunfighter, showman, actor and most importantly, gambler. Wild Bill gained attention after the war as a scout, marksman, actor, and thereafter as a professional gambler. 

Wild Bill Hickok was notorious at gambling in card games and in being gunfights. In 1876 in Deadwood, South Dakota at the Number Ten Saloon Hickok was shot in the back while holding two pair, Aces and Eights. This unlucky card combination is now better known as the “Deadman’s Hand” and many punters still believe those cards foreshadow “bad things to come.” The Poker Hall of Fame inducted Wild Bill Hickok at its inception in 1979.


Henry Charles Bukowski, Jr. was a great American poet, writer and gambler. Amongst his many pieces, a theme of gambling was ultimately prevalent.

“Roll The Dice”

If you’re going to try, go all the
otherwise, don’t even start.

if you’re going to try, go all the
this could mean losing girlfriends,
wives, relatives, jobs and
maybe your mind.

go all the way.
it could mean not eating for 3 or 4 days.
it could mean freezing on a
park bench.
it could mean jail,
it could mean derision,
isolation is the gift,
all the others are a test of your
endurance, of
how much you really want to
do it.
and you’ll do it
despite rejection and the worst odds
and it will be better than
anything else
you can imagine.

if you’re going to try,
go all the way.
there is no other feeling like
you will be alone with the gods
and the nights will flame with

do it, do it, do it.

all the way
all the way.

you will ride life straight to
perfect laughter, its
the only good fight
there is.

Henry Charles Bukowski (August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994)

Jerome Cardan (1501-1576 )

Jerome Cardan was a very accomplished Italian Renaissance mathematician, physician, and gambler. Cardan is most famous for his accomplishments in algebra. In regards to gambling, Cardan was a notorious punter.

Legend has it that Jerome Cardan was a good gambler and a great chess player. He also wrote a book called “Book on Games of Chance,” about games of chance in 1564 and it was published over 100 years later. Cardan implemented critical thinking and considered the concept of throwing dice to better understand the concept of probability.

Talk about being ahead of the times! Jerome Cardan wrote a book that contained the first systematic treatment of probability as well as some pretty effective cheating methods. Concerning this, he even went so far to show there’s a way of defining odds as the ratio of favorable to unfavorable outcomes.