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The History Of Dice And Cards

Volume I

The Gaming Table by Andrew Steinmetz, Volume II

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The History Of Dice And Cards

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Casino Gambling in history


All the pursuits of life, all the trades and occupations of men,
have, in all times, lent expressions to the languages of nations,
and those resulting from the propensity of GAMING are among those
which perpetually recur in daily conversation, and with the
greatest emphasis. Thus we have:--'He has played his cards well
or ill,'--applied to the management of fortune or one's interest;
jacta est alea, 'the die is cast,' as exclaimed Julius Caesar
before crossing the Rubicon; 'he has run his RACE--reached the
GOAL' a turf adage applied to consummate success or disastrous
failure; 'a lucky throw or hit;' 'within an ACE,' meaning one
point of gaining a thing; 'he HAZARDS everything;' 'chances are
for and against;' 'he was PIQUED,' from the game of piquet,
meaning, angry at losing something; 'left in the lurch,' from the
French game l'Ourche, wherein on certain points happening the
stake is to he paid double, and meaning, 'under circumstances
unexpected and peculiarly unfavourable;' 'to save your bacon or
gamon,' from the game Back-gammon[63] a blot is hit,' from the
same; 'checked in his career,' that is, stopped in his designs
from the game of chess.

[63] The etymology of the word Back-gamon has been disputed.
Hyde seems to have settled it. A certain portion of the hog is
called in Italian gambone, whence our English word gambon or
gammon. Confounding things that differ, many think that 'gamon'
in the game has the same meaning, and therefore they say--'he
saved his gamon or bacon,' which is absurd, although it is a
proverbial phrase of sufficient emphasis. The word Backgamon
seems to be derived from the very nature of the game itself,
namely, back-game-on, that is, when one of your pieces is taken,
you must go back--begin again--and then game on-- 'Back-game-on'.

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