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Oddities And Witticisms Of Gamblers

Volume I

The Gaming Table by Andrew Steinmetz, Volume II

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Oddities And Witticisms Of Gamblers

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Casino Gambling in history

[32] Confessions of a Gamester.

The splendid and fascinating game of Billiards seems to have been
an English invention; and it became greatly in vogue during the
reign of Louis XIV. of France, to whom it was recommended by his
physicians as an exercise after meals.

It is said that Chamillard, who played with the king, entirely
owed his political fortune to the skill which he displayed in
this game. Billiards has not as yet been placed, like skittles
and bowls, under the interdict of the police authorities, and it
is difficult to see how they could venture upon so tremendous an
experiment. The game seems to be more in vogue than ever, and
doubtless heavy sums are lost and won at it. Billiard matches
have during the last three years become quite one of the winter
exhibitions, and particularly this season have the public shown
their taste for the game. Perhaps the extraordinary performances
of some of the first-class cueists have stirred up the shades of
Kentfield's days, his homely game of cannons off list cushions
and gently-played strength strokes; or by chance those that
favour Marden's style, his losing hazards and forcing half balls,
have revived once more, and we yearn with wonder to see the great
spot strokes of the present age, when as many red hazards can be
scored in one break as were made in olden times in an evening's
play. At the present time Roberts, sen., may claim the honour in
the billiard world of having brought the spot stroke to light: he
has made no less than 104 consecutive hazards in one break, and
up to the present winter that wonderful performance stood
unparalleled. Cook, however, very recently in an exhibition
match with J. Bennett, scored the spot hazard no less than 119
times, making 388 off the balls, the biggest break on record.
Such feats as these, supplemented by the but little inferior play
of Roberts, jun., and Bennett, have done more than excite
surprise, and have caused old heads carefully to look into the
style of play of 1869 and to ponder thereon. It appears that
they affirm, and not without reason, that much of the success of
the spot stroke arises from the position of the spot being
further from the top cushion than formerly, and by this means not
only is the angle of the striker's ball for position made easier,
by a greater scope for screw or side, but the mouth of the
pockets themselves are easier of access; and the chance of a
wobble all but avoided. Billiard players and table makers should
meet and arrange a regular standard size for table pockets and
balls, with the spots at regulated positions. We should then be
able to compare merits with greater certainty, and such terrible
scores would not trouble the markers.

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