Casino Gambling and The Tao

It may seem strange to equate casino gambling with Taoist philosophy, but it may be because gambling is so much a part of and widely accepted in Chinese culture.

The very first recorded history of playing cards date back to 9th century China which makes sense being that they were the inventors of writing paper. The first book written with reference to playing cards dates to the Tang Dynasty (618-907) called Yezi Gexi. By the 11th century playing cards could be found throughout Asia featuring many of the 108 heroes of Lan Shun found in the Chinese classic the “Water Margin.”

In the 16th century playing cards had made their way to France and it is there that they began using the suits of picture cards that we are familiar with today based on figures of French nobility.

Taoist philosophy is said to be nearly 6,000 years old and came to prominence with the teachings of The Yellow Emperor, Huang Ti, the first emperor of China. With many of their scientific discoveries such as mathematics and astronomy, there was also a deep connection to astrology, symbology (a science of symbols and their effects), numerology and many forms of mysticism.

In the 7th Pillar of Taoism, “The Tao of Mastery,” The symbol for water is K’AN and states, “to be successful and fortunate, risk must be taken.” Luck to the ancient Taoists was a form of control and timing.

Clearly in all gambling, timing is an important factor. Regardless of the type of gambling, all of it’s forms tend to run in cycles, both winning and losing ones. It is the skill which one navigates through these cycles that the player conveys their level of control over the outcome.

The first serious studies of gambling in the 20th century were done by economists who expressed their confusion that gambling is a losing proposition and in effect, irrational behavior. In 1945 William Vickery, a noted economist, concluded that gambling should be measured not in expected gains but by the money a gambler doesn’t have that appears to be more valuable to them than what he does have.

The typical view is that gambling is self-destructive, undermines the work ethic and removes money that could be put to better uses in the economy. The notion that most people tend to gamble beyond their means remains unproven and was disputed in research conducted in 1966 in the “Economics of Gambling” published in London, England. In this study it was found to be an affective outlet for frustration, a relief from loneliness and a leveler of inequality among the economic classes.

Many psychologists view gambling as a normal form of recreation and destructive only to the addicted. They stated that the solution lies in treating the gambler, not in the condemnation of gambling as a whole.

The casino patron is courted with opulent surroundings, swimming pools, shops, shows, night life and “comped” amenities. The attraction is undeniable as an escape from tedious and purposeless occupations. Being confronted with the myth of success, when faced with insurmountable economic and social obstacles, makes the whole casino experience much easier to understand.

My own opinion is that people who gamble solely for the thrills and excitement, with no care of the economic results, would do better to find a more fulfilling and less expensive hobby. Gambling is an isolated activity. It will not take the place of a meaningful relationship nor will it counteract feelings of alienation or loneliness. These are not reasons to gamble.

Using any type of gambling to fill a void in ones personal life, something which it cannot do, is the type of gambling that can lead to devastating consequences.

If you’ve ever been in a casino, there is one thing you’ve probably noticed more than anything else… that one thing is seeing people lose money. This happens because the amateur gambler enters into this competition without a basic knowledge of the odds of the games, a playing strategy or even a thought to proper money management. It’s a careless way to handle ones money and does little to change the inevitable outcome.

Casinos love this type of gambler and spend a fortune attracting their business. With the odds squarely in their favor, the casino operators know that even though there are highly effective methods of playing that can shift those odds to the player, very few of them will invest the time or effort to use them.

Common sense tells us that if everyone that gambles in casinos lost, they would cease to exist. In order to attract losers you must have winners and it is just as easy to win at many casino games as it is to lose.

I do not write for the weekend gamblers who are looking desperately to have a good time at any cost. Winning is not even in their vocabulary. They consider the possibility of winning to be remote as if being left completely to chance.

It is the individual who is determined to win at any cost that I feel are most like myself. It is to these individuals that I offer the following. There does exist many ways to achieve your goal. Resolve that you will learn everything you have to in order to win consistently when risking your hard earned money gambling in casinos. To me, nothing else makes sense.

In the words of the ancient Taoist, Lao Tse

“Fortune favors the prepared.”

Las Vegas Interesting Facts

Many have had their days of glory in the state of Nevada. But these three step out of the crowd, as they gave the name of the game.

Frank Rosenthal

He is the best sports handicapper in the history of Las Vegas. He used to be called “Las Vegas King”, “Guru”, or something that he surely is: a genius. He inaugurated the first sports and race book, at Stardust Hotel & Casino. Every casino in Las Vegas copied his invention afterwards. He used to run four casinos at the same time, during the 1970’s and early 1980’s: Stardust, Fremont, Hacienda, and Marina.

Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal inspired one of the leading characters in the “Casino” book and movie (performed by Robert de Niro), though the story doesn’t speak the entire truth, he says. You can find Frank at his own web page

Steve Wynn

Partially, he has made his apprenticeship with Frank Rosenthal. Finally, he “dethroned” him. He is now chairman of Mirage Resorts, that includes the largest hotel in the world, MGM Grand. Some of his success is linked to the name of E. Parry Thomas, known as the only banker in town, at that time, who would loan money to build a casino. Rosenthal himself describes him as a “a very skilled mind”.

George Wingfield

The two “kings” were preceded by George Wingfield, a major figure in the history of Nevada, since 1912. He used to be characterised as “the owner and operator of Nevada”. Two businesses got him the glory: mining and gambling. He moved to Nevada at the beginning of the 20th century. As an active politician he struggled to get gambling and divorce legalised. Gambling was re-legalised in the state of Nevada in 1931. The same year, the famous six-weeks divorce law was approved. Ironically, nowadays, 230 marriage licenses are issued every day in Las Vegas.

The gold mine of America

After South Africa, the state of Nevada is the largest gold producer in the world. Golden Nugget Hotel displays the world’s biggest gold nugget ever found, that weights 61 pounds.

The most famous mine owner in the history of Nevada was George Wingfield. He also owned every bank in the state. Goldfield Consolidated Mines Company, that he ran together with senator (at that time) George S. Nixon, made them both multi-millionaires.

The other “gold mine” of the state of Nevada is gambling, since gaming activities were legalised in 1931. In 2003, the gross gaming revenue in Las Vegas was $7,673,489,000.

This “gold mine” closed its doors only one time in history: on November 25th 1963, for the national mourning of the assassinated president George Kennedy. History didn’t repeat itself in the first days after September 11. In fact, Americans asked in surveys on this subject saw Las Vegas as a place to escape the tension.

The History of Solitaire

While people have been playing solitary games with cards, dice, stones and pegs since the dawn of recorded history, solitaire, used to describe games for which the goal is to arrange a deck of cards from a chaotic pattern to an ordered pattern, only saw description in card gaming literature beginning about 1765. This element of creating order from chaos likely stems from a combination of cartomancy forms like Tarot and Germanic culture, as the mid 18th century was when many of the modern cartomantic layouts were established. The first definitive recording of a game of Solitaire comes from a German gaming book from 1783.

Solitaire was originally known as Patience, and was a competitive game between two players. The goal was to complete the game before the other player. However, it soon took hold as a solitary pursuit, probably due to the fact that practicing it alone offered the same gaming experience as competing with another. The solitary nature of Patience also likely stemmed from its similarities with another solitary card pursuit, Tarot.

Similarities and Differences between Solitaire and Tarot

Indeed, there are many similarities between Tarot and Solitaire, known as Patience back when it was first created. Both are solitary pursuits, often done to engage the mind with a system of rules rather than with another person. Both can use the same set of cards, with both fifty-two and seventy-eight card Solitaire games recorded in its infancy. Both make use of pre-ordained arrangements. There is even a tradition, still alive in Germany and Scandinavia today, of using Solitaire as a means for divination. If one “wins” within the first few games, times will be good and luck will smile on you, whereas if one loses a string of games, the cards are saying to be cautious.

Yet they differ also, and this is where the German cultural values come in as opposed to the Roma or even Egyptian elements that found Tarot. Namely, Solitaire is concerned with building an ordered card structure at the end, rather than an ordered mental or “spiritual” structure in the way that Tarot is designed to do.

Historical Stories about Solitaire

Napoleon was said to be a card gaming fanatic, and everywhere he went, he learned the local forms of playing cards. The strategic mind that won him so many battles across Europe was well-suited for cards, and Solitaire was no exception. While the conqueror was generally surrounded by enough people that he didn’t play Patience or other forms of Solitaire while he was rampaging through Europe, upon his exile the stories went that all he did was play Patience endlessly. A brilliant strategist’s mind never sleeps, so the story went.

Around that time in the 19th century, different forms of Solitaire were gaining traction throughout France, but historical evidence shows that while Napoleon played cards in exile, he never played Patience. Regardless, so popular did Solitaire become in France, in part due to the stories told about their greatest general, that many of the terminology used in Solitaire today derives from French.

Solitaire caught on among English speakers beginning in the mid 19th century, when Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria and passionate social reformer, was said to play Solitaire often in his spare time. It is fascinating to trace the rise and fall of Solitaire’s popularity in terms of changes, orderings, and restructurings of a society at any given time. It took about half a century for Solitaire to make its way across the pond to the United States, where it caught on like wildfire during the gold rush of the early 20th century, and again during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

One final story about Solitaire is tragic. During the fall of the Nazi Regime, Adolf Hitler was said to have taken his most trusted lieutenants and staff, among them Joseph Goebbles and his wife and children, to a bunker to avoid being raped and defiled by the advancing Soviets. Magda Goebbles was said to be a solitaire enthusiast, and the story goes that after she fed cyanide to her children, she played Patience, a sort of sad tribute to the Nazi attempts to create a “perfectly ordered society.”

Common Solitaire Synonyms

Patience – Used throughout the UK today, Patience was the original name for solitary card games. The sense was that rather than using bluffs, personality traits, or luck to win the game, the primary quality exercised was that of patience.

Klondike – Solitaire is often a synecdoche for Klondike, meaning that it is so well-known that people use the term “Solitaire” to refer to Klondike exclusively. Klondike is a form of solitaire that involves alternating suits, cascades of cards, a four-suit set of foundations, and a deck. It is the simplest form of solitaire that still contains every element solitaire is best known for. The name “Klondike” comes from the fact that it was made popular during the Gold Rush of the early 1900s which took place in the Alaskan Klondike region.

The Unofficial History of Cribbage and Sir John Suckling

One of England’s greatest contributions to Western Civilization is the card game Cribbage, at least in the opinion of avid Cribbage players. Sir John Suckling is the one responsible for bringing us the game that we love today. Although there is no evidence to truly prove that Sir John Suckling was the creator of Cribbage, he is, at the very least, the one responsible for publishing and spreading the game all through the land.

Sir John Suckling, poet, playwright, master bowler/gambler and notorious womanizer, was born at Whitton, between Twickenham and Hounslow, Middlesex, on February 10, 1609. He was born into a very prominent family in England, although after his mother died when he was four years of age, his father was in charge of rearing the young child. His father was a member of the English Parliament and was the “controller” of the King’s household until his untimely death in 1627. Sir John was at the age of 18 when his father passed and was old enough to inherit his father’s considerably large estate. After receiving the inheritance he spent countless amount of money traveling, womanizing and of course gambling.

In 1623 he enrolled in Trinity College, Cambridge and then to Gray’s Inn in 1627. At the young age of 18, he pursued a military career and joined the army of Gustavus Adolphus during the Thirty Years’ War. At the age of 21, King Charles I knighted Suckling. The king quickly regretted the decision, so Suckling left the court and became involved in several different military adventures. He was said to have served in an expedition against France and it has been said that he fought in Lord Wimbledon’s regiments in the Dutch service. In October 1631, Sir John joined Sir Henry Vane who was serving under Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden. In 1632, Suckling quickly came back into King Charles’s good graces after delivering the dispatches, by orders of Vane, and after completing his mission he returned and remained in England.

After that he pretty much filled his time gambling, womanizing, and serving in the military for the rest of the decade. This is where he was said to have invented the beloved game of cribbage, which had some similar features to the games, Noddy and One-and-Thirty. Although when the Scottish war of 1639 began, he left his beloved cards and women to raise a troop of 100 horsemen and his army joined King Charles in the north. When the war ended, peacefully, in 1639, Sir John returned to London. He was elected to Parliament in 1640, but in May 1641 he was involved in a vain attempt to free a political prisoner, Thomas Wentworth, the earl of Stratford and held in the Tower of London. Sir John Suckling was then charged with treason and had to flee to France with very few belongings and almost no financial assistance, to avoid arrest.

In order to establish some kind of financial security in one of his darkest hours, Suckling started selling a large number of marked packs of cards and distributed them amongst the richest population in the region. He then started playing cards where the marked cards were distributed. In 1642, it was believed that Sir John Suckling committed suicide by taking poison. It has been said that his greatest accomplishments were the lyrics to “why so pale” and “wan fond lover?” and for Cribbage, which has changed very little since Suckling’s day and is one of the most popular card games in the English speaking world.