Flipping through history books is a fascinating thing. There are many famous faces, and many iconic figures that helped shape the world as we know it today. But, many of those famous faces were also avidly into gambling and casino games. It is often an overlooked part of history, probably because history wants to paint its most beloved characters in a certain light.
But, dig a little under the surface, and you’ll soon discover that many of history’s biggest names aren’t always what they appear to be on the surface. Take a look at these famous historical figures that also liked to spend a few light nights playing cards, taking chances, and otherwise enjoying themselves in the casinos of the era.
Alright, if you know anything about history, and the French Revolution, you might have guessed that Marie-Antoinette dabbled in a bit of gambling. Though, it is hardly what is most focused on, as far as her position in French history is concerned. It is more the fact that she said some rather silly things about cake, which ultimately got her head removed in one of the most iconic plot twists in history.
Either way, it was Marie-Antoinette’s reputation for being spend thrifty that was her downfall. That reputation, in part, was fuelled by her alleged gambling streaks in which she lost large sums of money. Perhaps she should have stayed home and spent her time watching the weekend game instead. It may have saved her head.
When you think of the name Descartes, you think of philosophy. What you don’t think of is a man that set out to be a professional gambler. But that happens to be the case, which is something that most are not aware of.
Yes, Descartes, before he turned to philosophy, first had ambitions to make his living being a gambler. After making many attempts at pursuing his career in this manner, the Frenchman eventually decided to go with science and philosophy, but gambling always remained a favourite hobby of his, right up until his dying days.
Sure, Dostoevsky wrote the book titled The Gambler, which might have been a bit of a hint. But the link between the author of Crime and Punishment, and gambling, goes much deeper than many think. A long running rumour is that Dostoevsky actually used writing as a way to fund his gambling habit, and often spent proceeds from his books paying off debts. In fact, one rumour even states that he rushed writing the last bit of Crime and Punishment, since he had a debt collector hounding him to pay up, or pay the consequences.
That story may or may not be true, but if you’ve read The Gambler, it is certainly clear that the man was very familiar with gambling. It is, of course, also rumoured that The Gambler was based on actual events in his life, although this also isn’t known for sure. Either way, there is no denying that Dostoevsky would not be who was without games of chance.