Gambling Trivia - Did You Know?

Gambling Trivia

When was the first slot machine invented? Who won the largest progressive jackpot online and on land? Who invented the first casino games? What’s referred to as the “eye in the sky” and why a pair of aces and eights are called “dead-man’s hand”? Do you really know everything about gambling?

Archaeologists have found indications that man has gambled in some form or another for thousands of years. With such a rich history to pull from, there are some rather amazing titbits of information and facts about gambling that might make for interesting conversation over the water cooler. Enjoy this list of gambling trivia about games, casinos and gaming personalities.


  • Playing craps is commonly referred to as "rolling the bones". The term evolved from the fact that original six-sided dice that were literally made from animal bones. The oldest pair of traditional "bones" dates back to around 3,000 B.C.
  • The first modern three-reel slot machine was invented by Charles Fey in 1895 while living in San Francisco. He named his new invention/game the "Liberty Bell". For many years after that, slot machines were all referred to as "bell machines" regardless of the game's theme.
  • The first modern type video slot machine to be introduced into a brick and mortar was the Fortune Coin machine, which was introduced in 1975.
  • When playing the game of bingo using a standard 90-ball card, there are approximately 44 million different combinations that can occur to make a B-I-N-G-O.
  • The largest land-based progressive slot machine jackpot ever paid was $39,713,982.25 awarded to a 25-year-old woman who was playing an IGT Megabucks slot machine at the Excalibur Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on March 21, 2003.
  • The largest online progressive slots jackpot ever paid was €6,374,434 or $8.62 million USD. The winner, username of Georgios M, was playing Microgaming's Mega Moolah slot game on the Riverbelle Casino site when the jackpot popped up on May 12, 2009.
  • The term "blackjack" came from the origins of the game when a special bonus was paid out to the player whenever they received a natural 21 in the form of a black suited Ace and Jack.
  • In the blackjack variation called "Spanish 21", the game is played with 6 decks of cards, but with only 288 cards instead of 312 cards. The difference comes from the fact that 10's have been removed from the deck to decrease the possibility of players receiving 21's.
  • Contrary to common belief, card counting is not illegal in live casinos. There are no laws on the books against using this method of playing blackjack. However, most casinos do consider it a form of cheating and will immediately ban any players from playing the game on its premises if they believe are guilty of using this practice.
  • The game of roulette was invented in the early 1700's. The game was originally called "roly poly". The original reels had alternating solid black and solid white slots with striped black/white slots representing the equivalent of the zero/double zero. Roulette, as the world knows it today with the numbers included, was introduced in France in around 1796.
  • The primary difference between roulette wheels in Europe and America in the additional "double zero" added to the American style wheel. By adding the additional slot, the American casinos have effectively increased its house advantage by a factor of 2x.
  • The aggregate numbers (1-36) on a roulette wheel add up to exactly 666. Many folks will recognize this number as the mythical numeric symbol for Satan.
  • While it is nearly impossible to determine the original origins of poker, its first appearance in America came in 1829, when an English actor named Joseph Crowell introduced the game to a group of fellow actors. The game gathered much of its popularity during the Civil War as soldiers used the game as one of their primary means of relaxation.
  • In the game of poker, there are 2,598,960 possible five-card hands using a standard 52-card deck.
  • Chinese warlord named Cheung Leung is largely credited with inventing the game of "Keno". He introduced the game around 200 B.C.
  • The "gambler's fallacy" is a reference to a popular notion that one draw of the cards, spin of the wheel or roll of the dice has relationship to all the ones made prior. Statistically, the reality is that every gambling event is completely independent of any other gambling event.


  • The largest casino in the world is The Venetian Macao located in China. At over 10.5 million sq. feet, it is also the 4th largest building in the world. The hotel has 3,000 suites and a casino area that measures 500,000 sq. feet.
  • The Casinò di Venezia is believed to be the first brick and mortar casino ever built. It was built in 1638 and still stands in Venice, Italy.
  • The first casino built in Las Vegas was the Golden Gate Casino, built in 1906 in what is now known as the downtown area. The casino featured illegal forms of gambling prior to the legalization of gambling in Nevada in 1931.
  • The first gaming license in Las Vegas was issued to the Northern Club in 1931.
  • The first casino built on the "Las Vegas Strip" was the El Rancho Vegas (1941), which was owned by Thomas Hull.
  • The first "resort" style hotel & casino built in Las Vegas was the Flamingo, which opened its doors in 1946. The casino was the brain-child of infamous organized crime figures Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegal.
  • Many of the casinos in Las Vegas don't have a thirteenth floor due to the superstition that the number "13" is considered very unlucky in many western cultures. The casino floors typically go from the twelfth floor right to the fourteenth floor.
  • The oldest established online casino is the Gaming Club Casino, which went live in mid-1994, using a software platform provided by Microgaming. The Gaming Club Casino is still in operation today.
  • Casinos in Las Vegas do not have clocks or windows located anywhere near the casino floors. This is done intentionally as a way to keep players gambling and not worrying about what time of the day it might be or how long they have been gambling.
  • Visitors to the Las Vegas area will spend an average of 3.9 hours a day gambling during their stay. This is a massive drop from the 8.3 hours a day that were spent back in the 1980s prior to the introduction of the mega-resorts with its shopping malls and amusement facilities.
  • The largest hotel/casino related disaster in history occurred on November 21, 1980 at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. During the morning hours, a fire started in one the kitchen areas in one of the facility's restaurants. When the fire quickly spread to several of the upper level floors, guests were trapped with some falling to their death through the windows. By the time the smoke cleared, 85 people lost their lives with another 785 injured. State and city officials immediately passed laws requiring smoke detectors and sprinklers be installed in every hotel/casino in the city.
  • Every table game in a live casino is monitored by a series of special video cameras located right above the game. The nickname for this series of cameras is the "eye in the sky".

Gambling Personalities

  • Chinese gamblers are a very superstitious group of people. One of their most prominent gambling superstitions is the belief that red is a very lucky colour. Many players will report to the casino floor wearing some type of a red garment, even underwear.
  • The diminutive French Emperor named Napoleon Bonaparte was chronicled many times as being a very big fan of the game of blackjack.
  • The western cult hero/outlaw "Wild Bill" Hitchcock was shot in the head while playing poker. At the time of his death, he was holding was holding two pair - aces and eights. To this day, this hand in famously referred to as a "dead-man's hand".
  • The term "whale" is used to refer to a player who is known to gamble millions of dollars on any given junket. They are highly sought and marketed to by casinos from all over the world.
  • The four kings in a standard deck of cards were designed to represent famous "kings" or leaders. They include King of Hearts (Charles the Great or King Charlemagne), King of Diamonds (Julius Caesars), King of Clubs (Alexander the Great) and The King of Spades (King David of biblical fame).
  • Binion's Horseshoe Casino in downtown Las Vegas was always considered the pioneer of big-money wagering. In Fact, Binion's is where the World Series of Poker was born. During its early years, the casino promoted the idea they would accept a wager of any size as long as it was person's very first wager at the casino. In September of 1980, a gentleman named William Lee Bergstrom (Austin, Texas) took the casino up on its offer and wagered $777,000 on the "don't pass" line at the craps table. The come-out roll establish a point of six and the next roll was a seven, ending in a win of $777,000 for Bergstrom. The 33-year-old man stayed in town long enough to win more money and to eventually lose the first $1,000,000 wager ever made in a Vegas casino. Three months after his greatest victory, he was found dead from a drug overdose.
  • In 1970, Benny Binion, an avid poker player, came up with an idea to invite some of the best Texas Hold'em poker players in the world to his casino for a poker tournament with the winner to be determined by secret ballot. This was the birth of the "World Series of Poker". The first winner was Johnny Moss, who along with Stu Unger, has won the most "main event" WSOP bracelets with three apiece.
  • In November of 2006, Jamie Gold won the highest first prize award for a poker tournament when he played through a world-record field of 8,773 players to capture the World Series of Poker "main event" and the first prize of $12,000,000.
  • In the eighteenth century, casino gambling was illegal in England. In some of the private illegal casinos, there was often an employee hired whose only responsibility was to swallow the dice if the police showed up during a raid.
  • In the 1980's and 1990's, a group of MIT students devised a card-counting system that wreaked havoc on casinos in both Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The movie "21" is based on the exploits of this ingenious group of math whizzes.
  • Secretariat became the first athlete, albeit an equine athlete, to be featured on the covers of "Time", “Newsweek" and “Sports Illustrated" magazines during the same week in 1973 after he won the Triple-Crown of horse-racing.

Posted by CCJ Team