Gambling in World Literature

David Galvan

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Gambling has always been popular with many cultures throughout history. The growth of the casino has been an integral part of modern culture and influenced the evolution of literature. Books have always been written about gambling, and gambling has become a big subtype of the literary genre.

This article looks at some of the most famous works about gambling in world literature.

The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1867)

The Gambler is a novel about a man in debt who might lose everything he has. A part crime novel, part philosophical treatise, the story focuses on a young man who goes broke in a Moscow gambling house. Shaken by his experience, he questions everything he had previously believed in. 

The story takes place on a large estate in southern Russia where three men, two Russians, and a Frenchman meet every week to gamble their money away. Though they all win, they lose so much that they are forced to turn to crime. The gambler himself is the most successful in a moral way, but he inevitably loses everything he has.

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (1905)

The House of Mirth tells the story of Lily Bart, a young woman who cannot conform to the standards of beauty and wealth that high society dictates. After a series of unfortunate events, Lily is forced to marry a man she does not love, thus ending her chances of making it into high society.

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Gambling and risk-taking are important themes in the book. Lily’s first marriage proposal comes from Lawrence Selden, who makes a fortune gambling in Monte Carlo. He asks Lily to marry him because he has won enough money gambling to ensure they will be financially secure enough for her to give up her position in high society. However, Selden’s financial security turns out to be less stable than he thought, and his offer to marry Lily is retracted.

The Biggest Game in Town by Al Alvarez (1981)

Alvarez is one of the most well-known poker authors, who wrote this book after going to Las Vegas to cover the 1981 World Series of Poker. He interviewed several professional poker players and described their daily lives, including their games and their struggles in the industry. Most of the challenges they faced back then, are easy to solve when you play at Riverbelle casino Canada.

The book is considered one of the best-selling poker books of all time, and it has also been very instrumental in attracting more followers to the game. It was also made into a movie directed by Keith Cossrow and released in 1983. The film featured legendary poker players Doyle Brunson, Johnny Moss, Chip Reese, Stu Ungar, Jack Straus, Bobby Baldwin, and Puggy Pearson.

Big Deal: A Year As A Professional Poker Player by Anthony Holden (1990)

This book tells the tale of British journalist Anthony Holden, who decided to spend a whole year playing poker professionally. It is a fascinating account of his journey, which he undertook while a journalist for the Observer and Sunday Times newspapers in London. 

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His goal was to play and win enough money to pay off his mortgage, and he lived up to his promise at the end of the year when he achieved his goal. He has written other successful gambling books, such as Bigger Deal: A Year Inside The Poker Boom, which chronicles his follow-up experience as an amateur gambler for another year.

Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla by Marc Seifer (1998)

Tesla was one of the greatest minds in science, but he had an odd fascination with gambling. He became so skilled at card counting that he claimed never to pay for a hotel stay in Las Vegas. This biography covers his many achievements and eccentricities, including his skill as a gambler.

Bringing Down the House (2004)

Ben Mezrich is the author, and it describes how a group of MIT students transformed their skills in card counting into a big business. This book is on true events at MIT during the 90s. The students managed to win over $3 million from various casinos in Las Vegas. The group used card counting strategies to win money. 

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According to this book, the students were pretty smart and organized. They also had an instructor called John Chang, who taught them everything about beating Vegas casinos at blackjack. This group was very successful, and it managed to beat casinos for many years until they were caught and banned from gambling at any casino in Nevada.


You can easily find books about various types of gambling that have been published over the years. You can read these books for entertainment or educational purposes. Either way, they’re an interesting and culturally significant subject to collect.

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