How Did Different Casino Games Get Their Names?

casino games names image
Casino Game Names. Image Credit: Shutterstock

We distinguish casino games by their names but often don’t spare a second thought on the meaning of these names and where they originated.

The origins of gambling are disputable. However, it’s believed that at least one form of gambling has been present in almost every society throughout history. From the Greeks and Romans to Elizabethan England and Napoleonic France, there are clear historical records of people playing games of chance.

Since gambling is widespread globally, casino games took their names from the different places of their origin. Here is a brief history of wagering and stories behind some of the most popular casino games:

The History of Card Games

The earliest forms of gambling involved cards, with the original card games dating back to 11th century China. Although card and dice games were played in China hundreds of years ago, historians believe the French created the first card decks of the four suits that gamblers still use today.

However, it was only in the 19th century New Orleans that blackjack first saw the day of light. Blackjack is said to have been invented so that workforce could wager during short breaks. In the early 19th century, slavery had yet to be abolished across the US, which meant that New Orleans still had a sizeable population of slaves.

Dice Games and Gambling

Dice games have been around for much longer than card games. Dice were initially used for fortune-telling in Egypt and were made from animal bones, which is why this activity was often referred to as bone rolling. Eventually, throwing dice became a popular form of entertainment and gambling.

Although Egypt can claim to be the birthplace of dice, modern dice games developed in Korea.  Subsequently, the thrill of dice gaming has stayed popular over the years and is enjoyed today in casinos with games like sic-bo and craps.

How Roulette Got its Name

Roulette originated in Europe and was initially known as French Roulette. The game was developed by a French scientist, Blaise Pascal, as a perpetual motion machine. Roulette means a “little wheel” in French.

Ultimatelly, the tradition of using a spinning wheel for gambling goes back to Greco-Roman times. Roman warriors would spin a chariot wheel to choose a winner. The game also involved a dart that pointed to one of ten winning spaces on the ground. 

The Greeks used a shield in place of a chariot wheel.  However, the premise of the game remained the same. The shield or the wheel would stop and indicate a space against an arrow, which would signal a winner.

The Origins of the Term “Poker”

Poker is a popular card game that traces its beginnings to the early 19th century. Although it’s difficult to ascertain where the name originated precisely, some believe that “poker” comes from the French card game poque.

Similarly, there is a belief that poker comes from a German card game called pochspiel, which is derived from the German word “pochen”. From this originates the French word poque. The German word means to brag or to bluff. Once the card game was officially titled “poker”, some gamblers also referred to it as “bluff”.

Most historians believe that poker has French roots in terms of where the game got its name. This is mainly because poker became popular and spread across the US from New Orleans in the early 19th century.

The Origins of Blackjack

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games, although people are unsure where the game got its name.  When the game “21” was first introduced to early casinos, operators offered bonuses to encourage players to play the game. One of these was a unique, 10-to-1 bonus that the player got when their hand was an ace of spades and a blackjack.

The “blackjack” represents a jack of clubs or spades.  Although this bonus no longer exists, the name stuck and eventually became the designation for one of the most well-loved casino card games today.

Picture of Bojan Lipovic - Digital Project Manager

Bojan Lipovic - Digital Project Manager

Besides polishing his SEO skills, Bojan has a penchant for creative writing. With over half a decade of experience in the online gambling industry under his belt, his written take on the latest news from the Canadian and global gambling industries is an indispensable source of information for the CASINOenquirer team. Bojan’s primary goal is to ensure that players get a superior experience through the top-notch content that he shares.

Gambling News