Gambling has been around for as long as human beings have wandered the planet. Sticks, stones, antlers and later paper playing cards have been tossed, placed, compared and drawn by folk who clearly had heaps of time on their hands.
To add to the excitement level, players and onlookers would gamble on the eventual outcome of the games, many of which are the precursors of what you’ll find at an Aussie online casino right here and right now.
In days gone by, betting stakes ranged from cured animal skins, livestock, corn granaries and sharpened weapons to really un-PC stuff like the undivided attentions of the prettiest woman in the tribe or clan.
In the ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures gaming was so intense, players even offered themselves as stakes and acted as slaves for a day, week, month or year. Now days plastic casino chips or virtual gambling coupons are the key to banking genuine currency!
In Tibet thousands of years ago, Buddhist monks in saffron garb spent hours arranging minute statuettes in a mystical circle to form a preordained number - quite what they used as betting stakes has been lost in the mists of time. With the benefit of hindsight however, we now know the ancient Tibetan game was the direct antecedent of roulette.
Throughout the millennia, gambling has been so ubiquitous even the Greek gods in the form of Poseidon, Zeus and Hades determined their split of the universe with a casual toss of the dice!
The Earliest Versions of Craps
Evidence of the origins of the modern dice game can be found on virtually every continent in the world. The actual form the dice take has varied from sticks, seeds and pebbles to the rudimentary clay cubes the Ancient Greeks used to throw to determine a particular numerical value.
Most of the earliest versions of craps were actually strategy-based board games that were enthusiastically played by the hunter gatherers of Africa and North America to the most sophisticated civilisations in the Mediterranean, Meso-America and Egypt.
Boards with semi-circular patterns have been discovered in ancient Aztec and Mayan archaeological sites. They’ve also been found carved into flat rocks in current day Botswana and Zimbabwe. Today, a version of this ancient game lives on in what is known as Mancala or Wari.
Although the rules of Mancala - and other similar dice games - may have changed over the eons, the aim of the game hasn’t. The first player to move all his or her seeds, beans of stones around a layout consisting of rows of holes, based on the numerical value ascribed to one or other side of a stick or the pits or lines carved into a stone, clay or wooden ‘die’, wins!
The playing pieces and layout of the game does differ from one culture to another but what’s really notable is that this early version of craps was played all over the ancient world, from Egypt, Palestine and Rome to what is now current day Ghana, Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
Where Card Games Came From
Skill-based card games like baccarat, blackjack and poker may be integral to our Aussie online casino but do you know where the original card games came from? As you’re probably aware many of the existing card games hail from Europe but the playing cards themselves originate from the opposite side of the world… in China.
Gambling has been a prevalent form of entertainment throughout the ancient Chinese dynasties. The earliest forms of tile games like Pai Gow were invented in China is around 2 500 BC. About two thousand years ago the forerunner of the casino game we now know as Keno made its maiden appearance in the Orient - and with it the first use of paper cards in a gambling game.
This version of Keno was called the ‘white pigeon ticket’ a reference to the white ‘playing’ cards numbered one to 80. Players would travel to a dedicated ‘gambling hall’ and select two cards. Once all the cards were ‘sold’ a lottery would be held to determine the winning numbers and the lucky players would walk away with the spoils.
In around 900 AD the Chinese began decorating playing cards with human images, such as farmers, horsemen, merchants and warriors. The décor progressed apace with the number and type of games that were invented based on the ever-more ornate playing cards.
The cards themselves found their way to the Middle East where geometric shapes were used to designate the different card values. From there they travelled to Europe where they were allocated the numbers and ‘Royal’ images we see on today’s playing cards.
Concealing Games Could Point to the Earliest Origins of Slots
Across the world and through the ages, people have gambled on where they think an item is. In the Pacific Northwest the Inuit of Canada still play an ancient game called Sahal. In this game players pass a set of bones from one to another and the opposing team has to guess where the bones are.
The Apache Indians of North America played a similar game known as Kah. In this form of the concealing game a bone was hidden in one of four moccasins that were placed in deep holes dug in the ground. The opposing team then had a one in four chance of finding the bone and being proclaimed the winners of the round!
Could these games have been the origin of pokies where players have to wager on the probability of finding matching symbols on the reels? My guess is they had something to do with the fact that slots were first created in the USA.
Notwithstanding the ancient origins of slots, the good news is you can win plenty of cash playing pokies at our Aussie online casino. Better still you don’t have to guess where the matching symbols are hidden on the reels.
Provided you bet the maximum to activate all available paylines - or play RTG pokies with fixed paylines or win ways - the gaming software automatically ‘finds’ the matching symbols on the gaming interface and pays out accordingly… now how easy is that!