Casinos and gambling in the literature

pile of booksPlaying online roulette or baccarat is of course quite strenuous. An experienced player hardly notices it, but you have to concentrate, pay attention to the game and make decisions. Like any sport, it requires effort.

To keep performing it is good to relax occasionally. This is possible in all sorts of ways. But par excellence with reading. And what is more fun, when you start reading, than reading a book in which gambling plays a role. If you learn something from it, you combine the pleasant with the useful.

Gambling in the literature

So we are not talking about books in which you are told how you can beat the bank, become a good poker player or can win with baccarat. In the books below, gambling is (only) part of a story. Sometimes emphatically, sometimes in the background. And when we talk about gambling in literature, we also talk about side paths. Because we are not concerned with the question what literature is.

We have already found some references to books in other articles on this site. For example with the Martingale roulette strategy. That strategy is described in the memoirs of Giacomo Casanova, the famous adventurer and woman conqueror. And Charles Dickens wrote about the murder in 1823 of gambling boss William Weare.


If you have no problems with English you have a huge advantage. Because there are simply more books in English than in our own small language area. We like to read our books ourselves in English, but also the international language of gambling.

We advise you to take a book written in English when you are upset. Really, you probably already notice after ten pages that you have much more knowledge of English than you think. At a certain point, especially with an exciting book, you forget that you do not read in your native language. Occasionally search for a word that you do not know or understand. An e-reader with a built-in dictionary is ideal for this.


The books below are not originally Dutch. But most are available for translation. Behind the original title is the Dutch title.

A Young Wife – Bride of Argentina

The thriller A Young Wife (nd: Bride of Agentinia) by the American writer Pam Lewis is nice to be the first to mention here. It is about a Dutch girl who goes to Amsterdam. There she takes care of the wife of a businessman. When the woman dies, she goes to Argentina with the man. There he wants to make money in the oil. She ends up in a world of gamblers. It's a thriller, so a few things happen (ok, her son is kidnapped and she enters a web of betrayal)….

Odds on Miss Seeton – Miss Seeton takes a gamble

Heron Carvic wrote five books about Miss Seeton, a retired art teacher in the 1970s. It is a book from 1975 and that sounds somewhat dated. But "Odds on Miss Seeton" is a nice parody of Miss Marple by Agatha Christie. And it gives a picture of the gambling world of that time, when there were no online casinos yet. In this book, Miss Seeton goes in search of an underworld figure for Scotland Yard and enters the world of gambling. She learns to play roulette to maintain herself in a story of money and violence.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Gambling in literature - Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Another old man is "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter S Thompson, released in Dutch as "Fear and disgust in America". The story is about the trip of two men to Las Vegas. They want to try their luck there. It is a journey full of drugs and gambling. Especially the promotions in the casino are great written. Director Terry Gilliam encouraged the making of the film of the same name, with Johnny Depp. So if you opt for easy relaxation, you can also watch the film. Prefer to read something? Stick on and read about the history of Las Vegas.

Birthdays for the Dead – Thirteen

The thrillers of the Schot Stuart MacBride are a completely different angle to gambling. He wrote a series of books about the gambling addict, and charged with corruption, Detective Ash Henderson. In Birthday for the Dead he goes looking for the kidnapper and murderer of a number of almost 13-year-old girls. When his own 12-year-old daughter is abducted, the tension rises. The thrillers from MacBride are raw, with lots of black humor, detailed descriptions of violence and an excess of alcohol and gambling.

Don't look Twice – Deadly guess

"Don't look Twice" from businessman / writer Andrew Gross follows detective Ty Hauck. There has been a shooting in a residential area. It seems like an ordinary settlement in the criminal circuit. But it brings the story to a major international gambling scam. If there are also corrupt residents in the town, even Hauck's life is not certain.

Count Lies and Getting Paid

Count Lies and Getting Paid by Michael Konik is of a completely different genre. Konik wrote several stories about gambling for this book. He follows a backgammon player who travels the world. Another story is playing in a casino in the Chinese city of Macao. Naturally there are also stories about sports betting. Because that is Konik's specialty. In other books by him that is even the only subject, for example in "the Smart Money".

gambling in literature - dostoevskyThe Gambler – The player

It is old and certainly not the best book by the Russian Dostoevsky, but it is a classic among gamblers who love literature. The Gambler, which you can read in Dutch as well unless you speak Russian, is about the gambling addiction of the famous writer Dostoevsky himself. There have been several writers and artists with a gambling addiction. Dostoevsky, however, describes it very special. He is both an observer and an addict. It plays 150 years ago, so it also gives a nice picture of time.


Titles don't say everything. This is especially apparent with Dutch book titles. Do you think you have an interesting book, for example "Gambled and won", it turns out to be a castle novel, a bouquet series of no-man's-things or a harlequin pulp. The original English title is "the Earl’s Prize".

We realize again that gambling is no more than everyday life, whereby we constantly gamble. Just before that other car we drive into the roundabout, go to a meeting without good luck, make a promise and hope that we can keep it etc. That is probably also about "the Earl" gambling. It has nothing to do with the noble game, or when you think of love.

But we want to read about roulette players, people who try their luck in horse racing or, if need be, about other players who have won a lot or are addicted.

Queen of Spades – Queen of Spades

Then you read, if you enjoyed Dostoevsky, the ultra-short story Queen of Spades from another older Russian. Alexander Pushkin wrote the book in 1834. It is about a writer who, together with colleagues, watches gambling card players every night. When he hears that a player knows how to always win, he does everything to steal the secret from her.

The book inspired several composers to become an opera. Later the story was filmed several times. It is a short story. And with that perhaps also a good starter if you are not used to reading in English. The book can be downloaded for free from Gutenberg.

House of Mirth

Yes, that is the advantage of the older titles, you can download them for free. For example at the manufacturer of your e-reader, at Gutenberg or at specialized sites. And if you really want the analog book, you can often find it for little in a second-hand bookstore or thrift store.

So too, from the American writer Edith Mirth, the book "The House of Mirth". That house of joy refers to the house where the protagonist plays bridge, with high stakes.

The book immediately became a real bestseller when it appeared in 1905. Nearly 200,000 copies were sold in America within two months.

My Lady Love, My Dove – My love, my pigeon

Gambling an article in the literature is not complete without My love, my pigeon, the classic story from 1952 by Roald Dahl. It has appeared under several titles in English and eventually became the title of a collection of stories. It is about a couple who are going to play bridge with a high stakes at another couple. The hostess actually does not want to receive the guests. She convinces her husband to place a microphone in the guest's bedroom. Later, when they have lost a lot while playing bridge, her husband and she are sitting by the loudspeaker in their own bedroom. There they hear the secrets of the guests and they start using it themselves …

Just like you. Grab a book and relax. Instead of a book you can of course also view our other blog articles, or take a chance first.

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