Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Faro, Seven Up, and Hazard

I mentioned in one of my posts several months ago that faro was the most popular gambling game in the Old West, even more popular than poker. I suppose the thing that made it so popular was its simplicity. There were few, if any, complicated rules to learn. If the first card turned over by the dealer matched the card you had bet on, you lost. If the second card turned over by the dealer matched the card you'd bet on, you won. There were a few other features of the game, but that was the gist of it. It is supposed that faro got its name because the backs of some early playing cards had likenesses of Egyptian pharoahs on them.
Another fairly popular card game in the nineteenth century was seven up. I think it was played more in private social groups and not so much in commercial gambling establishments as faro and some of the other gambling games. In fact, it was probably played quite a bit without gambling being involved at all. Seven up was a game that involved laying out one's cards to make books, similar to the way solitaire is played, and the first person to get rid of (or book) all his cards was the winner. I recall from reading a Quantrill biography (Connelley's Quantrill and the Border Wars, I think) that William Quantrill and his lieutenant George Todd, after they had had a falling out, got into an argument one time over a game of seven up.
Hazard was also a pretty popular gambling game, but it involved dice, not cards. The modern game of craps was derived from hazard. In the game of hazard, rolling two ones (i.e. snake eyes) was sometimes called craps or crabs. Thus, did the game of craps, a simplified version of hazard, gradually take shape.

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