Gambling in the Wild West

When it comes to the Old, Wild West, we know that it was almost as if people would go about betting on anything they could, from card games right through to boxing matches. However, there is a lot more to the gambling that went down in the Wild West.

The Old West saw some of the most popular games claim their name to fame, as well as some of the most famous gamblers in history, and numerous events that many players still like to bet on to this day. Let’s take a look at some of the gunslinging gambling tales that took place in the Wild West.


One of the most popular games to be found in the Wild West gambling establishments was Faro, which essentially involved a dealer (then coined a banker) and a number of players that were referred to as punters.

The game was fast-paced and gave better odds than many of the other available games at that time. A board with a suit of cards attached to it, in numerical order, was placed down and bets could be placed on one or more cards. The dealer would then draw two cards, one of which was his and the losing card, and the other the player’s, which was the winning card.

Bets placed on card numbers that weren’t drawn were left for the following round and those placed on the card that was the same as the dealer’s will go to him.

Three Card Monte

Also known as the three card trick, this popular game involves just three cards from a deck and a good 5 to 10 minutes of play. It is easy to play, with the three cards placed face down before the target card is shown to the player and all three are then shuffled.

Players then have to pick which they think is the target and those that guess correctly would be paid out double their stake. Back in the Wild West though, it was played in the streets and often turned out to be a scam, with fake players employed to make people think that the dealer was worse at the game than he actually was.

Those fights that you have seen recreated in Wild Wild West movies and games typically started out with someone being caught for a scheme such as this.


Poker may be one of the more obvious examples of the games that were played in the Old West, but it certainly didn’t play out the same way that it does in our brick and mortar casinos these days. This bluffing card game actually wasn’t as popular in the West when it first arrived, and this was largely due to the fact that it was a lot slower than the games they were used to.

Old decks had just 20 cards in them and included Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10 in the same traditional suits. All of these were dealt to players and Old West winning combinations were made up of a Full House, Triplets (equivalent to three-of-a-kind) and a Royal Flush.

Chuck a Luck

Chuck a Luck was an enjoyable dice game that has also been referred to as birdcage over the years, because the dice are placed in a small cage shaped like an hourglass. When the cage spins, the dice are jumbled before landing on the bottom.

The aim was to place a bet on what you thought the combination of all three dice would be at the end, with common bets including Single Die Bets, Any Triple, Big Bets (that meant it would be higher than 11), Small Bets and Field Bets.

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