Roll the Bones: First Edition

Roll the Bones
Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling. New York: Gotham, 2006.

“When you sit down to play poker, in a cardroom or online, you’re taking part in a drama that spans human history, and Schwartz has written the definitive account of that history in Roll the Bones.”

–Card Player Magazine

Roll the Bones is anything but a gamble. The book deftly bridges the gap between caveman-era knucklebones and Internet cyber-gambling in an informative, entertaining and illuminating way. Schwartz’s history one of those rare accounts that, in spite of its page count, feels like a breezy monograph.

–Las Vegas City Life

“Schwartz seems almost destined to write this book…by the end of this expansive work, he leaves you utterly persuaded that the yearning to gamble is a near-universal human trait. He has written a fascinating book.

–Wall Street Journal

Roll the Bones was named the National Council on Problem Gambling’s Book of the Year for 2006 and won a prestigious Editor’s Choice 2006 Trippies Award.


What is this book about?

Haven’t you wondered what the first gamblers were like? Why they decided to start tossing bones and looking into the unknown? Roll the Bones will take you there, back to the very beginning.

From there, the award-winning book moves quickly through ancient Rome, India, China, and the Americas. You’ll learn about mythical gamblers in Indian folklore, and the gambling emperors of Rome.

Millions of people play lotteries every day, but have no idea just how old they are. In Roll the Bones, you’ll read about the first-ever lotteries (all the way back in the 15th century), and learn how, incredibly, Queen Elizabeth’s first attempt to run a lottery in England was a dismal failure.

How about casinos? Roll the Bones takes you back to the very first legal public casino: Venice’s Ridotto. From there, it’s off to Bath, Baden-Baden, Monte Carlo, Macau, and Reno. If you want to learn about where casinos have come from–and where they might be going–this is a book for you.

Betting on football, basketball, and boxing is a multi-billion dollar industry today–but did you know that it evolved from friendly bets on pedestrianism, a now-obscure sport? If you’re really eager, you can skip ahead to page 174 to read the whole story.

Horseracing has been the “sport of kings” for generations; haven’t you wondered which kings, exactly, endorsed it? You’ll learn that, and which American president bet everything–down to his clothes–on a racehorse, in Roll the Bones.

Bingo, slot machines, craps, and poker–four quintessentially American games that have changed the gambling world. If you’ve wanted to learn more about where they came from–and just how they became so popular–Roll the Bones is meant for you.

Ultimately, Roll the Bones explains how the human predilection for a wager shaped human history from the Ice Age to the Information Age. People spend nearly one trillion dollars worldwide on gambling a year–wouldn’t you like to learn a little about how we got there?

Where can I buy Roll the Bones?

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