Some Surprising Casino Players From History


Casinos and casino games have attracted many famous names in the past, from athletes to entrepreneurs. But it’s not just contemporary celebrities that have fallen in love with the allure of the roulette wheel or the thrill of the poker table – history is littered with surprisingly great names who in their own way changed the course of history…but also enjoyed a flutter on the side.

René Descartes


A revered scientist, philosopher, and mathematician, Descartes was the first to introduce us to the duality of body and mind. If you’ve heard the phrase “I think, therefore I am” then you’ll know who he is. What you might not know is that this great scholar was en route to being a professional casino player after attending law school and the military, before, thankfully for science, turning his considerable mind to academia. He frequently attended casinos when he wasn’t busy changing science forever.



Better known for his abilities between the sheets, this world renowned womanizer (in truth a member of the European social elite) was a big fan of games and was known to play lotteries. At the age of 21 Casanova is said to have set his sights on being a full time gambler (which would have suited his lifestyle, let’s be fair), but, perhaps unsurprisingly, he was said to lack self control and discipline – two things which are the ruin of many a gambler. Some of the games he is thought to have favored, such as primero, biribi, and basset, are no longer popular in modern casinos.

Fyodor Dostoevsky

This Russian literary titan wrote, among such greats as Crime and Punishment, a novel called The Gambler, which is appropriate seeing as he was said to be a lover of casinos. He is also rumored to have paid off gambling debts with some of the proceeds of The Gambler.


Claud Monet

This legendary French Impressionist painter was an avid casino player. In 1851 he attended an art school in France but, given his parlous financial situation, could not afford the expensive equipment and supplies. Knowing he needed a quick burst of cash he headed for a nearby casino where he managed to secure the funds required. This passion clearly continued, as forty years later he won about $13,450 in the French lottery in 1891. Upon winning this sum he was able to quit his day job and become a full time painter. The rest is (art) history.

In Good Company

So there you are – next time you’re at home spinning away at the latest slot or trying your hand at a live baccarat game, remember that you’re in good company!

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