Have you heard the one about…

Casinos are naturally places of great drama and excitement – tensions are just as high as the stakes. Anything could happen, and quite often it does.

In this article we round up a few of our favourite odd things that we’ve learnt about in casinos.

Poker players are eccentric

Poker used to be a very serious game – a game in which your only weapon was your poker face. However take a look at the people playing poker today – they revel in their eccentricity. Many people will point to the rise of televised poker tournaments, that many of the eccentric players are just putting it on for the cameras. Whether that’s true or not, next time you’re watching poker check out the huge hats, the ridiculous wearing of sunglasses indoors, the lucky charms, the almost-religious rituals, and the bizarre stage names. Maybe it’s all intimidation tactics? Or maybe they’re all just a bit crazy.

Winning takes persistence

One of my favourite gambling stories is that of Charlie Wells – the professional gambler who reportedly “broke the bank” in Monte Carlo in 1892. His big win of USD$1 million came after sitting at the roulette table in Monte Carlo for 11 hours straight. I’m assuming that he occasionally allowed himself a toilet break.

Try your luck at Gerbil Roulette

I’m not really sure if this is a real thing or just something made up to amuse the tourists in Las Vegas, but apparently there is a casino on the Las Vegas strip where you can play Gerbil Roulette. The rules seem to be a little bit hazy, but instead of relying on the spinning wheel determining which number the little white ball will fall on, there is a gerbil who decides which is the winning number. Cute, but probably not legal.

Australian bushrangers

You don’t often hear about casino stories from Australia, but there is a surprisingly vibrant gambling culture in the land down under. One of the country’s biggest casinos is the Crown casino in Melbourne. One of the biggest frauds ever experienced by the casino saw them lose around USD$33 million when a player had surveillance footage relayed to him by an accomplice speaking into an earphone.

Sometimes criminals aren’t cool

I am a huge fan of the Ocean’s 11 casino heist movies starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon. They make everything look so smooth and easy – suddenly casino crime was incredibly glamorous. However you have to laugh when things don’t quite go to plan. Back in the 1970s, two students devised gadgets that would help them win at roulette. The gadget (which emitted electronic shocks that would disrupt the roll of the roulette ball) was worn on the shoe – they were quite successful initially, pocketing quite a bit of cash. Unfortunately they were caught out when the gadget caught fire and burnt their shoe.

Casinos are a lot more than just about table games and slot machines, they’re a lot more than just about winning or losing. Casinos are a unique window into the world in which we live and the incredible people that walk amongst us.

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