3 Unique Forms of Gambling

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Mahjong Pitching Pennies Handgame

Gambling has a rich history that dates back before written history.

Six-sided dice have been around since ancient Mesopotamia and betting on animals is also one of the earliest forms of gambling.

Many forms of gambling that still remain today had their inception in Rome and China.

Today, many of us are exposed to games like blackjack and poker. I mean even if you know nothing about gambling at all, surely you have played some Texas Hold ‘Em with some friends while enjoying some drinks.

There is a huge social aspect of gambling. It is a form of entertainment that humans have bonded over for centuries.

Besides the common games associated with gambling, there are many unique forms of gambling that exist across the globe. Humans are very creative when it comes to coming up with something to gamble on.

Here are 3 unique forms of gambling:

1- Pitching Pennies

Pitching pennies, also known as ‘jingle’ and ‘pitch and toss’, is a game where two or more players throw a penny (or some other coin) towards a wall. The object of this game is to see who can get the coin closest to the wall.

The playing of this game can be traced all the way back to ancient Greece.

The Greeks used bronze coins. There is also historic evidence of this game being a part of the very first Olympics and some even say that this is where the gold medal idea came from, although this is not a proven fact. In 19th-century Britain, this game was being played everywhere and was considered an illegal form of gambling.

Let’s go further into the actual gameplay:

  • Players each take a coin of the same denomination and take turns throwing their coin towards a wall. They stand back from the wall a minimum of 5 feet and the winner is the player that got their coin closest to the wall.
  • By chance, if a coin lands on another coin, the coin on top wins the match. The winner is decided by playing several matches and seeing who won the most matches at the end of the game.
  • Big bets can be made on this game, however, originally the winner would just collect all of the losing players’ coins at the end of the game.

There is a version of this game that ends in what is known as “tip.”

This is where at the end of the game, the winner gathers all of the other players’ coins, tosses them in the air, and then chooses heads or tails. Whatever the winner states, they get to collect every coin that lands on the choice they made. At that point, the player in second place repeats the process with the remaining coins. This continues until there are no coins left.

Of course, rules can vary from game to game, and these rules are set by the players before the game commences.

2- Mahjong

Certainly, all gambling games originated from some specific culture.

The inception of Mahjong occurred during the Qing dynasty in China. The tile-based game is usually played with 4 players although there are variations with 3 participants.

Although there is a good amount of chance involved in Mahjong, there is a lot of strategy and calculated moves that happen. Mahjong has spread throughout Asia and is also popular in western countries now as well. There are 144 tiles that are used for Mahjong and they each have a symbol or character on them.

Usually, 13 tiles are given to each player at the beginning of the game, and the players discard and draw these in an effort to have the best hand.

A legal hand is when the 14th tile makes 4 sets and an eye. There are also numerous special hands a player can win with. Rules vary depending on where the game is played. Although the original game is usually played with 144 tiles, cards can be used in place of these tiles.

Counters keep the score of the game and dice is usually used to show how the tiles or cards are to be dealt. A marker signifies who the dealer is and also keeps track of rounds.

The tiles are separated into 3 categories: Simples, Honors, and Bonuses:

  • Simples – Simple tiles are broken into the 3 suites. Tiles in each suit are numbered 1 to 9. Characters, dots, and bamboos are the names of the 3 simple suites and for every simple tile, there are 4 identical copies. That makes a total of 108 tiles in the simple category. Winds and Dragons make up the 2 types of honors tiles. East, South, West, and North make up the Winds while red, green, and white, make up the Dragons.
  • Honors – The honors tiles are not numbered although they do have 4 identical copies just like the simples do. This makes a total of 28 tiles.
  • Bonuses – Flowers and Seasons are the two types of bonus tiles. There are no identicals of the bonus tiles. They do not affect the current hands of the players, but should a player win that got a bonus tile, the bonus tile is replaced by an extra tile being drawn. Gameplay varies depending on the region. A one-player version of Mahjong, known as Mahjong Solitaire, is most often played on computers and other devices.

3- Handgame

Handgame is a guessing game played by Native Americans that is also referred to as stickgame.

This is another game that has existed since before written history.

In the beginning, this game was used as a way to win a female companion and the use of land. It was also used to win horses and cattle.

Today, stickgame is played at social gatherings and powwows amongst different tribes. There are now organized tournaments for this game where teams can win up to $30,000.

The regulation of this game is left up to each individual tribe. Stickgame involves two teams. 1 team is the hiding team and the other team is the guessing team. Two bones are used to play, one plain bone and one striped bone.

10 sticks, which are used as counters, are divided evenly among the 2 teams. The hiding team and the guessing team sit across from each other. 2 players on the hiding team hide a pair of bones and the hiding team attempts to distract the guessing team. This is done by singing and the playing of traditional Native American instruments. The guesses are made by the captain of the guessing team or by an appointed member of the guessing team.

The pattern of the hidden bones is what the guess is made on.

There are 4 possibilities:

  • Both outside
  • Both inside
  • Both to the right
  • Both to the left

For every guess missed by the guessing team, one stick must be turned over to the hiding team. If a correct guess is made then that bone must be given to the guessing team. This process is repeated until one team holds all of the sticks. Slahal is another gambling game that is also known as stickgame. This game is played by the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Shin bones from a deer are usually what is used to play this game.

Stickgames and their rules vary between tribes.

Conclusion

Humans love real money gambling on things and what started out as a way to win things needed in order to survive, has become a form of entertainment.

Certain games are specific to certain parts of the world. It is always interesting to see ancient games that have influenced modern games.

Did you enjoy reading about these 3 unique forms of gambling? If so, let me know in the comments.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...

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