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Pushkin, Dostoevsky and others: Which of the greats was a gambling gambler and what troubles it turned into
Pushkin, Dostoevsky and others: Which of the greats was a gambling gambler and what troubles it turned into

It is known that in our country the fashion for gambling, as well as for many other entertainments, was introduced by the reformer Tsar Peter I. Before him, cards, bones and other manifestations of human passion were, if not banned, then considered an occupation shameful and unworthy of the noble of people. The 18th and 19th centuries were the heyday of card games. They were fond of both commoners and nobility. Many creative people have been exposed to this weakness. Some played the game for a profit for themselves, but some turned out to be real slaves of "red-black passion".

Rene Descartes

Portrait of Descartes by Frans Hals, 1648

The great scientist and philosopher can be called one of the first theorists of gambling. The fact is that his scientific research was just about those issues that form the basis of the cards - he studied mathematics, psychology and physiology, and specifically - human reflexes. With such an advantage, Descartes, as you know, once even beat another famous mathematician, Blaise Pascal. And he is even considered one of the creators of roulette. Unsurprisingly, such a scientific attitude towards cards brought him substantial income as a result. The scientist was a regular customer of gambling establishments and almost always won. His favorite game was baccarat.

In the brilliant 18th and 19th centuries, it would be even strange for a person from a respectable society not to play cards. This period of time gave us a whole galaxy of famous gamblers, who, distracted from the game, sometimes also “dabbled in the pen”. Therefore, a noble passion is widely reflected in many literary works.

Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin

O. Kiprensky. Portrait of Pushkin, 1827

The author of The Queen of Spades loved to play bridge. His ardent creative nature, of course, forced the writer to take risks and, accordingly, our classic was often at a loss. So, for example, it is known that once, as a bet, a poet who had lost to smithereens even used part of the manuscript of Eugene Onegin. Fortunately, fortune then turned to face him and the future masterpiece did not go into unknown hands. In the surviving police list of famous gamblers from 1829, Alexander Sergeevich is listed at number 36 and the postscript "a banker known throughout Moscow". Since Pushkin was not fond of applied mathematics, in the list of debts remaining after his death, a hefty part was made up of cards.

Fedor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky

V. Perov. Portrait of the writer F.M. Dostoevsky, 1872

This great Russian writer was also not very lucky at gambling. Passionate about poker and roulette, he once lost so much in Wiesbaden that in order to pay off the debt he was forced to enter into a fixed-term contract with a publisher. This is how the novel The Gambler appeared in the treasury of world literature. The writer then really was in a very unpleasant situation, because he also lost the savings of his beloved Polina Suslova. Therefore, the story of a person for whom play becomes the meaning of life can be considered autobiographical in many ways.

By the way, many Russian writers were gambling people. It is known, for example, that Gabriel Derzhavin was very lucky in cards and even managed to increase his wealth, once having invested a large win in a profitable business.But Ivan Andreevich Krylov, on the contrary, in this way lost his salary paid in a lump sum for several years. Lev Tolstoy, Nikolai Nekrasov, Sergei Yesenin and Nikolai Gumilev - the list of Russian gamblers and roulette lovers goes on and on. Probably, a genius really has to be reckless in order to create.

Leonid Gaidai

Leonid Iovich Gaidai, photo in his youth

According to the numerous recollections of people who knew the great director closely, he was a very reckless person. He played cards all the time - at home with his mother-in-law, on trains and at guests and in hotels - with colleagues and occasional travel companions. On one occasion, he even got into big trouble after losing big at a casino on an overseas trip. In the 80s, he often lost every penny in the slot machine halls that appeared then. In the film "Good Weather on Deribasovskaya", the great director even managed to laugh at this passion of his, playing the episodic role of an old man obsessed with the game, whom the guards forcibly carry away from the gambling table.

Read on to learn more about the amazing story behind Russian Style cards and how who from the imperial family was hiding behind drawings on a popular deck of playing cards.

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