Many literary types have a fondness for gambling. When authors, journalists and even obscure bloggers aren’t penning pithy maxims – chances are they’re having a flutter.
Think I’m exaggerating? Check out some of the most quotable observations ever made about gambling, luck, and life.
Cormac McCarthy, author of No Country for Old Men and Blood Meridian
McCarthy takes an optimistic view when it comes to bad luck – which might come as a surprise to anyone who has read the great American author’s novels.
“You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.”
Ian Fleming, author of Casino Royale and Dr No
Fleming knew plenty about casino gambling – as well as returning to the subject repeatedly in his James Bond novels, the writer himself was a habitual visitor to the gambling saloon.
“At gambling, the deadly sin is to mistake bad play for bad luck.”
Jeanette Winterson, author of Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
Winterson might strike you as an unusual choice as an advocate for gambling – but she takes the view that in some way or another, all of us are drawn to games of chance, in life itself if not in the casino lounge.
“Gambling is not a vice; it is an expression of our humanness. We gamble. Some do it at the gambling table, some do not. You play, you win, you play, you lose. You play.”
Joan Didion, author of The Year of Magical Thinking
The late writer believes that it’s not simply the allure of winning money that draws the majority of players to the gaming tables.
“The action is everything, more consuming than sex, more immediate than politics; more important always than the acquisition of money, which is never, for the gambler, the true point of the exercise.”
Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather
And here’s famed author Puzo ranking gambling as far less insidious than many of the other matters than often concern mankind.
“Gambling is not as destructive as war or as boring as pornography. It is not as immoral as business. And the percentages are better than religion.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, author of Crime and Punishment
Dostoyevsky knew of what he wrote – he even once completed a novella about gambling called, somewhat unimaginatively, The Gambler.
“For why is gambling a whit worse than any other method of acquiring money? How, for instance, is it worse than trade? True, out of a hundred persons, only one can win; yet what business is that of yours or of mine?”
Hunter S Thompson, author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Thompson was a so-called Gonzo journalist, famed for his appetites for narcotics and alcohol. Having spent plenty of time in Vegas, he also knew the gambling business intimately.
“Victory is a fleeting thing in the gambling business. Today’s winners are tomorrow’s blinking toads, dumb beasts with no hope.”
Mark Twain, author of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The celebrated American writer understood the appeal of gambling, and summed it up thus:
“A dollar picked up in the road is more satisfaction to us than the 99 which we had to work for, and the money won at Faro or in the stock market snuggles into our hearts in the same way”
Leo Tolstoy, author of War and Peace
We’ll leave you with Leo Tolstoy. He might be responsible for the greatest novel ever written, but his verdict on the morality of gamblers could still leave you scratching your head…
“A gentleman is a man who will pay his gambling debts even when he knows he has been cheated.”