Chuck A Luck is a gambling game that employs three dice and a wire cage or cone-shaped chute. The dice used are standard six-sided cubes numbered from 1 to 6 at each side. The chute, which can be made of either leather or metal, is usually called a ‘horn’.
The use of metal chutes in the game of Chuck A Luck is associated with the so-called tinhorn gamblers, who were actually gamblers with little money, thus the choice of metal over the higher-priced leather. An early version of the game was played by the dice being thrown or “chucked” – hence the name. A heavy welded metal birdcage device eventually became the standard use where only the dealers are allowed to turn the cage.
The Chuck A Luck cage has been loosely interchanged by many with any birdcage tumbler. This is only true on the basis of the game’s definition as long as there are three dice in the cage. Cages are also used for other games such as High/Low (Under and Over) but with a different number of dice.
Origins of Gambling and Gaming in the US
Long before casinos came to be, card, dice and gaming table possession were outlawed in some places. As time passed, laws were relaxed to allow casual gaming or games for purely recreational purposes and not for trade. However, general hostility toward professional gamblers took a long time to go away and sometimes resulted in lynching.
There were places, however, that accepted gambling as a harmless form of recreational activity. Legal gambling took the form of card, dice and animal racing games that were perceived to be proper gentlemen’s diversion. The wide appeal of gambling is attributed to its association with the frontier spirit, which relies on high expectations, risk-taking and opportunism.
Lotteries were widespread and used mainly to raise revenues. Some of the earliest and most prestigious universities such as Harvard and Yale were established using proceeds coming from lotteries. Dice and card games in taverns and roadhouses slowly initiated casino gaming. Casinos were established as the population increased.
During the highest point of California gambling, Faro was the most popular game played in saloons; followed by several dice games such as high/low, chuck a luck and grand hazard. The spread of settlers beyond California expedited the spread of gambling as well. Since then, laws have been enacted across the country in a bid to bestow respectability and recognition of legal gambling.
Origins of Chuck A Luck
Chuck A Luck is an old game that originated in English pubs. It was then known as “Sweat Cloth” and was introduced in the US sometime around 1800 as “Sweat”. It also became known by several other names such as “Chucker Luck”, “Chuck-Luck” and “Chuck” during the mid-to-late 1800’s. It was only after 1900 that it was called “Birdcage” and eventually “Chuck A Luck”.
“Sweat” was played using a cup and three dice, which were thrown. Due to allegations of cheating by operators in the use of weighted or trick-shaped dice and the practice of trick dice throwing, the cup was replaced by a birdcage-like device which was flipped several times by the dealer and displayed the results when the cage stopped and the dice dropped.
Chuck A Luck took a more advanced form through “Grand Hazard”, another type of dice game. The main difference lies in the layout. At present, the game can be found only in a handful of casinos worldwide, overshadowed by more recent versions of the simple dice game. Casino dice games have indeed come a long way, considering that tossing up dice holds traces of the ancient cult, being associated with the rituals of fortune telling.
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