Scientists might only just have proven a link between sex and a propensity to take risks but historical figures down the ages have been putting the two together for a long time.

Love and marriage might well, if you don’t examine the symbolism too closely, go together like a horse and carriage but sex and gambling are far older friends. Although gambling has its roots in religion and that whole inability to see the future thing our species seems to have been saddled with, the spiritual side was soon left asunder and it is perhaps at that point that a correlation between gambling and sex began.

Now it would be quite easy at this point to rattle off a few humorous remarks about how sex is a gamble, marriage an even larger one and religion possibly being the biggest gamble possible for anyone, however, sex and gambling is no matter for levity. It has been part of popular culture for as long as culture has been popular and popular amongst both cultured and those lacking in it for just as long.

The History Of Sex And Gambling

• Modern scientists into sex study gambling too

• Historical figures didn’t study as much as partake

• Famous womanizer was big gambler

Throughout history gambling has been pleasure enjoyed by nearly every social strata of every society yet created. For example Rene Descartes’ numerous relationships with notable ladies of the time do seem to coincide with his attempts to be a professional gambler, and one can only hope he had more success in bed than at the tables where, frankly, he was a complete failure, the application of mathematics (a passion of his) to games of chance not providing the edge he’d hoped for.

But it is by no means merely the inference of these two enjoyable pastimes being linked that historical record throws up. In some cases it was entirely and manifestly evident that the two went hand in hand. Charles II was a big gamer, his court perhaps notable for having made card games more fashionable, and known as The Merry Monarch not only for his love of gambling, but also because his reign was a stark contrast the previous one.

The Puritans and Cromwell had been a miserable bunch at best and with their decade of gloom thrown away people were apt to enjoy life a bit and let the king do so too. To say the court of Charles II was a bit of a constant party would be like saying mobile strip blackjack in China would be a bit profitable. Late night gaming sessions, wild parties and, frankly, quite a lot of sex with Charles himself admitting to fathering 12 illegitimate children by various mistresses.

It Is Good To Be King

Of course if there’s one man who managed to combine sex and gambling in such a manner that he’d be forever associated with both, and almost synonymous with one of them, Casanova de Seingalt. His exploits in the bedrooms of various ladies have become legend, and his rapid exits from them just as well known, but this was by no means his only way of seeking thrills and pleasure. Perhaps if only for the rest between women he gaming avidly.

He had a fondness for lotteries, such as biribi, the card games faro, basset and piquet, plus of course primero (a sort of forerunner to poker) so popular amongst the clergy of the time, and quinze from which the blackjack cards game we all know and love would emerge sometime later. This meant at an early age it had been his intention to be a professional gambler, but found that the enjoyment he gained from gaming didn’t equate to winning.

Had he made casino gambling news by stunning success, rather than losing all his money and having to become a violinist instead, who is to say how his life might have turned out differently. However as he himself admitted he didn’t have the sense required to “leave off when fortune was adverse, nor sufficient control over myself when I had won” which is quite important if one wishes to make a living at gambling.

The stories of his time as a musician wouldn’t be out of place in the biography of any modern rock star, and in true Hollywood style he extracted himself from this “ignoble” profession by saving the life of a nobleman who then took him under his wing. With a rich patron his exploits became even wilder and his excesses even more bizarre.

Corpses, Copulation and Card Games

Just three years of living under this senator’s protection he had to flee Venice having been falsely accused of rape by a young lady who sought to counter his accusations against her, and quite rightly accused of digging up a dead body to scare someone in an act of revenge that left the victim in a state of shocked paralysis from which they never recovered. This, he claimed, was merely a practical joke gone awry.

If Casanova was the poster boy for gambling and sex of the 18th century his behavior was hardly without precedent, and certainly there have been many that have attempted to copy him since with varying degrees of success, but very few have managed his levels of success in mixing the two to such a grand degree. The joke with the corpse (one of many) merely an indication of the degree to which risk-taking was part and parcel of who Casanova was.

We might now equate him with womanizing, with very good reason, but that overshadows the fact that Casanova was the embodiment of the mindset and attitude to risk-taking that allowed an almost perfect combination of sex and gambling… and practical jokes. Monet might have started painting because he won the lottery, Dostoevsky might have hurried to finish books to pay off his gambling debts, but no one had Casanova’s style.

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