Famous Authors Who Were Passionate Gamblers

How Gambling Influenced the Work of Famous Authors


One of the first tips young authors are given is to write about what they know. This is sensible advice, and probably one of the reasons why gambling, considered by many to be a vice, is featured in the work of so many authors – because they were also passionate gamblers.

Here is a list of authors who were passionate gamblers:

Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway was an avid gambler all his life. If he lived in our modern times, he would certainly have played at Betway – in his time, in turn, he developed a passion for betting on horse races and poker. He participated in secret, illegal card games as a kid, and continued playing throughout his life.

Gambling, more precisely a night at the Colonial Club in Charlevoix, Michigan, seems to have been an important moment in Hemingway’s life. After being kicked out of the house by his mother, he joined some friends on a night out gambling at the club, with the last $6 in his pockets. Playing roulette, he turned it into $59, which prevented him from having to work at a local cement plant throughout the summer, allowing him to pursue his passion for writing.

Hunter S. Thompson

The father of Gonzo journalism, Hunter S. Thompson, created a never-before-seen, visceral form of storytelling that put the author in the middle of the action. And he was an avid gambler, a theme that often shows up in his writing.

Thompson considered gambling a symbol of the excess and risk-taking that characterized the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s. He certainly explored the “excess” part to the brim: he was known as a reckless gambler who lost large amounts of betting on sports and politics.

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Dostoevsky is best known for the depths in which he explored the psyche of his characters. His works were groundbreaking in their use of first-person narration, stream of consciousness, and the exploration of existential and philosophical themes. And he was also a passionate gambler.

Dostoevsky gambled for the first time at the Wiesbaden Kurhaus in 1863. Gambling became his passion for almost a decade – he played frequently at several resorts, often winning small amounts but mostly losing a lot. His novel “The Gambler” was inspired by his time in Wiesbaden – but some say it was written in a matter of weeks to pay off his gambling debts.

Miguel de Cervantes

Cervantes is widely seen as one of the most important Spanish-language writers in history. His novel “Don Quixote”, a satirical masterpiece that pokes fun at the romantic ideals of chivalry and the rigid social structures of Cervantes’ time, was translated into over 140 languages and has been a major influence on the development of literature. And he might have also been a gambler.

Gambling is often featured in Cervantes’ works. In his short story “Rinconete y Cortadillo”, he provides the first written account of veintiuna, the game believed to be a precursor of blackjack, played in Seville. In “La Gitanilla”, he describes a character called Preciosa who is a skilled card cheat.

Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski’s work often depicted the gritty, mundane realities of everyday life, focusing on themes such as poverty, alcoholism, and the search for meaning in a world that can often seem meaningless. His writing was marked by the raw honesty and a willingness to confront uncomfortable truths about the world and human nature. And he was also a passionate gambler.

Bukowski wrote about his experiences at the racetrack in several of his books, including his novel “Hollywood,” which features a character based on himself who is obsessed with betting on horse races. Bukowski’s love of gambling was often tied to his love of drinking and the pursuit of pleasure, and he saw it as a way to escape the mundanity of everyday life. While his gambling habits were not always financially successful, they were a significant part of his personal life and his writing, and are often portrayed in his works as a means of finding a temporary escape from the harsh realities of the world.

To  conclude

Gambling has played a significant role in the lives of many famous authors and has even found its way into their literary works. Hemingway, Thompson, Dostoevsky, Cervantes, and Bukowski are just a few examples of authors who were passionate gamblers. From Hemingway’s childhood card games to Bukowski’s obsession with horse racing, these authors’ experiences with gambling offer a unique insight into their personal lives and the themes that they explored in their writing. Their stories remind us that writing what we know can be a powerful tool for exploring the human experience and sharing it with others.


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