I'm running a campaign right now with the BRP system and was looking to implement a gambling town of sorts, an area filled with opportunities to make money or more often lose it. re thinking my question when the game came into existence or what it's called doesn't really matter as that can be re appropriated to fit the theme. Id like to stray away from simple skill checks or simple dice rolls. What im looking for are dice or card games that aren't hard to learn, can be bet upon and can resolve themselves in 2-5 minutes.
If you have access to the 1e AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide, pages 215 and 216 have some simple games your players can play. If you don't, my two favorite games that are easy to learn are Acey Deucey and Horse, which I used to play in the Navy.
Acey Deucey. (Uses a 52 card deck, no jokers)
Ante Up. (All players).
Turn up two cards.
Make a bet. (post a stake)Your stake/bet can be any amount less than or equal to the pot.
If the next card is in between (no ties!) the first two, you retrieve your bet amount from the pot.
If it isn't, your stake goes into the pot.
Pass the cards to the next player. (He begins at step 2)
When pot goes to zero, that hand/game is over. (I've seen pots exceed a few grand, but that's another story).
Horse (Dice game, variation)
* 5d6 are used, 1 (ace) highest, two lowest.
Lowest to highest hands are:
* two pair
* three of a kind
* straight (1-5 or 2-6)
* full house (triplet and pair)
* four of a kind
* five of a kind.
Use 5d6 and a cup shaped like a cylinder for shaking before rolling.
Determine first roller. (All roll d20, see who goes first).
Roll. Pick up the dice that don't match and roll again to improve your hand. End result of your second roll is your hand. Pass the dice to the left.
- Next player tries to beat it. If he doesn't, he adds to the pot and is out.
- If someone beats you, his is now the hand to beat. As each player tries to beat the high hand, attrition happens.
- Eventually, there is one player standing, and that player gets the pot. Rinse and repeat. (This is a variation on a drinking game that I won't describe).
Last but not least:
Blackjack/Twenty One is real easy to fold into DnD.
Below are some gambling games that I've tried in my games [source]. I like these because they are not too overly complicated, but they introduce actual gambling into the game that makes things fun if you're looking to add some color to a town setting.
When referring to dice, I generally use six-siders so as not to have to screw with the odds, but feel free to mix things up if you want to bring out the d4s and d12s.
Beat the Moneylender
The operator/hustler throws two dice and sets the point. The player must throw the dice and beat the score to win the stakes. The operator wins ties. Multiple players can shoot against a single operator.
The first player, the shooter, places the bet he wants to make in the middle of the play area. Anyone who wishes to bet against the shooter places their stakes down as well. This is known as fading and those who cover the shooter's stake are known as faders. The total amount staked by faders can't exceed the shooter's bet.
The shooter throws the dice; this is known as the come out throw. The shooter usually must shake the dice and throw them so they rebound against a backboard to keep things fair.
If he throws a 7 or 11, he wins and picks up the faders' bets.
If he throws a 2, 3, or 12, he loses. This is known as craps.
Any other throw establishes the point, and the shooter continues to throw until he either throws his point again or throws a 7. If the throws the point, he wins. If he throws a 7, he loses. This is known as seven out.
Wins are referred to as a pass, losing throws are said to miss.
To begin, identical stakes, the ante, are placed in front of each player.
Each player rolls five dice, using a dice cup for concealment. The first player begins bidding, picking a face number on the die (between 1 and 6) and quantity. The quantity is the claim of how many of the chosen face have been rolled in total on the table. Play proceeds clockwise.
Players make two choices during their turn: make a higher bid, or challenge the previous bid. Raising the bid means increasing the quantity of the bid, either on the same face value or a new face value. In this variant, any player can jump in to challenge a bid at any time.
When a bid is challenged, all dice are revealed. If the bid is valid, the bidder wins. Otherwise, the challenger wins.
Games involving dice were incredibly common in medieval settings. Dice in those times were created using animal bones with smoothed out surfaces. The history of dice games however go even farther back, into the B.C. years.
So you could reasonably create any kind of dice game and put it on as a gambling mechanic in a Medieval "Casino". You could also include pretty much any game involving the use of playing cards as well. This set of french playing cards was dated at 1500 A.D. so it falls around the same general time period as the period directly after the crusades occurred.