Because I’ll be teaching Regency card games at the Beau Monde soiree next week (ack! NEXT WEEK?), I’ve been refreshing my memory of the rules of cassino, speculation, and the like.

Which leads me to the question of the day, which is:

Were Regency gamesters sophisticated?

It is your job to examine the evidence!

FACT ONE: Piquet players kept score (and piquet scores go quite high, and are constantly changing) without writing anything down, or pegging anything, until the end of the hand. This is HARD. Even Trusty Todd, who can do Tensor Calculus in his head, can’t do this.

Okay, yes, in the “old” days, people were a lot more accustomed to doing arithmetic in their heads. But still. This is HARD.

FACT TWO: Read the game rules in a Regency Hoyle’s, and you’ll constantly trip over passages like the following:

Any person playing with less than four cards must abide by the loss, and should a card be found under the table, the player whose number is deficient, is to take the same.

I guess rules like “don’t drop your cards under the table” are a little too hard for these folks.

So, here we have two warring pictures:

That of the very clever, James-Bond-like gamester…

And that of the Three Stooges, constantly dropping cards on the floor.

So: which is it? Let the voting begin!

Cara King, author of MY LADY GAMESTER, who neither counts piquet in her head nor drops cards on the floor…