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Q: The Games That Pirates Played ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   5 Comments )
Subject: The Games That Pirates Played
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: olliecwl-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 22 Feb 2005 09:04 PST
Expires: 24 Mar 2005 09:04 PST
Question ID: 478770
What games did pirates play? Please limit research to piracy from
~1500 - 1850. The answer should include names, descriptions and, if
available, links to game rules.

Request for Question Clarification by thx1138-ga on 23 Feb 2005 16:31 PST
Hello again olliecwl,

I can only suggest that pirates played popular 18th century games, like the: 
"18th century card game Marias and the 19th century card game Talonmarias."

Being a `pirate fan` I spent a long time researching your question,
and it really was interesting! But I don`t think that we can arrive at
any conclusive answer.  I suspect that pirates passed the time making
scrimshaw objects, singing maritime songs etc....... Also, I don`t
think there would be many `rules` in any games they did play! see:
from `Pirates of the Caribbean` (Which I have on DVD :)

"Jack: "Who makes all these?"

Will: "I do! And I practice with them ? three hours a day!"

Jack: "You need to find yourself a girl, mate!"
(They continue fighting once more, until they block each others swords)

Jack: "Or, perhaps the reason you practice three hours a day is that
you already found one, and are otherwise uncapable of wooing said
strumpet. You're not a eunuch, are you?" (looks down)

Will: "I practice three hours a day, so when I meet a pirate, I can kill it!" 

Will: "You cheated."

Jack: "...Pirate!"

Best regards


Clarification of Question by olliecwl-ga on 24 Feb 2005 11:26 PST
hi thx1138,

thank you for putting so much effort into my answer! perhaps if i
clarified *why* i want an answer we can find a way to reach a happy

i'm hosting a pirate-themed "game night" in two weeks. i have a few
games about pirates but would like to include a couple of games they
themselves likely played. perhaps if i broadened the question to
"games played by the lower classes in the 17th-19th centuries" that
would help? your link to the game Ulti was definitely in the right
direction, but was it a game of the upper classes? something tells me
there isn't much overlap between upper class and lower class games. i
could certainly be wrong.

so let me adjust the question to "games played by the lower classes in
the 17th - 19th centuries, specifically in the atlantic/mediterranean
part of the world."

if you can give me more hits along the lines of Ulti then i will
gladly consider the question answered.

Subject: Re: The Games That Pirates Played
Answered By: thx1138-ga on 24 Feb 2005 13:28 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello olliecwl and thank you for your question.

This was an extremely tricky question, but interesting to research.

"Lanterloo, a popular eighteenth-century game,"

"Loo was a trivial and once disreputable trick-taking game for five or
more players. It was equally popular as a gambling game, when it could
get quite vicious, or as a mild domestic pastime, such as it appears
in the novels of Jane Austen. Its twofold personality extends equally
to its form, there being two closely related games of the same name,
one being played with three cards and the other with five. Both
reached England from France probably with the restoration of the
monarchy in 1660"

For other card games see:
"Historic card games"


"One-and-Thirty, and Bone-Ace"
"Sources: Francis Willughby's Volume of Plaies, c1665. Early
attestations of One-and-Thirty to 1550's; first attestation of
Bone-Ace is Florio, 1611 (Singman). Also, Cotton's Compleat Gamester,
London, 1674"

"This old game can be thought of as an early predecessor to Blackjack;
the games are quite similar in flavor. The objective is to get a
combination of cards as close to 31 as possible without going over. It
is quite easy and quick to teach, largely a gambling game with just a
bit of skill involved. For a very slightly more complex variant, see
Bone-Ace, below."


Also See:
"Imran's History of Games"


"Dicing games such as Hazard were 18th century tavern favorites in the
North American colonies and the forerunner of today?s most popular
casino dice games."


The first player, known as the caster, starts the game by placing his
stake in the centre of the playing area.  The other players who wish
to bet place their stakes in the centre and the caster accepts the
bets by knocking.

Once the bets have been made the caster throws the dice to establish a
main point.  This must be a total of 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 and, if he fails
to roll one of these totals, he continues throwing until he does.

Once the main point is established the caster throws the dice again to
establish a chance point which must be a total of 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or
10.  If on the chance point throw they roll an out they lose.  An out
is a total of 2 or 3, known as a crab, or a total of 12 with a main
point number of 5, 6, 8, or 9.  The caster wins, if when throwing for
the chance point, he rolls a nick.  A nick is a total of 11 when the
main point is 7, a total of 12 with a main point of 6 or 8, or a throw
of the main point itself."


An excellent book for you would be:

"A Brief Discourse on 18th-Century Games"

By M. Richard Tully
Historical notes plus simple, easy to understand rules for one dozen
popular 18th-century games including; Dominoes, Draughts (checkers),
Fox & Geese, Going to Boston, Hazard, Laugh & Lay Down, the Mill,
Snip, Snap, Snorem, Whist and more! Includes complete play
instructions and suggestions for making your own game pieces and
boards. Great family fun! (note from the Mommy--doesn't include
instructions on "those games"--hee-hee)
Order No. T2....$3.50+SH


Thank you for your question, and if you need any clarification of my
answer, do not hesitate to ask prior to rating my answer.

Very best regards and have a great party night!


Search strategy included:
"eighteenth OR 18th century" games
olliecwl-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $3.00
"It was equally popular as a gambling game, when it could
get quite vicious..." sweet!

thanks thx1138! that's exactly what i'm looking for.

Subject: Re: The Games That Pirates Played
From: thx1138-ga on 22 Feb 2005 13:01 PST
Hello olliecwl.

This was a fun question, but I'm afraid I was unable to come up with
anything particularly useful.  Although it does look like pirates were
not allowed to gamble onboard ship (on land seems to have been a
different matter!)

"Bartholomew Roberts' (Pirate) Shipboard Articles 1721"
"III. No person to game at cards or dice for money"

"Within three weeks of their return to Tortuga, he Pirates had spent
their money on things of little value, or at play of Cards or Dice."

"Punishment seems to have taken the form of fines or loss of shares
and was inflicted for theft, desertion, cowardice, disobedience of
orders, drunkenness, and profanity; and particularly "whoever of the
Company shall breed a Mutiny or Disturbance, or strike his Fellow, or
shall Game with Cards or Dice for Money, or any Thing of Value,"

Best regards

Subject: Re: The Games That Pirates Played
From: lrulrick-ga on 22 Feb 2005 17:43 PST
Hide the captain's hook???
Subject: Re: The Games That Pirates Played
From: markj-ga on 22 Feb 2005 18:10 PST
olliecwl --

Here's a desctiption of how pirates in Late Imperial China passed the time:

Late Imperial China encompassed the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties,
spanning the years 1279-1911.  Let me know if this is what you are
looking for.

Subject: Re: The Games That Pirates Played
From: olliecwl-ga on 23 Feb 2005 14:37 PST
thx1138 - you've scrounged up some great documents. thank you! but i'm
afraid you may have limited yourself a bit. i don't care if the games
were played onboard or on land, so long as pirates were known to have
played them. clearly dice & cards were common; what did specifically
did they play with them?

markj - yes! this is the kind of thing i'm looking for. if you could
redirect your efforts towards their atlantic ocean counterparts,
though, that'd be great.
Subject: Re: The Games That Pirates Played
From: thx1138-ga on 25 Feb 2005 02:31 PST
Hello again olliecwl,

Just a note to say thank you for the five stars and nice tip!

Glad I was able to help.

All the very best


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