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Gambling in Aberdeen


Crown & Anchor - The Seaman's Mission

Crown and Anchor is a simple dice game, traditionally played for gambling purposes by sailors in the Royal Navy and also in the British merchant and fishing fleets.  The game originated in the 18th century. It is still popular

Distant Uncle Bert Sinclair was a Crown and Anchor specialist an illegal gambling school which congregated at Murcar dunes near the Brig o' Don.  my old man was his Bouncer, Lookout or Personal Guard.  During one Police raid Dad wisely picked up the Gambling Stakes while all else were making their escape along the beach and between the dunes.  The Crown and Anchor set a leather Cup, Poker Dice, and cloth board was kept it the 'hoose' in 32 Castle Terrace above the Robertson's 'Chipper' in the Attic Rooms of a four storey tenement.  Bert went on to become a respectable and wealthy Turf Accountant and a handsome house on Anderson Drive.

I can recall as a wee laddie fae Garthdee exploring what I considered the wilderness across on the south side of the Dee, known colloquially as 'the blue hillie' or properly as Banchory Devenick, where we imagined a wild frontier and us wee heroes as commandos stalking the enemy.  Of a Sunday morning whilst crawling thro the undergrowth as silent as a pee in your pants like all accomplished commandos we chanced upon a group of men, in a small abandoned quarry area, playing some sort of giant board game, except it wasn't snakes and ladders!. Wads of notes changed hands regularly. Somehow or other we had got past the lookouts posted at intervals across the known tracks and approaches to the quarry. We only were aware of these 'heavies' after we arrived at the scene and became aware of them moving around in the undergrowth as they cracked twigs etc with their movements. After a 5 or 6 minutes watching the play we decided that given the size and demeanour of the heavily overcoated guards that discretion was the best option and we slipped away, again unseen - Doug Pacitti

Three special dice are used in Crown and Anchor. The dice are equal in size and shape to standard dice, but instead of one through six pips, they are marked with six symbols: crown, anchor, diamond, spade, club and heart.

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The Crown and Anchor Mat was dark green and squared with coloured images.

File:Crown and Anchor stall Jersey a.jpg

A more sedate occassion

The game is played between a player and a banker. A canvas or felt mat marked with the six symbols is used for play. The player places bets on one or more symbols. He then throws the three dice. If there is a bet on any symbol which comes up on one or more of the dice, the banker pays the player the amount of his stake for each die showing that symbol: even money if one, 2:1 if two, and 3:1 if three. If the symbol doesn't come up, the player loses his bet.  On average, the player will win 92.1% of the amount he bets; that is, over time he will lose 7.9% of whatever he bets. Thus, the banker has a substantial edge. In a game at a festival or casino, the house will be banker. In a game among 'friends' each person serves as banker in turn - Not if Bert could help it..

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Last modified: 01/09/2013