Short Stories About Casinos, Gambling, Bets or Poker

These stories have action in casinos or have characters who make bets, including card games.

“The Queen of Spades” by Alexander Pushkin

Hermann is an engineer in the Russian army. Tomsky tells him a story about his grandmother, a countess, who won a large sum playing cards because she knows a three card secret. The countess is still alive, so Hermann schemes to learn the secret from her.

This is the first story in the preview of Russian Short Stories from Pushkin to Buida(35% into preview)

“(The Traveler’s Story of) A Terribly Strange Bed” by Wilkie Collins

A man in Paris visits a gambling house. He goes on an impressive winning streak. He eventually breaks the bank. He gets some advice on how to protect his winnings.

This story can be read in the preview of The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked-Room Mysteries(50% into preview)

“The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” by Mark Twain

At the request of a friend, the narrator calls on old Simon Wheeler to get the story of a man named Leonidas Smiley. Smiley was a betting man, and quite lucky. He would bet on anything. He had a dog that he won a lot of money with. Most of all, though, he was known for his bets on an unusual frog.

This is the first story in the preview of Book of Mark Twain’s Short Stories(15% into preview)

“The Rocking-Horse Winner” by D. H. Lawrence

A middle-class woman, successful but perpetually short of money, lives with her two children. She is unlucky, but her son isn’t: when he rides his rocking-horse, he’s able to work himself into a state where he can pick the winner of a horse race.

This is the first story in the preview of Big Book of Best Short Stories(2% into preview)

“Man from the South” by Roald Dahl

The narrator is at a hotel, having a beer by the pool. An older, well-dressed man sits down by him. An American cadet who was enjoying himself in the pool also sits down. The cadet takes out cigarettes. The older man and the cadet disagree on the reliability of his lighter. The older man bets that the young man’s lighter won’t flame ten times in a row without missing one. He’s willing to wager his Cadillac.

“Dip in the Pool” by Roald Dahl

Passengers on a cruise ship are dining when it starts swinging heavily. Mr. Botibol takes the opportunity to talk to the purser. The Captain makes an estimate on how much distance will be covered each day. The passengers can make bets on it. Botibol wonders if this patch of rough weather was accounted for in the estimate. It gives him an idea.

“Taste” by Roald Dahl

At their dinners a wine connoisseur, Richard, and his host, Mike, make small bets on whether the expert can identify the wine being served. At one such dinner, Richard is a bit distracted by his host’s daughter, Louise. His attention returns to the meal when Mike unveils a special wine. Both men are confident; the betting gets out of hand.

Dahl has lots of great short stories. You can get them all in The Complete Short Stories Volume 1 and Volume 2. The three above are in volume 1.

The next two stories can be found in High Stakes: 8 Sure-Bet Stories of Gambling and Crime.

“Bet on Red” by Jeff Abbott

Sean has been sent to Las Vegas to get rid of Bobby and fly home with Vic’s money. He doesn’t really want to kill Bobby, but those are the orders. Bobby wants to make a bet that he can pick up the beautiful redhead at the bar. Bobby will put up $1,000. If he wins, Sean has to try and resolve his recent difficulties with Vic.

“Breathe Deep” by Donald E. Westlake

Chuck, a blackjack dealer, stands at his table at 3:30 in the morning. A small, old man in a raincoat walks up to his table. He’s more interested in talking than playing a game. He has a fatal attraction to places like this. Chuck thinks about calling security.

“The Killing of Bad Bull” by Alan Dean Foster

Bull Threerivers is in a casino in Salvador, where he can blend in reasonably well. His own people want to kill him. Bull has an unusual sense for electricity—he can smell it and sense its flow. He started working in electronics repair in his teens and was masterful at it. Eventually, he realized he could use his special ability in a more lucrative way and started visiting casinos.

“New Year for Fong Wing” by Monfoon Leong

Fong and Lee, restaurant workers, get paid. Lee wants to gamble, but Fong is worried about what his wife will think. Fong’s sons were killed in wars, and now he has no male heir. Feeling depressed, he agrees to go gamble with Lee.

“The Bet” by Anton Chekhov

At a dinner party a banker argues that capital punishment is preferable to life imprisonment. A young lawyer disagrees, saying that he would rather life in prison than death. They bet two million rubles that the lawyer can’t stay isolated for fifteen years.

Read “The Bet”

“A Piece of Pie” by Damon Runyon

The narrator is having dinner with his friend Horsey in Boston. They overhear a man say he would make a large bet that Joel Duffle could outeat anyone. Horsey knows a man, Nicely-Nicely Jones, who he knows can outeat anyone. They agree to a large wager. Horsey and the narrator go looking for Nicely-Nicely Jones.

Read “A Piece of Pie”

“A Bread and Butter Miss” by Saki

Bertie and Odo are discussing which horse they should bet on in an upcoming race. There is no clear favorite. Sir Lulworth adds to the confusion with an insider tip. When Lola says she dreamt of the race, everyone is attentive.

Read here