Ever heard the phrase “according to Hoyle”? It means that something complies with a strict set of rules, and it’s a reference to the gaming rulebooks of Edmond Hoyle and all the later versions building on his format.
The Modern Pocket Hoyle in our digital collections, circa 1880, describes the rules of “all the games of skill and chance as played…at the present time.” It contains rules for card, dice, and board games as well as things we would now more properly call sports (baseball, lacross).
Entries for familiar games include rules for Backgammon, Billiards, Checkers, Chess, Dominoes, Draw Poker, Roulette, and Shuffleboard.
Other now less popular games like Euchre and Whist are in the book, too, as well as games you’ve likely never heard of, such as Catch the Ten, Faro, French Boston, Game of Spots (a really simple card game, see below), Loo, Pedro Sancho, Skat, Sweat, and Whiskey Poker.
So what was a like when people got together to play games like this?