created since 2003       

Collection Playing Habits
- humble start, will possibly develop

The Carafas of Maddaloni: Naples Under Spanish Dominion
- by Alfred von Reumont (1854) / Gambling habits at begin 17th century

An Account of the Manners and Customs of Italy ... - By Giuseppe Marco Antonio Baretti, from 1768 CHAP. XXXIII (Card games)

"The man would certainly appear extraordinary, is not ridiculous, who should attempt to appreciate the different degrees of mental power possessed by the chief European nations, when considered as bodies opposed to bodies, and endeavour to form his estimate, either by drawing inferences from those portions of wit that they must necessarily employ when they play at their national games of cards, and from those resources of genius that must have been possessed by those amongst their respective predecessors, who first invented those games.
Forbearing therefore to enter into this subtle and odd disquisition, I will only observe, that it is not without reason the English are proud of their Whist, the French of their Piquet, and the Spaniards of their Hombre, which, as I take it, are the three best games of cards amongst the several that their nations possess. To obtain a victory or to hinder a defeat at any of these games, requires so much quick- and dexterity of mind, that I do not wonder is even men of good parts are flattered when they are praised for this, accomplishment.
Which of these three games required the greater effort in the intention, or demands most skill in the management, I will not take upon me to determine: but I think myself well intitled to say, that three or four of our Italian games of cards are almost as superiour in both respects to Whist, to Piquet, and to Hombre, as chess is superiour to polish-drafts. The games I mean, are those which we form out of those cards called Minchiate and Tarrocco's: the first chiefly in vogue all over Tuscany and the Pope's dominions; the sccond in Piedmont and Lombardy. I crave the reader's indulgence for endeavouring to give him 'some idea of both these games, make him sensible, that the Italians, who have often appeared great in the arts - considered by mankind as great, are likewise great in those that mankind will regard as little.
Both the Minchiate and the Tarrocco's consist of five suits instead of four, as common cards do. Four of those five suits answer exactly to the four of the common cards, with only the addition of one card to the three that are figured in each suit; so that, instead of king, queen, and knave, we have king, queen, horseman, and knave, both in the Minchiate and the Tarrocco's. As to the fifth suit, it consists of forty-one cards in the Minchiate, and of twenty-two in the Tarrocco's ; and this fifth suit in both games is called by a name that answers to trumps in English. Both games may be played by only two, or only three people in several ways; but the most ingenious as well as the most in use, are two or three games that are played by four people; and more especially one which is played by one against three, much as the the ruling principle of Hombre, and another played two against two, not unlike Whist.
By this account the reader will soon comprehend, that each of those games must necessarily be much superiour to Whist and Hombre, because of the greater number of combinations produced either by the ninety-seven cards of the Minchiate, or by the seventy-eight of Tarocco ; which combinations cannot but give a larger scope to the imagination of the player than the lesser number arising from the forty of Hombre, or the fifty-two of Whist, and oblige him to exert his memory and judgment much more than either at Whist, Hombre, or Piquet.
I have heard strangers, unable to comprehend any of these our games, object both to the Tarocco's and the Minchiate, that they cannot be so diverting as the three mentioned, because they produce so many combinations as must prove too satiguing. But is this argument carries conviction, we must of course conclude, that chess is less delightsul than loo, because it forces the mind to a greater recollection of its powers than loo. This reasoning is certainly just with regard to little and sluggish minds; but will not hold with respect to those that are lively and comprehensive. However, those Italians, whose minds are much too contracted and disproportioned to the Tarrocco's and the Minchiate, or those who do not choose to exert their talents too much, have still the means of diverting themselves with several other games at cards that require no greater compass of imagination, memory and understanding, than Whist, Piquet, and Hombre : and other still, that are upon a pretty equal footing with humble loo itself.
Let me add an observation more upon this subject. Many strangers are surprised that the Italians learn their games easily, and in a very little time play at them with as much skill as the best players among themselves. Hence they infer very kindly that Italy abounds in gamblers more than their own respective countries. But is this inference very logical? I apprehend they would say better, if they would be pleased to say, that the Italians, accustomed to more complicated games, can easily descend to play those, which, comparatively speaking, require less wit and less attention.
I have not wrote this short chapter for the perusal of those who make it a point to contemn all frivolous amusements, and look upon themselves with great reverence because they always detested gaming. I intend it only for those connoisseurs in ingenuity, who know that cards have not only the power of rescuing the ordinary part of mankind from the torpid encroachments of dulness, but of affording also an efficacious refreshmerit even to the thinker, after a long run of deep meditation."

Minchiate article - with references to Baretti: A Descriptive Catalogue of Playing and Other Cards in the British Museum ... By William Hughes Willshire