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How Do They Gamble in Alien Worlds?


The Drake equation, famous for estimating the number of extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way, tells us there should be between 1000 and 100 million sentient alien species in our galaxy. But, as of today, we only know of one – humanity. Luckily, we are armed with humanity’s most versatile tool to lift the veil from what others do – imagination. Science fiction has given us countless alien worlds to explore, many filled with intelligent life, often with habits not entirely dissimilar from our own. This means that they sing, trade, dance, and gamble a lot like us.

There are several science fiction movies and TV shows that depict alien gambling games – let’s see some of the more interesting ones imagined by their writers.

Star Trek

From the very beginning, Star Trek used alien species to emphasize on some of the darker parts of human nature. The Klingon represent our aggression, the Vulcan, our cold and calculating part, the Romulan represent our distrust and paranoia, while the Ferengi, our greed. Of course, it’s the Ferengi who run gambling operations across the Alpha Quadrant.

Some of today’s Earth casino games would naturally fit into a Ferengi casino. Take Sic Bo, for example, a game that can overwhelm the player at first due to its countless betting options. Luckily, Legit Gambling Sites has a great guide that shows you how to play it. And let’s not forget Dabo, prominently featured in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which is a dead ringer for roulette – except, of course, for the risqué attire of the dealers.

There was one time, in turn, when a Ferengi met his match: Quark got involved in a game called Chula played by the mysterious Wadi race in an early episode of Deep Space Nine. On the one hand, the game was a bit similar to Snakes and Ladders, a popular board game in our civilization. On the other, the game traps its players – the entire top brass of DS9 – and puts them in life-threatening situations every step. And, of course, it wasn’t the trapped players who would win the prizes. But, as the 63rd Rule of Acquisition states, “The Riskier the Road, the Greater the Profit”.

Star Wars

The Star Wars universe is vast, filled with countless life forms, all with their own habits, languages, and other particularities. And they all seem to like to gamble, at least judging by the events of the prequel trilogy where betting on a pod race was an important part of the plot.

But the best-known game of chance from the Star Wars universe is a game similar to poker, known as Sabacc.

Sabacc’s similarities to poker are uncanny: while the number of cards in the deck differs (76 instead of 52), there are also four suites, pip cards, face cards, aces, and several special cards (not entirely dissimilar from our jokers). And the rules are a mix of poker and blackjack.

Sabacc is a game with an important role in the Star Wars universe – Han Solo won the iconic Millennium Falcon in a game of sabacc, after all.

Various gambling venues

Star Trek and Star Wars are the two biggest universes where aliens gamble but by far not the only ones. Most other science fiction either uses forms of gambling very similar to our own – like Triad, played in Battlestar Galactica, or betting on various events, ranging from the Hunger Games to the Thunderdome – or don’t go into details about the games but placing the action in a resort instead.

In Andromeda (the other Gene Roddenberry series), Clarion’s Call, a former Commonwealth flagship, has been converted into a casino ship, with its avatar Ryan (played by Michael Hurst of Hercules fame) serving as a greeter.

Pleasure planets where gambling is available are commonplace in most science fiction universes – they even turn up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (on the planet Kitson, for example, in Agents of SHIELD). But one of the most interesting is certainly “Eulogy”, an outlaw barter town and city-sized gambling den from the SyFy series “Killjoys”. Entry to Eulogy will only be granted to individuals who are known criminals – and those who have stolen goods worth gambling. Of course, our heroes have to infiltrate this settlement to recover a piece of stolen technology – and chaos ensues.

In conclusion

Science fiction has always been a medium for exploring the unknown and the possibilities that lie beyond our current understanding of the universe. Through the lens of science fiction, we can imagine what life might be like on other planets, how we might interact with alien civilizations, and what forms of technology we might develop in the future. And, of course, how we might gamble with them if and when we finally get to meet them – whether it will be a casino ship like the Clarion’s Call or an outlaw town like Eulogy.

One thing’s for sure, though – many of us can’t wait to find out.


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