King Henry VIII

When it comes to the most famous gamblers throughout history, it’s difficult to get more famous than Henry VIII. He is one of England’s best-known monarchs, though perhaps not for the reasons he would like. Henry was responsible for the creation of the Church of England, and legalising divorce. He was also married six times over the course of his reign – two of his wives were beheaded!

He Enjoyed Gambling

What a lot of the history books and texts don’t tell you about Henry VIII was that he was a gambling addict. It’s well-known that he was very hedonistic, and spent a lot of time indulging himself. Music and sport were two hobbies of his, but he loved to eat and drink, and he coupled this with gambling.

King Henry would gamble regularly with a lot of the people he met during his reign. In fact, it wouldn’t matter if they were commoners or monarchy leaders. He would gamble with anyone, anywhere. And often people felt like they didn’t have a choice but to indulge Henry’s gambling.

… Although He Wasn’t Very Good At It

During his reign, he was referred to as “England’s Number One Gambler”. It’s unclear whether he gave himself this nickname, but it’s highly likely. Despite his royalty and great wealth, Henry was acknowledged as being a terrible gambler. He would often make ludicrous bets in situations where he had no chance of a win. Furthermore, he was known as being one of the most unlucky gamblers in history.

Henry lost a lot of prized possessions, money and jewellery throughout a short period of time. It’s a wonder he didn’t try to bet his throne away as well! It seemed like Henry would lose almost every time he gambled. Presumably being the King he had a limitless source of wealth to draw from. Or he had some kind of addiction!

He used to travel across Europe to compete in a multitude of gambling events every year. However, it’s widely reported that he would regularly lose, and quite a lot as well. Over a two-year period, the King was thought to have lost £3,250 gambling at cards. This seems like a reasonable amount of money now, but back then it was an enormous sum.

Henry continued to gamble until his death in 1547 at the age of just 55.