In this early period, you could find almost anyone from any strata of society engaged in gambling, although it was still only a minority of the population that found the pastime acceptable. During the gold rush, miners would gamble using the gold dust they had collected from their mines.
Riverboat gambling along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers was popular among all classes of people in the Deep South. New Orleans opened America’s first casino way back in 1822. Roulette and card games were popular back then. However, resistance from government forced gambling on the riverboats starting what became a tradition awash with more romance and legend.
During the gold rush, miners and cowboys helped to popularize card games like poker. One famous early gambler during this period was Mark Twain who remarked, “There are few things that are so unpardonably neglected in our country as poker. The upper class knows very little about it. Now and then you find ambassadors who have sort of a general knowledge of the game, but the ignorance of the people is fearful. Why, I have known clergymen, good men, kind-hearted, liberal, sincere, and all that, who did not know the meaning of a ‘flush.’ It is enough to make one ashamed of one’s species.”