◦ last updated:

Chuza or Chusas (‘owls’) was a gambling game popular in the 19th century in both Mexico and New Mexico,Writing in 1886, John Gregory Bourke described it as a “purely Mexican game”, in opposition to “American” games such as Faro, Keno, and Diana.A[236] and similar to Roulette.

The game was said to be particularly popular with women:B[44]C[240]

[it is not] confined to any class; but the most respectable New Mexican ladies would be found seated at these tables day and night, until their faces and sunken eyes proclaimed that the excitement was too powerful for their system.DOne author in the New Mexico Historical Review misunderstood this passage as referring to a card game.E[191]

The game was played with a spinning wheel (see image below) and small coloured balls,F and either cards or numbers marked upon the table were used to track the bets placed upon the segments of the wheel.G[81] In New Mexico in 1824, a tax of 4 pesos was levied upon the game.H[239]

Other than that, I know little about how it was played.In 1898, a correspondent of Notes and Queries also wrote in for information about the game—as far as I can tell, they weren’t answered.I Any further information that a reader can provide would be helpful!

An old wooden shallow cone shaped wheel with a raised rim, and a painted design on the centre.An old wooden shallow cone shaped wheel with a raised rim, and a painted design on the centre.

A Chuza wheel.

© 2018 , used in accordance with terms: NMHM/DCA 09409.45


  1. and (). ‘⁨⁩’. New Mexico Historical Review vol. 29: pages 233–242.

  2. (). ⁨⁩. G. W. Dillingham⁩: New York.

  3. (). ⁨⁩ volume 1 (4th edition). J. W. Moore⁩: Philadelphia, PA, USA.

  4. Anonymous (). ‘⁨New Mexican customs⁩’. Santa Fe Weekly Gazette vol. 5 (41), : page 2.

  5. (). ‘⁨⁩’. New Mexico Historical Review vol. 24 (3), : pages 184–222.

  6. (). ‘⁨⁩’. The Saturday Evening Post (34), : pages 20–21. Philadelphia, PA.

  7. (). ⁨⁩. Charles Scribner’s Sons⁩: New York.

  8. (). ‘⁨⁩’. Old Santa Fe vol. 1 (3), : pages 235–287.

  9. (). ‘⁨⁩’. Notes and Queries (9th Series) vol. 2 (43), : page 328. London.


Expand to show comments