Dice were invented 8,000 years ago. Playing cards have been around for 1,000 years. Combining these two game devices into one thing should have been done a long, long time ago. But it was not, until Carmelyn Calvert came along. An inventor from rural Illinois, she earned a patent on the world’s most overdue gaming invention: a deck of dice.
George Bernard Shaw wrote, “You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?’” One night, Carmelyn asked herself the question, “Why Not?” and created a disruptive innovation for the casino industry.
Most innovation in any industry centers on answering the question, “Why?” Why can’t we go faster, make more, get a higher stock price? From the inside, it’s all about executing your roadmap and hitting your budget.
The most disruptive innovations come from outside an industry, when someone asks “Why Not?” Nobody working for a big hotel chain thought about renting empty rooms in residential homes, did they?
Carmelyn had a passion for invention. Her father nicknamed her “Tinker” at a young age, because she was always tinkering to make new things. Late one night, Carmelyn had the idea that a full deck of 54 playing cards would fit neatly on the surfaces of 9 dice. Unencumbered by cubicles full of colleagues telling her it could never be done, she arranged the cards on the dice in a manner that allows all of the important poker hands to be achieved. She cut some wooden blocks in her kitchen, then carved the cards onto the blocks. She fell asleep at dawn, having done something that somebody should have done centuries ago, leaving piles of sawdust for her husband to sweep when he woke for the day.
Carmelyn was not a mathematician. She was not a computer scientist. She was not a casino game designer. She was not a lot of things that people wonder. She was simply a brilliant grandmother with a high school degree. A shining example that you should never mistake an education for intelligence.
Such a simple but powerful invention! To be able to throw dice—with all of their action and drama—to achieve the most familiar game outcomes in the history of gaming. Carmelyn invented a new system of game play. Like a deck of cards, a deck of dice is a system that can be used for a variety of games.
Carmelyn died in 2015. Her spirit of innovation inspires our philosophy at DECK of DICE Gaming. She taught us to ask, “Why Not?” We intend to cement her legacy as one of the great inventors of all time, and we are off to a great start.