he gambler was added in the 5th edition in 1547.
Death grabs one of the gamblers by the neck/collar with one hand, while pushing away a devil with the other hand. The gambler to the left tries to intercede on behalf of his friend, while the gambler to the right uses the opportunity to clear the table.
The picture is a close copy of Holbein's dance of death-alphabet (picture to the right). The difference is that in the alphabet, Death and the Devil are content with arguing behind the back of the gambler — he's not in an immediate danger. But in the great dance of death, Death grabs the gambler.
At the end of the same century, 1599-1600, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio used the image of the young man collecting coins for his own painting, "The Calling of Matthew" (picture to the left).
Variations: Birckmann lays an hourglass on the floor in front of the table; a fourth gambler is trapped behind the devil, so that he's barely visible (picture to the right). Valvasor, Hollar and Deuchar follow Birckmann.