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Playing Poker In The Old West

Made in Mississippi?

The history of poker is one of those things that is still widely debated up until this day. Even though the game is played in casinos all over the world and online, people just can't make up their mind.

For many though they believe that game truly originated in Mississippi in the early and mid 18th century. In the years leading up to this time, there were a number of games similar to poker being played in other parts of the world. However it wasn't until betting was introduced in Mississippi that the game most like the poker we play today began to be played.

Old West Towns

In the a number of the Old West towns, like Deadwood, Virginia City, Dodge City and Tombstone, poker was being played all over the shop. The names of some of the personalities you know well even today, such as Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson and Wild Bill Hickok, spent hours in saloons in these towns trying to turn themselves into big time winners.

They played with their back to wall and their games at their sides. The most popular games they played were Chuck-A-Luck, Three Card Monte, High Dice, and Faro, some of which you are likely to know.

The First Casino

In 1822 what is thought to be the first American gambling casino opened in New Orleans. It was started by a man called John Davis. Like casinos today, it was open for 24 hours and offered food, liquor, roulette wheels, poker and much more. It wouldn't be unusual for a painted lady or two to be hanging around near by.

From then on casinos started popping up all over the place and New Orleans became the place to visit if you wanted to gamble.

Wild Bill Hickok

Wild Bill Hickok was, and probably still is, one of the most well known figures associated with American Old West.

Wild Bill was known for a wide range of things, especially his skills as a gunfighter and a scout. He also had a good reputation as a lawman. A lot of the things you'll hear about Wild Bill aren't true or may have been exaggerated, however there is a lot about him which is true and pretty wild!

Hickok originally came to the West as a stagecoach driver and after the American Civil War he really made a name for himself, amongst other things, for being a professional gambler.

When playing poker, Wild Bill always made sure that he sat with his back to the wall. However on August 2nd 1876, as he sat down to join a game in Deadwood, the only seat left was one which meant his back would be facing the door.

Jack McCall, an ex-buffalo hunter, slipped in silently and suddenly drew his pistol at Wild Bill saying Take That! Wild Bill was killed straight away. In his hand was a pair of aces, a pair of eights, all in black, which now as hand is known as Dead Man's Hand.