One of the first stories you learn as a poker player is that of the Dead Man’s Hand—the cards Wild Bill Hickok allegedly held when he was shot dead poker table in a Deadwood saloon in 1876.
The tale is always told with an ominous air, like that apocryphal tale of a deadly car crash that always ends with “…and dude—the radio in the car was still playing ‘Stairway to Heaven’!”
What is the Dead Man’s Hand? And how’d it get that poker hand nickname ? More importantly, is it truly unlucky?
Let’s look at the history. And if some of the facts are disputed, let’s go with the advice from that beloved western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance : “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” Legend of the Hand Holding of Dead Man’s Hand
The youngest boy among six children born to William Alonzo Hickok and his wife, Polly Butler, James Butler Hickok spent his early years on the family farm near Homer (now Troy Grove), Illinois. James was a red-headed youth of 15 when his father, not only a farmer but a committed abolitionist, passed away.
The latter part of the 19 th century was a turbulent time in the U.S., with tectonic shifts in society, economics, and politics occurring everywhere. Add to that the mad rush to seek fortune in the Western frontier, and you have a cauldron that was bound to create both heroes and villains.
In 1855, mistakenly believing he had killed his foe in a fistfight when the two fell into a canal, the 18-year-old Hickok fled Illinois for St. Louis. He soon found himself in the Kansas Territory, where he joined the Jayhawkers, a vigilante abolitionist group fighting to ensure Kansas—which was then working toward statehood—would be a free state rather than a slave state.
Legend has it that Hickok won a sharpshooting contest when he first joined the Jayhawkers, and while that may be apocryphal, his notoriety as an excellent shot is well-documented.
“Whether on foot or on horseback, he was one of the most perfect types of physical manhood I ever saw. His skill […]
Click here to view original web page at www.gamblingsites.com