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History of Dead Man's Hand

During the late 1800's, authors sensationalized the Old West, and gambling saloons were a perfect backdrop to share stories. Every major event either seemed to start or end in a saloon (or at least every fight worth mentioning certainly did.) Although there is a lot of debate on how "Dead Man's Hand" namesake was derived, the most poetic story involved a famous cowboy who frequented the Nuttal & Mann's Saloon.

The expression, "dead man's hand" has been stated to have some relevancy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the earliest being detailed in 1886 where it was described as a "full house" consisting of three jacks and a pair of tens. Jacks and sevens are called dead man's hand in the 1903 Encyclopedia's of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences. In 1907, edition of Hoyle's Games refers to the poker hand as jacks and eights.

However, nothing compares to the dead man's hand card combination of the legendary cowboy, "Wild Bill" Hickok during a game of five-card stud or five-card draw. James Butler Hickok, according to his biographer Joseph Rosa had a poker hand of "the ace of spades, the ace of clubs, and two black eights with a queen of clubs as the 'kicker.'" Although there is some debate to his exact hand, there is no debate that he was holding and the four cards in his hand were the last cards he would see as Jack McCall sent a bullet through the back of his head on August 2, 1876 in Deadwood, Dakota Territory.

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In addition to having a great opportunity to win, you don't have to pay for that high priced drink or shell out hundreds of dollars to take a flight. And incase you do have a "Dead Man's Hand", you don't have to sit with your back against the wall in the comfort of your own home. As always, be responsible, and set your limits.

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