In every part of the world we can find myths and legends that are part of the cultural history of each country and sometimes these stories have a first and last name, as is the famous case of the Dead Man’s Hand. What is it that has been said about this myth so well known in the world of cards and why is it still valid today?
Cards and games of chance have, as any method of entertainment and competition, rules and cabals very respected by the players and that have been built for years thanks to the thousands of fans who somehow put together the culture of the game.
The dead man’s hand contains myths and beliefs that led it to be one of the most famous and we want to tell you what this famous story is about, whose protagonist is James Butler Hickok, better known as Wild Bill, who died while playing poker Do you want to know what exactly happened? We will tell you the details below.
Legend of the dead man’s hand
Before it should be clarified that the expression “dead man’s hand” had some popularity before it was directly associated with Wild Bill and referred to the full poker hands consisting of three jacks and a pair of tens. Years later it would be used again gaining more popularity and becoming a real poker legend.
Nowadays, that phrase has been taken up again to remember the legend of Wild Bild, who was shot to death while holding five cards, aces and eights of both black suits, on August 2, 1876 at Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon in Deadwood, Dakota.
There are many versions of this myth going around the different casinos that exist around the world and mainly among gamblers, who besides being superstitious are afraid of having these cards in their hand for fear of bad luck or that some unfortunate fate will find them.
Most of the people who spread the rumor of this myth say that the Dead Man’s Hand is formed by an ace of spades, the ace of clubs, the eight of spades and the eight of clubs and that the identity of the fifth card can vary, so it is fearful that in a poker hands you might get that cursed combination.
Legend or reality?
The version that Wild Bill was killed by a gunshot that day is totally true, however there is still no certainty about what cards he had in his possession at the exact moment that the shot occurred, which makes us think that although the story is true the part of the cards would be left to the free interpretation of each person.
However, we cannot deny that this story is a great seasoning for the history of poker and mainly of the gambling game, since it gives it certain prestige and respect, especially the part of the shooting and the death of the main character of the story, which adds impact to the story.
The facts and the cards
This player, wich real name was James Butler Hickok was a very good poker player and unfortunately he met Jack MacCall, who also played poker but unlike Bill he was losing millions of dollars every week. What happened was that Jack was one of the many losers in that game and it is said that Bill paid for his breakfast, a fact that Jack might have been offended by.
The next day, Wild Bill goes to the usual place to play poker where he finds an available seat but asks to change it because it had his back to the room and he could not see the movements of the people behind him, which is always disturbing. To his surprise, in addition to not changing his seat, minutes later Jack McCall appears with a thirst for revenge.
At that instant, he begins to scream, pulls out his gun and shoots him in a single movement, Wild Bill falls on his back, with the cards in his hand, and dies instantly. This whole story is told several times by the players and its details have been modified since it has been passed from mouth to mouth for many years.