Until a guy sent the scorpions scurrying last night, I didn’t know anything about Wild Bill Hickok. I’m not a big fan of Westerns and I had a football coach for both American History and Government/Economics. He was mostly just interested in football, so if they taught Bill back then, I missed it.
In case you don’t know, here’s a brief history before I get to the rest of last night’s story. This info and the photos are all from the Wild Bill Hickok link in Wikipedia.
James Butler Hickok (May 27, 1837 – August 2, 1876), was a folk hero of the American Old West. The Old West, at that time, being Kansas and Nebraska. Coming from Iowa, I’ve never thought of Nebraska as all that Westerly.
Anyway, Wild Bill, a famous gunfighter and lawman, is credited as the originator of the quick draw which wasn’t actually very quick. He and the other fellow faced each other sideways, like in a duel, drew and aimed before firing. He was just a better shot.
Anyway, Hickok headed out West as a stagecoach driver, turned lawman and then soldier. After the Civil War, he ran for office a few times, was in a play with Buffalo Bill Cody and eventually went to the Black Hills in search of gold.
But this post is really about cards.
I love to play cards. As a matter of fact, if you know any great two person card games, I’d like to hear about them. I play Euchre, Pinochle, Canasta, Rummy, Whist, Cribbage and on rare occasions, any of many varieties of Solitaire.
I don’t play Poker. I have, but I just don’t like it real well. Maybe because I can’t bluff and since I can’t bluff, there’s too much luck and not enough strategy for me. Bill, on the other hand, was a professional poker player.
I have a good friend that’s a former cop. Whenever we go anywhere, he ALWAYS wants to sit with his back against the wall, preferably in the corner. Wild Bill, lawman and poker player, did, too. Except for the one night that he couldn’t.
On August 2, 1876, Hickok was playing poker at Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon No. 10 in Deadwood, in the Black Hills, Dakota Territory. Hickok, as a precaution, usually sat with his back to the wall. The only seat available when he joined the poker game was a chair that put his back to a door. Twice he asked another player, Charles Rich, to change seats with him, and on both occasions Rich refused. A former buffalo hunter they called “Broken Nose Jack” McCall walked in unnoticed. McCall walked to within a few feet of Wild Bill and then suddenly drew a pistol and shouted, “Take that!” before firing. The assassin’s bullet hit Hickok in the back of the head, killing him instantly. ~ Wikipedia
That brings me to just before midnight last night. A guy drove up to the gate sending a multitude of scorpions running in every direction. I asked him what company he was with. I thought he said: Ace’s and Eight’s.
As you know, I often have had trouble catching every southern syllable. I’ve heard a lot of different company names down here, but none like that. Figuring I’d misunderstood, I asked again.
Yep, it was Ace’s and Eight’s.
He said: You know, the Dead Man’s Hand.
I said: Oh.
Of course I didn’t know but the internet smiled on me tonight and let me on-line just now to look it up. Ace’s and eight’s were the 4 cards showing in Wild Bill’s hand when he was shot. Apparently this is known in Poker circles as a Dead Man’s Hand.
I don’t know if you’re likely to win with 2 Ace’s and 2 Eights or if it even matters what that 5th card is? And I don’t know why someone named their company Aces and Eights. Maybe just because it makes a good story. Or maybe it’s like that old Oscar Mayer Wiener jingle. No, actually I don’t wish I were one, but it’s hard to forget. 😀