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Dead Man's Hand

Author: Ivanna Shostak
20 December 2019, 11:49
Votes: 1

It is possible to find a lot of legends about poker nowadays. Most of them regard outstanding poker players, talismans, which provide its possessors with special benefits, and also cards that bring death. People who have been fond of poker games for a long period of time must have heard some information on poker dead man's hand.

Dead Man's Hand

However, few people know the full version of the legend about this combination of cards. The Login casino team has prepared more information on who Wild Bill is and what this sinister combination brought to him.

What is the dead man's hand?

 It is a famous poker combination consisting of two black eights and two black aces. The above-mentioned name is associated with a popular poker story, which was passed by word of mouth and turned into one of the most popular legends regarding this type of gambling activities. The main character of this legend became the famous poker player Wild Bill.

Aces and eights – dead man's hand

Wild Bill (the real name is James Butler Hickok) was born in the USA and became famous for his aggressive manners. For example, due to a dispute over poker combinations, he involved an opponent in a duel. The enemy was shot in the heart.

James' life was full of various stories. He was born on a farm, where he worked until adulthood. Then the future poker player decided to create his own but he did not succeed. Just at that time, the American was invited to the post of sheriff. Afterwards, he was frequently moving from one state to another. At this post, he managed to make several major revelations, for which he earned authority in his circles.

The career of a poker player began for him in 1871. Then he again changed his place of residence and began to earn more money. Gambling captured his mind. Due to this, he soon had to resign as sheriff – he was interested only in endless poker games. Everything seemed to be perfect for the poker player but one case changed everything.

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On August 2, 1876, Wild Bill came, as usual, to play poker in one of the city's saloons. The player, who would be connected with the creation of the dead man's hand hearthstone deck in the future, always tried to sit with his back to the wall because he was afraid that the enemies would attack him from the back. However, on that day, his place was taken by another person. There was only one option - to sit with his back to the front door, and Wild Bill did so.

Aces and eights – dead man's hand

A few hours later, a man called Jack McCall entered the gambling establishment. He had a 45-caliber revolver in his hand. He attacked William from the back and fired two shots from a weapon in his head.

The motive for the gambler’s murder is still unknown. An investigation found that Jack killed Wild Bill because of revenge. It was said that earlier James also killed Jack's brother. However, after several years, it was reported that Jack never had any brothers. Therefore, the killer’s motive is still unclear.

An interesting fact is that at the time of his death, the player had two eights and two aces in his hands. That is why such a combination is called the dead man's hand in poker.

However, no one knows exactly what was the gambler’s fifth card - the kicker. The opinions of many biographers differ. Some suggest that the kicker was a jack or a queen. Others say that Wild Bill discarded the fifth card and before the murder, he had not managed to take another one to replace. Besides, there is a version that the player had a nine or a five.

The fifth card in dead man’s hand poker has already become part of the legend and is interpreted by many in their own way. However, most versions agree that it was a card of diamonds.

Alternative options for this concept

After some years, another alternative of the above-mentioned combination appeared. It consisted of three jacks and two tens. The owner of this hand was also shot at the time of the game. However, it should be noted that this combination is not as famous as the first one.

Now, when playing Texas hold'em, a combination of one ace and eight received by the player at the beginning of the game is also sometimes called the dead man's hand since it gives the opportunity to collect the legendary two pairs of black eights and aces.

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References to the famous combination in modern culture

At present, poker fans often link the combination with forthcoming death or unwanted surprises in the future.

References to the famous combination in modern culture

In general, a lot of representatives of modern culture have featured the legendaru combination.

In literature, it has been used in a large number of novels. For instance, the American writer James Patterson mentions this in his book “Along Came a Spider,” where the character tells the story of how her father won his weapon with aces and eights and even uses the name of the combination as her computer password.

In his most famous novel, Ken Kesey, while describing one of the characters McMurphy, says that the latter has a tattoo with two pairs of aces and eights on his shoulder. Many fans of the book and the film draw inspiration for their tattoos.

In the film industry, the combination has also been featured. For example, John Ford used it as an omen of death in his films.

It has also been utilized in diverse episodes of the television series either as the names of episodes about the imminent death, or to show the characters the possibility of somehow deceiving death. For instance, in one of the episodes of “Criminal Minds” Aaron Hotcher plays poker with a prisoner on death row in the hope of finding the whereabouts of the victim. Hotcher claims that he has a combination of two black aces and two black eights. Then the character reveals another ace, which means that he has a full house, and beats the prisoner.

Even video games feature this legendary hand. In Fallout: New Vegas players have the opportunity to collect the cards that make up the well-known combination. Another famous example is the dead man's hand Hearthstone in the Warcraft universe online card game developed by Blizzard Entertainment.  Among players, the dead man's hand warrior is one of the most popular decks of all time. In the Doomtown card game, it is the highest possible hand in which a diamond jack is used as a kicker. Apart from the hearthstone dead man's hand, the combination is also featured in the number of other popular games: Werewolf: Apocalypse, Hearthstone, Need for Speed: Carbon and Wing Commander IV.

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In this case, the music industry is not an exception. Songs that have references to this topic are:

References to the famous combination in modern culture

As mentioned earlier, the second annual Global Poker Awards will be held on March 6, 2020.

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