Poker's most notorious hand

Learning the lingo

If you're going to play poker online, it's important to know a few technical terms in order to keep up with the play. For instance, Texas Hold 'em players should know what a big blind and small blind is, and how to recognise the flop, turn and river.

Live casino dealers are happy to help, but to ensure you have a fast-paced, exciting game a little background knowledge will do you the power of good. Of course, there are many variants of poker, each with their own intricacies and slang terms. For example, there is one particular hand in five card draw poker with an intriguing nickname.

Dead Man's Hand

Consisting of two black aces and two black eights, this somewhat gruesomely-named set of cards was supposedly dealt to infamous vigilante Wild Bill Hickok in a bar in Deadwood, South Dakota, just moments before he was shot and killed.

There are many legends and rumours surrounding this occurrence. The fifth card of the hand was supposedly face down, leading some to suggest that Hickok was shot mid-game, just as he was switching one of his cards.

Many museums and Hickok biographers have also posited different versions of the cards, some claiming to know what the fifth card was and others claiming that he held an entirely different hand.

Whatever the real cards were, the legend has persisted in the world of film and music. The hand crops up in Motörhead's Ace of Spades and Bob Dylan's Rambling, Gambling Willie, while a similar scenario is played out in the 1939 John Wayne film Stagecoach, in which his character shoots a man holding two aces and two eights.

Play poker live

The birth of online casinos saw poker and other classic game such as roulette and blackjack increase in popularity, while the addition of live dealers goes a long way to creating an authentic atmosphere. Who knows, had this method of play been available to Hickok, we may well be referring to his ace and eights combo as Rich Man's Hand.

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