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The Tale of the 'Dead Man's Hand'

Typically speaking, ‘Dead Man’s Hand’ consist of a pair of black aces and a pair of black eights in a game of poker. This in itself is nothing special, however, a shroud of mystery cloaks the tale of the dead man’s hand as it hails back to the ‘Old West’. Some tales even claim that the hand is cursed and is a sign that your time has run out…

The Man behind the ‘Dead Man’s Hand’

James Butler Hickok (also referred to as Wild Bill Hickok) is an ‘Old West’ folk legend who was an exceptional marksman even from an early age. Wild Bill Hickok was shot in the head by Jack McCall on the second of August 1876 while playing a game of poker. Wild Bill died holding what is commonly referred to as the ‘Dead Man’s Hand’; a pair of black aces and a pair of black eights. The identity of Hickok’s fifth card remains a mystery. Some claim that it was the Queen of Clubs while others suggest that he died before his fifth card was dealt.

Historians claim that the exact make-up of Hickok’s hand was never confirmed. Whatever Hickok’s hand may have been, it still spawned the legendary tale and well-known term: ‘Dead Man’s Hand’. In fact, the term ‘Dead Man’s Hand’ has become so well-known it’s made its way into popular culture.