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Old West Gambling

   Posted by: CaptYak    in Informational

Gambling in the Old West means many things to many people based on their knowledge of the subject and their knowledge of  a certain period in time and area of the country.

Take the late 1880′s and southwest United States for example, when men like Bat Masterson and Luke Short were traveling the gambling circuit either together or shadowing each other.  Their range  extended as far east as Kansas City, as far west as Cheyenne, as far north as Deadwood and as far south as Tombstone. The most popular game of that time was Faro and these guys worked both sides of the table, either as dealer or as gambler.  It didn’t matter to them since it was a way of life, as long as they were making money they didn’t have to seek employment elsewhere.

Remember that back then gambling was considered a respected profession and in the words of Masterson equal to a doctor and above that of an undertaker.  It was very common for town mayors, lawmen and bankers to have their own saloon or gambling hells or work in one.

These guys were the rock stars of their time, equal to or more so than the professional gamblers of today; men like Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey and Phil Hellmuth just to name a few and women like Anne Duke, Vanessa Rousso and Jennifer Harmon.

Back then it was, besides Luke and Bat; Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Wild Bill Hickok, Ed Chase and Soapy Smith plus hundreds more. Lady gamblers were far and few between but they did exist, women like; Lottie Deno,  Poker Alice and Kitty LeRoy.

Besides Faro, a gambler could also play Vingt-et-Un (known today as Blackjack), 3 card Brag, Bluff Poker (forerunner to 5 card Stud Poker) and Monte.

If you ventured to the west coast, say,  San Francisco it was an entirely different gambling experience. The games you would find there were for the far less skilled player such as ; Keno, Roulette and Wheel-of-Fortune. While back east the most popular forms of gambling were playing lotteries and the offspring of Lottery, Policy along with horse racing and games like; Baccarat and Klondike, not to mention Poker.

Gambling back then was in favor or fell out of favor depending on how well established a town was, if there existed other forms of entertainment and who was in charge of the local government.  By 1910 virtually all forms of gambling were outlawed in America but it still went on behind closed doors.  Today it is a mixed bag with gambling remaining illegal with many exceptions. The new frontier for gambling  exists in online gambling and as it grows worldwide America has for now decided to pass up on all the revenue and outlaw gambling on the internet.

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