kigtropin

Posts Tagged ‘Soapy Smith’

19
Aug

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

24
Jul

Gambler’s of the Old West …

   Posted by: CaptYak    in Informational

Professional Gamblers of the Old West were known for many things. Such as; being the best dressed of all the towns people, most generous with their money, cool under threat, and able to work magic with the cards, to name just a few of their traits.

They were also the best armed. We’re talking concealed weapons of all kinds. A boot knife, a derringer hung from a pocket watch chain, a shoulder holster housing a cutdown .45, a knife hanging around his neck, a set of knuckles in his pocket, even a loaded cane.

As a person who made a living by the turn of a card he had to perfect two skills, that of “working the cards” and that of “defending himself”.

Working the cards has been addressed in previous blogs so let’s focus on “defending oneself”. Some may recall the time Doc Holliday used a cane on fellow gambler Henry Kahn in Dallas, Texas. Later that same day Kahn shot Doc, seriously wounding him. The lesson here is if you don’t kill the other guy you better expect him to come looking for you. And speaking of Doc, how about the time Ed Bailey failed to heed Doc’s warning to “stop monkeying with the deadwood ( discards)”. Bailey went to the well once to often and Doc claimed the pot which was the customary thing to do. Bailey took exception to Doc’s action and jerked out his six-shooter. Doc managed to pull a knife from his breast-pocket and with a single stroke opened up Bailey’s belly. Bailey never got a shot off.

Saloon fights with either hands or weapons was a common occurrence, what else could be expected? You had a bunch of young men who just spent the last three months pushing cattle out of Texas and spending 12 hour days in the saddle who had money to burn and little knowledge of how to gamble. On the other side of the table you had a man who had spent most of his adult life learning the finer points of gambling who also would spend 12 hours and much more in the saddle at a poker table. The youngster didn’t have a chance of winning at cards and mix that with the rot gut he was just getting to know, well bad things were very likely to happen and they did.

There was the time that Luke Short shot and killed Charlie Storms, a gambler and gunhand, outside the Oriental Saloon, Tombstone A.T. Some say the dispute was over a gambling debt but the fact is that Storm’s had been hired to cause trouble in the Oriental in an attempt to drive its customers away. Storm’s being the bully he was went after the littlest guy in the place, Luke Short who stood just 5′ 6″ and weighed a slim 130lbs. What Storm’s didn’t know was the Luke was a seasoned fighter having been an Army scout, buffalo hunter, trader with the Indians and having grown up on the very edge of the Western Frontier. Luke also had a tailored suit with a custom made holster concealed in his hip pocket. Unlike Holliday, when Short had to jerk his six-shooter into action he shot to kill and he shot until his assailant was dead. In the Storm’s shooting Short put 5 shots into Storm’s. Storm’s was dead before he hit the ground.

How about the time in Denver when Bat Masterson was managing The Denver Exchange, a first rate saloon. Soapy Smith, owner and operator of the Orleans Club and a bunco artist decided to kick up some dust in Bat’s place. Smith took roost at a Faro table in which Jeff Argyle was dealing and Tom Crippen was acting as lookout. At some point Soapy went for his gun and yelled, ” Argyle, you’re through as dealer in this game. You pull that card and you’ll pull the next one in hell! I want a change of dealers.” Argyle held his ground and stated, ” If Bat Masterson tells me to pull, I’ll pull it.” Just then a known outlaw and train robber by the name Peg Leg Charlie Adams stuck his nose in the mix siding with Smith. Now Adams had a reputation and no one cared to challenge him. Besides, he was wearing a pair of six-guns on his hip, had a derringer in his vest pocket and another in the palm of his hand. That’s a lot of fire power for just shooting across a poker table or for that matter shooting inside anywhere.

Those Old West Saloons and Professional Gamblers sure would have been something to see.

Stop by Old West Antiques and check out all the “new” items added this week. Who knows you may find that one item you just can’t live without.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,