atm-logoA gambler in a high-stakes poker game runs out of money while holding a winning hand of four aces. He asks the players to pause the game so he can get a loan at the bank. Is this Hollywood or a true story?

Barry Waldbaum
True West Maniac #1499
Centereach, New York

It’s Hollywood. I believe you’re referring to the 1966 film, A Big Hand for the Little Lady, starring Henry Fonda and Joanne Woodward; some posters for the film featured a hand holding four aces. Fonda’s character is a poor poker player who gets in a game of five-card draw with the richest high rollers in the territory. He’s in way over his head, but has apparently been dealt a killer hand (we never get to see the final hands in the movie).

Betting becomes heavy, and he runs out of chips. He’s allowed to go to his room to get more cash, and the game continues. The stress causes Fonda’s character to have a heart attack, but the game goes on, since wife Mary (Woodward) has taken over for him. After seeing her hand, the tight-fisted banker gives her a loan, causing the other players to fold.

In real poker, the “table stakes” rule prevents you from buying more chips and betting them during the same hand. But it’s a fun movie.


Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone.  If you have a question, write:  Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at

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