Did Wild Bill Hickok really have the Dead Man’s Hand of aces and eights when he was killed?

atm-logoDid Wild Bill Hickok really have the Dead Man’s Hand of aces and eights when he was killed?

John Wendland
Parsippany, New Jersey

Nobody knows what hand Wild Bill Hickok was holding. The late Joe Rosa, Hickok’s biographer, said, “The bottom line is nobody seems to know what particular poker game they were playing at the No. 10 Saloon in Deadwood [Dakota Territory] that day.”

I doubt if anyone thought the details were important at the time. During the chaos after the shooting, the cards were scattered. The aces and eights story did not surface until Frank J. Wilstach published it in his 1926 book, Wild Bill Hickok: The Prince of Pistoleers. I don’t think we will ever know what hand Hickok was holding.

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 marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu

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