Ask The Marshall

What was the “badger game?”

Robert Tignor
Independence, Missouri

Dating to the 19th century, the badger game is arguably one of the most reproduced cons of all time. In its most famous form of blackmail, a woman seeks out a lonely man at a bar and lures him to her hotel room. After getting the man into a compromising position, her accomplice bursts into the room, often with a loaded gun. Or she tears her blouse and accuses the man of rape.

The object, of course, was usually money—but not always. One of the more famous victims was U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. He was having an extramarital affair with Maria Reynolds. Her husband used the affair to extort information from Hamilton.

John Wesley Hardin claimed a couple tried the badger game on him in Kosse, Texas, in 1870—but the con failed when he shot and killed the male accomplice. He shared this tale in his autobiography; it never happened.

If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at

Related Articles

  • Ben Thorn True West Magazine

    Long Haired Sam Brown led a gang in California’s Calaveras County in the 1850s.  He…

  • Josiah Gordon “Doc” Scurlock is best known as a compatriot of Billy the Kid during…

  • A strange card game decided the fate of six Apache warriors, captured by U.S. troops…