accoucheur's hand

Dead man's hand

For other poker hands that have found a place in lore, see Glossary of poker terms.

The dead man's hand is a two-pair poker hand, namely "aces and eights". The hand gets its name from the legend of it having been the five-card-draw hand held by Wild Bill Hickock at the time of his murder (August 2, 1876). It is accepted that the hand included the aces and eights of both of the black suits; although his biographer, Joseph Rosa, says no contemporary citation for his hand has ever been found, the "accepted version is that the cards were the ace of spades, the ace of clubs, two black eights (clubs and spades), and either the jack of diamonds or the queen of diamonds as the "kicker". The term, before the murder of Hickok, referred to a variety of hands. The earliest found reference to a "dead man's hand" is 1886, where it was described as "three jacks and a pair of tens.

There are various claims as to the identity of Hickok's fifth card, and there is also some reason to believe that he had discarded one card, the draw was interrupted by the shooting, and he never got the fifth card he was due.

The Stardust in Las Vegas had a 5 of diamonds on display as the fifth card; in the HBO television series Deadwood, a 9 of diamonds is used; the modern town of Deadwood, South Dakota also uses the 9 of diamonds in displays; and Ripley's Believe it or Not shows a queen of clubs. Saloon no. 10 in Deadwood, South Dakota, the saloon in which Wild Bill Hickock was shot while holding the infamous "dead man's hand," shows the fifth card as the 9 of diamonds.

See Also



  • Rosa, Joseph. They Called Him Wild Bill. University of Oklahoma Press, 1979.

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