Sunday, June 14, 2020

In the Cards

I was rattling on about card  cheats in yesterday's blog.  I mentioned I rarely see stories about gamblers or card sharps [it's sharps in the 1800s, sharks is how the term evolved later].  And the angel Mabel wouldn't dream of cheating at poker, although she pays for most debts with counterfeit money. Some women are hard to figure out.  Especially since her gentleman friend, Miles O'Malley, is a Treasury Agent.  The fact Mabel shamelessly counterfeits money troubles him.  But he also knows no jail could hold her. She need only snap her fingers and she's gone.  

But Mabel loves poker.  And she smokes cigars. And this shocks a few people in 1880s America.  But that's Mabel.

By the way, cards back then rarely had the denomination on them, like Q or 9. They just had the picture of Queen Victoria or nine diamonds or hearts or clubs.  I don't know why.  Stud poker was the likely game cigar chomping men [and Mabel] were playing at a table.  Draw poker appears to have existed, but was not very common back then.  

The other major card game was faro, which was played against a dealer.  The Earps in Tombstone owned an interest in the Oriental Saloon.  They had a faro game running there.  One thing about faro was, to be successful, you had a female dealer. Lonely prospectors and cowboys were far more willing to give their money to a nice looking woman than  some scruffy dude.  I gather a good faro operation could be quite profitable for a saloon.  For some reason, it doesn't rally exist any longer. I'm surprised, with all the casinos out there, someone has not tried to bring it back.  

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