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Index > Poker games and rules > Miscellaneous

What is the Dead Man's Hand?

Author: Stephen Landrum
Last updated: 1996
Copyright © 2004 Stephen Landrum
The official and up-to-date version of this answer is here.

Legend holds that Wild Bill Hickok was shot to death during a poker game in Deadwood, South Dakota, and that the hand he held was two pair, black aces and black eights. On that most people agree. The fifth card is not known for certain. In order of credibility, the following kickers have been suggested:

Five of Diamonds
The actual card is supposedly on display in Deadwood, previously on display at the Stardust in Las Vegas.
Nine of Diamonds
Listed below in the glossary, this card was supposedly reported by first hand accounts, and is used in a recreation in Deadwood.
Queen of Clubs
On display at Ripley's Believe it or Not.
King of Spades
Appeared in the 1936 movie The Plainsman with Gary Cooper as Hickok.