Old West Lifestyle & Stories

Poker Alice

Born in England, Alice Ivers was educated in a female seminary. She came to the United States and eventually settled down in Colorado where she married Frank Duffield, a mining engineer.
Frank enjoyed playing poker, and Alice went with him and watched. Sometimes, when Frank was at work, Alice would sit in on games. When her husband was killed in a mine explosion Alice turned to cards full time. She did so well that soon the miners were calling her “Poker Alice.”
In Silver City, New Mexico she “broke the bank.” Feeling flush, she headed to New York and proceeded to spend it all.

She returned to Colorado and worked for Bob Ford, the person who shot Jessie James… That is, until Ed Kelly killed him.

Poker Alice always dressed like a lady; even though she was constantly puffing on a cigar. Like most gamblers, Alice carried a pistol, and she wasn’t afraid to use it either. One night a drunken miner pulled a knife on the dealer at the next table. Alice shot the miner. Poker Alice ended up marrying the man whose life she saved. Later, when she owned her own establishment, she shot and killed a trouble-making customer.
 At one point she owned a sheep ranch. Busy gambling, she hired George Huckert to tend the sheep. When George’s unpaid wages got to be over a thousand dollars, Poker Alice married him, because “It would be cheaper to marry him than pay him off.”
At the age of 79 on February 27, 1930, Poker Alice died. Even though she gambled all her adult life; married three times; killed a man; smoked cigars constantly; and ran a combination gambling and whorehouse, Poker Alice’s early religious upbringing stayed with her, because she never gambled on Sunday, and when she owned establishments of her own, they were closed on Sunday.

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