The Frontier Gambler is one of the most recognisable characters from 19th-century America. Historically well-represented by both sexes, they found their way to the gaming tables from a range of geographical backgrounds, professions, and social classes, and were frequently of a different nationality since the USA was still so young.
As the Wild West got tamed, becoming more domesticated and increasingly populated, the public perception of this figure started becoming more negative. Eventually, almost all state and territorial legislatures began passing anti-gambling laws in an effort to clean towns up, but a few characters remained. They passed into the history books and live on today in the legends that sprang up around them.
John Henry, or Doc, Holliday, 1851 – 1887
Born in Georgia, after his mother’s death John Henry Holliday moved out West to try to combat his tuberculosis. He became a professional gambler and a close friend and associate of lawman Wyatt Earp.
His nickname was given to him because he studied dentistry before going on to become one of the most romantic figures in cowboy culture. He’s best known for the role he played in events leading up to the Gunfight at the OK Corral, his incredible gunfighting skills, and his talent at the Faro table.
Thanks to Australian online casinos, we no longer have to worry about hair-trigger tempers and persons notoriously quick on the draw, however. Safety’s guaranteed these days!
Billy the Kid, or Henry McCarty, 1859 – 1881
Billy the Kid, born Henry McCarty, is one of the most notorious outlaw gamblers of the Wild West.
Legend has it that he managed to shoot eight men down before they could kill him and he became a professional criminal at 14-years old, just after the death of his parents.
While his reputation rests more on how violent the short 21 years he spent on earth were rather than any significant gambling achievements, The Kid was known to have a fondness for Poker.
Alice Ivers, The Beautiful Gambler, 1851 – 1930
Alice Ivers was originally a teacher but was left facing financial ruin after her husband was killed in a mining accident just a few short years after they married. She had some experience at the Poker table, however, and turned this to her advantage in light of her new standing as an unemployed widow.
She went on to accumulate over US$250 000 in just a few years, close on a million dollars in today’s money.
Queen Kitty LeRoy, 1850 – 1877
Born in Michigan, after Kitty LeRoy’s troubled first marriage she headed out to the West and pursued several professions, including gambling, trick shooting, and prostitution, earning her the royal nickname she’s now known by.
She went on to marry many more times, but her penchant for promiscuity ended her life when her last husband murdered her after discovering her affairs.
Her reputation for gambling comes in part due to her skills at the Faro and Poker tables particularly.