September 6, 2010

Another Soapy Smith joke.

It was Thursday night at the Tivoli Club in Denver and no dupes were anywhere in sight so Soapy invited some of the boys to play a little poker. Soapy, his brother Bascomb, John Bowers, and George Wilder opted to play for small pots as business was so slow. Each of them was keeping a sharp eye on the other throughout the game. During one hand a lot of raising put a considerable sum on the table.

As Bascomb called the hand and laid out his cards, Bowers stood up in amazement.

Hey, Bascomb is cheatin’. He ain’t playin’ the hand I dealt him!



  1. Fun Question:

    Whilst in Denver JRS II was often referred to as 'King of the Underworld', and he had many otherwise 'regular citizens' working for him.....including 'barbers'.

    Question: What role did barbers play in JRS II's schemes? :)

    Source: Klondike Fever by Pierre Berton

  2. Pierre Berton obtained much of his information from the 1935 book, The Reign of Soapy Smith. Unfortunately my research has never revealed any other source regarding the stories about the "bandit barbers" of Denver, which is why they are not mentioned in my book. Perhaps one day a contemporary newspaper article will be found that exposes their activities.

    Jeff Smith

  3. Answer to my Fun Question: According to Pierre Berton....the barbers were not bandits ..per se...they were more in the realm of 'informants'.

    When a wealthy stampeder came in for a shave and a haircut....if the barber determined the customer was a worthy mark for JRS II and his gang...he would 'accidently' nick the neck of the sucker...thus giving the 'boys' the only information they needed to proceed with a thourough fleeceing. <(*J*)>

  4. There is no doubt Soapy had "informants" and connections in every part of town. The man lived and learned how to use everything to his advantage. I always enjoying studying the Sanborn map showing the layout of the Tivoli Club (link) showing numerous escape routes in event of police raids, that led through the back doors of several other adjoining businesses and alley ways leading to other streets. It's not hard to imagine Soapy making friends with these proprietors and having his boys shop in their establishments.



Thank you for leaving your comment and/or question on my blog. I always read, and will answer all questions left here. Please know that they are greatly appreciated. -Jeff Smith