August 21, 2014

Four confirmed Soapy Smith playing cards.

Jeff Smith collection
(Click image to enlarge)


     Of course he cheated, and one of his most steady methods was the crooked poker game, called "big mitt" and "big hand" by the Soap Gang. There was nearly always a fake game going on in some back room, ready for the victim to enter into and lose. The period newspapers cover this swindle for the 17-years Soapy ran it in Denver.
     Years after Soapy's demise, Mary, Soapy's widow, handed out a few cards from Soapy's deck of cards, to the children and grand-children. My father received six cards, of which were passed down to me (see lower cards in pics). All the cards I have are different, but I always wondered if the deck was one set up for "big hand." Very recently I got my answer.

Note the duplicates
Jeff Smith collection

      A cousin of mine received her cards from her father, and offered them for sale to me before going to other members of the family. I purchased them and now I have ten cards from Soapy's deck. However, I was not prepared to receive what I did. I was floored to find out that this deck contained three Jack of spades and two five of diamonds! These came from the one deck Mary had of Soapy's, so obviously, the deck was set up to bunco unwary victims. I could not be more pleased!


"There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing."
— Robert Burns


1831: Nathaniel "Nat" Turner, a black slave, begins the bloodiest slave uprising in American history, resulting in 60 white deaths and at least 200 black deaths. He is apprehended in Southampton County, Virginia on October 30, 1831, convicted, sentenced to death, and hanged on November 11, 1831.
1863: Quantrill's Raiders consisting of 450 guerrillas, raid Lawrence, Kansas, killing 183 men and boys. They looted the town, robbed the banks and then burned Lawrence to the ground.
1879: Sgt. Samuel H. Gatchell, 4th Cavalry, was killed by a band of outlaws that he was in pursuit of near Little River, Chickasaw Nation. His body was brought back to Fort Sill and buried in the Post Cemetery.