THE CENTRAL STATES POKER HALL OF FAME

MEET THE LEGENDS OF POKER HISTORY

 

The Central States Poker Hall of Fame is made possible by the generous support of Kansas Poker News

 

Wm. Barclay "Bat" Masterson John Henry "Doc" Holliday Luke L. Short Wm. "Canada Bill" Jones James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickock
B: Nov. 26, 1853, Quebec B: Aug. 14, 1851, Griffin, GA B: 1854, Mississippi B: Yorkshire, England B: May 27, 1837, Troy Grove IL
D: Oct. 25, 1921 of natural causes D: 1887 of natural causes D: Sept. 8, 1893 Geuda Springs, KS of natural causes D: 1877, Reading, PA of natural causes D: Aug. 2, 1876, killed in Deadwood, SD by Jack McCall
Buried: Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY Tombstone reads "Loved by Everyone" Buried: Linwood Cemetery, Glenwood Spgs, CO. Tombstone reads "He Died in Bed" Buried: Oakwood Cemetery, Ft. Worth, TX   Buried Mt. Moriah Cemetery, Deadwood, SD, next to Martha "Calamity Jane" Cannary

His family settled near Wichita in 1870. Deputy to Wild Bill Hickock. Long-time associate of Wyatt Earp, whom he taught how to gamble. Proprietor of the Lone Star Dance Hall, Dodge City. Member of the Dodge City Peace Commission. Appointed U.S. Marshal for southern N.Y. by President Teddy Roosevelt.

Last words on his typewriter: "There are those who argue that everything breaks even in this old dump of a world of ours. I suppose these ginks who argue that way hold that because the rich man gets ice in the summer and the poor man gets it in the winter things are breaking even for both. Maybe so, but I'll swear I can't see it that way."

Graduate of the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery, 1872. He contracted tuberculosis soon after setting up dental practice in Dallas, TX, Holliday realized that gambling could be more profitable than dentistry. Left Texas after several gaming violations. Traveled the gambling circuit attached to the gold rush. Long-time associate of Wyatt Earp. His life's companion was Katharine Horony (aka Big Nose Kate).

Wyatt Earp said of Holliday: "Doc was a dentist...whom necessity had made a gambler; a gentleman whom disease had made a frontier vagabond; a philosopher whom life had made a caustic wit; ...the most skillful gambler and the nerviest, speediest, deadliest man with a gun that I ever knew."

One of the fastest gunslingers in Old West history. Won numerous famous gun battles. Friend of Earp, Masterson, and the Dodge City Peace Commission. Always well dressed. Proprietor of the Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City

Born of gypsy ancestry in an English tent village. Partners with Dutch Charlie in Kansas City after long-time association with George Devol splintered over accusations of fraud.

Jones most notable quote: "A Smith & Wesson Beats Four Aces"

His friend and fellow cardsharp George Devol wrote of Jones: "...he was without a doubt the greatest 3-card-monte sharp ever to work the boats..."

Devol writes further: "... Bill was medium-sized, chicken-headed, tow-haired ... with mild blue eyes, and a mouth nearly from ear to ear, who walked with a shuffling, half apologetic sort of gait, and who, when his countenance was in repose, resembled an idiot ... his face was as smooth as a woman's . . . he had a squeaking, boyish voice, and awkward, gawky manners, and a way of asking fool questions and putting on a good-natured sort of grin that led everybody to believe that he was the rankest kind of sucker - the greenest sort of a country jake."

 

A good shot from a young age, at age 20 claimed a 160 acre tract in Lenexa, KS. Killed first man (McCanless) at age 24. Joined Union during Civil War, stationed in KS and MO. Excellent scout. Sheriff of Hays, Abilene & other towns.

Truly in a class by himself, Wild Bill was arguably the most feared adversary of the Old West. Hickok backed down or killed a whos-who of legendary gunslingers including Ben Thompson, John Wesley Hardin, and Phil Coe.

Hickok died as he lived, on the wrong side of a bullet in the most famous poker game in history, holding the "dead man's hand", Aces and Eights.

         
Joseph Thomas Lowe aka "Rowdy Joe" Lowe Tony "River T" Stevens George Devol Jason Barrett Charles "Charlie" Bassett
B: 1946, Illinois B: 1973, Riley County, Kansas B: Aug. 1, 1829 Marietta, Ohio B: B: 1847 New Bedford, MA
D: Feb. 11, 1899. Shot by Denver policeman in the Walrus Saloon   D: 1903, Hot Springs, AR of natural causes   D: Jan. 5, 1896, Hot Springs, AR
Buried: Riverside Cemetery, Denver, CO "...wait for the right situation..."   "In this company, I should probably get a nickname"  
Civil War veteran. Proprietor of numerous saloons & brothels in Wichita's Delano District, Ellsworth, Newton, & elsewhere. A lifelong student of the game of poker, Tony Stevens made his mark on Kansas history on Dec. 13, 2008, becoming the first Kansas No-Limit Poker Grand Champion of the 21st Century.

Stevens captured the title by beating 55 of the states best players in 4 different varieties of poker: Texas Holdem, Omaha, Draw Lowball, and 5-card stud.

He attributes his success to patience, learning the reads on his opponents and knowing when to move in.

Stevens hails from Manhattan where he's tournament manager at a popular local poker room.

Arguably the greatest riverboat gambler in history. Ran away from home at age 10, became cabin boy on riverboats. Accomplished card cheat by age 14. Traveled the gambling circuit, fleecing soldiers, gold diggers, riverboat travelers, and cattle drivers. Long-time associate of "Canada Bill" Jones. Notorious for fighting "headbutt" style, won $10,000 in famous confrontation with circus head-butter. Worked the passenger railways and fleeced travelers from Kansas City to Cheyenne. Wrote his memoirs at age 58 "40 years a Gambler on the Mississippi".

Along with fellow Hall of Famer Tony Stevens, Jason Barrett made Kansas history on Dec. 13, 2008, becoming the first Kansas No-Limit Texas Holdem Champion of the 21st Century.

Barrett accomplished this remarkable feat in a non-stop 10 hour holdem marathon against 55 of the State's best players including champions from qualifying tournaments around the state. The structure of the game was particularly challenging, requiring the winner to essential "beat every player twice".

Barrett is a native of Kansas City, Kansas.

Co-owner of Long Branch Saloon with W.H. Harris. Member "Dodge City Peace Commission"
         
  No known photo  
John Wesley Hardin   Richard Brinsley Sheridan "Dick" Clark Ben Thompson  
B: Bonham, TX, May 26, 1853   B: April 15, 1838, Cayua, NY B: Nov. 2, 1843, Knottingley Yorkshire, England  
D: Aug 19, 1895, Acme Saloon, El Paso, TX   D: 1893, Tombstone, AZ D: Mar 11, 1884, killed in the Vaudville Theatre, San Antonio, TX  
Concordia Cemetery, El Paso, TX     Buried: Oakwood Cemetery, Austin TX  

Son of a Methodist preacher, & a distant cousin of Doc Holliday,  J.W. Hardin was one of the most feared gunfighters in American history. Self described as "a warrior born of battle, a man who belongs to no man or set of men,". Hardin is credited with forty killings in stand-up gunfights, ambushes, and running battles on horseback. Hardin described it thus: "There always seemed to be a man with a challenge and I never refused one ..."

Poker figured prominently in Hardin's colorful life from an early age to the day he died. In 1869 he rode into Towash, a wild cow town where brothels, saloons, and gambling halls were open 24 hours. Towash was ruled by Jim Bradley, a desperado and killer who owned a crude racetrack on the edge of town and enforced his own law with a band of fugitive gunfighters.

In a daylong poker game Hardin cleaned out Bradley, who refused to pay off, instead taking Hardin's boots and driving him out of the poker room. The outraged, bootless Hardin borrowed a rifle, killed Bradley, and scattered his gang.

  Gambling partner of Wyatt Earp.

Family moved to Texas from Nova Scotia when Ben was 9. Bright honors student & newspaper reporter. While in New Orleans working for Times-Picayune, killed first man in legitimate fight with a bowie knife. Left N.O. in a hurry for an Austin, TX newspaper and began gambling on the side.

Joined cavalry during Civil War, active in Mexican-American war. Hearing tales of riches in "wide open Kansas" from cattle drovers, Ben and his brother moved to Abilene in 1871. Pawned his pistol for a stake in a poker game upon arrival and built a good stack his first night in town. Partners with Phil Coe in the Bulls Head Saloon, Abilene's most notorious gambling house. Coe and Thompson painted a picture of a bull with erect penis on their sign. When citizens complained, Marshal "Wild Bill" Hickok altered the sign himself.

Ben soon fell into disagreement with Hickok. Thinking a move would be healthy, he moved on to Ellsworth, opening gambling houses there. Coe stayed and was soon shot by Hickok.

 

Hardin in his own words about early days of Kansas poker: "...I have seen many fast towns, but Abilene beat them all. It was filled with sporting men and women, gamblers, cowboys, desperadoes, and the like. It was well supplied with bar rooms, hotels, barber shops, and gambling houses, and everything was open....

....I spent most of my time in Abilene in the saloons and gambling houses, playing poker, faro, and seven-up. One day I was rolling ten pins and my best horse was hitched outside in front of the saloon. I had two six-shooters on, and, of course, I knew the saloon people would raise a row if I did not pull them off. Several Texans were there rolling ten pins and drinking. I suppose we were pretty noisy. Wild Bill Hickok came in and said we were making too much noise and told me to pull off my pistols until I got ready to go out of town...." Letting better judgment prevail, Hardin never crossed Wild Bill.

Hardin served time for several murders, teaching Sunday School and studying law during incarceration. After parole he moved to El Paso and attempted to establish a law practice. Violence wasn't far behind however, he was killed while gambling in the Acme Saloon, El Paso TX, shot in the back by John Selman Sr.

 
   

"It is doubtful, whether in his time there was another man living who could equal him with a pistol in a life and death struggle," Bat Masterson

Interviewed by the New York Sun in 1875 Thompson said: "I make it a rule to let the other fellow fire first. If a man wants to fight, I argue with him and try to show him how foolish it would be. If he can't be dissuaded, why, then the fun begins but I let him have first crack. Then when I fire, you see, I have the verdict of self-defense on my side. I know that he is pretty certain in his hurry, to miss. I never do.