• Dennis McCaslin

Chronicle of the Old West: And you thought it took a long time to play Monopoly?


Men who came out west gambled everything on the hopes of becoming prosperous and having a good life. That same spirit led them into gambling halls, and games of chance. One such game started on June 15, 1853 and ended 24 years later.

For people of the Old West gambling was a way of life. They risked their life by going into Indian Territory for furs, precious metal or land. They staked everything they owned on a herd of cattle being driven north. And for sure they enjoyed a game of chance.

There was faro, euchre, monte, casino, and, of course, poker... which, incidentally, was always dealt to the left of the player to make it easier to pull a gun with the right hand in case of irregularities. The origin of most games of chance came from Europe, with the exception of the old three walnuts and a pea, which started in America, probably on the streets of New York, where it still prospers.

Not only did cowboys lose their wages, but whole herds of cattle, and a cattleman's entire wealth would change hands over night. A few wives were even offered to "match the pot.”

On June 15, 1853, in Austin, Texas Major Danielson and Mr. Morgan sat down to play poker, and evidently with little to go home to, forgot to quit. The game went on for a week. Then it was a month. A year became years.


The Civil War broke out, was fought and lost, but these two Texas gentlemen still dealt the cards. Finally in 1872, 19 years after it started, both men died on the same day. But the game continued. Their two sons took over, and played for 5 more years.

Finally the game ended in 1877 when a railroad train killed one of the sons, and the other went crazy.


Not that all of them weren't crazy in the first place.


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