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Issue 53 - A big hand for gambling nights

Whisky Magazine Issue 53
January 2006


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A big hand for gambling nights

Social poker nights both at home or at style bars and clubs have been the fad trend of 2005 – and whisky has been the drink of choice. Rob Allanson reports

Think of poker and it stirs up images of either suave casinos or dirty smokefilled back rooms: the tuxedoed Monte Carlo high life of James Bond, or seedy, salacious danger-tinged impromptu card schools.

Both images of the game are as valid as each other as they have played integral parts in the development of the game, lending it both an edge of tension and glamour.

People used to see it as a sordid, secret pastime, its devotees shadowy and its rules an enigma. The action would take place in smoky underground caverns and dimly lit backrooms among people who gargled whisky and carried guns – and that was just in the 1970s.

However, this lawless period in poker's development, that of spur boots, bottles of bourbon and Colt peacemakers holstered but ready for a quick draw, gave the game its most feared hand.

The term ‘Dead Man's Hand', the notorious run of cards, refers to two black aces and two black eights – the cards Wild Bill Hickock was reputed to be holding when shot in the back during a poker game in South Dakota.

There is the flipside of this wild image, with the James Bond-esque casino scene.

Cocktails and green baize tables lined with throngs of beautiful women and double agents trying to outdo each other.

It is from this glamorous image of the game that many poker terms, such as ‘ace in the hole', ‘passing the buck', ‘upping the ante' and ‘poker-faced' have passed into popular culture and language.

The growing global market for poker passion, fue...

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