Poker Alice (1851-1930)

If you think that women started to take part in gambling only in the past couple of years, you are more than mistaken. Although their presence has never been as obvious as it is today in WSOPs for example, the achievements and their contributions to gambling are undisputed.

One of the most often mentioned lady in this field is Alice Ivers, alias Poker Alice. Her life story is at least as unique and exciting as her presence in the world of gambling. It is enough just to mention that she carried a 38 revolver all the time and was not afraid to use it in need, plus in most of the photos of her she is smoking a cigar and there is a quotation by her that reveals her true self. At the age of 70 she said ‘At my age I suppose I should be knitting. But I would rather play poker with five or six experts than eat.’ At the same time she was so religious that she did not gamble and did not open her saloon on Sundays.

Coming from Devonshire, England she conquered the whole West American poker world, but it was no sooner than her first marriage that she got closer to poker. It had always been obvious that she was smart but nobody thought that she would not follow her conservative schoolmaster father at the professorship. At the age of twenty when her family lived in Colorado she met the engineer Frank Duffield and they got married. Her relationship to Mr Duffield did not prove to be a long lasting one, but she got in touch with poker by her husband and that link between Alice and the cards was for good. At first she only went gambling with Mr Duffield and was watching the game silently but due to her exceptionally bright mind, she quickly demonstrated proficiency for poker.

After some years of marriage she became a widow and since she did not find a job she liked; Alice started to make a living with her gambling skills. Soon she became a dealer as well, and since she was not only extremely pretty but very good at dealing and playing poker, her presence was more than welcomed at any mining camp casino. Crowds were attracted merely by her attendance so gambling was a good business not only for the casinos but also for her. In Silver City for example she managed to win $6,000 which was more than enough to make a trip to New York City to replenish her wardrobe of fashionable clothing.

The next marriage in her life is attributed to her 38 revolver. A dealer called Warren G. Tubbs was attacked in the casino when Alice threatened the aggressor with the weapon and a new romance started. Warren and Alice had 4 sons and 3 daughters. Just to protect their children from the world of poker they moved to the countryside, raised animals and both stopped playing. But when Warren died in 1910, Alice had to pawn her wedding ring which led her back to gambling again. Not too much later a new marriage was round the corner. An employee of Alice, George Huckert, who was in charge of raising the cattle at the ranch, was hopelessly in love with Alice. Hopelessness turned into hope when it was clear that $1,108 was owed to George and as Alice said it was cheaper to marry him than paying his wages. The marriage lasted until the death of George in 1913.

During the Prohibition Alice opened a saloon where she offered gambling, liquor and women. When a drunken client caused havoc in the saloon, Alice killed the man with her 38. In jail she was just smoking and reading the Bible and finally she was acquitted on grounds of self-defence. She kept on running the brothel and was sentenced many times when finally the governor pardoned her at the age of 75. When she was 79, she passed away due to a gall-bladder operation.

Leave a comment