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Poker’s Dead Man’s Hand: Aces and Eights

Poker’s Dead Man’s Hand: Aces and Eights
Date: April 12, 2023 / Author: OKBET
OKBET Dead Man's Hand

The Infamous Dead Man’s Hand in Poker: Aces and Eights

Everyone enjoys a good legend, but gamblers may enjoy them even more. The story of the dead man’s hand is one of the best-known poker folktales and one of the most famous poker hands in the modern gambling world.

So, how did the legend of the dead man’s hand get started? What do we think when we say “the dead man’s hand” in modern gambling? How does the legendary poker hand work? All these issues and more will be answered in today’s blog, so stick around while we tell our story and tell you everything there is to know about the dead man’s hand in poker.

Dead Man’s Hand: Wild Bill’s Legend

In the long history of gambling and, more specifically, poker, there have been many famous poker players whose names still come to mind and mean a lot to gamblers worldwide. James Butler Hickok, also known as “Wild Bill” Hickok, is one of these legendary names, and he is the reason we still talk about the dead man’s hand.

Our story ended on August 2, 1876, but Wild Bill’s began in Illinois in May 1837. James Butler Hickock was his real name. During his colorful life, he was a soldier, scout, lawman, gunslinger, actor, showman, gambler, and folklore hero. As a lawman, he helped put many criminals in jail and often had gunfights with outlaws. As a gambler, he was known for playing a good hand in poker.

That fateful August day ended all that ended in Deadwood, Dakota Territory. He was said to sit with his back against the wall most of the time, but not on August 2, 1876. As luck would have it, Wild Bill sat at the poker table that day in Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon No. 10 in the only chair facing away from the door.

Jack McCall, who had lost to Bill the day before, walked into the saloon while Bill was playing five-card stud. He was angry, so he shot Bill in the back of the head, killing him presently. The story says that Bill had two pairs of black cards in his hand: black aces and black eights. Since then, this poker hand has been called the “dead man’s hand.”

What Does “Dead Man’s Hand” Mean in Poker?

OKBET Dead Man's Hand

So, what does “dead man’s hand” mean in poker and online poker? Today’s dead man’s hand is a poker hand with two pairs: a pair of black aces and a pair of black eights. So, about the same as what the legend says Wild Bill was holding when he died.

“The dead man’s hand has two pairs: pair of black aces and a pair of black eights.”

The dead man’s hand has a place in history and urban legend, but as a poker hand, it’s not as good as, say, a royal flush, a straight, or a full house. Even though it has the highest-valued card in poker—the ace—in the end, a dead man’s hand won’t be enough to beat a flush or full house. They say, “Not great, not terrible.”

The Dead Man’s Hand: How to Play It

Even if you already know how to play poker, try the dead man’s hand game for fun. But it has already been shown that the dead man’s hand is not one of the best poker hands today.

In Texas Hold’em, for example, the dead man’s hand might be weak, so how to play depends on the player. Players with more experience will only do it if they think the time is right. It is not the best way to make money if you don’t.

What’s a Dead Man’s Hand  Fifth Card?

That hard-to-find fifth card. To return to the story of Will Bill, we “know” that the two pairs he was holding were black aces and black eights, but we don’t know what the fifth card was. One of the most common ideas is that it was the Queen of Hearts, but some art pieces will tell you otherwise.

Some artists show the fifth card as the five of diamonds, while others say it should be the nine or the jack of diamonds. One thing is for sure: they usually ensure that the fifth card isn’t another ace or eight because that would make a full house.


In conclusion, the Dead Man’s Hand story has become an integral part of poker lore, with its mysterious origins and eerie connotations capturing the imaginations of players and fans alike. While it is impossible to know the true origins of this infamous hand, its association with the death of Wild Bill Hickok and the mythology that has grown up around it have helped to cement its place in poker history. Today, the Dead Man’s Hand continues to serve as a reminder of the rich history and cultural significance of this beloved game and the dangers and risks that have always been associated with the high-stakes world of poker. Whether you believe in superstition and luck or not, the Dead Man’s Hand remains an enduring symbol of the thrill and excitement that draws millions of players to the game of poker year after year.


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