Queer Luck: Poker Stories from the New York Sun

Feb 18, 2013 by

queerluckQueer Luck: Poker Stories from the New York Sun newspaper by David Curtis was originally published in 1899.  Good bird’s eye view into gambling in /new York City in late 19th century.

A small taste for you:

” No, I don’t play poker any more,” said a big Westerner, who came into an up-town club-house the other night with some friends who had been showing him the town. He spoke rather seriously, although he had been chatting and laughing in a loud, breezy way until the very moment when somebody suggested a little game of draw as an appropriate wind-up of the night’s diversion.

” Why, how is that ? ” exclaimed one of his friends. ” You used to play a stiff game. You haven’t sworn off, have you ? ” “N-no,” said the Westerner, still serious. ” I have not sworn off, but there is no excitement in the game for me now. The last game I played was too exciting.  ” It was a dozen years ago, when I was a tenderfoot, with the usual allowance of freshness and ignorance of frontier perils. We used to call it brashness, and I was certainly brash. I roamed around the country for the better part of a year, with a more or less vague purpose of settling somewhere, but not caring much where. I had money enough to start with, whenever I should find an opening to suit me, but I was not in a hurry, and was enjoying the freedom and adventurous life of the plains as only a youngster can who is not obliged to put up with the hardships, but looks on them as mere incidents.

” I was well down toward New Mexico when there was a rumor of Indian troubles, and I heard that a company of United States troops were on the march toward one of the principal villages, where the redskins were particularly sullen. I had been out hunting for a week with a couple of fellows Freeze-out for a I had met in one of the towns, when we got the news from a stranger who came into our camp late at night and asked for supper. He admitted when we questioned him not too closely, for inquisitiveness is at a large discount on the plains, but casually that he was a scout in the government employ, and was on his way to join this company. ” ‘

There’s likely to be some pretty warm work,  he said when we asked a little more, ‘ for if the red devils are not on the warpath now they will be in a day or two, and you fellows will do a smart trick if you turn back.  ” Turning back, however, didn’t seem very attractive to me when there was so much excitement ahead. I promptly remarked that I thought I would go on with the scout and offer my services to the Captain in command. I told you I was pretty brash at the time, and I had no knowledge of military affairs. My notion was that the Captain would be glad of a recruit, or, at least, that he would make no objection to my going with him.”



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