What is the Dead Man’s Hand?

In the poker world, a game of two pairs of black aces and black eights is known as the Dead Man’s Hand. The name has been inspired by James ButlerWill Bill” Hickok who was a lawman and a gambler. The Dead Man’s Hand was killed on August 2 1876 while playing aces and eights at the poker.

What does the Dead Man’s Hand mean?

This man died due to a gunshot. He was holding a Dead Man’s Hand at the time of his death. He was playing a five-card game during the time of his death. Therefore this combination of cards is considered to be unlucky in the poker world.

This pair is not a highly valued pair of cards. People in the gambling world hold the superstition that this pair of cards will not do them good. The card, however, does not guarantee your win or loss in the game.

The dead man’s deck is plain and has a black color. It also has yellow borders.  There is a hole that goes all the way to the middle of the cards. The card backs are similar. There is a vintage style on the face of the cards. There are also two additional cards included in the deck of the Dead Man’s Hand.

One card has a photo of “Wild Bill” Hickok and the other card contains a story of the dead man’s hand.

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Story of the man behind Dead Man’s Hand

The concept of the Dead Man’s Hand comes from Wild Bill Hickok. He was a famous gambler and a lawman. He was killed by Jack who was a local drunker in South Dakota. This happened because he lost all the games against Hickok on a poker table.

Jack was further insulted when he was given money by Hickok who advised him not to play till the time he does not have enough money to lose in the game. McCall shot him the next day at the poker table from behind.

This resulted in the death of Hickok instantly in South Dakota. Jack McCall was executed after this seven months later. However, it is yet not clear that Hickok died at the fifth card of aces and eights.

Will Bill Hickok Dead Man's Hand

What is the fifth card in the Dead Man’s Hand?

Many poker fans believe that Hickok died while holding the fifth card in his hand. However, it is yet not confirmed that the gambler died on the fifth card.

Is the Dead Man’s Hand a good hand?

If superstitions are ignored then there is no proof that this card brings bad luck. However, according to a lot of poker fans, this card is a symbol of death or any misfortune in the future.

For the last hundred years, a combination of aces and eights is regarded as an ominous sign. It is related to the dead man’s hand. People usually do not like to play with aces and eights.

The two pair is not considered to be as good as the royal flush. The card, however, has to do nothing with your chances of winning or losing the game.

The concept of the Dead Man’s Hand is used in a variety of books, novels, and movies.

There is a small casino located near the place the dead man hand was killed. There is an exhibition there that tells about the story behind the dead man’s hand and other things. You can find all the details related to Hickok there.

Eights and Aces in the Dead Man’s Hand deck

Many artists think that the aces and eights of the dead man’s deck are an ominous sign. It shows that something bad is about to happen. Poker fans often assume that it is a sign of immediate death or any unwanted surprise that can take place in the future.

This concept of the Dead Man’s Hand is used in a variety of novels. James Patterson has referred it in his work Along Came a Spider.

In this story, the character narrates a story of his father winning a gun with a pair of eights and a pair of aces. The girl also keeps the password of her computer phone as the dead man’s hand.

What does the Dead Man’s Hand tattoo mean?

The Dead man’s hand tattoo concept comes from the story written by Ken Kesey. He describes a man called McMurphy who tattooed the dead man’s hand on his shoulder.

Many books and films have taken inspiration from this. John Ford has used it as a sign of death in his film.

In Stagecoach again Luke Plummer is seen holding the hand when he is shot by the Ringo Kid. Many TV show episodes have also shown him.

Even video games have started making use of the Dead Man’s Hand concept. In the Fallout: New Vegas players collect cards to make up the Dead Man’s Hand.

In another card game known as the “Doomtown” the Dead Man’s Hand is considered to be the highest possible hand.


The Dead Man’s Hand is an intriguing set of aces and eight cards to deal with. It consists of aces and eights. However, there is nothing to be afraid of while dealing with these cards. It is just a belief or rather a superstition that is carried among the pokers.

The superstition has been carried on for a long time and therefore people assume it to be true. However, your game strategies matter in the poker game and not the dead man’s deck of black aces and black eights.

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