Monday, November 27, 2006

Biggest raise ever (non-grumpy content)

I recently learned of the biggest raise ever made in the history of poker--at least according to legend. It regards John Dougherty, perhaps the most famous gambler in old Tombstone. This is from “Sucker’s Progress: An Informal History of Gambling in America,” by Herbert Asbury, published in 1938, pp. 348-349:

If Southwestern tradition is to be credited... [t]his historic event occurred in
1889, when Dougherty and Ike Jackson, a rich cattle owner of Colorado City,
Texas, met in Bowen's Saloon in Santa Fe and agreed to play a square, no limit
[sic] game for the Poker championship of the West. A hundred prominent citizens
of Santa Fe, including L. Bradford Prince, Governor of New Mexico, crowded into
the saloon to watch the battle.... In a few minutes $100,000 in coin and
currency was piled on the table between the players. Jackson was then short of
cash, so he wrote out a deed to his ranch and 10,000 head of cattle, and with
this document raised Dougherty a hundred thousand. Dougherty hadn't money enough
either to call or to raise, but he was equal to the emergency. He called for
paper and pen, wrote rapidly for a moment or two, and then handed the paper to
Governor Prince, at the same time drawing a revolver.

Governor," he said, "you sign this or I will kill you. I like you and would
fight for you, but I love my reputation as a Poker player better than I do you
or anyone else."

Without reading what Dougherty had written,
Governor Prince hastily signed, and with a smile of triumph Dougherty flung the
paper into the pot, saying impressively:

"I raise you the
Territory of New Mexico! There's the deed!"

The Texan threw down
his cards with a mighty curse.

"All right," he said, "take the
pot. But it's a damned good thing for you that the Governor of Texas isn't

I’m please to report that today such moves are against the rules in most of the better casinos in Las Vegas.