According her own account, Alice Ivers was built-in in Devonshire, England, on February 17, 1851, to a bourgeois adviser and his family. While she was still a adolescent girl, the ancestors migrated to Virginia area she abounding an flush boarding academy for adolescent women until the ancestors confused afresh afterward the argent blitz to Leadville, Colorado. As an attractive, aesthetic adolescent woman who was able-bodied accomplished (especially in mathematics) Alice bent the eye of a lot of acceptable bachelors. But it was Frank Duffield, a mining architect that won her duke in marriage.

After they were married, Alice and Frank acclimatized in Lake City in 1875. Frank was a amorous agenda amateur and spent a lot of his additional time in one of the abounding coffer halls. The dejected eyed bistered usually accompanied him rather than break home alone. It did not yield continued for Alice to apprentice she had a acceptable arch for counting cards and accession odds. At first, she artlessly watched the players. Afore long, she was abutting the amateur and acceptable an able poker and faro player. If Duffield died in a mining explosion, Alice took to the tables, area she becoming the name “Poker Alice.”

After accepting her alpha in Lake City, Alice started a bout of the added mining towns of Colorado, ambidextrous faro or poker in Alamosa, Central City, Georgetown, and afresh on to Leadville during its heyday in the backward 1870s. It was while she was ambidextrous faro that a charlatan called Marion Speer watched her apple-pie out a acclaimed charlatan called Jack Hardesty:

“It was the damnedest faro bold I anytime saw. The bold seesawed aback and alternating with Alice consistently acrimonious up the edge; a few times it concluded alone continued abundant for the amateur to eat a sandwich and ablution it down with a boiler maker.”

In the aboriginal ’80s, Poker Alice sashayed into Argent City, New Mexico, and promptly bankrupt the coffer at a faro table in beneath than four hours. Using her $6,000 winnings, she headed for New York for a weeklong spending bacchanalia affairs the best in the latest fashions, dining in the best restraints, accessory the theater, and about indulging herself. If the money played out he she alternate to the Kansas beasts towns and afresh on to the Oklahoma Territory area she ran her amateur in Guthrie. She formed in the Dejected Bell Saloon, Bill Tilghman’s Turf Exchange, and the Reaves Brothers Casino.

In 1891, Poker Alice confused her operations to Arizona ambidextrous cards at the Midway, the El Moro, and the Dejected Goose in Clifton. Afresh if the argent miners flocked to Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, she pulled up stakes and headed to Creede. There she formed a faro table six canicule a anniversary (she never formed on Sunday) at Ford’s Exchange, a alehouse and dancehall. The owner, Bob Ford, was none added than the man who had ashen Jesse James in 1882. A few weeks afterwards Poker Alice went to plan for Ford, Edward O’Kelley entered Ford’s covering alehouse on June 8, 1892, with a 10-gauge shotgun. According to witnesses, Ford’s aback was turned. O’Kelley said, “Hello, Bob.” As Ford angry to see who it was, O’Kelley emptied both barrels into his midsection, killing Ford instantly. So abundant for the “dirty little alarmist that attempt Mr. Howard.”

After the afterglow of the argent bang wore off in Creede, Poker Alice drifted up to Deadwood, which was still bearing affluence of gold for the coffer dens alive the miners. She formed as a table broker at a alehouse endemic by a affluent charlatan accustomed as “Bedrock Tom.” Another broker alive there was Warren G. Tubbs, a abode painter by barter but broker by necessity. For whatever the acumen the two addled up a accord that eventually acquired into a accurate romance. Poker Alice accustomed her amore by conduct a bashed miner who was aggravating to gut Warren with a continued bladed knife. The miner had the broker backed adjoin a coffer and was traveling for the baleful attempt if his paramour’s.38 blew a broad aperture in his knife arm. A few weeks afterwards Warren proposed alliance and a new activity as a craven farmer.

Poker Alice accustomed his activity and afterwards a abbey wedding, the brace bought a adjacent craven acreage and acclimatized in to accession a family. Over the advance of the next three decades, they aloft chickens and had seven accouchement (four boys and three girls). Despite the albatross of active a acreage and adopting children, Alice still managed to blooper out for some poker activity a few nights every week. During this time she was accounted to accept been able to accomplish as abundant as $6,000 coffer on a acceptable night – a baby affluence at the time. Alice afterwards said time spent on her agronomical was some of the happiest canicule of her activity and she did not absence gambling, but admired the accord and quiet of the ranch.

While her accouchement were growing up, Alice approved to accumulate them abroad from the coffer houses and at one point, she and Warren absitively to address a agronomical northeast of Sturgis on the Moreau River. The move came anon afterwards Warren apprenticed tuberculosis and Alice planned to assistant him aback to health. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case; Alice became her husband’s fulltime babysitter and larboard the coffer affairs abaft until he died in her accoutrements adversity from pneumonia in 1910 during a winter blizzard. Alice, with the arctic body of her bedmate at her side, collection a aggregation of mules and a wagon 48 afar through bawl apprehension and abysmal snowdrifts to Sturgis, the abutting town. She had to assurance her marriage ring to pay for Warren’s burying but afresh afterwards that aforementioned day she won abundant money at the poker tables to accost her ring.

After her husband’s death, Alice was affected already afresh to accomplish a active at what she knew best – gambling. She assassin George Huckert to yield affliction of her agronomical while she alternate to the agenda tables. Huckert became captivated with Alice and proposed to her several times. Finally, she gave in saying, “I owed him so abundant in aback wages; I ample it would be cheaper to ally him than pay him off. So I did.” Nevertheless, Alice anon begin herself abandoned already afresh if Huckert died in 1913. You could say she had no luck at all if it came to husbands.

A few years afore Huckert died Alice had bought an old abode on Bear Butte Creek abreast the Fort Mead Army Post and opened a brothel. This resulted in, perhaps, the a lot of again adventure about Poker Alice. The abode was baby and bare added apartment and “fresh girls” to advantage up the business, so Alice went to a coffer for a accommodation of $2,000. As the adventure goes, she was quoted as saying:

“I went to the coffer for a $2,000 accommodation to body on an accession and go to Kansas City to recruit some beginning girls. If I told the broker I’d accord the accommodation in two years, he aching his arch for a minute afresh let me accept the money. In beneath than a year I was aback in his appointment paying off the loan. He asked how I was able to appear up with the money so fast. I took a brace chaws on the end of my cigar and told him, `Well it’s this way. I knew the Grand Army of the Republic was accepting an billet actuality in Sturgis. And I knew that the accompaniment Elks assemblage would be actuality too. But I erect forgot about all those Methodist preachers advancing to boondocks for a conference.’”

While she was active her speakeasy brothel, Alice would still accomplish accepted trips to Deadwood to play poker with old friends. She usually played poker antic a biscuit skirt, a men’s shirt, and a attack hat. Welcome at any table, she adopted arena with humans she knew, adage others ability not yield accident to her in a affable manner. Maintaining her aboriginal aberrant set of standards, Alice neither gambled nor let her whores plan on Sundays. By 1913, Alice’s business was flourishing, due in allotment to the South Dakota National Guard training nearby. It was due to her Sunday closings that she dead a soldier.

According to the accounts of the day, she had been accomplishing a acreage appointment business on a Saturday night and approved to shut her aperture on Sunday morning, axis abroad a randy agglomeration of soldiers. Afterwards she pushed the troops out and bound the door, the men absitively to retaliate by acid both the buzz and electricity curve in the house. Finally, if they began breaking windows with rocks, Alice had had enough. She accursed a individual burglarize attempt at the men. Two soldiers were hit: a baker who afterwards died at the hospital and a clandestine who would eventually balance from his wounds.

The Sturgis badge accustomed on the scene, demography Alice and her girls into custody. As luck would accept it, the adjudicator was allegedly a chump of Alice’s bagnio and he disqualified agreeably on them. Even admitting the character of the ballista charcoal unclear, the cutting accuse adjoin Alice were absolved as self-defense. However, she was bedevilled of befitting a chaotic abode and the girls were answerable with prostitution. Alice paid the fines and her bank was bound aback in business a anniversary later.

The cutting larboard the authorities at Fort Meade afraid and the badge began a attack of consistently arresting Alice on accuse of active a abode of corruption and bootlegging. They always arrested her able-bodied into her 60s. Each time she would pay her fines and afresh abide business as accepted until she was sentenced, at age 75, to a accompaniment penitentiary for again aesthetics for getting a madam. South Dakota Governor Bulow anon pardoned her in 1928, alive he could not forward the abominable aging old adult to prison.

Two years afterwards Alice became actively ill and aloft assay by doctors, she was told that they would accept to abolish her acrimony bladder. If they warned her that at her age her affairs were not favorable, she was appear to accept said, “Cut away, I’ve faced big allowance before.” On February 27, 1930, she airy the big allowance and lost. She was active in the Catholic Cemetery at Sturgis, South Dakota.

Throughout her acclaimed activity she had active three husbands, won over a division of a actor dollars in gambling, agitated a.38 pistol, endemic a brothel, banned during prohibition, dead a man, and was a bedevilled felon at age 75.

Yes sir, you could say Poker Alice was one boxy bird.

“Praise the Lord and abode your bets and I’ll yield your money with no regrets!”

Poker Alice