Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Alice Ivers Tubbs....Not Your Typical Women of the West

 "Praise the Lord and place your bets. 
I'll take your money with no regrets.” 

No this quote is not from the famous poker player Johnny Chan but from Alice Ivers Tubbs. Alice Ivers Tubbs was more notably known as “Poker Alice”.

Alice Tubbs was born in Devonshire, England in 1851. When Alice was young her father, a schoolmaster, moved the family to Virginia. While living in Virginia Alice had a formal education at a boarding school. Then, when she was a teenager her family moved to Leadville, Colorado.

This is where her life would change and the name “Poker Alice” began. While she lived in Leadville Alice met Frank Duffield. Like most men in Leadville Frank worked in mining, he was an engineer. When Alice was 20, she was married to Frank.

Frank enjoyed the popular past time of most old west mining towns, gambling. So Alice, not wanting to stay at home went with her husband to the gambling halls. At first, Alice just watched and studied her husband. Soon, Alice was sitting at the poker table with her husband.

“Poker Alice” would soon have to use her new skills at the poker table to support herself. Her husband Frank was killed in a mining explosion. So she took to the poker tables to earn a living. She was skilled as both a player and a dealer. Her beauty, sophistication, and style made her a welcomed and popular player at all the gambling halls. The miners loved her charm and wit, and she loved their money!!

Simple Alice Tubbs from Virginia was transformed into “Poker Alice”. Poker Alice went from mining town to mining town puffing on a large black cigar and winning thousands. At one point she claimed to have one $250,000.

Poker Alice did not shy away from trouble either. She always carried a .38 revolver. On one occasion when a drunken miner threatened Tubbs with a knife, Alice pulled out her .38 and put a bullet into the miner's arm.

Her poker playing skills were becoming widely known throughout the west. So she took the road. She eventually went to New Mexico. While there she won $6,000 at the Gold Dust Gambling House. After staying in New York for a while Poker Alice finally ended up in Deadwood, South Dakota.

The Bodega Saloon Interior in Deadwood


Poker Alice would eventually marry again in Deadwood. She married Warren G Tubbs a painter. They met in a gambling hall, of course. After being married, Poker Alice moved to a ranch in Sturgis and raised her children.

She became a wife, mother and a rancher. This was a far cry from the gambling halls and the poker tables. She focused on her husband and her family for a while, until her husband was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Alice stayed by her husband’s side to try and nurse him back to health but to no avail. He died of pneumonia in the winter of 1910.

Poker Alice would soon emerge. To earn money for her family, Alice went back to her poker tables. Her life after this point is much of what you would expect, she was in and out of gambling halls and at one point she even owned a saloon with poker tables and lots of beautiful women. She eventually would wind up in jail (a few different times) for breaking up a fight with her .38 revolver.

At the age of 79, Alice underwent a gall bladder operation in Rapid City, but died of complications on February 27, 1930.

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