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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Poker Alice Ivers Tubbs - One of THE Best Pistol-toting, Cigar Smoking, Poker Players Who Ever Lived

Another place that Jim and I stopped on Monday during our tour of Sturgis was the Poker Alice Tubbs house.


Brothel was originally located on Bear Butte Creek near Fort Meade. A local businessman purchased the vacant house and moved it to its current location in town in Sturgis.

I was dismayed to find that it was closed. (Surprise, surprise!)Poker Alice Ivers Tubbs was quite an infamous woman. Born in England in 1861, Alice moved to Virginia when she was just a small girl.

Her family moved to Colorado when she was a teenager. There she met Frank Duffield whom she married at age 20. Gambling was a way of life in the mining camp where they lived, and Frank loved to gamble. Alice tagged along and watched him play. She eventually joined in and became an expert at both poker and a game called faro. A few years later, Frank was killed in an explosion at the mining camp. Alice became a dealer and a professional player. Since she wasn't "hard on the eyes" - 5'4", blue eyes, brown hair and dressed fashionably, men clamored to be around her.



She traveled to many different mining camps in Colorado, and soon the nickname "Poker Alice" stuck. She started smoking a big fat cigar, carried a .38, and NEVER gambled on Sunday. In 1890 Alice went to Deadwood, SD, where she met her future husband, Warren Tubbs, who was a dealer, gambler and a painter. She saved his life one evening when another gambler pulled a knife on him and she shot the miscreant in the arm.

Alice and Warren married and had 7 children. She stopped gambling for awhile and spent time at home. They had bought a homestead out of town. In 1910 Tubbs died of pneumonia, stemming from complications from tuberculosis. It is said that Alice had to pawn her wedding ring to pay for the burial.

Soon after Alice went back to the gambling halls to win money to get her ring back. Then she hired a man named George Huckert to watch over the homestead while she earn a living gambling again. He continually asked her to marry him. She continually said no. Finally she agreed because, "I owed him so much in back wages; I figured it would be cheaper to marry him than pay him off. So I did." How could you not love a woman like that?

But, alas, it, too, was a short marriage since George died in 1913. During Prohibition, Alice opened a saloon called "Poker's Palace", that served liquor, offered gambling, AND prostitutes. One night a ruckus broke out (there are conflicting stories) - soldiers were there - and Alice shot her .38 in the air to quiet things down. The bullet hit someone and she was arrested. She was acquitted on the grounds of self defense. Alice was in her 70's and still running the brothel, being fined several times, and finally jailed for several convictions. Then she was pardoned by the governor. She died of complications from a gall bladder operation in 1930.


"At my age I suppose I should be knitting. But I would rather play poker with five or six 'experts' than eat."

-- Alice Ivers Tubbs; aka: Poker Alice


Here was an intelligent woman who raised seven children, buried three husbands, and did what she had to do to survive. In all the stories I read, I never found anything that said that Alice became a "woman of the evening". I don't know when "Timex" came out,



but that should have been her nickname, 'cause she took a lickin' but kept on tickin'!

8 comments:

Brian Miller said...

wow. a fascinating bit of history...

Steven Anthony said...

what a fun lady, would have loved to have met her;)

WhisperingWriter said...

Wow, very interesting. She sounds like an awesome woman.

Wendy said...

Not only entertaining, but educational as well!
Thanks Pat. I always enjoy your posts.
=-)

Mama Zen said...

What an amazing story!

Nezzy said...

What a woman!!! Sounds like this Ozarks farm chicks kinda gal. She just took the bull by the horns and did what needed to be done. Yep, just "get-'er-done" is what I say. Thanks so much for this very interesting story about Poker Alice. I'm so glad I popped in.

From the sunny hills and hollers of the Missouri Ponderosa, ya'll have a wonderfully blessed day!!!

Betty Manousos:cutand-dry.blogspot.com said...

Really awesome story!

D. Marks said...

Hello,
Id just like to add a little something to this blog/post. My best friend, GF, and I lived in this house in 1999. We had t6o move because my GF was so scared of all the hauntings! True story. Almost every evening we would hear women giggling from upstairs, we would smell "Vintage Perfume", and on more then 1 occasion we thought our family from out of town was there and come to find out not a soul was there! Fun place!
Douglas