How does a woman accomplish in a man’s world? In the American West of the Nineteenth Century, a lot of acclimatized what association offered. Find your man, get married, accept babies – again accomplish to a activity of washing, affable and sewing; hard, bound and consistently thankless.
But a few women were accepting none of this. Anything a man could do, they argued, so could a woman. And they acclimatized it. A few, conspicuously Annie Oakley, fabricated their point with a gun. Others chose the gaming table. Cards were a abundant leveller of the sexes and three women in accurate showed just how.
Alice Ivers (1851-1930)
When you ally an American mining engineer, Alice accepted, the mining camps of states such as Colorado and Texas become your home. You adeptness be the alone woman in a rough, boxy macho apple adequate alone by alcohol and gambling. The babe originally from Devon, in England, played society’s ‘game’, to a point. She sewed and adapted for bedmate Frank.
But if he can accept fun gambling, Alice reasoned, why can’t I? So she followed Frank into the coffer anteroom and apparent she was acceptable at cards – actual good. Particularly Poker. Just how good, coffer houses like The Gold Dust in Deadwood, Colorado, bound discovered. Here was a woman, they realised, who was a ‘natural’ poker player. One with a acceptable arch for numbers that could bound counterbalance up the odds. Someone who could accumulate a straight, ‘poker’ face. She became accepted as ‘Poker Alice’ with acceptable reason.
Alice was absolutely able of earning $6000 in a night, and breaking the bank. Better, the owners realised, to accept this petite, 5’4″ adorableness with animated amber hair alive for you as a dealer. Men were fatigued to her table like flies to a spider’s web. Mesmerised by her appearance, absent by the cigars she admired to smoke, abounding were ashamed by her accomplishment at cards.
“I would rather play poker,” Alice already quipped, “with 5 or six ‘experts,’ than eat.” Except on a Sunday. A strict, moral accomplishments and able religious aesthetics guided her to the end – even if in afterwards years she ‘diversified’ into prostitution.
And no one beyond her. All knew she had a.38 pistol in the abundant folds of her fashionable dresses, bought on approved arcade trips to New York. And she wasn’t abashed to use it.
Eleanor Dumont (1834 – 1879)
Few carefully best a action with Eleanor. Certainly not the bashed miner who nicknamed her ‘Madame Moustache’, alluding to the bunch of hair on her top lip. A attenuate changeable in the mining camps of the California Gold Rush, anybody knew she kept a Derringer pistol beneath her skirts. To address this adult and appeal her purse, as two gentlemen apparent one evening, was to allure a bang of lead. Neither individual, it is recorded, waited for her to reload.
Like Alice, Eleanor was a able agenda amateur who outplayed the men. One of the aboriginal able Blackjack players, her accomplishment as a banker and adverse of cards was legendary. Few men bettered her. Plenty approved as they flocked to the tables of Dumont’s Palace, the agenda den she ran with addition able gambler, David Tobin.
Everyone knew the rules of entry: dress smartly, behave appropriately and no women allowed. The all-male audience were absorption by their elegant, bejewelled hostess, who calmed them with her quiet address and deflected agitation with her aciculate wit. A lot of anon became acclimatized to the adult who formed her own cigarettes and drank champagne.
As time blanket her looks, it became harder to agreeableness and disarm; corruption was added to the career portfolio. The serene, affected hostess metamorphosed into the alehouse character, trading base jokes over a bottle of whiskey.
But Eleanor never absent her affection for cards, or her principles. Despite anxious rivals abasing her as a agenda sharp, she maintained to the end her acceptability as an honest banker who never defaulted on a debt. If luck assuredly ran out at the gaming table, and money loaned to her by a acquaintance could not be repaid, Eleanor agilely exited from the allowance and from life, aided by a bottle of wine abstemious with morphine. A agenda begin by her physique declared artlessly that she had ”tired of life”.
Lottie Deno (1844-1934)
What was a Southern belle, from a affluent Kentucky family, accomplishing in Fort Griffin, Texas in the 1870s? This outpost, abreast the Texas panhandle, was one of the wildest borderland towns of its day – home to ballyhoo on both abandon of the law, from Sheriff Pat Garrett to Billy The Kid – a place, so humans said, that “had a man for breakfast every morning”.
Yet this arresting redhead, with a personality that sparkled as blithely as her amber eyes, revelled in its ballyhoo and capitalised on its booming economy. This was a boondocks even with banknote from top bison prices, and abundant of it was spent at The Beehive coffer saloon. As able-bodied as acceptable looks, Lottie was a able agenda player, who thrived on departing men from their money – including gunslinger and acclaimed agenda player, Doc Holliday, whom Lottie adequate of a air-conditioned $3000 one evening.
Her austere Episcopalian ancestors would accept been horrified. But the woman built-in Carlotta J.Thompkins fabricated abiding they never begin out, ambuscade abaft a alternation of pseudonyms of which Lottie Deno was the a lot of famous. An abridgement of Dinero, the Spanish for money, it was becoming afterwards she exhausted all-comers at a duke of poker. A bashed articulation from a far bend of the bar cried out, “Honey, with accomplishment like them, you oughta alarm yourself Lotta Dinero”.
Her father, a acknowledged racehorse agriculturalist who died angry for the Confederacy, adeptness accept winced at her surroundings. But he would accept been agilely pleased. His babe ‘flipped the pasteboards’ with a accomplishment and affection to bout his own. All those hours spent teaching the adolescent Lottie about cards, on the paddle steamers and in the finest coffer apartment of New Orleans, had paid off.
And she conducted herself like the Southern Adult she had been raised, exuding chic to the end. A adult with categorical manners, who accepted the aforementioned of others – no-one anytime dared drink, affirm or smoke at her table. A woman to trust, whose chat was her bond.
And she was smart. It’s attenuate for a gambler’s luck to endure for anytime but Lottie Deno was that rarity. She angled out with her balance intact, and grew old in adequate retirement, with her one and alone bedmate Frank.
As acceptable as any man
Three women, anniversary actual altered from the others, all with a allowance – a accustomed adeptness to play cards. Not abundant by itself to survive in a man’s world, but all three angry this accomplishment to their advantage. They acclimatized they were as acceptable as any man through backbone of character, congenital intelligence and arduous determination.