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Sam Houston - Poker

There aren’t a great many games, sports or activities uniquely connected to specific periods of American history like the Wild West is connected to card games. Poker and the Old West are inextricably linked in stories and culture. Daring gunslingers and lawmen met over the faro table or played poker in dusty saloons filled with character, excitement and danger. The whiskey flowed, the hand-rolled cigarettes filled the air with haze while icons like Doc Holliday and Wild Bill Hickok bet and called and bluffed and won. Sure, it’s a romanticized view of the West but we can all imagine the excitement of betting, bluffing, and winning the pot. Imagine? Well, we get to see it every day at the Hangar Poker House in Houston.


You probably know that the City of Houston was named after Sam Houston, who was the first president of the Republic of Texas and later a Texas senator and governor of the state. Did you know he had a son named Temple Lea Houston? The son wasn’t only a brilliant lawyer. By all accounts there was another passion for Houston, poker.

A story is told of Houston arriving at a small town to serve as a litigator in a minor trial. While he was there, he played against two other lawyers in town to prepare and try the defense of a client. Houston believed the two lawyers cheated at poker and before the evening was over the two men lay dead by Houston’s revolver.

What happened next?

Well, the two lawyers left a defendant without representation. So, Houston agreed to represent him and won the case!

Stories like this about poker in the Old West abound, and they’re about as colorful as can be. Perhaps we won’t see the gunslingers, the cowboys and the saloon girls but it’s good to know there is a place for poker in Houston where we can still get all the excitement of a straight, a flush, or four of a kind! Know any other Old West poker stories? Here at the Hangar Poker House, we’d love to hear them.

About the Author

W.J. Wright played his first game of poker at the age of eleven. In the late eighties he started playing for money and hasn't looked back. You can usually find him hiding his hole cards while sipping scotch and considering which player and which hand will end up in his next writing project.

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