The fillies are excited to welcome historical author Kathy Otten to Wildflower Junction today! She lives in the open farm country of western NY with a husband and three college age kids.
Growing up in a small Vermont farm town, she’s a horse nut whose parents owned the general store. She grew up watching Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger, and John Wayne on TV, and visiting historic places like Old Sturbridge Village and the Shelburne Museum.
Today Kathy will be giving away a PDF or signed copy of her last Western historical, Lost Hearts. So don’t forget to leave a comment. “ He is sworn to bring her to justice, but only she can heal his wounded heart.”
Many thanks to everyone at Petticoats and Pistols for having me here today. While doing research on poker hands for my new release, A Tarnished Knight, I discovered that what qualifies as a winning hand today, would not win you the pot 1874 when my story takes place.
While many opinions exist as to the origins of poker, most attribute it to a popular French game called poque. Settlers and sailors brought the game with them from France to settlements in Canada and New Orleans.
Players were dealt five cards face down from a deck of twenty, ten through ace in each of the four suits. There was no draw and a limited number of combinations for a winning hand, one pair, two pair, three of a kind, a full house, and four of a kind. The best hand you could have was four aces or four kings with an ace kicker. At that time there was just one round of betting.
The full deck of fifty-two cards was introduced in the 1820’s. More people could play and the draw was introduced which increased the popularity of the game.
By the 1830’s ordinances were passed in most towns forbidding gambling and gamblers took to the riverboats which ran up and down the Mississippi.
Jonathan H. Green, was one of those gamblers. In his writings he mentions variations of a game called poque. The game was played with 20 cards, using only the aces, kings, queens, jacks and tens. Two to four people could play, and each was dealt five cards. Greene named the game poker.
During the gold rush, miners would spend their evenings playing poker.
The popularity of the game grew in Civil War camps and many additions were made to the game.
After the war poker became a staple of frontier settlements and western saloons. It became a symbol of manliness and toughness.
In August 1876, Wild Bill Hickok was shot in the back by Jack McCall, while playing poker at a saloon in Deadwood, Dakota Territory. While no one really knows what cards he was holding when he was killed, there after aces over eights, became known as the “Deadman’s Hand.”
By 1877 rules showed that a flush (all cards in the same suit) beat any straight, however, a straight flush (five consecutive cards of the same suit) had not yet been declared the top hand, so that four of a kind could beat a flush or a straight flush. The two unbeatable hands remained four aces and any card, or four kings and an ace.
Low Ball and Split-pot poker appeared in the 1900’s and community poker games became popular in 1925. By the 1950’s five card draw had fallen out of favor in lieu of games like Seven Card Draw and Texas Hold’em.
Yet the image of cowboys sitting around a saloon table playing a game of Five Card Draw will always remain as iconic to the Old West as the Colt Peacemaker, cattle drives and shoot-outs.
Moulton, Candy, The Writer’s Guide To Everyday Life in the Wild West From 1840-1900,Writer’s Digest Books, Cincinnati, OH, 1999
Fleeing her abusive husband, Victoria Van der Beck is captured by down-on-his-luck bounty hunter, Ryder MacKenzie. As she comes to love this man who hides his face in shadows, she wonders if he could be valiant knight for whom she’s been longing. Is he the champion who would save her from the evil prince, or is MacKenzie just a paid lackey determined to return her to her husband?
Ryder MacKenzie never believed anyone could love him, for he was cursed the day he was born. He only wants to be left alone to live on his ranch in peace. But rustlers have stolen his cattle. He’s been ambushed and his horse killed. Now his one chance to get his life back is to return a society princess to her husband. Maybe his luck is about to change. A least she isn’t pretty.
The peacefulness of Ryder MacKenzie’s home settled into her soul with every breath of air she drew, soothing the restless need to run that had consumed her since she’d hit Nicholas with the whiskey bottle.
When she wandered back to the cabin, she expected Ryder to be in bed, but he was still in the tub, his knees drawn up, pale and knobby, his head resting on the rim.
She grabbed Beau by the scruff of his neck and shoved him outside closing the door with a sharp bang.
Ryder jerked upright, sloshing water over the sides.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’ll come back.”
“No.” He leaned back and closed his eyes. “I’m done. I just want to wash my hair.”
“I can do it for you.” Before the words were out of her mouth, she questioned what part of her brain they’d
Maybe it was because Ryder was safe, and this was a chance to physically connect with a man on her own
terms, without fear.
Maybe she needed to satisfy the curiosity that had taunted her all week, urging her to explore the body of
this man she desired.
But maybe it was simply because he was Ryder MacKenzie, and in his own determined, unassuming
way, he’d touched her heart and become her hero, and there would never again be a man she so ached to
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