What Was the Fifth Card Of The Dead Man’s Hand?


The theory of the dead man’s hand has taken up different versions over the years. It is currently considered a pair of two aces and two eights, A♣A♠8♣8♠. Let’s take a look at the history of the Dead Man’s tale before we move on to find out the fifth of the five cards in the game.

The History Of The Dead Man’s Hand

The dead man’s hand consists of the infamous “cursed” poker hand involving the eight of clubs, the ace of spades, the ace of clubs, and the eight of spades. The fifth of the five cards remains undefined. 

The fifth of the dead man’s hand is the topic of discussion in popular culture. The hand belonged to an Old West hero of folklore, gunfighter, and lawman named Will Bill Hickok. 

He held these five cards when Jack McCall shot him at the back of his head in the year 1876 on the unforgettable day of August 2. The incident took place in the Saloon of Nuttall & Mann at Deadwood in Dakota Territory. 

Many believe that Hickok discarded the fifth card, while others think his draw was interrupted by the shooting. As such, they believe, he never had a fifth card in hand.

Historical displays in Deadwood portray 9♦ as the fifth card, while the historic site of Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon, the lucky Nugget Gambling Hall, shows J♦ as the fifth card. The Adams Museum of Deadwood displays a picture of Hickok. He is seen holding the queen of hearts, ace of diamonds, eight of spades, and the ace of clubs. The Stardust Casino in Las Vegas displays a 5♦ as the fifth card in the dead man’s hand.

The Reality Of Today

It is only as per reference of 1886 that claims the dead man’s poker hand to be three jacks and a pair of tens. However, the claim does not refer to Wild Bill Hickok’s hand. 

Nevertheless, Hickok’s hand is currently accepted to be A♠, A♣, 8♠, and 8♣. Many instances make different claims about the fifth card in Hickok’s hand. They believe the fifth card was discarded, and he was interrupted by the shooting while he was drawing the fifth card. But the evidence is not sufficient to support these claims.


The fifth card of the dead man’s hand could be any of those cards. The bottom line is that it is most likely that it would not have made any difference either way.

Maybe we’ll never know the fifth card of the dead man’s hand!

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