Poker Dead Man’s Hand Meaning Explained

poker dead man's hand

Poker dead man’s hand comprises of two eights and two aces. Players love it because of the winning advantage it gives one in a game.

It is a great start that may deliver the desired results in a cash tournament.

It is a poker strategy that is over one hundred years old. How it came to be is just as interesting as the actual strategy.

Even though the plan did not benefit the man who came up with it, it has been used over the years by different players to win big cash in tournaments.

How Did It Come to Be?

The infamous American Old West was known for its wild inhabitants. One such man was Wild Bill, a lawman. Bill, born as James Butler Hickok, was a celebrated gunslinger whose reputation outlived him.

He had a soft spot for guns and poker. One day, Bill was enjoying a thrilling game of poker at Number Ten Saloon situated in South Dakota, where he met his untimely death.

His assailants shot him while he had four cards held tightly in his hand. These were two eights and two aces.

Since then, this combination of cards became to be known as the dead man’s hand.

Wild Bill and Dead Man’s Hand in Pop Culture

Wild Bill was not only a lawman but also an avid poker player and gambler. His unique combination of career and hobby continues to appeals to most people, hitherto.

Before becoming a lawman, Bill was a spy, trapper, soldier, hunter, sharpshooter, and a military scout. He has been described as the true definition of manhood.

His life story has been told in writing with flair. It has also been created into films by some of the best directors yet. Each of the stories emphasizes his role as the accidental creator of the dead man’s hand.

How to Play Dead Man’s Hand

In 1876, Hickok was playing the Five Card Stud. His card combination at the time of his death, two aces and two eights were surely a great deal.

Played like the Seven Card Stud, only with five cards, the five-card stud could reward Bill handsomely for his card combo.

Being given two big cards out of five cards was sheer luck for him. In Texas Hold ’em, eight is a marginal card and could be played based on the player’s preference.

If you are in late position, you could choose to call or raise if there are no callers ahead of you.

Dead Man’s Hand – Play it Like a Pro

professional poker player

To win this game, you have to learn how to play like a pro. You need to understand that if there is a raise ahead of you, a lot of players will opt to fold A-8 based on their interpretations of players ahead.

It can, however, be challenging to play it after a flop. If the board misses entirely, with a flop such as K-10-2, you will be asked to either check or bluff.

Eventually, it will be prudent for you to throw in the towel with your opponent’s bet still on this board.

How Important is a Dead Man’s Hand in Poker?

Even though it has a lot of historical and psychological value, it is not highly valued in the current gaming world.

Whereas the two-pair is not weak in poker, it is certainly not as valuable as the royal flush, full house, or straight.

Even though it might be exciting to have it dealt, the combination of cards does not change your likelihood of losing or winning.

The true value of is attached to the psychological importance of the cards. Players hold it in high regard.

Playing Eights and Aces

The dead man’s hand is a strong strategy in Texas Hold ’em. If you assume it is a double pair variation of eights and aces, then it is great to play in general.

Double pairs, more so, those that have the most appropriate pair, have a tendency of doing well. When you flop this and get the chance to fill it up, it is prudent for you to consider playing it with all your chips.

However, there are exceptions in special situations. By and large, it is likely to bring you more luck.

Having one ace and an eight as starting cards isn’t so good a holding. Variations will only work well for you later on in the game when you are first in and you can start things with a significant raise.

However, when you are suited, it has a little extra playability because it has the ability to make a flush that is a great hand.

It is important to know that playing the dead man’s hand might be exciting because of its historical significance, which does not necessarily mean that it is the most profitable cards.


What is considered a dead man’s hand in poker?

Two black aces and two black eights is considered a true dead man’s hand.

Is the dead man’s hand a good hand?

It’s strong for sure since it can end up in a flush and two pairs is always good. Though it’s not as strong as most people think and thanks to the name it will not increase your probabilities to win.

What is the fifth card in a dead man’s hand?

There is no fifth card. The man who named this hand died with only four cards in his hand.