Wild Bill Hickok always had a personal rule to never play poker with his back facing the door. The one time he did, he was shot in the back of the head and killed
“The fateful shot was fired 134 years ago today – August 2, 1876. The shot that rang throughout Deadwood and left its mark forever in Old West history. It was the gunshot that killed James Butler ‘Wild Bill’ Hickok.
Some folks say that Wild Bill knew his days were numbered and that he had told his friend,’Colorado Charlie’ Utter, that he knew Deadwood would be his final camp. Wild Bill, although only 39 years old, had lived a colorful life.
Of the stories told about Wild Bill Hickok, just as many tend to be fiction compared to those that are fact. What can be verified as true is that he made his fame and living as a lawman, military teamster, showman, gunfighter and gambler. Wild Bill’s pursuits took him from his birth state of Illinois to the plains of Kansas and Missouri and eventually to the western frontier regions of Wyoming and South Dakota.
After living an adventurous and often questioned lifestyle as a no-holds-barred lawman, Hickock finally made his way to Deadwood Gulch in July of 1876, possibly hoping to quietly live out his days at the poker tables of the booming gold town. And that was the case – for just a couple of weeks.
On August 2, 1876, Wild Bill Hickok was playing poker at Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon No. 10 in Deadwood. Hickok always played by a personal rule that he had to have a chair with his back to the wall.
This day was different.
Because all of the other chairs at the card table were filled and players weren’t willing to give up their seats, Hickok was forced to sit in a chair with his back to the door of the saloon.
Eventually, while Hickok was still playing poker, Jack McCall quietly roamed into the bar and made his way to Wild Bill’s back side. McCall raised a pistol, cursed Hickok and shot him directly in the back of the head – killing him instantly. Hickok’s body slumped forward, revealing his poker hand containing two pair – black aces and black eights.”