February 17, 1851 – February 27, 1930
Poker Alice is portrayed by Chantal
Alice Ivers Duffield Tubbs Huckert was born in England to Irish immigrants. Moving to Virginia when she was 12, her family sent her to boarding school to be come a refined lady, in hopes of attracting a wealthy suitor. In her late teens the family made its way to Leadville where she would meet and marry her first husband Frank Duffield a Mining Engineer. Frank played poker in his spare time and because of this, Alice too began to play.
She was known to win big and splurge the winnings, she loved dresses and fashion, travelling to Silver City, Chicago and New York. She would wear the height of fashion at her games which was her planned distraction to her opponents. Contrary to how she appeared Alice was struggling financially after the death of her first husband, turning to poker to support her life. Alice could be seen at many tables, never on a Sunday, smoking a cigar and hiding her .38 for protection.
The casual games weren’t enough so she tried to hold down other jobs including teaching. Alice would make money by gambling and working as a dealer. Alice made a name for herself by winning money from poker games. By the time she was given the name "Poker Alice," she was drawing in large crowds to watch her play and men were constantly challenging her to play. Saloon owners liked that Alice was a respectable woman who kept to her values. These values included her refusal to play poker on Sundays.
As her reputation grew, so did the amount of money she was making. Some nights she would even make $6,000, an incredibly large sum of money at the time. Alice claimed that she won $250,000, which would now be worth more than three million dollars.
A beautiful, well dressed, refined woman at the poker table, Alice was able to count cards, which helper her amass her fortune leading to the opening of “The Poker Palace”, a gambling saloon that she owned, offering gambling and liquor downstairs and prostitution upstairs.
Alice was adamant that there was no business on Sundays, she never played nor allowed anyone else. One Sunday in 1913 a group of unruly soldiers entered her saloon, disobeyed the rules of the hall and a fight ensued. Alice drew her .38 shooting and killing one of the soldiers.
Alice spent a short time in jail before being acquitted of the charges smoking cigars. At the trial, she claimed self-defence and was acquitted. After the trial, her saloon was shut down.
While in her sixties, Alice was arrested several times after the "Poker Palace" incident for being a madam, a gambler and a bootlegger, as well as her drunkenness. She would comply with the law and pay her fines but kept her business. In 1928, she was arrested again for bootlegging and her repeated offenses of conducting a brothel. Despite this sentence to prison, but due to her age she was pardoned by the Governor.
Alice died in 1930 after complications from gall bladder surgery, in Rapid City at the age of 79.