What Card Games Did Cowboys Play?

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By Monica Bates

Cowboys have always been a symbol of the Wild West, known for their bravery, ruggedness, and love for card games. Card games were a popular pastime among cowboys during the 19th century.

These games not only helped them pass their time but also provided them with a means of relaxation after a long day of hard work. Let’s take a look at some of the popular card games that cowboys played.

1. Poker

Undoubtedly, poker was the most popular card game among cowboys.

It is said that every cowboy carried a deck of cards in his pocket, and poker was their go-to game. The rules of poker were simple and easy to understand, which made it all the more enjoyable for cowboys. They would gather around in saloons or around campfires to play poker.

2. Faro

Faro was another popular card game among cowboys.

It was also known as “bucking the tiger” because of its association with a tiger design on the back of the cards used in the game. Faro was easy to learn and offered high stakes, which made it an exciting game for cowboys.

3. Three-card Monte

Three-card Monte was a simple yet tricky card game that involved three cards – two black ones and one red one.

The dealer would shuffle these cards and ask players to bet on which card was red. The dealer would then show one black card and ask players if they wanted to change their bet before revealing the third card. It may seem like an easy game, but it required a sharp eye and quick reflexes to win.

4. Seven-up

Seven-up was another popular card game among cowboys that involved seven cards dealt face down to each player and one face-up in the center of the table.

Players had to take turns guessing whether the next card in the deck was higher or lower than the face-up card. It was a simple game that required luck and skill.

5. Blackjack

Blackjack, also known as “21”, is a classic card game that was popular among cowboys.

The objective of the game is to get as close to 21 points without going over. Cowboys enjoyed playing this game as it required both skill and luck.


In conclusion, cowboys had a love for card games that provided them entertainment and relaxation during their tough lives on the frontier. Poker, faro, three-card Monte, seven-up, and blackjack were some of the popular games that they enjoyed playing.

These games not only helped them pass their time but also added a social element to their lives as they played with fellow cowboys. Even today, these games are still played in many parts of the world and continue to be enjoyed by people of all ages.