What Kind of Card Games Did Cowboys Play?

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By Valerie Becker

Cowboys are often depicted in movies and TV shows as being tough, rugged, and always up for a good card game. But what kind of card games did cowboys actually play? In this article, we’ll explore some of the most popular card games that were played during the Wild West era.


Poker is perhaps the most well-known card game played by cowboys. It’s a game that requires skill, strategy, and a bit of luck.

Players are dealt a hand of cards and then make bets on who has the best hand. The game can get quite intense as players try to read each other’s expressions to determine if they’re bluffing or not.

Texas Hold’em

Texas Hold’em is a variation of poker that has become incredibly popular in recent years. It’s played with two cards dealt face down to each player and five community cards placed face up on the table. Players must use their two cards in combination with the community cards to make the best possible hand.


Faro was one of the most popular gambling games in the Wild West era. It’s a simple game that involves betting on whether a certain card will be drawn from a deck. Players place their bets on a board with numbers ranging from 1-13 and then the dealer reveals cards one by one until someone wins.

Three-Card Monte

Three-Card Monte is another simple game that was popular among cowboys. It involves three cards – two black and one red – which are shuffled around quickly.

Players must then guess which card is the red one. However, it’s often played as a scam where the dealer rigs the game so that no one can ever win.


Blackjack is another classic cowboy card game. The objective is to get as close to 21 as possible without going over.

Players are dealt two cards and can then choose to “hit” (get another card) or “stand” (keep their current hand). The game requires strategy and quick thinking, making it a popular choice among cowboys.


Seven-Up is a simple game where players receive seven cards and must make the best five-card hand possible. It’s similar to poker but without the betting aspect. The game is often played for fun rather than money.


While these are some of the most popular card games played by cowboys, there were undoubtedly many other variations and regional games that were enjoyed during the Wild West era. Whether playing for fun or for money, card games provided a way for cowboys to pass the time and test their skills against their friends and foes alike.