Category Archives: Cafrino

2017 WSOP

2017 WSOP Officially Underway

2017 WSOP Officially Underway

The 2017 WSOP kicked off Wednesday morning at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas with the first of 74 events. The 2017 summer series officially got cards in the air with the $565 no-limit hold’em Casino Employees event.

A second event, a $10,000 Tag Team tournament, is scheduled for 4 p.m. and promises to feature a team consisting of decorated Olympian Michael Phelps, along with high-stakes poker pros Antonio Esfandiari, Brian Rast and Jeff Gross.

But before the notables showed up, the registration line was filled with hopefuls looking for their shot at poker glory.

Some like Marcus Perez, who does facilities maintenance at the Bay 101 Casino in San Jose, California, are hoping to improve on a past finish.

“I’m just coming to try and bink some money,” Perez said. “This is my third try, after cashing the first time. I don’t get to play too many tournaments, but for the World Series of Poker, I’m going to try and make it out.

Others, like Ray Ragawski from Chicago, Illinois, are playing in their first ever event.

“I’ve always liked the action, but never got to play.” Ragawski admitted. “This year I came out to deal, so I figured I’d take a shot in the Casino Employees event.”

The 2016 WSOP hosted the biggest poker series of all time with a record 107,833 entrants from 107 different nations. A total of $221,211,633 was awarded.

The biggest change announced for the 2017 edition came in early May, when Caesars declared that the November Nine concept was finished. Instead, the main event will play down to a winner on July 22.

The tournament schedule has added eight new events, including the aforementioned $10,000 Tag Team, the $365 buy-in Giant, and a $2,620 Marathon tournament. There are also three online bracelet events on the schedule, including a $1,000 no-limit hold’em online championship event starting on July 7.

Check out the full schedule.

As far as quality of life changes for players in 2017, the big difference will be that credit cards will be an accepted form of payment at live registration windows. Credit cards can now be used for buy-ins of up to $10,000 this year, a sizable increase from the $1,500 maximum of 2016.

The Pavilion, Brasilia, Miranda and Amazon ballrooms remain the primary locales for the estimated 500 poker tables to be used this year. Once again there will be around-the-clock tournament, satellite, Daily Deepstack and cash game action on offer at the Rio.
For those advancing past the first day, restarts for 11 a.m. bracelet events are at 12 noon. Events that start at 3 p.m. will restart at 2 p.m. the next day, with 10 or 10.5 levels being played each day until a champion is crowned.



Cafrino Street Team

Join the Cafrino Street Team!

Join the Cafrino Street Team!

As you may know, we love ALL of our Cafrino poker players. But there are those of you that have stood behind us through the thick and thin and have always expressed wanting to do more to help Cafrino become the best online poker site around. We are currently looking for a select group of Cafrino players to help build our Cafrino Street Team. Please review the following items and follow the instructions at the bottom if you are interested in joining the Cafrino Street Team.

What You’ll Get:

  • An inside look at what Cafrino is planning
  • A Cafrino Poker t-shirt, tank top, and/or hat
  • An impact on Cafrino features and feature priority

What You’ll Do:

  • Work with Petra and the Cafrino team to help create a better experience for all poker players
  • Play Cafrino and/or live tournaments
  • Talk and listen to other poker players
  • Provide feedback directly to the Cafrino teams


  • An avid poker player (online or live poker)
  • Active on social channels (Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram)
  • Friendly and enjoy talking with other poker players
  • Exited about playing Cafrino and Cafrino’s future in online poker
  • Willing to engage (in a positive manner) with other poker players and spread the word about Cafrino

If this sounds interesting to you, please send an email to the Cafrino support team at with the subject “Cafrino Street Team Application”. Please include the following:

  • The reason for your interest in the Cafrino Street Team
  • List of your social accounts
  • Your Cafrino username

Thanks, and good luck!


Cafrino unveils Haig Kayserian as Chairman and Joseph Conner as Director of Poker Operations

Cafrino unveils Haig Kayserian as Chairman and Joseph Conner as Director of Poker Operations

NEW YORK: Cafrino has announced co-founder Haig Kayserian as its new Chairman, and brought experienced gaming executive Joseph Conner into its team, as the online poker startup continues on its impressive growth trajectory.

Cafrino was founded in response to the 2011 United States-wide crackdown on online gambling, and after a product reboot in 2014 under new CEO Michael Murphy, the legal poker website raised seed money totalling $250,000 and has recorded impressive growth over the past two years.

Cafrino takes no money from players, but pays players cash prizes from its advertising revenue, which is received by running advertisements between hands.

Since 2014, its player-base has grown to 60,000, with over 10% identified as monthly active users. There are over 1.8 million hands dealt on the website per month. This number is expected to grow significantly with the launch of the Cafrino mobile app, slated for later this year.

Haig Kayserian, who has been part of Cafrino since its inception, is an internet business consultant with two international companies under his directorship – digital agency, KAYWEB and angel investment firm, KAYWEB Angels – and has sat on the boards of over ten internet businesses in the United States and Australia. He is also an adviser to a venture capital fund.

Kayserian assumes the Chairman role on the Cafrino board as the company looks to raise Series A funding that will catapult its product and marketing efforts to what he refers to as “a tipping point”.

“Our CEO Michael Murphy has led Cafrino beyond all set targets since we raised our seed money at a $1 million valuation,” said Kayserian. “Our relationships with ad agencies have us clear-sighted on what we have to do to reach a tipping point in terms of active users, and we’ve drawn a path to achieve that with the help of a Series A funding round that will reflect the new value of this outstanding business.”

CEO Murphy added: “We listened to our users and constantly improved our product to bring it closer to their satisfaction, and are now planning on further enhancements on our evolving list, especially taking Cafrino mobile and introducing an ad-free subscription version to meet this demand made by some of our users.”

To help with this product focus, Cafrino has also announced that Joseph Conner is joining the team as Director of Poker Operations, with the task of managing the product evolution post-funding.

Conner is an online poker product professional with eight years of experience in real money, membership, ad-based and social poker models. His list of products include Tropicana Entertainment’s Social Casino, Bwin.Party’s Party Poker & Party Casino, NYX Gaming Group, and DoylesRoom Poker.

Conner said: “I have closely followed the progress of Cafrino since 2014, and it has really been making waves in the online poker world. Our product plans will inject further momentum in that growth and ensure Cafrino’s place among the leaders in this space.”

Put poker skills on the line. You can practice as much as you need on the free online poker tables at Cafrino and get all the practice you need while winning real cash!

Cafrino Poker Rules

Cafrino Poker Rules – Important things to know

Cafrino Poker Rules – Important things to know to protect your bankroll

Jumping on the bed… we’re okay with that. But our goal is to create a fun and friendly online poker environment where players can legally play online poker in the United States and win REAL cash prizes. Here are a few basics you should know… besides being courteous to all other poker players. For more information on the complete set uf Cafrino Poker Rules, you can find them here


Cheating, of any kind, is not tolerated. This includes collusion, chip dumping, creating multiple accounts, etc. For more information, please see section 1.5 and Section Two of the Cafrino Poker Terms of Service.

Multiple Accounts

As mentioned above, multiple accounts are not allowed. This includes any accounts playing in the same physical location or IP address. For more information, please see sections 3.11 of the Cafrino Poker Terms of Service.

Ad Blockers

Hopefully you know that Cafrino Poker is completely free to play and legal in all the United States. You probably also know that we do pay REAL cash prizes to players. The money to fund these prizes comes from advertising. For this reason, the use of ad blockers or ad blocking technology is strictly prohibited. If you account is found to us, or have used, ad blocking technology, it may result in closure of the account and/or forfeiture of any and all account prizes and winnings. For more information, please see section 3.15 of the Cafrino Poker Terms of Service.

Poker Chat

Our rule for the poker chat is… don’t say anything you would say in a Casino. Treat players with respect and everyone will have a good time. We understand that there is a natural frustration that sometimes comes with the game of poker. Please try to keep your emotions in check. 🙂 You can find more information in section 3.10 of the Cafrino Poker Terms of Service.

Payment Policy

Although our official policy for processing payment requests is 90 days, we do try to process them much quicker (often within a day or two). The Cafrino staff is working hard to make this the best free poker site around, so please be patient if payments take longer.

Support Abuse

Our support staff is there to help. Please understand that any issues with the game are not their fault. They will do their best to provide help for all situations. Any abuse or threats to the support staff may result in closure of the account and/or forfeiture of any and all account prizes and winnings… and may also put you on the DO NOT RESPOND list.

Spamming Social Channels

Our social media channels (Facebook and Twitter) are there to enhance the community and experience, and provide promotions for the game and players. Abuse of these channels will result in blocking of the social account, and may result in closure of the Cafrino account and/or forfeiture of any and all account prizes and winnings.

Please make sure you are familiar with the agreed upon Terms of Service. Violation of any of Cafrino Poker Rules, or any rules under the Terms of Service, may result in closure of the account and/or forfeiture of any and all account prizes and winnings.

$500 Level 10 Online Poker Update

$500 Level 10 Online Poker Update

$500 Level 10 Online Poker Update

Just announced… The $500 Level 10 Online Poker game has moved to 4pm Pacific / 7pm Eastern. This will allow more time for poker players to achieve last-chance Level 10s. We have also added a $100 Poker Tournament at noon (on Sundays), with a $500 Level 10 Online Poker ticket bonus for the winner. They are working on adding one more game to run at the same time as the Level 10 (for all those who miss out).

Stay tuned for more online poker tournaments to be added. And join us daily for online poker tournaments every hour!

Put your poker skills on the line? You can practice as much as you need on the free online poker tables at Cafrino and get all the practice you need while winning real cash!

Poker Heros

Poker heroes and villains

Poker heroes and villains

When it comes to watching sports on television or in person, it’s all about me. I want to be entertained. I want Poker heroes and villains. I want to have someone to cheer, and someone to boo. I want to laugh. I want to curse. And every now and again I want to see a moment thrilling enough to force me to get up out of my seat.

Poker used to provide that for me. It was the foundation for some of my favorite “reality shows” a decade ago. Not only would I watch the World Series of Poker every year, but I would watch the World Poker Tour on The Travel Channel, “Celebrity Poker Showdown” on Bravo, “High Stakes Poker” on GSN, “Poker Dome Challenge” on FSN, “Poker After Dark” on NBC and I’m sure a handful of other now-defunct shows.

I didn’t necessarily watch because of the poker; I already got my fix of bad beats at the hands of my little brother, who like millions of others briefly wanted to become a professional poker player after watching Chris Moneymaker win the 2003 World Series of Poker. I watched because of the characters I had become connected to while watching all these shows. I developed this bond because they all talked at the table and revealed a human side of themselves I either liked (Antonio Esfandiari), disliked (Phil Hellmuth) or was simply apathetic to (Joe Hachem).

It was similar to my love of pro wrestling. When it comes to the art of the squared circle, I’m not a purist who watches for five-star matches replete with every move from an arm bar to a wheelbarrow. I love the guys who can get on the microphone and rile up the crowd.

Like many others, I started to lose interest in poker as a televised sport before it was hit with its “Black Friday” in 2011. The shows became stale, there was never an influx of new young stars to mix things up and there were only so many times I could hear the same jokes from the same players and commentators.

But I was told the World Series of Poker main event final table was the one time where poker once again felt like it did a decade ago. For three days in the fall it was once again a spectator sport, drawing big crowds for a nationally televised event worth millions of dollars for the nine players at the table.

After attending this year’s “November Nine,” I came away yearning for the characters that made me fall in love with the game as I tried to stay awake until the final hand.

No tickets were needed to watch the final table, but there were times when it felt like a library card might be needed. For the better part of Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, the quietest place in Las Vegas was the Penn & Teller Theater, which has been the home of the “November Nine” since 2008.

The characters, drama and banter (ranging from collegial to contentious), which made poker such a fun sport to watch a decade ago, were completely absent inside an eerily quiet 1,475-seat theater where ushers roamed the aisles like teachers through a classroom to make sure no one was on their cell phones.

The only voice that could be heard from the stage during each hand was that of Jack Effel, the vice president and tournament director for the WSOP who doubles as the play-by-play announcer for the in-house audience. The players had their own cheering sections inside the theater, which made up much of the live crowd that diminished with each day as players were eliminated.

Michael Ruane, 28, had the most boisterous section, with many of his friends dressed as pro wrestlers from the 1990s. Las Vegas resident Qui Nguyen, 39, had a ton of local support as they chanted, “Who win? Qui Nguyen!” each time he collected chips. And those cheering for Kenny Hallaert, 34, mixed in some European soccer chants. But people watching a crowd filled with friends and family is only interesting to a certain point.

I knew I wouldn’t have any real connection to the “November Nine” coming into the final table, but the truth is I had no real connection to them after watching them play for a dozen hours either. It’s inherently hard to connect to people that don’t say anything, or show any emotion.

The oldest and most recognizable player at the final table, and the chip leader when play began, was 50-year old Cliff “JohnnyBax” Josephy, who had previously won two WSOP bracelets. While normally engaging, Josephy was mostly silent for the first two days and even went against the grain by wearing glasses and a hat on the final day, which he never does and previously said he was against.

“There’s more tension at the final table,” Josephy said. “Everyone is tense. They’re playing for money that many people haven’t seen in their lives. It’s understandable that people don’t talk but everyone is friendly. Everyone likes each other. This is a group of guys that really like each other. Everyone is nice.”

Effel echoed those sentiments after the second day of play as the chips for the final three players, Josephy, Gordon Vayo and Nguyen, the eventual winner, were put away.

“When you’re playing for $8 million you’re paying attention to every little thing that you do,” Effel said. “You’re hoping somebody else makes a mistake so you can capitalize on their mistakes. They’re more interested in playing poker than talking.”

It makes sense, of course, but it also makes me nostalgic for a time where the stakes didn’t make players go into their shells. The walkway leading into the Penn & Teller Theater at the Rio in Las Vegas is lined with oversized photographs of past WSOP main event champions. I didn’t recognize the past eight champions, all in their 20s, who looked more like fraternity pledges than poker champions. But I stopped when I got to Jamie Gold’s photo. Ten years ago Gold, who was a talent agent turned television producer, won the 2006 WSOP main event and $12 million, still a record, while outlasting a field of 8,773 entrants — also a record. It was the high water mark of a game that would soon see a significant dip in interest and participation.

Gold was an antagonist and a polarizing figure during his improbable run a decade ago, and one of my favorite players to watch. He talked big while bluffing with nothing, sweet-talked players into reluctantly folding better hands by telling them he would show them his hand and even flashed one of his cards to Michael Binger at the final table, causing Binger to lay down the winning hand. The reasons his antics were frowned upon by purists were the same reasons I enjoyed watching him play.

“You need to have players talking to have heroes and villains,” Gold told me over the phone after the first day of the final table. “Once you take away the character side of it, you’re killing the entertainment value and the reason why advertisers, sponsors and viewers would want to watch. I wasn’t that special, but I had an opportunity to create a character by speaking. Viewers want to watch personalities and have a storyline and an arc play out on television. For the most part, poker on television has become this mundane, mind-numbing endeavor.”

Even worse than the television viewing experience, however, is the live viewing experience. At least viewers at home are able to see the players’ hands while listening to the entertaining trio of Lon McEachern, Norman Chad and Esfandiari in the broadcast booth. But not even the personalities of the announcers can make up for the disconnect between the viewers and the players at the table.

Until that connection can once again be made, my poker needs will continue to be met away from my television — relegated instead to losing money to my little brother.


Poker Bankroll

Golden Rules to Save Your Online Poker Bankroll

Golden Rules to Save Your Online Poker Bankroll

It’s a good idea to always protect your poker bankroll. When players are sitting at a table with chips or cash in front of them, they tend to be more careful than they are when they’re hitting the online poker tables and looking at a stack of virtual chips. Even some of the best players have a way of running through their chips in a hurry. While it makes sense that bad table players would also lose a lot of money online, that doesn’t make sense for good table players. Playing online poker takes more discipline and control, because you’re running into stronger opponents and you have a faster pace. Let’s take a look at some tips to help you hold onto your chips online.

Stick to your Poker Bankroll

You need to have a poker bankroll that is large enough so that it seems like it will last forever, even though you know that you don’t have a bottomless stack. One way to do this is to ensure that no more than 5% of your roll is out on the table at any given time. Or consider pushing that down to 2%. That way you won’t have to worry about going broke from a single game. If you get out of control, things can go south in a hurry.

Don’t keep Looking at How Much you Have

Remember, you’re limiting the amount of your bankroll that’s on the table. And the money you gamble with isn’t money that you need to make it from one month to the next. This is just gravy, right? So keep your eyes off your balance. Sure, when you win, it feels good, but when you lose, and you look at your balance, your spirits drop. You start to want to see that balance jump back up again. The problem is that, in poker, winning money takes a long time, as you go up incrementally. You can make more money than you lose, but it takes a lot longer to make money than it does to lose it. You’ll be tempted to jump limits and throw more money on the table, and before you know it, you’ll have burned through your poker bankroll.

Be Serious with your Decisions

Ever decision that you make matters when you play online poker. Each mistake will cost you money, even if that mistake seems small at the time. The more mistakes you make, the more obstacles you have been yourself and profit. So you’re going to want to limit the distractions. There are some people who play better when they’re multitasking, so they might have a movie playing at the same time. There are others who need to keep their eye on the game at all times.

And here’s another thing — this isn’t something you do to pass the time. You’re doing it to make money. If you’re playing because you don’t have anything else to do, you’re not going to do the mental work to make the right decisions, and you will lose. Get up and go outside if you’re bored, or start that movie. Don’t throw money away.

Put your poker skills on the line? You can practice as much as you need on the free online poker tables at Cafrino and get all the practice you need while winning real cash!

Cash Tournaments

Happy Friday! More Cash Tournaments Added!

Happy Friday! More Cash Tournaments Added!

We’re happy to announce the addition of the following cash tournaments, in addition to our existing poker cash tournament schedule…

$50 Cash Tournament – 9am PT / 12pm ET
$20 Cash Tournament – 2pm PT / 5pm ET
$100 Cash Tournament – 4pm PT / 7pm ET
$10 Cash Tournament – 7pm PT / 10pm ET

$50 Cash Tournament – 9am PT / 12pm ET
$20 Cash Tournament – 2pm PT / 5pm ET
$500 Level 10 – Moved to 12pm PT / 3pm ET
$100 Cash Tournament – 4pm PT / 7pm ET
$10 Cash Tournament – 7pm PT / 10pm ET

Share this post and comment with your username for your chance to win entry to the $500 Level 10 game!

We’ll also be adding even MORE $500 Level 10 Qualifiers! We are getting closer to resolving any remaining bugs at Cafrino and we continue to try and make Cafrino the best place to play free poker and win cash prizes. Join us all weekend for some great poker action.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for special promotions and giveaways.

Good luck! We’ll look for you at the tables.


xo Petra

Cafrino Level 10

An easier way to win your way to the $500 Cafrino Level 10!

An easier way to win your way to the $500 Cafrino Level 10!

Hi Cafrino Players,

Now there’s a much easier way to get to the $500 Cafrino Level 10. Are you aware that you can buy and sell Cafrino Tickets in the Cafrino Marketplace? You can find the Marketplace link in the dropdown under your username.

1. Sign into your Cafrino account
2. Click your username
3. Scroll down to find the “Marketplace” link
4. Click the link and find the options to buy or sell Level Tickets

It’s that easy! Sell your tickets for chips, or buy your way into the higher level games.

Plus… follow us on Facebook and Twitter pages for promotions to win tickets and chips.

Good luck at the tables!

xo Petra

Put your poker skills on the line? You can practice as much as you need on the free online poker tables at Cafrino and get all the practice you need while winning real cash.


Poker Pop Culture

Poker & Pop Culture: The Thompson Street Poker Club

As poker clubs began to emerge in America toward the latter 19th century, stories about the games emanating from those clubs became a popular form of literary entertainment. Such stories also provide a glimpse into how poker was played, even in those cases when the stories are fictionalized or embellished.

Last week we looked at one collection of poker stories describing the adventures of an actual (though unnamed) uptown New York club of the late 1800s. Another interesting series of comic stories appeared a few years before that one, these telling of a fictional group of poker players called The Thompson Street Poker Club.

The Club’s “Minutes” (with Illustrations)

Shortly after Life magazine first debuted in 1883, the magazine’s associate editor Henry Guy Carleton began to produce a short poker tales focusing on the invented poker club.

The son of a famous Union general, Carleton was also a playwright who would later have a few of his plays performed on Broadway. He was additionally an inventor who is credited with early versions of smoke detectors and fire alarms.

Poker & Pop Culture: The Thompson Street Poker Club 101
“The Thompson Street Poker Club” by Henry Guy Carleton

Carleton’s stories about the club resemble colorful versions of the minutes of a committee’s meetings, and they proved popular among Life‘s first readers. In the spring of 1884 a collection of 13 of Carleton’s stories were published in a slim volume, titled The Thompson Street Poker Club.

The book was dedicated to Robert C. Schenck, referred to as “that noble expounder of the game.” A former U.S. Congressman, Schenck earned that distinction thanks to his having written an early work of strategy about draw poker first published in England and reprinted in the United States in 1880 (a book we’ll be discussing here soon).

A sequel penned by Carleton appeared five years later, titledLectures Before the Thompson Street Poker Club and containing six longer stories featuring the same cast of characters. This one even more closely mimics the committee-meeting conceit, with each story starting with references to a speaker and those in attendance and even pointing out how the “minutes” of the previous meeting were read at the start of each new one. These lectures in the sequel sometimes recall incidents from the first volume, with the club’s members revisiting earlier conflicts while debating the club’s various rules and procedures.

The Thompson Street stories are notable for a couple of reasons. One is the fact that they are illustrated with drawings by E.W. Kimble, best known for having been the illustrator for Mark Twain‘s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884). In fact, it was after seeing Kimble’s work in Life that Twain got in touch with Kemble and eventually got him to agree to draw illustrations for Huck Finn.(That’s one of Kimble’s illustrations for the book up above.)

Also noteworthy is the fact that the players in the Thompson Street Poker Club are African American, and thus the collections are often referred to as the first ever poker books to feature African Americans. They are also occasionally considered along with other late 19th-century examples of “black humor” or “slice of life” representations of urban blacks (albeit written and illustrated by whites).

Swapping Pots and Stories with Professor Brick, Mr. Cyanide Whiffles, and the Rev. Thankful

Reading through the two collections, the initial 1884 title contains many genuinely laugh-out-loud moments, as well as some very familiar scenarios from other poker fiction — both before and after.

For example, one story titled “The Scraped Tray” reaches a climax with a draw-poker hand being bet and raised with all the two players possess, then ends with a showdown of four kings versus four aces, perhaps recalling the climactic hand of Mark Twain’s story “The Professor’s Yarn” first published right about the same time (not to mention many other quad-kings-versus-quad-aces stories.)

A twist here is the manner of the cheating involved to produce such a showdown — one player has used a razor to scrape a three of diamonds to appear to be an ace. Indeed, the “razzer” is the favored weapon used to settle disputes in the games (unlike the pistol Backus draws in Twain’s story).

Poker & Pop Culture: The Thompson Street Poker Club 102
Trying to get an answer to the question in the story’s title: “Wharjer Git Dem Jacks?”

In fact, the first story in the collection — “Two Jacks an’ a Razzer” — might be read as a variation on the old Wild Bill Hickok story in which the lawman claims to have a full house with three aces and one six, then produces his pistol and announces “Here is the other six.”

Of course, anyone who reads The Thompson Street Poker Club today is immediately struck by the sometimes-hard-to-parse patois devised by Carleton to represent his characters’ speech and heavily employed throughout (again mimicking Twain). Such is evidenced in story titles like “Triflin’ Wif Prov’dence,” “Dar’s No Suckahs in Hoboken,” and “Dat’s Gamblin.'”

The characters aren’t too deeply developed although are suggestive of more thorough comic types, with Kemble’s drawings adding a great deal to the reader’s ability to imagine them. Most are given inspired names like Professor Brick, Mr. Cyanide Whiffles, Mr. Tooter Williams, Elder Jubilee Anderson, and the like.

The Rev. Thankful Smith is also a frequent participant, one of several churchmen who participate in the game. In one story the reverend finds himself involved in a humorous exchange about the relationship between poker and religion (or the lack thereof).

“I rises hit,” announces the Rev. Thankful amid the play of a hand, who then “put up such a stack of blue chips that Mr. Whiffles nearly fainted.”

“‘What yo’ go do dat for, Brer Thankful?’ inquired the Deacon, in wild remonstrance. ‘Dat’s not de speret ob de Gospil.'”

“‘Whar — whar yo’ fin’ draw-poker in de Gospil?’ testily rejoined Mr. Smith. ‘Does yo’ tink do Possles ‘n de ‘Vangelists writ de Scripter after rasslin’ wid a two-cyard draw agin a flush?’ he sarcastically inquired.”

“‘Dis ain’t no prar meetin,”” Rev. Thankful adds by way of clarification.

I find the first collection of the two more engaging, and definitely recommend it to those who are interested. There’s much more to say about them, as well as about their status as historical representations of blacks by whites (and more or less for whites) — mostly sympathetic, though certainly of the era and thus unsurprisingly guilty of stereotyping and other negative connotations.

Later on the two Thompson Street titles would get sold along with another collection from 1888 titledThe Mott Street Poker Club written by Alfred Trumble in which the activities of a group of Asian poker players in Chinatown are described (with markedly less racial sensitivity). Full-text versions of all three books can be readily found online.

Inspiration for an Early Poker Song

Also worth adding to the story of the Thompson Street Poker Club is a later allusion to the collection made by the Vaudeville performer Bert Williams, the first black American to star on the Broadway. Among his many roles on the early 20th-century stage, Williams performed with W.C. Fields (also often seen at poker tables in his films) and with the Ziegfield Follies.

Poker & Pop Culture: The Thompson Street Poker Club 103
Bert Williams

It was for the Follies that Williams performed a song he co-wrote called “The Darktown Poker Club” that proved a hit in 1914 and is certainly among the first-ever “poker songs.”

“The Darktown Poker Club” is said to have been inspired by Carleton’s Thompson Street stories, and the story it tells of a player complaining about cheating going on in a game fits right in with others in the collection.

Later the comedian and singer Phil Harris (voice of Baloo the bear in The Jungle Book) would cover the song in the 1940s, then the country star Jerry Reed (of Smokey and the Banditfame) would do a version titled “The Uptown Poker Club” that proved a hit for him in the early 1970s.

The song tells of a character named Bill Jackson noticing all the cheating going on, and while sharpening his razor he decides to lay down his own rules for the game going forward:

“Keep your hands above the table when you’re dealing — please.
And I don’t want to catch no aces down between your knees.
Don’t be makin’ funny signs or tip your hand
And I don’t wanna hear no kind of language that I don’t understand.

Stop dealing from the bottom, ’cause it looks so rough,
And remember that in poker five cards is enough!
When you bet, put up, ’cause I don’t like it when you shy.
And when yo’ broke, get up, and then come on back by and by.

Pass the cards to me to shuffle every time before you deal
Then there’s anything wrong, why, I’ll see.
Not gonna play this game no more according to Mr. Hoyle —
Hereafter, it’s gonna be according to me!”

Here’s a scratchy 78 of the song to listen to, if you’re curious:

More next week regarding another notable poker club, a real-life one whose members came from one of the early 20th-century’s most famous group of cultural influencers, the famed Algonquin Round Table.


Ready to put your skills on the line? You can practice as much as you need on the free online poker tables at Cafrino and get all the practice you need while winning real cash. Good luck!