The Longest Poker Game of All Time - Eight Years!

The Longest Poker Game of All Time - Eight Years!

Facts Checked
Published Date · April 5, 2024 ·Read Time · 3 mins

Back in the days of shootouts, cowboys, and regular travel via horseback, the longest poker game of all time was held. The game took place in 1881, and it ended in 1889. Still to this day, the record has not been beaten.


How Long Did the Longest Poker Game Run For?

The longest poker game to ever be held lasted an impressive eight years, five months and three days. The poker game was played continuously for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Where Was the Longest Poker Game Held?


The legendary lengthy poker game took place at a venue called the Bird Cage Theatre in Tombstone, Arizona. Although it was labeled as a theater, it was a real multi-purpose venue, harboring all types of performers and services. The venue opened in 1881 and catered to the miner’s in the surrounding areas.

Alongside poker, there were also acts like: opera singers, comedians, wrestling competitions, and house-favorites, ‘the female Hercules’, who lifted heavy objects with her teeth, and Fatima - a topless belly dancer; to keep guests entertained. Additionally, the venue was also known for its all-night parties and alcohol-a-plenty.


The performances usually finished around 1am and the chairs would get pushed to one side so people could stay and party for as long as they pleased. There were also 14 ’bird cages’ that hung from the ceiling with erotic dancers inside - hence the name of the venue.

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It’s also whispered that some legendary Wild Wild West figures, such as Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp, were guests at the poker tables, and no doubt some drama went down when they were seated.

How Did the Longest Game of Poker Happen?

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Following their poker offering doing rather well, and enticing some high-level guest appearances, the Bird Cage Theater decided to host a high-stakes poker tournament. To take part, you needed to opt in a minimum of $1,000. In today’s money that would equal to a value of circa $30,000, so it was an exceptionally high buy-in price to participate. However, that didn’t stop anyone, and this game ran for an outstanding amount of time.

It is said that throughout the time the poker game was hosted, that around $10 million would have changed hands. For today’s standards that would be equal to a value of $300 million and the plot twist is, the house got to keep 10% of the proceeds; hence why they probably never wanted the game to end.

Alas, the poker game eventually came to an end in 1889, and many things were to blame; in particular, the economy.


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The silver mines closed due to flooding, which led to a lack of jobs, and the price of silver plummeting. Additionally, the performances ended up getting canceled due to one of the performers falling to her death in front of the audience. Over time, it is said that at least 24 people lost their life at that venue, whether that was from a shootout over a poker table, a working girl committing suicide, or people dying from tragic falls during shows.

All of which contributed to the eventual closing of the venue in 1892, just three years after the longest poker game of all time ended. Unfortunately, people couldn’t afford luxuries anymore, and due to lack of business the Bird Cage had no choice but to close its doors. As of 1934, the venue was leased out as a coffee shop.


Surprisingly, the venue has been somewhat preserved and, still to this day, you can take a tour of the museum. Inside, you will see the original bar, the staircase to the seats, dressing rooms, playing tables, a piano, as well as artwork and other artifacts that relate to the Bird Cage.

The new owners who bought it back in 1934 said nothing had changed; there were still bullet holes in the walls, and a picture of their most popular act - Fatima - was still hanging on a wall behind the bar, with a knife slice in it.

Not only is the Bird Cage a tourist attraction now, it’s also a sight for ghost-spotting and has made its way onto the radar of ghost hunters and paranormal fans alike, hence the venue's popularity.


Lucy Wynne

Content Writer


Tim Williams

Head of Content