The poker in Maverick wasn't quite as authentic as it wanted you to believe

The real “Hoyle’s Games” book never actually mentioned five-card stud.

The classic Western series Maverick intentionally bucked (no pun intended) the usual Wild West tropes. Creator Roy Huggins wanted a hero who was smart and resourceful instead of the usual rough-and-tumble tough guys that lead many cowboy movies and TV shows at the time.

James Garner played Bret Maverick, an intelligent man who would rather beat someone at cards then with his fists. Many times, though, his gambling got him into trouble.

In the third episode of the very first season, titled "According to Hoyle," Maverick falls for a con set up by the beautiful and conniving Samantha Crawford (Diane Brewster). She convinces Bret to play five-card stud exactly by the rules stipulated in the book Hoyle’s Games. He agrees, thinking he knows the rules well enough. Crawford eventually wins the game with a pair of nines even though Maverick has a straight.

She quotes from Hoyle’s book, "In five-card stud poker, straights are not played unless it’s determined at the commencement of the game that they be admitted." Maverick admits that no such agreement was made and gives up the pot. A fan favorite, Diane Brewster played Samantha Crawford in three more Maverick episodes.  

A title card at the beginning of "According to Hoyle" stated: "The Rule of Hoyle quoted in this story is authentic, and is from Hoyle’s Book of Games, 1876."

In reality, though, that’s not the case.

Edmond Hoyle lived in 18th-century England and wrote many pamphlets on the rules of games like whist and backgammon. After he died in 1769, publishers used his name to convey rules of many different games. In fact, "according to Hoyle" became a common phrase not just for referring to the rules of a game, but used any time someone wanted to do something properly.

There was an 1876 edition of Hoyle's Games. However, the closest thing in it resembling modern poker is something called "Bluff." Straights are not referenced so technically Samantha Crawford is right, but there’s nothing about five-card stud or establishing certain rules before playing. 

Of course, no one ever accused classic western TV shows of being historically accurate. They wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining if they portrayed everything, well, according to Hoyle.

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DianeChavez 39 months ago
Diane Brewster was great in Maverick! She was so charming and beautiful! Diane Brewster is also featured in The Fugitive as the Fugitive's dead wife
lying on the floor deceased in The Fugitive the opening sequence! It's a shame they didn't use her in the series.
Dr_Zachary_Smith 51 months ago
Still one of the best episodes of the series!!
Yes it was!!! I also loved the theme song in Maverick!
stephendickinson69 51 months ago
Speaking of James Garner when he played the tougher than nails street smart private investigator. When he answered his door he was almost always hit, kidnapped or something. If he was so street smart why didn't he get a peep hole for his door. Lol
daDoctah 51 months ago
On the subject of games being accurate on TV shows, there's a "Rifleman" rerun coming up with Kevin McCarthy as Mark Twain and Jack Elam as a former stagecoach driver who feels Twain cost him his job. A game of billiards figures in the story, and for a change they don't shoot pocket pool (where any viewer can tell who's sinking shots) but actual three-cushion billiards (where the rules are less obvious to someone unfamiliar with the game).
spur 51 months ago
I wonder how many times James Gardner has been hit over the head or drugged and knocked out?
TheDavBow3 spur 51 months ago
The only person to be knocked out or hit more than Garner/Maverick was Mike Connors/Mannix! But Mannix dished out more than he took 😉
RobCertSDSCascap 51 months ago
Out here, we still play South Dakota No Limit Hold 'Em.
Jackalopes are better to open!
Pacificsun 51 months ago
Cool research, truly a Deep Dive, well done!
teire 51 months ago
Diane Brewster played Miss Canfield on Leave It To Beaver, I’ve always thought she was gorgeous. Looking forward to this episode.
Dr_Zachary_Smith teire 51 months ago
She is in a LOT of episodes of Maverick as various characters!
MadMadMadWorld teire 51 months ago
Beaver (Jerry Mathers) thought she was beautiful, too! And he was only 9 in that first season! 15 when it ended in June 1963. 71 now. Wally (Tony Dow) had his 75th birthday on Monday (Apr 13). Difficult to believe on their ages, but the wonderful series lives on, and has rarely been off the air since 1957, almost as long as I Love Lucy from 1951.
teire MadMadMadWorld 51 months ago
And Beaver named his pigeons after Miss Canfield and Miss Landers in season two. My favorite show, I still have a crush on Wally.
DianeChavez teire 39 months ago
Diane Brewster was in quite a few shows in the late 50's/60's. One of my favorite actresses back then!
DianeChavez teire 39 months ago
I was told Tony Dow is now a successful painter.
Diane Brewster left her mark on many shows!
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