The Outcasts of Poker Flat and the Metaphor of Texas Hold ‘em The story of “The Outcasts of Poker Flat” by Bret Harte is a beautifully written narrative about a character named Mr. John Oakhurst. During the story, Oakhurst is placed through a variety of situations that eventually lead to his subtle death. The story of “The Outcasts of Poker Flat” follows as a parallel to the game of Texas Hold ‘em in a very unique way. In the game of Texas Hold ‘em, every player is given two cards.
This states the metaphor for where Mr. Oakhurst is currently at and what variables he has been given. In the beginning of the story Mr. Oakhurst is known to be a professional gambler and he has been kicked out of the town of Poker flat along with a few more Outcasts named the Duchess, Mother Shipton, and a man named Uncle Billy. Considering the fact they have been kicked out of the community, they now have to venture to the closest town, over a range of mountains, named Sandy Bar (1,2).
They have a limited supply of goods to make it there, and these are the cards they have been given.
The next turn of events in the game of Texas Hold ‘em is called the “flop. ” In this turn, three cards are flipped over for everyone’s use in hope that the gamblers will have a better chance at winning the hand. These three cards are variables. The flop can sometimes benefit the gambler, and the other time the cards don’t help at all. In the story, the variables given to Mr. Oakhurst are three hindrances. One variable in the story is during the middle of the first night there are some added guests to the campsite for the night.
These guests are named Tom Simson and Piney Woods (3). This makes the living situation for the night a little more difficult. The second variable happens in that same night. Uncle Billy goes on his own way without the rest of the outcasts. To make the situation even worse, Uncle Billy took the mules from the outcasts (3). Now, the people were without transportation. The final variable in the flop is: there is a storm brewing for the campers and they had been snowed in (4). Now in the game, it is up to the gamblers to throw in their chips and bet if they can win the hand.
If the gambler doesn’t believe he can win the hand he has the option to fold and quit betting. In this case of the metaphor, this option would be to kill himself. In the instance of John Oakhurst he decides to gamble and continue on playing with the variables he has been given. The next and final turns of the game are called “the turn” and “the river. ” These turns are two more cards, and in the metaphor two more variables added to the situation. For the gamblers it can be added assurance of the win, or it could be more clarification that the gambler will not win.
In the case of Mr. Oakhurst, “the turn” card is another downfall. Mother Shipton had folded her cards. She no longer could survive the winter cold and lack of food and supplies (6). In Oakhurst’s frame of mind this was an added despair. People were giving up and psychologically he was feeling the same way inside. It was now time for the “River card” and it was the last stretch for Mr. Oakhurst. The added variable is that the storm continues to get worse (6). Oakhurst is realizing the severity of his situation however he doesn’t let that emotion show.
He lets the other gamblers continue on and he makes his last decision in the game. He folds his cards (7). He had given up on the venture to Sandy Bar and decided that the hand he played was his last. The “Outcasts of Poker Flat” written by Bret Harte goes to show sometimes many are given a lucky hand and sometimes a gambler is “struck with a streak of bad luck” (7). Mr. Oakhurst received the latter in this story due to his gambling ways. Through this argument one has seen that this story follows as a parallel to the game of Texas Hold ‘em in a very unique way.