Blog RSSBlog.


Poker Alice – Early Case of Overtreatment at Patient’s Demand

Alice Ivers Duffield Tubbs Huckert (1851–1930), better known as “Poker Alice,” was a famous poker player who talked her doctors into performing what they though was non-indicated surgery.

Poker Alice fit right in with the whiskey-swilling, cigar-smoking men who frequented the poker tables of the Old West.  She soon started swearing like the men, drinking tumbler after tumbler of whiskey and even adopted her trademark habit of continual cigar smoking. She traveled from boomtown to boomtown, exhausting the wallets of the men she played with.   

In 1930, physicians told Alice that if she were not so old, they would recommend that she have gall bladder surgery, but now they couldn’t take a chance.  A life-long gambler, Alice said she was not about to stop rolling the dice now.  She instructed the surgeons to proceed with the surgery in hopes that the procedure would improve her health.  “I’ve been taking chances all my life.  Go ahead and operate.  I never could abode a player that bluffed out in the first round.”  Unfortunately, Poker Alice lost.  The surgery was not successful and she died two weeks later.

This entry was posted in Clinical Ethics and tagged , . Posted by Thaddeus Mason Pope. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.