Poker ghost story

Do you love a poker ghost story? There’s something about the drama of a poker game that lends itself so well to a ghoulish legend.

After all, you need look no further than the legend of the Dead Man’s Hand to see just what a huge impact that tale had on poker and on the wider world. It is so much more than a catchy nickname, and has left its mark on everything from police insignia to classic novels.

But today we’re tackling another tale. Although this one is famous in circles where people love poker ghost stories, not everyone has heard of this particular story.

Having said that, certain themes will ring true to many players. For example, the fear of losing, going to any lengths to win and thinking you can outsmart anyone…

Whether you believe in poker ghost stories or not, this is a true cautionary tale for all poker players.

William Mackenzie and his deal with the devil: a poker ghost story

William Mackenzie was the eldest of 11 children born to Alexander and Mary Mackenzie. His father Alexander was from Scotland and worked as a contractor. However, William was born in Lancashire, England.

At the start of his professional career, he took up an apprenticeship as a weaver. But before he completed his apprenticeship, he changed tacks. In a bid to get on the ladder of the civil engineering world, he started working as an apprentice lock carpenter. This took him to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Working his way up the ranks, he eventually became one of Europe’s most successful contractors by the 1840s.

But with his professional success, came a hunger for success of another kind. He was very interested in gambling and would stop at no lengths to become the best gambler in the world.

As the story goes, he made a deal with the devil to win every wager he made until the day he died. In exchange, the devil would take his soul the moment he was buried in the ground.

However, Mackenzie wanted to cheat the devil. He made arrangements that once he died, he’d be propped at a table holding a royal flush within a tomb. But crucially, he wouldn’t be buried, He would be above ground the whole time.

When he died in 1851 and his wishes were carried out, the devil didn’t get his soul. But the problem was, his soul had nowhere to go. Without a real burial, it was doomed to wander the streets of Liverpool as a ghost for eternity. Some say they can still see the ghost of William Mackenzie donning a top hat and a cloak wandering Liverpool’s Rodney Street late at night…

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