According to Ripley’s Believe It or Not, the longest poker game ever lasted 14 years and was played at Dun Glen, one of two hotels in Thurmond, WV. The hotel was owned by the McKell family in a town that was often referred to as the Las Vegas of its time.
The town was known for drinking, gambling, and prostitution, with Dun Glen being the hub for all such activities. Thurmond had saloons on one side and brothels on the other. It was also often referred to as “Hell.“
Thurmond is not technically a ghost town
Online poker in West Virginia is legal, but you wouldn’t know it. As of yet, no online poker sites have expressed interest in serving West Virginia.
When you think of poker and the longest game in history, you probably don’t picture it being in a ghost town. And technically, it wasn’t. The supposedly longest-running poker game was played in Thurmond, which to this day isn’t completely abandoned. The 2010 Census confirmed there were still five people residing there. That number had shrunk to three by 2021.
Regrettably, nothing else is known about the longest poker game in history.
The history of Thurmond
In 1844, the town was settled by W.D. Thurmond, who would become a Confederate Army captain in the Civil War two decades later. More people followed Thurmond’s lead and helped turn the settlement into a town, naming it after the captain.
Thurmond eventually boasted its very own post office in 1888. Four years later, a railway depot was built. Eventually, the Dun Glen Hotel, run by the McKell family, became the hot spot to party at. It opened in 1901 and was a popular destination. Unfortunately, arsonists set fire to the hotel in 1930, marking the beginning of the end of Thurmond.
The Thurmond National Bank shut down the next year in 1931, and the McKells moved their New River Bank to another town in 1935. By the 1950s, Thurmond was pretty much a ghost town.
Perception of poker has evolved over the years
Much like the town of Thurmond, the game of poker has transformed tremendously.
Poker has had a reputation, and in some cases still does, for being attached to drinking, drugs, and irresponsible gambling. It was played in the back of bars, restaurants, and in homes in its early beginnings. Smoking used to be permitted at the tables. And if you got caught cheating, you could be met with a bullet.
Fast-forward to 2023. People are now playing poker as their career. Players are signing up for training sites, paying coaches an hourly rate, and studying simulations using solvers.
Poker is now televised and played in some of the most prestigious rooms across the world. People even travel to locations such as the Bahamas, Macau, and Brazil, to name a few, just to play in a poker tournament.
Despite its popularity nowadays, it’s a good bet that Thurmond’s record for the longest game ever will never be broken.