Getting Your Ghost: The World’s Haunted Card Rooms

Getting Your Ghost: The World’s Haunted Card Rooms

If so-called paranormal experts are to be believed, then ghouls, ghosts and spirits of the dead can stick around for a long time after death. You might even run into a ghost while playing a game of cards or sitting down for a drink; in fact, considering the long and brutal history of mankind, odds are you might just have run in with a ghost in your lifetime at least once. Here are some stories of the world’s haunted card rooms and the ghosts who just can’t let go of the deck.

The Haunting of Lord Milner Hotel

The haunting of Lord Milner Hotel makes for one of the most notorious ghost stories of South African history, and stands right next to famous hauntings and spectres like Kempton Park Hospital or the ghostly female hitchhiker of Uniondale.

Located in Matjiesfontein in South Africa’s Western Cape, the building itself was first built in 1899 by James Logan according to It was first used as a military hospital, though command was later taken over by hotelier David Rawdon, who changed the style from hospital to hotel and later renamed it to the Lord Milner Hotel in 1970.

The long history of the hotel certainly helps add to its creepy history and many ghosts. In particular, there are several supposed reports of people who have reported seeing a nurse wandering around in Kate’s Card Room – according to a more detailed blog post on the history, the nurse was known for passing the time by playing cards with patients.

What if she just really needed a bridge partner?

The Gambling Ghost of Old Frank

According to the book Haunted Bartlesville, Oklahoma by Rita Cook (2012), the ghost of Frank Phillips is still walking around the Woolaroc Museum & Wildlide Preserve in town. There are plenty of stories out there about the man and his poker – including one in the book of how he’d beat the owner of Ringling Brothers Circus for ownership of the place during a card game, and then subsequently lost another bet and had to give the casino back on the very next day’s game.

Maybe his eternal poker game is still going: There have been a few reports of people apparently spotting the ghost of Frank making his way to the poker room.

Would it be accurate to say that some old gamblers just never know when to stop?

The Horseshoe and the Empress

Haunted Tales from the Region: Ghosts of Indiana’s South Shore describes another ghost with a difference – one that’s known for walking around the Horseshoe Hammond Casino (previously known as the Empress) whispering gambling and poker tips to anyone who will listen. This might be one of the more useful kind of hauntings, but only if his tips from beyond the grave actually check out!

The Never-ending Card Deck

Texas is known for its great food and it happens to be the originating town for Texas Hold’Em Poker – and a lot of the poker rooms located in Texas has just about as many ghosts as you’d expect them to have. The Big Book of Texas Ghost Stories describes a gambler who frequents the local Beckham Hotel carrying a deck of cards – and we can only assume that he’s shuffling them for a card game that never comes to an end. Talk about a dead man’s hand!

The Haunted Heart of America

The Haunted Heart of America is a collection of stories written by ghost hunters in the US – and they visited a few of the terrifying locations in the book so that you don’t have to (or if you’re an aspiring ghost hunter yourself, so that you know just where to go).

Among other locations, The Haunted Heart of America talks about a haunting in the St. James Hotel that they had to re-visit a few times. During one visiting, the authors report strange and sudden happenings that you’d expect to see in a remake of the Amityville Horror flicks: Lights going on and off in the poker room are just one of the happenings mentioned.

The Cloven Hoof of Loftus Hall

Loftus Hall is located in Country Wexford, Ireland and its long history has produced just as many hauntings and ghost stories; in fact, it’s referred to as the most haunted house in Ireland and its creepy happenings are about as bad as the hellish goings-on at Boleskine House, first home to Aleister Crowley and later owned by none other than musician Jimmy Page.

According to the story of Loftus Hall, Anne Tottenham was playing a game of cards with a mysterious stranger who had arrived by boat. During this game, she was dealt two cards and everyone else received three – and we can only apparently speculate around this as to what game they were playing at the time.

During the game, Anne noticed that one card must have dropped to the floor; when she bent down to pick it up, she looked under the table and noticed that the stranger had cloven hooves – a sure sign of the devil at the time. When she pointed this out to the man, he reportedly flew through the roof and left a huge hole in the ceiling upon his exit.

The story of this particular haunting doesn’t stop here, and there have been many anecdotal reports (and some apparently photographed ghosts) – and you can incidentally follow the story of Anne’s genealogy if you take a look on

By Alex J. Coyne

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