Dogs Playing Poker

Dogs Playing Poker

The eighteenth-century British curmudgeon, Dr. Samuel Johnson once remarked, “I would rather see a portrait of a dog that I know than all the allegorical paintings they can show me in the world.” A hundred years later an American would share the same sentiment.

Dogs Playing Poker by painter Cassius Marcellus Coolidge is actually a series of 16 paintings; 9 of the iconic paintings are anthropomorphic dogs playing poker and smoking cigars and pipes. Some of the titles include: Pinched with Four Aces, Poker Sympathy, Post Mortem, and the most popular, Friend in Need.

Coolidge's earliest explorations of dog paintings were made for cigar companies as promotional giveaways. Then, in 1903, the 59-year-old artist started working for the “remembrance advertising” company Brown & Bigelow. Brown & Bigelow turned out hundreds of thousands of copies of Coolidge’s dog-genre subjects as advertising posters, calendars, and prints. 

Decades later, in the 1960’s, Coolidge found fame. His original paintings would sell for $2000-10,000 each. By the 1970s, kitsch was king, and demand for Dogs Playing Poker hit its peak. In 2015, Coolidge's incredible masterpiece "Poker Game" sold for $658,000 USD through Sotheby's.

Dogs Playing Poker has been compared to Tennessee Williams' plays. What do plays like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or Streetcar Named Desire have in common with these kitschy masterpieces? According to New York Times contributor James McManus, these works share similar views on sexual politics: "Men drink, bellow, smoke and play poker. The women who serve them … their game is to tame the bad boys." For Williams, this means Maggie the Cat, Stella Kowalski, or her fragile sister Blanche DuBois. For Coolidge, it means a cocktail-serving poodle, or a pair of terriers breaking up the game.

“Kash” as he was known, died in 1934 in New York City, never realizing the fame he would achieve.


Are you ready to play a few hands of poker and smoke premium cigars?

If you want to impress your poker playing friends, Blind Man’s Bluff cigars are as eye-catching and delicious as you’d expect from founder Robert Caldwell. Blind Man’s Bluff is a full-flavored, solid medium-bodied cigar with notes of cedar, rich, sweet nuts, and hints of allspice with a cool finish. The Honduran tobaccos add an essence of earth. Also, there’s the perfect amount of pepper on the retrohale. Pair Blind Man’s Bluff with a Prohibition-era cocktail such as an Old Fashioned.

If you are drinking beer, Rocky Patel 1990 Vintage pairs well with a creamy stout. The cigar is mild to medium bodied with essences of toasted nuts, chocolate, and caramel. I suggest pairing the Vintage with Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. 

Cohiba Blue Classico is medium-bodied with notes of earth, cream, leather, and a touch of sweet cinnamon. Join the Cohiba Blue with dark rum, such as Papá Andrés Rum, and you have a pairing that is highly enjoyable with sweet nuances that play well with the earthiness of the cigar.

The Padrón Family released an extremely limited production line of the highly-rated Padrón 1964 Anniversary in 1994. Perfectly balanced, with a long finish and deliciously rich with creamy nuances of coffee, chocolate, nugget, and roasted nuts. Bourbon drinkers will find the pairing of Padrón 1964 with Bulleit Frontier Whiskey amazing. Padrón 1964 along with Bulleit Frontier attracts the sweet marzipan out of the cigar. 

Full-bodied cigar enthusiasts will appreciate the powerful Ashton VSG Torpedo. High quality vintage tobacco from the Dominican Republic is paired with a dark Sun Grown Sumatra wrapper from a private estate in Ecuador. Ashton VSG expresses notes of dark cocoa, cedar, and espresso. Pair this Torpedo with a well-aged whiskey such as Motörhead Whiskey. The pairing is the “Ace of Spades”!

El Cigar Shop offers a wide range of cigars and are happy to work with you to find the best cigars for your poker night. Browse our store to buy cigars online!

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