Turns out 'Cowboy Poker' is actually a real and very painful game

Four VERY brave New Mexico cowboys play ‘Cowboy Poker’ that infamously featured in hit Yellowstone show

  • Four cowboys braved an angry bull during Cowboy Poker at the Wild Thing Championship Bull Riding competition in Gallup, New Mexico, on Saturday 
  • Cowboy Poker, made popular by the show Yellowstone, involves four players whose objective is to remain at the table the longest while a bull charges at them
  • The bull launched one of the men several feet, starting out the game strong, before turning around and hitting another, and then taking out a third man
  • The fourth man, the only one left sitting in his seat, gets up seconds later and cheers as he sprints to safety 
  • Organizer Larry Peterson said players rarely get seriously injured, but do get ‘banged up pretty good’ 
  • None of the poker players this year were seriously injured 

If you thought Cowboy Poker was only for the small screen, you thought wrong. 

A brave group geared up for an intense round of Cowboy Poker at the Wild Thing Championship Bull Riding in Gallup, New Mexico, on Saturday. 

Wild Thing is the biggest open bull-riding competition in the southwest and has been going on for more than 25 years. It hosts a nightly ‘cowboy poker’ round in-between events and fireworks, organizer Larry Peterson told DailyMail.com on Tuesday. 

Much like the scene from the 201st episode of the popular TV show Yellowstone, which debuted in 2018, where a group of cowboys sit at a table playing poker while a bull charges at them, a group of four brave cowboys in New Mexico did just that. 

The goal of the game is to remain at the table the longest, but the bull made quick work of taking out the first contestant.

A video posted to Twitter by Bleezal, shows the animal running towards the table, and then ducking its head low to get underneath one of the men. The man flies through the air as the bull follows, continuously headbutting him further as the other men remain at the table. 

Eventually, the man manages to get up and takes off sprinting back towards the table, before stumbling and hitting the ground again. He eventually runs out of the bull pit and climbs over the railings to safety. 

Four brave men play Cowboy Poker at the Wild Thing Championship Bull Riding in Gallup, New Mexico, on Saturday 

Cowboy Poker, made popular by the show Yellowstone, is a game where four poker players see who can stay at the table the longest and an angry bull charges at them. The game is mostly luck, as the bull’s target is random. Here, the bull attacks one of them, sending him flying from the table 

His body was launched several feet and the bull continued to push him around for a bit before he managed to get back up and run to safety 

Bullfighters, dressed in bright purple and pink outfits, come running toward the center of the pit, hopping around and waving their arms to get the bull’s attention and direct it back toward the three remaining men. 

The bull watches the bullfighters and takes off after them, before turning course and ramming into one of the other poker players. 

The man’s body gets pushed into the table, rolling him underneath and knocking another out of his chair. The man manages to get right back up before another man taps out and gets up from his seat as the bull stares menacingly. 

The man cheers as he runs away, winning the game as he was the last one sitting in his chair. He spins in circles with his arms about his head in celebration as he runs to freedom. 

Seconds later, the man who was pushed out of his chair, gets himself off the ground and takes off running. 

The dangerous game that leaves some ticketholders grinding their teeth, is one of the highlights of the event. 

Peterson told DailyMail.com on Tuesday that injures are rare, but poker players do get ‘banged up pretty good.’ 

‘They get hammered pretty hard,’ the former bull rider told DailyMail.com. Peterson rode bulls for nine years before starting the show. 

The winner (pictured with his hands up) jolts up afterward and takes off running to safety with the rest. He won $500 and a belt buckle for his courageous victory. Organizer Larry Peterson said none of the men were injured, but ‘banged up pretty good’ 

Videos from previous years show poker players getting ‘hammered’ much harder than this year’s competition, with bodies spiraling through the air and players being launched several feet.  

First-place winners of Cowboy Poker take home a $500 reward and a belt buckle, while the second-place winner takes home a sewn jacket, Peterson said.

The show pays out close to $30,000 in prizes each year, according to its Facebook page.  

Poker players do wear the same protective vests as bull riders, which are similar to ‘bulletproof vests,’ Peterson told DailyMail.com. The vests protect the ‘core’ from the bull’s horns to help prevent serious injuries.

The event also teams up with the Manuelito Children’s Home, which is largely made up of Navajo Indians, to help raise money for it through concessions and parking. It is the largest fundraiser of the year for the children’s home. 

Yellowstone stars Kevin Costner, who is also an executive producer. Costner and the show were not nominated for an Emmys this year. 

Yellowstone has not been nominated for major drama awards, despite drawing in millions of devoted viewers.

Cowboy poker, a popular activity in the south, became renown nationally from the TV series, which featured the game in an episode in 2020.

The show, which pulls in more than 10 million viewers, recently got snubbed for an Emmy nomination. It has yet to be nominated for any major drama awards — an omission that many fans attribute to it being anti-woke.

The show did not get recognized in the Best Drama category again this year, with star Kevin Costner, who is also an executive producer, being one of many stars left off the list of Hollywood nominations.

The show’s only nomination by the guild came in 2021 for Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary Program (One Hour or More), but it failed to win.

It did land a Screen Actors Guild nomination this year, but did not come away with the top prize.

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