Luke was born in Polk County, Arkansas in 1854. At the age of two his parents moved the family to Montague County, Texas. Luke grew up Texan and got his first taste of gambling at the tender age of 16 when he walked into a saloon in Abilene, Kansas. There he watches Dick Clark, well know gambler, play Faro ( the King of all games in the Old West). Before Luke leaves town he buys a deck of cards.
In the summer of 1873 Joe Bassett, brother of the famous Lawman Charlie Bassett, offers Luke a job dealing in the Marble Hall, Kansas City, Kansas.
In 1875 he spent the winter dealing cards in Sidney, Nebraska. In 1876 Luke was working for Ed Chase at the Inter-Ocean Hotel in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
It's now 1879 and Luke is set on becoming a full-time professional gambler. Befitting his new profession he purchases a tailor-made pearl gray suit and matching gray derby along with a Jules Jurgensen pocket watch.
Later that year Luke takes a job managing the Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City, Kansas but by the fall he is running games in Leadville, Colorado. Bat Masterson catches up with Luke and they end up working the gambling circuit running from Denver to Cheyenne to Deadwood.
By the winter of 1880 Luke is back in Leadville where Wyatt Earp wires him about coming to Tombstone and working at the Oriental Saloon, Luke accepts. Wyatt also ends up getting Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson to work for him at the Oriental Saloon. In early 1881 Luke leaves Tombstone and heads back to Leadville.
In February 1883 Luke becomes equal partner of the Long Branch Saloon with Bill Harris. Problems arose and by late 1883 Luke had moved to Fort Worth, Texas. There he became partners with Jake Johnson and the White Elephant Saloon. A particularly big game at the White Elephant in August 1885 featured a "Who's Who" of Western card sharks Luke Short, Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Charlie Coe and local bad boy Timothy Isaiah Courtright. Masterson's bankroll alone was $9,000. At the end of the evening, the final hand came down to Coe versus Short. Coe's four kings beat Short's full house, and Coe left town with this victory.
In December 1887, Luke cashed out the gambling concession for the last time and cut all ties to the White Elephant. He hooked up with Vic Foster in 1888. They opened the Palais Royal Saloon located at 406 Main Street, Fort Worth. Others have referred to it as the Palace Royal Gambling Hall. Regardless, it was Luke's last harrah.
Luke Short died of dropsy at Geuda Springs, Kansas, on September 8, 1893.