Although the eponymous puritanical pioneer town of Bret Harte's story is a product of the author's imagination, Poker Flat was a real town in northern California.
Located in the north of California's Sierra County, the town was a small community with economic roots in gold mining.
At one time, the town was reportedly considered wealthy due to the mines. Over the course of a month during this era, the surrounding gold mines could produce an average of $700,000 in gold. Legend has it that the town got its name from the use of gold as poker chips during its peak economic boom. In order to support the influx of gamblers, the town reportedly erected as many as fifteen saloons and casinos, to say nothing of the number of hotels, shops, and even one concert hall enjoyed by those seeking their fortune in Poker Flat.
Today, Poker Flat is nothing but a ghost town, the last remaining descendants of its residents an anomaly in the surrounding wilderness. Fancifully, one can imagine the town's decline in the wake of Harte's story as a symbolic form of justice for John Oakhurst and his redeemed companions.