poker terminology

Thu Jan 6 17:35:54 UTC 2000

        [An article in the current Esquire offers a glossary of poker
slang and also uses many of the terms, as well as some not included
in the glossary, in its text.  Most are not in the Random House
Historical Dictionary of American Slang.  From "The Big Game", by
Andy Belin, in Esquire, January, 2000, pp. 24-25, an article about a
poker game.  This has particular reference to a variant called
        "Texas Hold ‘Em (aka seven-card crack) [which] begins with each
        player being dealt two cards face down, called the pocket.  Then,
        after a number of betting rounds, five "community" cards are dealt
        face up in the middle of the table.  The player then must use any
        combination of five of the seven cards to make his hand.  Since
        everybody uses five of the same cards, the best possible hand (the
        "nuts," in poker vernacular) always varies. *** If there is no pair
        on the board, there is no way [for any player] to make a full house
        or four of a kind."]


American Airlines.  A pocket (see pocket, below) pair of aces.  [See also
Additional Terms]

Big slick.  Holding an ace and a king in your pocket.

Broadway.  An ace-high straight.

The chop.  What the house charges to play.  [See also Additional

Cowboys.  A pair of kings.  [RHHDAS: 1951, &c.]

Dead Man's Hand.  Two pair, aces and 8s.  [RHHDAS, from 1908]

The marriage.  A king and a queen as your down cards.  (Known as the
divorce if your hand doesn't win.)

Muck.  The discard pile.

The nuts.  The highest possible hand; you're unbeatable. [See also
the passage quoted above and the passage under "wheel" in Additional
Terms, below.]

The Oedipus Rex.  A starting hand of a queen and a jack.

Pocket.  Your two down cards in Texas Hold ‘Em.

San Francisco busboy.  A queen and a three.  (A queen with a trey —
get it?)

The steel wheel.  A five-high straight flush.  [See also Additional


        [The text of the article uses the following terms.  Note that these
passages are arranged alphabetically by the significant word, and
will not make sense if read in sequence.  All come from p. 25, as did
the Glossary.]

I looked at my hole cards; American Airlines (two aces) -- the best
possible hand.

Bad luck leads to bad beats, which leads to losing a lot.  [Also:]
If somebody gives you a bad beat, just smile and say, "good hand."
[RHHDAS: 1884, but the only citation; though apparently also from a
poker context.]

His move -- taking me for a cherry -- enraged me and knocked me off
my game.  [RHHDAS: 1946, &c.]

Most houses will charge a fee, called the "chop," for letting you

Another $250 bet came to me; I raised a grand.  Both players called
the dime.  [RHHDAS: 1974, &c.]

The flop (the first three cards [of the community cards]) came up ace
of clubs, 10 of spades, and 5 of clubs.

Johnny counted down his stack -- forty black, $100 chips.  "Four
kittens," he said.

Then the river (last [community] card) came: the 3 of spades.

Then a hand came, and seven players called a speed-limit raise ($55).

A player who splashes the pot, meaning he throws his chips in the
middle without counting them out . . . may be trying to skim

This gave me a steel-wheel draw (one card to a five-high straight

The turn (fourth community card) was the 7 of diamonds.

This gave me a wheel (the lowest possible straight), which also
happened to be the nuts.

        [Any comments?]


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