Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Sat Mar 9 17:08:18 UTC 2002

I see Doug and I agree about what is "retro_" here. I can also
confirm his suspicions about the age of lowball. I played it in the


>>See Tom Clark's _Dictionary of Gambling & Gaming_ (c. 1987):
>>highball, n.  A poker game in which the player holding the highest
>>ranking hand wins.  Compare lowball.  [1881 DAE, 1894 OED]
>>lowball, n.  A variation in poker in which the lowest hand wins rather
>>than the highest hand.  Compare highball.  [ca. 1961 Hotel Coll]
>>This would lead me to believe lowball is the "retronym".
>The "highball" listed in the OED with an 1894 citation apparently was a
>game using balls and a bottle ... I imagine something like poker dice,
>maybe? I think this game is now long forgotten?
>"Lowball" (poker) MIGHT be based on the name of this old game (another
>possibility: formed as in "lowball offer" [however that came to be]).
>"Lowball" (poker) is surely older than 1961, but I can't find a reference
>for its age. It's in Webster's Third.
>The modern "highball" quoted above is almost surely based on "lowball".
>This is a natural development e.g. in a game of dealer's choice where
>"lowball" is a common choice ["We'll play five-card draw." "Lowball again?"
>"No, highball this time."]
>-- Doug Wilson

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