"The Buck Stops Here" (ca. 1930)

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sat Apr 23 19:20:55 UTC 2005

>One is that the "buck" in question that designated the current dealer
>is (as I understand it, although that's not part of the HDAS entry)
>the handle of a buck knife (with the blade presumably pointing away
>from the dealer).

That's the usual story (I think), given in DARE for example: "buck" <
"buckhorn knife". I've also seen somewhere the speculation that the marker
was originally a silver dollar. I don't know whether there's any real evidence.

As David James points out, it would be natural for "buck" to refer to the
deck of cards. I can't find any evidence of this right away.

Why would a marker be needed at all? Wouldn't the possession of the deck
identify the dealer automatically? There are various possible explanations:
e.g., maybe in many cases a house dealer dealt all the hands but the marker
rotated to identify the man who was to speak first on a given deal.

-- Doug Wilson

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