bucking the tiger

Mullins, Bill Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL
Tue Nov 29 22:59:19 UTC 2005

bucking the tiger = playing [the card game] faro

OED has 1851 for tiger = game of faro and 1863 for buck the tiger = play

  9. a. The game of faro. to buck or fight the tiger, at faro or
roulette, to play against the bank; also, less strictly, to gamble, play
cards. U.S. slang.

1851 Adv. Simon Suggs iv. (Thornton Amer. Gloss.) (heading) Simon starts
forth to fight the Tiger. 1852 Knickerb. Mag. XL. 317 (ibid.) Such is
'the tiger', as the faro-table is called at the Springs: why, I never
could learn. 1863 Rocky Mountain News 29 Jan. (ibid.), Bucking the
tiger, which we wouldn't advise any one to do.

buck the tiger : 1859
"Editor's Easy Talk," _Graham's American Monthly Magazine of Literature,
Art, and Fashion_; Jun 1857; VOL. L., No. 6.; pg. 560 col 2.
"But great pains must have been taken to tame them, for Col. Hickman --
not, I believe, of the army -- a very genial gentleman, who introduced
himself to me, for which, by the way, in a very facetious manner, he
asked a dollar, which he said he always charged -- informed me that in
the second story of nearly every house from the National to Third stree,
you can buck the tiger, see the pictures, and get a feed."

tiger = faro : 1838
Spirit of the Times; A Chronicle of the Turf, Agriculture, Field Sports,
Literature and the Stage. Feb 17, 1838; 8, 1; pg. 6 col 1.
" "Come, gentlemen," says he, "one more glass, and let us go and 'fight
the tiger:' " . . .  Well, what do you suppose they meant by the Tiger?
why it was a 'Faro Bank' on one side, and a 'Roll the Bones, and fair
play,' on the other."
[note also that OED has 1929 for "rolling them bones" under roll]

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