[Ads-l] help - origin of Poker terms

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 9 22:36:42 UTC 2022

Jesse mentioned that the OED has a 1949 example of "down the river"
referring to the last card in seven-card stud.

[Begin OED excerpt]
Phrases P7.   down the river  n. Poker the game of seven-card stud;
(also) the seventh and last card dealt, face down, to a player in this
1920   Rio Grande Republic (New Mexico) 30 Sept. 6/5   A real honest
to goodness poker joint, where jack pots, ‘down the river’, stud poker
and one card monte reigned supreme.
1949   G. S. Coffin Fortune Poker Gloss. 176   Down the River,
Seven-card Stud or manner of dealing the last card down in same.
[End OED excerpt]

In 1942 “The New Yorker” published a piece that mentioned a form of
seven-card poker with the phrase "up-and-down-the-river".

Date: September 5, 1942
Periodical: The New Yorker
Article: A Reporter in Bed - Station Hospital
Author: Sgt. William MacConnell
Start Page 42, Quote Page 48, Column 2
Publisher: F. R. Publishing Corporation, New York.

[Begin excerpt]
The prisoner named Dubowski had developed boils while serving time in
the guardhouse. He was a very friendly fellow who introduced himself
by leaping onto my bed one morning and offering to teach me three-card
monte. Partly because I felt too weak to protest and partly to humor
him, I consented, unaware that by this gesture I would become his
protege and confidant.

He not only taught me three-card monte but also in the course of the
next few days initiated me into the finer points of red dog, knock
rummy, and a form of poker called seven-card, high-low,
up-and-down-the-river, with aces and deuces wild. These games were
exhausting ...
[End excerpt]

The OED has "up the river" meaning "to prison" (1864 in brackets; 1874
without brackets).
The OED also has "to send down the river" meaning send to prison (1894)

So “river” in Hold Em might be derived from "down-the-river" in seven
card poker which might be from the slang phrase "send down the river".


On Wed, Nov 9, 2022 at 3:12 PM Pete Morris <mr_peter_morris at outlook.com> wrote:
> Thanks for the dates.
> Here's one antedating, just to kick off.
> https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Sj8EAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA42&dq=poker++%22the+turn+card%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjOqsKf8qH7AhWBSEEAHRcMAzUQ6AF6BAgHEAI#v=onepage&q=poker%20%20%22the%20turn%20card%22&f=false
> "The turn card was a 6 , making 4-6-7-6 in the widow and giving
>   the pro a full house ."
> Life,  16th August 1968.
> ------ Original Message ------
> From "Jesse Sheidlower" <jester at PANIX.COM>
> Date 09/11/2022 19:20:18
> Subject Re: help - origin of Poker terms
> >On Wed, Nov 09, 2022 at 04:07:03PM +0000, Pete Morris wrote:
> >>I am a keen poker player.  I'm curious about a number of
> >>poker terms whose origin is obscure.
> >>
> >>But perhaps  nobody ever asked the wizards of ADS.
> >>
> >>What is the earliest known cite for the following terms?
> >>
> >>Can anyone here find  antedatings?  Or early cites that suggest
> >>an origin?
> >>
> >>The Flop - the first three community cards in Hold'em or Omaha
> >>
> >>The Turn - the fourth community card
> >>
> >>The River - the fifth community card
> >
> >OED has entries for all three of these, with first cites of 1973 for "flop", 1971 for "turn", and 1978 for "river" (with a 1949 example of "down the river" referring to the last card in seven-card stud).
> >
> >>The preceding three  have been  discussed at length in poker circles.
> >>There are speculations,  but nothing definite known.  I'm also curious
> >>about the following.  It's possible they have definite known origins,  but
> >>I don't know them.
> >>
> >>The nuts - an unbeatable poker hand
> >
> >OED has an entry for _the nuts_ 'an excellent or first-rate person or thing; (_Cards_) an unbeatable hand', though there are no citations for this nuance (which is a problem). There's also a 1973 for _nut flush_.
> >
> >Jesse Sheidlower
> >
> >------------------------------------------------------------
> >The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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