Social Game Guide

Poker Jargon

Poker Jargon in Everyday Life – Do you Speak Poker?

Poker jargon has managed to sneak into daily life. Pretty much everyone uses phrases like ace in the hole, calling your bluff, high roller, and up your sleeve.

Ace in the Hole

If you've ever heard someone refer to an “ace in the hole,” you probably didn't think about its meaning in terms of poker, but it's clearly a poker term. The hole cards are the cards that a player has and no other player can see. An ace as a hole card can often mean the difference between a losing hand and a winning hand. When a person refers to an ace in the hole, they mean that they have a winning idea or option, and that they are confident that they will succeed.

Calling Your Bluff

When someone calls your bluff, that means that they suspect you have lied about something and they are trying to bring the lie out to the light or to force you to live with the consequences of the lie. In poker, the meaning is clear. Simply put, a player calls your bet when he suspects that you do not hold a good enough hand to win. By calling your bluff, the player continues the round, adding more money to the pot and often causing the bluffing player to lose more money.

High Roller

High roller isn't a strictly poker-related term. In fact, it likely comes from the game of craps, where players roll the dice. Casinos use the term high roller to refer to anyone who plays high-stakes games. Outside of the casinos, people use the term to refer to anyone in a position of power or who can afford to invest in high priced markets.

Up Your Sleeve

Up your sleeve is mainly from Westerns in which cowboys play poker. A common way to cheat in poker in these films involves keeping extra cards up one's sleeve. Generally the player would be found keeping a card in his sleeve and then threatened or killed or run out of town. Today, though, the phrase doesn't mean cheating necessarily so much as being sneaky. Having a trick up your sleeve means that you have an idea of how to get what you want or need, perhaps not in the straightest of ways, but not necessarily illegally or immorally either. Mostly, it means that you have some kind of option that's hidden or unknown.

The Future of Poker Lingo

As poker gets more and more popular with poker tournaments shown on television and poker games shown in more shows and movies, it's clear that more poker terminology will creep into standard usage. It's hard to know what words will find their way in first. Since terms like flop, turn, and river have meanings in standard parlance, they will probably take longer to become part of regular daily speech, but it's easy to imagine referring to someone as “on the button” when they're not just a dealer.

Back to Top