Wednesday, July 10, 2013


A number of our popular sayings of today came from nineteenth century gambling terms. If you’re going to gamble, I figure you might as well us the correct terminology, so just in case you need it, here is a little glossary of gambling terms.

Ace-high:  Poker hand with an ace but no pair or better.

Ace in the hole: Has more to do with guns than gambling. An ace in the hole is a shoulder          holster, or carrying a gun in the waistband, a bootleg or some other unexpected place.

Ace kicker: An ace held with a pair in a two-card draw.

Aces up:  A poker hand of two pairs including a pair of aces.

Anchor man:  In blackjack, the last player to play his card hand—the player sitting to the dealer’s right.

Ante:  A poker bet or contribution t the pot before a deal.

Back in:  In poker, to come into the betting after checking, q.v.

Back to back:  In stud poker, said of the hole card and the first upcard when they are a pair.

Beat the board:  In stud poker, to have a higher combination than the exposed cards of any
 other player.

Behind the six: In faro, the money drawer, often located behind the six card on the faro layout;
 also, broke or short of funds, since one’s money has gone into the drawer.

Bend: To fold a card slightly to facilitate various cheating tricks.

Big cat:  A poker hand with a king high, an eight low, and no pair; also called big tiger.

Big digger:  In poker, the ace of spades.

Big dig: A poker hand with an ace-high, a nine low, and no pair.

Bird cage: Name used for chuck-a-luck (q.v.) because of the metal cage used in the game, which
is shaped like an hourglass and turns on an axle.

Blazing:  Marking playing cards with the fingernails or a needle point embedded in a ring. Cards
so marked are called scratch paper.

Bobtail flush: In five-card poker, a worthless three-card flush.

Bobtail straight:  Same as bobtail flush except it’s a worthless three-card straight.

Both ends against the middle:  Method of trimming cards for a crooked faro game. A dealer who used such a pack was said to be “playing both ends against the middle,” and the saying became common in the West.

Brace box:  A faro dealing box designed to facilitate cheating.

Break off:  A faro card that fails to win after winning two or more times. Thus, if the ace has been bet to win three times and wins and then loses on the next play, the players say, “The ace broke off.”

Bucking the tiger: Playing faro.

Bug:  A device used by crooked gamblers to hold cards under the table.

Bullet:  An ace.

Ace clip for hiding a card up your sleeve

Burn a card:  To expose and bury a card or place it on the bottom of the pack.

Busted flush:  Incomplete poker hand; hence an expression meaning plans gone awry.

Buying chips:  Preparing to enter a game; hence, also said of one who is taking part, unasked, in a dispute or fight.

Charlene Raddon

Charlene Raddon began her fiction career in the third grade when she announced in Show & Tell that a baby sister she never had was killed by a black widow spider. She often penned stories featuring mistreated young girls whose mother accused of crimes her sister had actually committed. Her first serious attempt at writing fiction came in 1980 when she woke up from a vivid dream that compelled her to drag out a portable typewriter and begin writing. She’s been at it ever since. An early love for romance novels and the Wild West led her to choose the historical romance genre but she also writes contemporary romance. At present, she has five books published in paperback by Kensington Books (one under the pseudonym Rachel Summers), and four eBooks published by Tirgearr Publishing. 
Charlene’s awards include: RWA Golden Heart Finalist, Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award Nomination, Affair de Coeur Magazine Reader/Writer Poll for Best Historical of the Year. Her books have won or place in several contests.
Currently, Charlene is working on her next release. 


Jacquie Rogers said...

Fun stuff, Charlene. Convenient, too, since I'm writing a book that has a gambler in it. So thanks! :)

Anonymous said...

My next book due out is about a woman who deals faro. If you're looking for research books I found Knights of The Green Cloth very helpful, by DeArment.

Ellen O'Connell said...

Great info. Your photos of things like that sleeve clip are fascinating and better than any description. Super.