Thursday, April 05, 2007

Poker Vernacular

I've been playing a lot of poker and reading a lot about poker. Like anything that consumes people's lives (medicine, illicit substances, sexual fetishes, Star Trek, rare books), there is a whole lot of language that pertains to the game that you might not understand unless you're in or around the game a lot -- even if you've watched a few episodes of The Worlds Series of Poker on ESPN.

For instance, would you know what I meant if I said, "I flopped the nuts"? You might think I was an expert in animal husbandry and had just performed a procedure on some horse testicles. Not so. What has really happened is that, in Texas Hold'em or any version of Omaha, the first three community cards (called "the flop"), have combined with my two hole cards to give me the best five-card poker hand possible at that point. I know that no one can beat me unless I am an idiot and fold. The pot will be mine -- it's just a matter of how much money I can squeeze from my opponents.

Poker vernacular is actually pretty poetical. I mean, "I flopped the nuts" has a ring to it, not just because it means you hopefully just won a big pot, but because of its cadence -- a very natural human rhythm, and a very subtle alliteration in that the "opt" sound of "flopped" flows right into the "ts" in nuts.

There are several other such phrases and nuances in the language of poker -- let's call it "Pokertry." Here are a few, followed by brief definitions explanations of their poeticality:

The Nut Flush - the highest flush, Ace high, or if the ace is a community card in Hold'em or Omaha, the highest hole card held by a player that makes the flush complete. It's also assonative.

Pocket Ducks - a pair of twos in the hole. Has that attractive choppy-cut form to it. Very sellable.

Pocket Rockets - a pair of aces in the hole. It rhymes.

Snakes on a Plane - a full house consisting of three 8's and two aces; since two aces is also called American Airlines, and eights are called snakes, we here at The Naming of Things have taken the liberty of combining the two and alluding to a classic of contemporary cinema.

Luckbox Suckout - this should be a band name, really. Luckbox is a person who's been getting very lucky, and a suckout is when the person who is a severe underdog to win at the beginning of the hand sticks around long enough to beat a person who is far ahead to start.

That's it for this first installment. Once I lose a bunch more money at the tables and have time to think about it more, I'll make an update.

Bye, now.

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