Date: Thu, 4 Dec 1997 01:00:00 -0500

From: "Barry A. Popik" Bapopik[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM

Subject: Poker

The language of this "sinful" game can be found in Puck, 12 December

1888, pg. 261, col. 1:


A is the "ante" and B is the "bluff,"

C is the cash, which is vulgarly "stuff,"

D is the "draw," a momentous event,

E is for "elevate,"--takes your last cent.

F is the fun that you have when you win,

G is the "Gillie" who loses his "tin,"

H is the hand that is dealt to you "pat,"

I stands for "in," an important thing that.

J is the "jack-pot" whose praises we sing,

K is the "kitty," voracious young thing!

L is the loser, he's always around,

M is his money, which does not abound.

N is the noodle that "plays up" two pair,

O is the "opener" laying his snare,

P is for POKER, our national game,

Q stands for "quit"--but you don't, all the same.

R is for "raise," and it often sounds hard,

S is the "squeezer" that's marked on the card,

T is the time that you waste--when you deal--

U is your "uncle," to whom you appeal.

V was the "come in," you know, to your cost,

W the "widow," who wins what you lost,

X is the ten that you bet upon "trips,"

Y is the youngster who collared the chips.

Z is the zeal with which one will expend

Time, money and gas-light, to "do up" a friend.

W. H. G.

A long article on the origin of the name "poker" can be found in the NY

Sun, 22 May 1904, section 2, pg. 12; it was reprinted in the January 1996

issue of Comments on Etymology.

This is from the NY World, 4 January 1875, pg. 4, col. 6 and pg. 5, col.



(It was our hope and purpose to lay before our readers a complete copy

of Robert C. Schenck's treatises on Poker, a brief which is destined to take

rank with Deschapelles on Whist, and Major Jaenisch or Von der Linde on

Chess. The brochure, however, is protected by a copyright...)


Whist, as the name signifies, is a mute game and was invented, it is

claimed, by the peers of England, who needed rest for their wearied tongues

after haveing talked all day and half the night in Parliament. In the same

way poker was needed to stir up the exhausted fires of our American orators,

burnt out on the stump. No political campaign or session of Congress is

possible, or endurable, without its poker accompaniments.

"Short" whist is said to have originated from the game being cut in half

one night to enable Lord Peterborough to recover some heavy losses, showing

the aristocratic beginning even of this modification of the original game,

which used to "walk its dull round" to "cheat the drowsy (?)cats." My

countrymen do not like the savor of royalty and aristocracy which hangs

around these olden games. They do not like to respect the symbolisms of

power which they imply, nor to

Behold four kings, in majesty revered,

With hearty whiskers and a forky beard,

And four fair queens, whose hands sustain a flower--

The expressive emblem of their softer power;

Four knaves in garb succinct, a trusty band,

Caps on their heads, and halberds in their hand:

And parti-colored troops, a shining train,

Draw forth to combat on the velvet plain.

So far do they carry their repulsion that after poker, their favorite

games are all-fours and euchre, in which plebians and knaves both capture and

outcount the court cards.

Poker is in every sense a republican game--one in which birth and rank

go very little way, and self-assertion and enterprise a very great way.

Poker is piquet cut down to proportions which enable the players to "scoop"

their adversaries with the happiest despatch. It is the antipodes of a

silent game, its essence lying in the art of bluffing and finessing. In

poker, more than any other game, a cool face is better than a "cold deck."

(We say a "deck" of cards in America, because the game used to be most often

played on the decks of Western steamboats in the intervals between

explosions.) The motto of poker is _carpe diem_, or rather _carpe dimes_,

since the ordinary game is "ten cents ante." (...)

For the term "passing the buck," RHHDAS has a good entry. This

political use is from the NY Tribune, 3 August 1915, pg. 7, col. 5:




The members of the Public Service Commission had an opportunity

yesterday to answer to the allegations of "passing the buck," and of ignoring

the invitations to appear as witnesses before the Thompson legislative

investigating committee, which were made by Chairman Thompson, of the

committee. (...)

Commissioners Cram and Wood declared heatedly that they had not been

notified that they were wanted, and that they had not gone out of town for

the purpose of "avoiding service," or "passing the buck."

"The buck stops here"--didn't Janet Reno say that?