Poker Terms in Pop Culture

While poker may seem as though it’s only enjoyed major popularity in the last decade, this challenging card game has been thrilling players for centuries. In fact, it’s gained enough of a following that much of the terminology used in the game has filtered down into the world of pop culture.

This article is dedicated to listing some of the terms which originated with the game of poker and have spread to other uses. Some will be obvious, while others may surprise you. In either case, you should come away with a few more slang terms for your pop culture arsenal.

Ace in the Hole – In poker, it means having an ace as your hole card. In pop culture, it refers to a valuable item that others are unaware of (especially in situations that pit one person against another).

Aces – The top-ranked card in most variations of poker. It can also be used to describe someone who is excellent or hard to beat in some area.

All In – Betting all your chips in a hand. This has become a well-known pop culture term thanks to the increased popularity of tournaments, especially the World Series of Poker.

Bad Beat – Losing with a poker hand that appears to be superior to your opponent’s hand.

Bluff – To make a bet or raise with an inferior hand. An example of its use in pop culture would be an action movie where the hero bluffs the bad guys into dropping their weapons, even though the protagonist is out of bullets.

Cashing In Your Chips – When a player leaves the game and exchanges their chips for cash. Also used to indicate that someone is dead or dying.

Dealing from the Bottom of the Deck – This is another way to say that someone is cheating.

Dead Man’s Hand – A two-pair poker hand consisting of aces and eights. Now associated with gunfighter Wild Bill Hickok, who had just been dealt such a hand before being shot in the back.

I Fold – Folding in poker indicates that you are bowing out of the hand. It has also become synonymous with any other act of giving up or walking away from a task.

Kicker – A card that doesn’t determine a hand’s rank, but may be useful in breaking ties. In slang terminology, a “kicker” refers to a surprise or twist that’s revealed at the end of a story or event.

Penny Ante – A low stakes poker game, or one that’s played just for fun. It can also refer to something that is cheap or nearly worthless, such as “This entire festival seems penny ante.”

Two of a Kind - Refers to a pair of cards with the same value. It can also mean people or objects that are either similar or identical.

Up the Ante – To increase the stakes in a game of poker. Can also be used to indicate that the stakes have been raised in other areas, especially when money or some other prize is on the line.