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Poker Terminology

Poker has a whole different language. Have you ever sat at a poker table and felt like you were a bit out of place? Knowing the basic poker terminology is a great way to get comfortable with the game and the other players on the table. This article only deals with poker hand nicknames, because frankly, it is hard to come across wittier nicknames than those in the poker world. 

Pocket Aces - Pocket Rockets, Bullets 

We are going to start with the most attractive starting hand, pocket aces. It acquired the name pocket rockets because the shape of the letter A, resembles a rocket, and of course, rockets rhyme with pockets (what’s slang without a couple of rhymes). Bullets, on the other hand, became popular after players started checking their hand by tilting it ninety degrees. When an A is tilted on its side, it resembles a bullet. An alternative explanation which is often cited is that Aces are a hand you fire (money in the pot) with, but if you lose, you want to shoot yourself. 

Shapes of numbers have had a big role in deciding poker hand nicknames. Pocket Deuces acquired the nickname ‘ducks’, due to the similarity between the shape of the number 2 and the profile of a swimming duck. Similarly, Pocket Jacks (JJ) are called fish-hooks, Pocket Sevens (77) are called candy-canes, and Pocket Nines (99) are called Popeyes because the 9 resembles a bicep.   

Pocket Kings - Cowboys, King Kong, Ace Magnets 

Cowboys and King Kong have simple explanations. The earliest poker players used to be Texas cowboys, and there is the phonetic connection between the K in Kings and the C in Cowboys. King Kong the gorilla, well, is huge. Like, enormous. But so is the aforementioned hand. The only pre-flop hand which beats pocket kings is pocket aces. Apart from the size of the hand, King Kong can be seen as a full form of KK. 

But why is KK also called Ace Magnets? While pocket kings is huge starting hand, an ace on the flop is the worst possible card you could see. Even an Ace Deuce is beating your cowboys, and folding KK on the flop makes you feel so sad that this hand is almost unfoldable. It is believed that pocket kings act as a magnet for an ace to show up on the flop, only to screw with that hand. 

Ace King - Big Slick, Anna Kournikowa

The english adjective ‘slick’ can either mean smooth, efficient or wet and slippery. The same logic is applied with respect to Ace King. It is a very attractive pre-flop hand, both suited and off suit. But it is a ‘slippery’ hand in the sense that it is often played wrongly and can result in huge losses. Therefore, the reference to slick basically implies - attractive to look at, but hard to win with and very easy to lose (and lose big) with. Believe it or not, the same logic made it acquire the nickname Anna Kournikowa. A former professional tennis player from Russia, her physical appearance and celebrity status made her a very popular tennis star. But she never won a single Grand Slam or WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) title. Not only does AK match Anna Kournikova’s initials, it is also said that ace-king is exactly like Kournikova - pretty to look at but does not win very much. Sick. 

Next week, we will upload more articles on poker terminology. Keep an eye out! 



Shikha Tripathi

A social media strategist and an avid poker enthusiast, she loves taking risks and so is naturally aggressive on the poker table.