Poker Jargon in Everyday Life - Say it Poker-Style

Many poker terms have crept into everyday use. Terms like 'calling your bluff,' 'ace in the hole,' 'up your sleeve,' and 'poker face' are often used in daily speech.

Sneaking into Daily Speech

Ever since cowboys played five-card draw in black-and-white westerns, poker has been part of America's collective awareness. Slowly but surely, poker's lingo has made its way into American speech, often through movies and television. These days, many people wouldn't even think about the term “calling your bluff” as poker lingo, but its origins are clearly in poker.

Calling Your Bluff

It's easy to describe calling your bluff in poker terms. A player adds money to the pot when they don't have a hand to back it. To call their bluff, an opponent simply stays in for the showdown to reveal that the first player's cards don't win the hand. Taken off the poker table, an example would be if a homeowner threatened to call the police if an unruly friend didn't leave. If the friend didn't believe that the homeowner would call the police, he might call his bluff by staying put. Of course, the friend would need to be wary, because sometimes, if you call someone's bluff, you force their hand, meaning you force the homeowner to call the police.

Ace in the Hole

Ace in the hole is a term that means quite a lot in holdem games and stud games, but not quite as much in draw poker games. In stud and holdem games, the cards that are in the hole are your hidden assets. If you have an ace in the hole, it's like you have a secret weapon. You can rely on the ace being a high card, making a high pair, or even completing a royal flush. Off the poker table, an ace in the hole is a secret weapon, a way you can win even when it looks like you're losing.

Up Your Sleeve

In some old movies, poker players are shown hiding good cards up their sleeves. As a result, having something up your sleeve means that you have something good but sneaky planned. At the poker table, you might be asked to roll up your sleeves. Off the poker table, there's no telling what someone will do to find out what tricks you have up your sleeve.

Poker Face

This is almost a misnomer. In poker, sure you need to keep a straight face when you're bluffing, but the bluff is more in your actions than in your face. Still, a poker face is a straight face kept even when circumstances would make many people change their expression. If you have a poker face, you're likely not to betray any emotion that would make someone uncomfortable or would let them know how you really feel.

Holding All the Cards

Nobody holds all the cards in a poker game, but if you have the cards needed to finish a royal flush or a full house, then you could be said to be holding all the cards. Outside of poker, someone who can win in any situation, defeating everyone else is said to be holding all the cards.