The History Behind 7 Popular Poker Terms

Posted on Aug 22, 2010 by Gugel in General

You probably use these 7 poker terms all the time. The origin and history of these words is actually pretty funny

The Nuts

To have the best possible hand.

There are two possibilities about how this term originated.

  1. Back in Old West, players could wager almost anything they had at a poker game. That included the nuts that held their wagon wheels in place. Without the wagon wheel nuts, the player would be stranded and might die.
    To the others at the table, it would seem that a player would only make such a bet with an unbeatable hand. Since many games were played indoors in the winter time, the wagon wheel nuts were often very cold and were sometimes referred to as the stone cold nuts.
  2. Nuts in Old English means a source of pleasure.

Grinding

To play a ton of poker. Usually this involves mass-multitabling in games that are typically below your skill level.

Originally, grinding referred to using a hand mill to grind grain. You would basically be spinning a wheel and make a couple of bags of flour by the end of the day. It was an extremely boring and tedious job.

Fast forward to the 20th century and the definition of grinding began to take on a much broader meaning. People started to call almost any job the daily grind.

In the 21st century, grinding started to be used in videogames. In World of Warcraft, people would spend countless mind-numbing hours to kill weak enemies and level up.

Busto

To lose your entire bankroll.

In blackjack, the goal is get as close to 21 as possible. If you go over, you “bust” and automatically lose the hand.

Robusto

To win lots of money in a short period of time.

There are two possibilities about how this term originated.

  1. Cuban Robusto cigars are around $250 each. If you go on a good run, you might open a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne and whip out a Cuban Robusto.
  2. Robust is defined as “exhibiting vigor, strength or firmness”. Robusto works as a funny-sounding antonym of busto and the definition fits.

Baller

A successful high-stakes poker player that is flashy with his money and makes insane prop bets.

Originally, a baller referred to someone that’s very successful in basketball. Now, it can refer to almost anyone that’s rich and flaunts their wealth.

Tilt

Playing sub-optimally due to emotional distress.

Pinball started to become popular in the 1930’s. Early machines had a serious flaw – players could lift up a corner of the machine and be guaranteed not to lose. By the 1950’s pinball machines started to penalize players that tilted the machines by making them lose a turn. Some players continued to tilt, kick and punch the machine out of frustration even though it lowered their score.

Texas Hold’Em

A game that started in the South or Southwest United States in the early 1960s.

It was originally called “Hold Me Darling”, “Tennessee Hold Me” and “Texas Hold’Em”. Predictably, “Texas Hold’Em” is the name that stuck.

Poker

Originally from the German word “pochen” which means to “to brag as a bluff”. The literal translation is “to knock” (that’s why you knock on the table to check). The earliest version of poker in English was called “brag”.


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4 Responses to The History Behind 7 Popular Poker Terms

  1. donkey

    02. Sep, 2010

    ansky pansky gugel mugel

  2. Gugel

    02. Sep, 2010

    @donkey
    Thank you for that insightful comment. I approved it cause me made me lol.

  3. adam

    13. Sep, 2010

    Nice post. I never thought about the Tilt one before but its so obvious now.

    Adam The Daily Donk
    http://www.rakebackpower.com
    http://rakebackpower.blogspot.com

  4. ryan

    05. Oct, 2010

    Simple terms that every poker player should know!