One of poker’s most distinguishing characteristics is its terminology.
The card game has cultivated a language all its own, known only to those initiated in its ways. Sit at any poker table long enough, and you’re bound to hear all sorts of names and phrases thrown around. It can be confusing and intimidating to the uninitiated, but it doesn’t have to be!
In this post, we’ll help demystify the colorful poker lexicon by introducing you to some of the most common slang terms you’ll hear on the table: poker hand nicknames.
Let’s begin. Here are 40+ poker hand nicknames you need to know.
Pocket Aces/Kings/Queens/Jacks and so on
Pocket cards are the two cards dealt to a player at the start of a hand, face down. These are known in Texas Hold Em as hole cards. The term “pocket” implies that these are the only cards that belong to the player and can be used to make their best hand.
Pocket pairs are among the best starting hands in poker, with Pocket Aces being the highest and Pocket Deuces (2-2) the lowest. These card pairs are also known by the following nicknames:
Based on the cards’ similarity to the logo and initials of the airline.
Due to the letter A’s resemblance to a bullet, when turned on its side.
Due to the letter A’s resemblance to a rocket, and the card pair’s capacity to lift your spirits when you’re dealt them.
Refers to the hand’s ability to make an Ace appear on the flop, which, ironically, is the only card that can beat a K-K.
The origins of this nickname are unclear, but some believe it comes from the “K” sound in the word “cowboys.”
King Kong / Gorillas
Based on the cards’ initials.
As the only female card face in poker.
Hooks / Fishhooks
Based on the letter J’s resemblance to a fishhook.
Based on the American slang word for 10 cents.
Phil Helmuth is a poker champion who famously won the 1989 WSOP Main Event with this hand.
Another poker legend famous for wearing a uniform with the number 99.
Based on the number eight’s resemblance to a pretzel.
Because there are 88 keys on a piano.
Based on the number eight’s resemblance to a snowman.
Based on the number seven’s resemblance to a candy cane.
Also refers to the number seven’s shape, similar to a hockey stick.
Based on the number six’s resemblance to a boot.
An allusion to the number six’s cherry-like shape.
Inspired by the famous road between Chicago to LA
In reference to the five-cent American coin.
An allusion to the 55MPH maximum speed limit allowed in the US before Congress changed the law.
Some players call two black 4’s “The Dark Side of the Fours,” otherwise known as “Darth Vader.”
A name based on the famous .44 Magnum gun.
In reference to the number four’s resemblance to a sailboat.
An allusion to the number three’s resemblance to the crustacean’s pinchers.
Based on the French word for “three.”
Like “treys,” this nickname is derived from the French term for “two.”
In reference to the number two’s resemblance to a duck.
A nickname for the poker pair A-K, derived from the initials of the famous tennis player.
Anthony and Cleopatra
A poker nickname for the pair A-Q, based on the famous lovers from history.
This nickname refers to an ace hitting on the fifth street. It’s named after the author of the renowned poker book “Ace on the River,” which refers to this poker scenario.
An alternative nickname for A-K, based on the hand’s strength and tendency to lead to slippery situations if it doesn’t improve on later streets.
A nickname for the A-10 pairing (or other face card), inspired by the casino game of the same name where these cards make the best hand.
The highest possible straight in poker, comprising the highest ranking cards from Ten to Ace. The cards that make this hand are sometimes called “Broadway” on their own.
A poker nickname for 5d-4s, based on the famous poker player who won the 2003 WSOP Main Event with this combo as his final hand.
Refers to a 9-5 pair, named after the famous country singer’s starring role in the film “9 to 5.”
A nickname for the hand 10-2, derived from the poker legend famous for winning the WSOP Main Event twice with this hand.
Represents four-of-a-kind kings, inspired by the biblical story of the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”
This nickname refers to a five-card flush of club-suited cards. It’s named after the golf equipment bag used to carry golf clubs.
A poker nickname for the hand 7-2o and considered one of the worst in poker. Players typically fold when dealt this hand.
A poker nickname for three-of-a-kind sevens, based on the jackpot numbers on slot machines.
A nickname for the card poker card combination Jd-9d, derived from the poker player who is said to have flopped three straight flushes in one year with this hand.
The Nut Low
This nickname represents 3-2, the lowest possible hand in poker. It’s the opposite of the “Nuts,” or the best possible hand in a given situation.
This is the nickname for the Ace-to-5 straight, the best possible low hand in lowball poker variants.
Poker is a game with a lot of slang and jargon. If you’re new to the game, it can be tough to keep up, but we hope this list of poker hands and their nicknames has helped you understand the game better.
This list represents only a fraction of poker’s vast vocabulary. Hundreds of poker terms exist, and new ones are always created. But the nicknames in this guide should give you an excellent foundation to start from as you learn more about the game and its dynamic lingo.
By understanding these concepts, you’ll be able to follow the conversation at the table and make better decisions during your poker games. Good luck!