Over the years, The game of poker (Texas Hold ‘Em) has developed its own unique language, especially when it comes to the names of individual hands. While regional variances definitely exist, a loosely accepted vocabulary of terminology is often used to describe a variety of starting hands. When the dealer begins, you’ll be dealt two face down cards, and these cards have developed some interesting and unique monikers over time. Let’s take a look at a few of the most prominent nicknames for starting hands.
AA: Let’s start with the sweetest starting hand in the game, pocket aces. This set has plenty of unique nicknames including American Airlines, because its acronym is AA, and Pocket Rockets, because the A looks like a rocket ready to take down your competitors.
AK: For the game’s second best starting duo, players are often overly confident. For this reason, names such as Anna Kournikova, after the attractive Russian tennis player who failed to win a title, Walking Back to Houston, which is an homage to the overconfidence of players who lost all of their money with this hand, and Big Slick, for the hand’s tendency to help your money slip away, are particularly popular.
AJ: You’re likely to clean up with this hand, which is commonly referred to as Ajax, a play on the phonetic similarity of the hand to the popular cleaning solution. For more diversified gamblers, you may also hear the nickname Blackjack, which is a reference to a perfect hand in the popular casino staple.
A8: Among the most famous hands in poker, this unlucky duo is known as Dead Man’s Hand, a reference to the cards held by folk hero Wild Bill Hickok when he was murdered. Be on the lookout for the dreaded pairs of aces and eights with this starting duo.
KK: Kings are often referred to as cowboys as a result of the prevalence of card games, particularly poker, in the Wild West. That makes The Cowboys an easily explained nickname for a powerful hand in Hold’ Em. Krispy Kreme and King Kong are also common nicknames because of their KK acronyms.
K9: Watch out; this hand’s got bite. Nicknamed Dogs, Canine, Mutt and Fido, gamblers really went to town with the dog references on this starting duo.
QQ: The counterpart to kings, a pair of queens is often referred to as Cowgirls. Alternatively, other feminine titles such as Ladies and Dames are also fairly common in the poker world.
QJ: Time for a lesson in Greek tragedy. In this classic story, the son (J) unknowingly kills his father and marries his mother (Q). This unique pairing is commonly referred to as Oedipus.
J4: Seasoned players call this hand a Flat Tire. Why? What’s the ‘jack for’?
95: Workin’ 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin’. For all of her efforts to put the spotlight on blue collar heroes, this hand is nicknamed Dolly Parton.
94: You may hear this hand referred to as San Francisco or Joe Montana, both of which are references to the historical football franchise.
Throughout its long history, players of Texas Hold ‘Em have thought of unique nicknames for nearly every possible starting hand. Whether you want to better understand fellow gamblers or speak like a more experienced player at the tables, learning these nicknames is a great way to invest in the game.