The popular card game is full of quirky words and phrases, but over the last few years, the evolution of the game has seen some of those terms gradually shift in line with current trends. One of the biggest areas of change is in the nicknaming of poker hands. Although traditional monikers have stood the test of time, others have taken on new meanings. In this article, we’ve outlined the top ten poker nicknames and flagged up some of the terms that have shifted in the last few years.
10 – 10-2 “The Brunson”
A lonely hand that very few people would play, let alone give a name, this poker holding shot to fame after it helped Doyle Brunson win not one but two WSOP Main Event titles with it. Striking it somewhat lucky with the hand against his Jesse Alto in 1976 to claim his first WSOP bracelet, Brunson then repeated the feat the following year with the same hand. Ever since that time 10-2 was known as the Brunson. In fact, the term re-entered the community’s consciousness during the days of the show High Stakes Poker as Brunson would regularly play it.
by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
9 – A-K “Anna Kournikova” (formerly “Walking Back to Houston”)
One of the most named hands in poker, A-K was once known as “Walking Back to Houston” on account of the players who went broke playing it. However, as poker moved from a game played by Texan road gamblers to an international pursuit, the game started to take on a new meaning. As the game became an internet sensation, many were keen to rename A-K the Anna Kournikova because, like the Russian tennis player, it looks good but rarely ever wins.
8 – Q-7 “The Computer hand”
Another product of the internet poker boom, this hand is statistically shown to be the average winning hand. As online poker began to grow, players began improving their skills using computer simulations, it was shown that Q-7 wins 50% of the time and loses 50% in theoretical match-ups. Since this was discovered the hand became known as the computer hand.
7 – A-4 “The Transvestite Hand”
A-4 “The Transvestite Hand” – One of the more risqué alternatives to standard names in the poker community, this one is the product of London’s live poker scene. Following an explosion of interest in the game, a glut of players began to patronise London’s top card rooms in the early 2000s. Keen to discuss hands and exchange banter, the term “transvestite hand” soon came to the fore as players noticed that A-4 looks like pocket aces on first inspection but really it isn’t.
6 – 4-4 “Luke Skywalker”
An obvious one to fans of Star Wars, a pair of fours gradually became known as the Luke Skywalker hand thanks to the phrase “may the fours be with you” which is a play on the mantra: “may the force be with you”. Interestingly, a pair of black fours (spades and clubs) is known as the Darth Vader because it represents the dark forces (fours).
5 – 9-9 “The Hellmuth”
Phil Hellmuth is one of the best known poker players in the world and when he won his first WSOP bracelet in 1989 he did it using pocket nines. After a tense heads-up match against Johnny Chan, an established figure in the game, a young Hellmuth managed to overcome his rival and win $755,000. Since then Hellmuth has gone on to become the most successful WSOP player in history.
4 – K-J “Harry Potter”
Poker has a keen ability to take on modern culture and one of the latest poker nicknames to come from this is the Harry Potter hand. As the popularity of the books and films hit an all-time high, players took the name of the story’s author and adopted it as the moniker of K-J.
by Robert Cutts (pandrcutts)
3 – A-8 “Dead Man’s Hand”
One of the original poker nicknames, Dead Man’s Hand refers to A-8 as these were the two cards Wild Bill Hickok was holding when he shot in the head and killed. Despite taking place many years before the poker boom of 2003 (in 1876 in fact), the hand has stood the test of time. Not only that, but the Dead Man’s Hand is a nickname that’s entered the mainstream and is now used in people’s everyday vernacular.
2 – 7-3 “The Hachem”
Poker hands often take on a nickname of the player that used it to win a significant tournament and that’s exactly what happened with 7-3. After carving his way through one of the largest WSOP Main Event fields in history (5,619 players), Hachem was able to make a straight with 7-3 to take the last of Steve Dannenmann’s chips. That win not only gave 7-3 a new nickname but earned Mr. Hachem $7,500,000.
1 – 7-2 “The Beer Hand” –
virtually ever poker hand has a nickname and that means the worst pre-flop holding in Texas Hold’em also has a moniker. Because it’s known as the worst hand, people often refer to 7-2 as the beer hand for one simple reason: you’d have to be drunk to play it. Not only that, but you’ll probably need a beer or two after playing this hand and losing all your chips.