Poker Player Catchphrases

[RR] “At least a couple of your poker player taglines, like Hachem’s ‘Pass the sugar!’, are also catchphrases”, Roderick the Rock remarked, “Do you have a list of those?”

[SS] “Of course I do”, Stan the Stat confirmed, “albeit with a wide range of catchiness.”

[RR] “Hold ‘Em is full of catches. You can catch a couple cards on the turn and river to catch up and catch your opponent off guard. Catch fire by doing that a few times, catch the chip leaders, and you can catch your big break by making the final table of the WSOP Main Event. That would certainly catch the eye of the poker world, but the break before the November Nine will let you catch your breath, catch forty winks, catch a plane home, and catch up with your life.”

[SS] “Sure. But if you win, don’t catch flak1 by stiffing your partner, like Jamie Gold in 2006,2 or the IRS, whose army can catch tax evaders like Jerry Yang the next year.”3

Poker Player Catchphrases

Player Catchphrase Notes
Mattias Andersson “Jaaaa!” Screamed this every time he won a big pot on his way to finishing in 8th place in the 2004 WSOP Main Event
Jean Robert Bellande “Excellent laydown” Whenever an opponent folds to his bet/raise; also “Good laydown”
Chris Bigler “Yeah, baby!” His yell could be heard at the beginning of World Poker Tour episodes
Doyle Brunson “May the flop be with you!” His sign-off/signature; also “We’re playing poker, not solitaire!” and “You only live once. If you work it right, once is enough.”
Norman Chad “He’s got squadoosh!” Also, “Mazel Tov!” after someone says “Nice hand”, “Whamboozled!”, “Pay the man, Shirley!”, and “The 4 of clubs on the turn has never changed anything.”
Johnny Chan “What’s yours is yours.” After losing a decent-sized pot; He said it after folding to Mike McDermott in Rounders, but the line didn’t make the movie’s final cut.
Sammy Farha “Raisy daisy” Also, “Foldy moldy”, “Are you serious?”, and “You gotta gamble to win”
Tony G “On Yer Bike” When sending someone to the rail; also “Bring on the Russians”, “I have the heeeaarrt”, “I played it like a set”, and “I am qualified”
Joe Hachem “Pass the sugar!” After Hachem won the 2005 Main Event, WSOP commentator Norman Chad declared, “Hachem turned 7-3 offsuit into $7.5 million. Pass the sugar!”; Became the name of his autobiography with Peter Ralph in 2009
Phil Hellmuth “I can dodge bullets, baby!” After avoiding busting out during the 2005 WSOP Main Event; also “Do you know who I am?”, “The guy can’t even spell poker”, etc.
Cliff Josephy “Fwaatchaaaa!” “JohnnyBax”, the #1 ranked online player in 2006, says this repeatedly for all-ins in his PokerXFactor training videos
Mike Matusow “The Kiddie Game is down the street” After showing a successful bluff during the 2005 WSOP Main Event
Tom McEvoy “I get no respect” The 1993 WSOP Main Event winner’s line is similar to comedian Rodney Dangerfield’s “I don’t get no respect”
Jim Meehan “We’re all God’s children” Ironic, as “Minneapolis Jim” was given a timeout during Ultimate Poker Challenge first season championship for foul language, he drinks alcohol at the poker table, and keeps an unlit cigarette in his mouth
Men Nguyen “All you can eat, baby!” I.e., “I’m all-in”; when a waitress brings his Corona, he may say, “All you can drink, baby”; also “Good laydown, sir”
Scotty Nguyen “That’s poker, baby” After a bad beat; also, “What’s up, baby?”, “You call, it’s all over, baby!”, and pretty much any phrase ending in “baby”
Rob Salaburu “Huevos Rancheros” Instead of saying the “nuts”, he references Mexican breakfast food; also, “You lost, bro” when David Balkin thought he’d beaten Gaelle Baumann at showdown but his flopped set of Tens had actually lost to a rivered flush during the 2012 WSOP Main Event.
Marat Sharafutdinov “I wont million” The Russian cab driver “maratik” typed this in the chat box while heads up for the 2012 WCOOP Main Event for $1,000,907, which he won
Kenny Smith “Whatta Player!” Also his nickname, which he earned by yelling the phrase repeatedly while finishing sixth in the 1978 WSOP Main Event and 4th in 1981
Amir Vahedi “In order to live, you must be willing to die” The Iranian pro, with over $3 million in tournament earnings, also says “pull the trigger” instead of “die”
Cory Waaland “GL myself” The young pro, whose nickname “MJ23STYLEz” honors Michael Jordan, is probably a lot more honest than most of the players who type “gl” for “good luck” in the chat box


  1. Or, if you prefer, “H-E-double hockey sticks”, as long as we’re channeling M*A*S*H today.
  2. Gold had promised half of his winnings, tried to renege, but eventually conceded an unknown amount, but probably the intended $6 million.
  3. Yang’s championship bracelet was put up for auction to help pay his taxes.

English Idioms from Poker

[RR] “Just saw the tweet of the year this weekend, comparing the end of the Vikings-Ravens football game to a Texas Hold ‘Em hand. Stan, you’d really get along well with the guy, Bill Bowen!”

[SS] “I’m sure I would”, Stan the Stat agreed. “I didn’t see the game, but I caught the highlights, and they were ridiculous! 36 points in two and half minutes!?”1

[RR] “The craziness began with the Vikings up 12-7, but with 1:27 to go in the game, the Vikings led 19-15 and had a win probability2 of 88.8%, which is like holding A♥A♦ all-in preflop against 7♥K♠ (87.7% for the Aces). When Jacoby Jones returned the ensuing kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown with 1:16 left, the odds swung to 84.0% in Baltimore’s favor, which would be like a flop of K♦K♥3♠ for a set of Kings (91.4% for the King-Seven). When Matt Cassel hit Cordarrelle Patterson for a 79-yard touchdown with 45 seconds to go, the odds swung back to 96.4% for the Vikings, which is close to the odds after an Ace (A♠) on the turn for a better set (97.7% for the Aces). Finally, the last Ravens drive resulted in a 9-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to Marlon Brown with four seconds on the game clock (win probability 98.4%, but the ensuing kickoff killed the final seconds of the game uneventfully), like spiking the case King (K♣) on the river for winning quads.”

[SS] “Who says poker isn’t as exciting as football ;-)?”

[RR] “Poker lingo has seeped into our everyday English lexicon for a long time now, but that was a magnificent modern metaphor.”

[SS] “Speaking of which, here’s my list of poker terms that are now commonly used outside the game.”


  • above board: on the level (from keeping your cards above the table in poker so opponents can see that you’re not cheating)
  • ace in the hole: a resource unknown to your opponent (from stud poker, where you have cards that your opponents can’t see)
  • ace up your sleeve: your hidden, possibly unfair, advantage (also “card” instead of “ace”)
  • four-flusher: cheater (from players trying to represent a flush despite having only four instead of five of one suit)
  • have something down pat: well-practiced or memorized (from being dealt a made hand in draw poker, which allows you stand pat and not draw any cards)
  • hold all the cards: control the situation (also, “aces” instead of “cards”)
  • hold your cards close to your vest: keep your thoughts and plans secret (in casinos, this is no longer an acceptable way of hiding your cards’ identities; also “chest” instead of “vest”)
  • lay all your cards on the table: tell the complete truth (from the end of a poker hand when everyone shows their cards)
  • the nuts: the best of something (from Hold ‘Em and other stud games)
  • play the hand you’re dealt: don’t worry about what you can’t change (or “can’t tell what kind of hand you’re playing”)
  • play your cards right: use your resources effectively (the obvious poker advice)
  • showdown: final confrontation (from when players reveal their cards at the end of a poker hand)
  • tip your hand: reveal your intended action (from accidentally revealing your hidden cards to your opponents)
  • wasn’t in the cards: inevitable, possibly because of luck (from the obvious)
  • wild card: unknown variable in a situation (from draw poker and other games with wild cards that can represent any other card)


  • blue-chip: valuable (from the most valuable poker chips such as when white, red, and blue chips are used; e.g., “blue-chip stock”)
  • cash in your chips: dying; taking a profit (from converting your chips back into legal tender)
  • chip in: contribute (especially from the ante at the beginning of a hand, where each player puts in the same amount of chips)
  • in the chips: rich, or at least currently winning (from the obvious possession of lots of chips)
  • jackpot: a large prize (from jacks-or-better draw poker, where the pot would be “jacked-up” due to the opening qualifier [via slot machines in 1932])
  • stack up against something: compare two items or ideas (from comparing chip stacks physically instead of having to count all the chips)
  • when the chips are down: in a difficult situation (from the obvious lack of poker chips)


  • big deal: important (from a hand with a large pot)
  • deal me in: let me participate (from the start of a poker hand)
  • deal off the bottom: cheat (from one way to cheat at cards)
  • dealt a bad hand: unlucky (from the obvious)
  • double dealing: cheating (from dealing a cheating confederate an extra card)
  • lost in the shuffle: easily overlooked amid confusion (from the intentional randomness created when shuffling playing cards)
  • luck of the draw: a result beyond your control (from draw poker, where you discard from your hand and get new cards from the deck)
  • pass the buck: foist responsibility onto another person (from the dealer button, which at times in the 19th century was a buck’s horn-handled hunting knife [via Buckhorn Poker or Buck Poker]3; similarly, “the buck stops here”
  • square deal: honest transaction (from the squaring up of the playing card deck to prevent cheating)
  • stack the deck: arrange things unfairly (from one way of cheating at poker; also “cards” instead of “deck”)


  • ante up: contribute (from the start of a hand in some poker games)
  • all-in: committed to an action (from the act of betting all of your chips)
  • bet the farm: stake everything on an action (possibly from before table stakes were common, so you could literally bet any of your possessions in a poker game; or “ranch” instead of “farm”)
  • bet your bottom dollar: all-in (from the bottom dollar representing your whole stack of money or chips)
  • bluff: represent something that isn’t true (from the Dutch bluffen “to brag, boast” or verbluffen “to baffle, mislead”4)
  • fold: quit (from the obvious)
  • know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em: able to tell when to compete and when to give up (from the obvious poker advice and made famous by Kenny Rogers)
  • overplay your hand: pretend to be stronger than you are (from bad poker playing)
  • penny ante: small stakes (from the smallest poker stakes)
  • raise the ante: increase the stakes (from cash games; in most tournaments, you raise the blinds instead; also “stakes” instead of “ante”)
  • sandbag: intentionally play a strong hand weakly (a.k.a. slowplaying in poker)
  • stand pat: take no action (from draw poker, where a pat hand is a straight or better)
  • sweeten the pot: increase the wager (from a bet which is intended to increase the pot size rather than cause anyone to fold)
  • you bet!: agreed (from the obvious)


  • freeroll: a chance at winning something for no cost (from freeroll tournaments which have prizes but no entry fee)
  • on the bubble: on the fence (from the point in a poker tournament where everyone remaining will win money after one more player busts out)
  • poker face: emotionless (from the act of not letting your expression reveal how strong your hand is)
  • tell: mannerism that indicates your position (from any emotion, mannerism, gesture, or oral indication that reveals how strong your hand is)


  1. Also, a record five touchdowns in 2:01, well under half the four decade-old previous record of 5:40 (Bengals-Oilers in 1972).
  2. You can calculate the win probability given the score, down, field position, and time left in any NFL game (except kickoffs, apparently). {December 24, 2015 update: alas, the real-time calculator no longer seems to be available. December 28, 2021 update: replaced deprecated link}
  3. When silver dollars were used as buttons, they became known as bucks.
  4. Source: bluff entry in the Online Etymology Dictionary.

Flash replayer version of the “hand”

Full Tilt Poker formatted version, suitable for inputting into various poker analysis tools

Full Tilt Poker Game #0000001410: Table M&T Bank Stadium - 50,000/100,000 - No Limit Hold'em - 15:43:21 EDT - 2013/12/08
Seat 1: Minnesota (500,000)
Seat 2: Baltimore (500,000)
Minnesota posts the big blind of 100,000
Baltimore posts the small blind of 50,000
The button is in seat #2
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Baltimore raises to 500,000, and is all in
Minnesota calls 400,000, and is all in
*** FLOP *** [Kd Kh 3s]
*** TURN *** [Kd Kh 3s] [As]
*** RIVER *** [Kd Kh 3s As] [Kc]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Minnesota shows [Ah Ad] full house, Kings over Aces
Baltimore shows [7h Ks] four Kings
Baltimore wins the pot (1,000,000) with four Kings
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 1,000,000 | Rake 0
Board: [Kd Kh 3s As Kc]
Seat 1: Minnesota (button) showed [Ah Ad] and lost with full house, Kings over Aces
Seat 2: Baltimore (big blind) showed [7h Ks] and won (1,000,000) with four Kings