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Card Shark vs Card Sharp

  • British vs American English
  • The meaning has changed over time
  • Do the hustle
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Is he a Card Shark or a Card Sharp?

So, which is it….card shark vs card sharp? Who would you call a “card shark”? Probably a person who’s good at playing cards. Well, the word “shark” is synonymous with success. And predator. Thanks to that steely hunter like focus. So then, what is a “card sharp”?

Introduction: Card Shark vs Card Sharp

If you’re good with cards, (you should be playing Poker Stars), then the term “card shark” is a perfectly acceptable way of expressing this. But hold on, isn’t the term is a derivation of the British term, “card sharp”? (Bro-tip: Yes it is!).

Brits vs Yanks

The former is in general usage in America, Canada and across the Entipedies. They do both share the same general definitions: (1) a professional card player, (2) a person who is skilled in card games, and (3) a person who is skilled in cheating at card games. Why not try your luck with these online poker sites in the US. But the British version of card shark vs card sharp, the implication is that the player is up to some form of skullduggery or cheating. In American English, a card shark is simply someone who spends most of their time playing cards.

Blame The Germans: Card Shark vs Card Sharp

If we look at the history of poker, we can see that the use of the term “card sharp” dates back to the era of Wild West saloons and small town card rooms found all across America in the 1880’s. Long before we had Poker Stars. By the 1940’s the term had evolved into card shark. Both phrases do make perfect sense in their own ways. “Sharping” is from the early 19th century and is used to describe the act of “swindling” or stealing. Not just applied to gambling but also a variety of other activities. For example, a con man posing as a bona fide preacher in the Old West would be known as a “gospel sharp”. In this regard, the word sharp has it’s roots in the German word “schurke”, meaning rogue or rascal. To that end, a card sharp could very well be a card shark.

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Card Shark vs Card Sharp. The Card Sharp on the Boulevard Author: Louis-Léopold Boilly, via Wikimedia Commons

Wanna Game?

Today both terms still have a slight implication of cheating. But not in the sense of sleight of hand or the hiding of cards. Or even card counting. The very mention of an apex predator can instantly lead one to see an expert of cards pitted against and taking advantage of a lesser, more ignorant foe. In the same manner, pool sharks and pool hustlers are just using their greater skill level to win, but only after hiding their playing powers. Are you an apex predator player? Then why not try out these online poker sites in the US.

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