Poker Hand Nicknames And Their Stories


Posted: December 24, 2022

Updated: December 24, 2022

  • Find the humor in poker
  • Learn about poker slang
  • Poker hand nicknames

Poker, in addition to being a game of chance for some, a sport for others, and a game of skill where logic and strategy dominate, is an excellent form of entertainment, which also includes humor. The name of each hand is primarily a product of the English language and the creative imagination of poker players. Scroll down for poker hand nicknames!

Everygame Poker Welcome Bonus

200% UP TO $1,000

18+. New players only. First deposit bonus: 200% up to $1,000. Minimum deposit: $25. Deposit bonus code: 1000EGP. Valid for 90 days. Full Terms and Conditions apply.

Poker Hand Nicknames

According to the rules of the Texas Hold’em game, each player is dealt two cards, so looking at a 52-card deck, there are 1,326 possible card combinations during the game, and many of them have their own nicknames or stories. Several names come from the shape of the figures on the cards. For example, the pair of aces or AA is considered the best opening card combination in poker, which, based on its shape, is often called pocket rockets, bullets, or, based on its initials, American Airlines. 

It is the same reason that the pair of eights, 88, is called snowmen, the two sevens, 77, is called candy canes, walking sticks, or hockey sticks, and the twos are called ducks, 22. According to online gambling sites in the US, the names of some hands come from sports, while others are inspired by the titles or characters of films and TV shows. The card combination 4-9 is often mentioned as San Francisco or Joe Montana, referring to the city’s American football team San Francisco 49ers, and its legendary quarterback. 

Poker hand nicknames
Picture Source: Pexels

Cards 6-7 are called Philadelphia, coming from the name of the NBA basketball team Philadelphia 76ers. Talking about basketball, Michael Jordan and his legendary jersey number 23 appear in poker too. Of course, memorable poker games also served as a source for poker hand nicknames.

Certain cards have a story. One of them, perhaps the most well-known, is 10-2, which everyone identifies with Doyle Brunson, who won two consecutive World Series of Poker main events with these hands. Learn more or try your hand at poker at Everygame Poker!

Dead Man’s Hand

Let’s see the most interesting story on the list of poker hand nicknames! When it comes to poker history, we must mention the legendary Wild Bill Hickok and the Dead Man’s Hand. When you have two black aces and two eights, you have a dead man’s hand. Why? Well, it has something to do with the exciting life and death of James Butler Hickok, who became famous as a gunfighter in 1800s America. Let’s see the story of his life in a nutshell!

Bill Hickok was born in 1837 on a farm in Illinois. Even at a young age, he showed how good his hand was with pistols, and his father helped Bill discover this talent. His father died when Hickok was 15, and there is not much information about Bill’s other family members.

At the age of 18, he left the farm and headed west. He lived in Kansas and Nebraska, fought in the Civil War, and was also a member of the local police. Fun fact: some speculate that the color of his hair was red because red objects looked black in photos from the time. 

So, at 18, he moved to Kansas and joined the anti-slavery movement in the American Civil War. He became famous due to a newspaper article in which they claimed that Bill killed ten men at once. From then on, he became infamous, and more and more incredible rumors about him came to light.

For example, him killing a bear with a single knife. He used this reputation to try his hand in as many professions as possible. In 1865, he dreamed of a political career and finished second in the Springfield gubernatorial election. He also tried acting, but he couldn’t make a lasting impression.

Poker Hand Nicknames

Wild Bill became sheriff of Hays City and governor of Abilene. The towns were notorious for violence, but Bill managed to clean things up. However, in 1871, his career as a sheriff ended after he “accidentally” shot his own deputy, Mike Williams, in the crowd mistaking him for a criminal. Official data states that Hickok took the lives of 36 people, but according to legend, more than a hundred people died by his hand. After the accident, he stopped using a gun.

It wasn’t just the accident that influenced him in this decision. His eyesight was getting worse and worse, so he wasn’t as good a shooter as before. Perhaps that was why he shot the man, and it was truly a mistake. It was hard for him to take the lives of so many people, so he wanted to run away from it all.

In the end, alcohol and poker became his refuge, and that was how Bill supported himself. He could have had a great career, but his mistake ruined everything. Now that we know the background story, let’s see where the poker hand nickname comes from!

The Famous Hand

Where does this term come from, and why is it attributed to James Butler Hickok? In the spring of 1876, he arrived in a small mining town, Deadwood, and became a regular customer at the local saloon. Alcohol and poker became Bill’s first priority. On a summer day, Bill entered the parlor like always, took his favorite seat, and began to play. Unfortunately for him, there was a drunk guy named Jack McCall, who was a troublemaker, losing all the time.

He got so annoyed that he left, cursing, while Bill continued the game. The next day, as Bill entered the bar, an unpleasant feeling gripped him. He took it as a bad sign that his favorite seat was taken. He liked to sit facing the entrance, so he could always see who was coming and going. However, that day, he had to sit with his back to the door. Who knows? If he sat where he usually did, there wouldn’t be a hand called the Dead Man’s Hand.

Jack McCall wanted to take revenge for what had happened the day before, so he barreled through the doors, aimed his gun at Hickok, and shot. Hickok died, but to this day, word of mouth circulates about the two aces and two eights he had with him at the time he was shoot. That’s how they named it the dead man’s hand. You can check out our poker hands cheat sheet on the link!

Click here to try live casino at Everygame Poker 

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments