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[poh-ker] /ˈpoʊ kər/
a person or thing that pokes.
a metal rod for poking or stirring a fire.
Origin of poker1
1525-35; poke1 + -er1


[poh-ker] /ˈpoʊ kər/
a card game played by two or more persons, in which the players bet on the value of their hands, the winner taking the pool.
1825-35, Americanism; perhaps orig. braggart, bluffer; compare Middle Low German poken to brag, play, Middle Dutch poken to bluff, brag Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for poker
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The ship's doctor was there, playing a quiet game of poker with a few of the passengers.

    Hilda Wade Grant Allen
  • He was a youngster at the time—I had just met him—when he went into a poker game at Wailuku.

    The House of Pride Jack London
  • Even Wardle's fat boy at Manor Farm could have lasted through the evening if the poker had been forced into his hand so often.

    Hints to Pilgrims Charles Stephen Brooks
  • "Good," said the poker, advancing and shaking Tom by the hand.

    Andiron Tales John Kendrick Bangs
  • He could shoot with the best, but his one pride was the brand of poker he handed out.

    Hopalong Cassidy's Rustler Round-Up Clarence Edward Mulford
British Dictionary definitions for poker


a metal rod, usually with a handle, for stirring a fire
a person or thing that pokes


a card game of bluff and skill in which bets are made on the hands dealt, the highest-ranking hand (containing the most valuable combinations of sequences and sets of cards) winning the pool
Word Origin
C19: probably from French poque similar card game
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for poker

"the iron bar with which men stir the fire" [Johnson], 1530s, agent noun from poke (v.).

card game, 1834, American English, of unknown origin, perhaps from the first element of German Pochspiel, name of a card game similar to poker, from pochen "to brag as a bluff," literally "to knock, rap" (see poke (v.)). A popular alternative theory traces the word to French poque, also said to have been a card game resembling poker. "[B]ut without documentation these explanations are mere speculation" [Barnhart]. The earlier version of the game in English was called brag. Slang poker face (n.) "deadpan" is from 1874.

A good player is cautious or bold by turns, according to his estimate of the capacities of his adversaries, and to the impression he wants to make on them. 7. It follows that the possession of a good poker face is an advantage. No one who has any pretensions to good play will betray the value of his hand by gesture, change of countenance, or any other symptom. ["Cavendish," "Round Games at Cards," dated 1875]

To any one not very well up in these games, some parts of the book are at first sight rather puzzling. "It follows," we read in one passage, "that the possession of a good poker face" (the italics are the author's) "is an advantage." If this had been said by a Liverpool rough of his wife, the meaning would have been clear to every one. Cavendish, however, does not seem to be writing especially for Lancashire. [review of above, "Saturday Review," Dec. 26, 1874]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with poker


In addition to the idiom beginning with poker also see: stiff as a board (poker)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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