dead man's hand

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

The aces and eights sense is from a legend that Wild Bill Hickok was holding such cards at the time he was killed in 1876.

Noun[edit]

dead man's hand ‎(plural dead man's hands)

  1. (poker) A pair of aces and a pair of eights (especially, the black aces and eights), in a player's hand.
    • 1907, Davida French; Esther Stevens, Laura Wells, “The Rulers of the Realm”, in Not Included in a Sheepskin: Stanford Stories, Stanford: The Stanford Book Store, pages 172:
      "A dead man's hand or queens on the roof at least," suggested Southack.
      "They say two aces and two eights can never be beat."
  2. (poker) An ace and an eight as a starting hand in Texas hold 'em
  3. (poker, obsolete) Other various hands, among them a full house of three jacks and two tens.
    • 1903, Cora Linn Morrison Daniels, Charles McClellan Stevens, editor, Encyclopædia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World, volume 3, J. H. Yewdale, pages 1478:
      When playing poker, should you hold a jack full on red sevens, it means death, and is called "a dead man's hand".

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