Poker Malapropisms. . .”Let’s have some fun! is an independent sports news and information service. has partnerships with some of the top legal and licensed sportsbook companies in the US. When you claim a bonus offer or promotion through a link on this site, Gaming Today may receive referral compensation from the sportsbook company. Although the relationships we have with sportsbook companies may influence the order in which we place companies on the site, all reviews, recommendations, and opinions are wholly our own. They are the recommendations from our authors and contributors who are avid sports fans themselves.

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In last week’s column, I told you how GamingToday inadvertently had reintroduced me to famed comedian Norm Crosby, often called “The Master of Malapropisms.”

A malapropism is a word or phrase that sounds similar to what was intended, but is, in fact, entirely different. Usually it has a humorous effect.

Norm’s incredible talent for creating malapropisms also can work very well in the poker world. My ladyfriend, Anita Gonshaw-Klebanoff, (a well-known artist working in the medium that made Rembrandt so famous in the art world), helped me “create” some poker malapropisms. Hey, why not! I will share with you a few that we thought up:

“He was a lose player.” (should be loose)

“I had four rocks of blue chips.” (should be racks)

“Patience is an inane (should be innate) trait important in winning at poker.”

“He won the pot with truces-full.” (You guess.)

“The pot odds were much higher than the card odds; so he had a positive expiration.” (should be expectation)

And my favorite: “The game was Texas haul’em.” (What do you think?)

Now, it’s your turn. How about you coming up with a few poker malapropisms of your own – or you can get someone to help you? A prize for the best one submitted to [email protected]. Share them with others at your poker game. Maybe we will start a new – fun – fad.

A-rag in limit hold’em

At our Claude Pepper Seniors Poker Group, a question came up about playing A-rag in limit games. We had been discussing “dominated hands” based on the Hold’em Algorithm (Ref. Hold’em or Fold’em – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision).

A dominated hand is best folded before the flop. Don’t invest in it. A typical example is Q-7 offsuit. Using the algorithm, it scores 19 points. Even in a late position, a score of at least 22 is required to call the blind to see the flop. Likewise K-7 offsuit adds up to 21 and hence usually is not playable.

But what about A-7 offsuit, which gives a score of 23, which would meet the criteria for playing that hand in a late position? Even A-6 offsuit satifies our 22-point criteria for late positions. True, but anytime your two hole cards just barely meet the Hold’em Algorithm criteria, it’s a marginal drawing hand.

The decision whether to invest in such a hand depends on how many opponents are staying to see the flop and whether there has been or is likely to be a raise preflop. Fold unless there are lots of opponents calling to see the flop with no raises.

Dominated hands

Small cards, 7 or under, are “rags.” Hands with a high honor card (A, K, Q) coupled with a rag, are “dominated hands.” They spell danger! Even if they improve, more often than not they are losers.

Suppose you played Q-7 suited; the odds are you will make a pair on the flop – if anything at all. Sure, you might catch two more of your suit, giving you four-to-a-flush – and that’s a very good drawing hand. But, far more likely, you will pair up, giving a second-best hand. That can be very costly.

Ace in the hole

You love an ace in the hole, so you decide to take the chance and call with A-rag. The flop brings a second ace. Now you have top pair. That feels good – but should it? You bet it all the way to the river and one persistent opponent calls all the way.

Showdown: You turn up your A-5. Then your opponent turns up A-9. His kicker card (the 9) beats you out. Indeed, his A-9 dominated your A-5 from the start. The only way you could have beaten his hand was to catch a second 5 while he failed to catch another 9. He was a 3-1 favorite preflop. So why invest in a hand that is highly likely to be a loser?


To every rule there usually are exceptions. While being suited adds only 1 or 2 points to the score of your hole cards (depending on position), A-rag suited is often playable, especially from a late position. You are hoping to make the nut flush – ace high.

To a somewhat lesser extent, the same applies to K-rag suited. You are hoping to make the second-nut flush. Playing these hands is viable only if two pre-flop conditions are satisfied:

• It is a multi-way pot (three or more opponents staying to see the flop) so there are likely to be lots of chips in the pot – should you make your flush and win. Otherwise the pot odds would not be attractive.

• There are no raises before your bet or anticipated after you call. Otherwise the investment is too high.

(“The Engineer,” a noted author, teaches poker at the Claude Pepper Sr. Center and at the new CalVet facility for elderly war veterans in West Los Angeles. He was recently elected to the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame.)


About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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