Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Shamus recently wrote an interesting blog post on the origins of the word bluff as used in poker, a subject I had not considered before. It has re-sensitized me to noticing poker lingo, especially words that have common meanings in English but some different, specific use in poker that is not obviously related.

For example, I've been noticing the word fade a lot in recent days: "He has the best hand, but he's going to have to fade a diamond." I can sort of speculate how the ordinary senses of fade might have become morphed to this usage, but it would amount to no more than a "just-so story."

It's on my mind and I'm curious about it. If you have any solid historical/etymological information, or even a theory that's so perfect that it surely must be true, please let me know via the comments.


Grange95 said...

I suspect "fade" in poker is one of those terms crossing over from sports wagering where "fade" means "to bet against". E.g., "I'm going to fade the Lakers next series." or "I'm fading my buddy's picks."

"Fade" also gets used this way in craps (betting against the shooter), and in stock trading ("fading the market").

Considering how many poker players love to bet sports, this feels like a good explanation to me, but I have no definitive proof.

A few quick links from a Google search:






Katie said...

I agree w/grange. I first heard it in sports betting.

Fred said...

I've heard it in a variety of non-gaming contexts essentially meaning to dodge or to avoid, which would seem to be more in context than the context Grange mentioned.

Usually in the formula "Good result Y will happen as long as I manage to fade problem X.

Now that I think about it though, I picked up that meaning from friends and acquaintances, not from any media source until now. I'd be curious where that particular usage orginates.

Fred said...

If you've heard it a lot in the past few days, is there any convention or other influx of tourists from a particular region that might account for that?