Saturday, August 08, 2009

Origin of "case"

Every field develops its own lingo, and it can be a fascinating study. Poker is no exception. One can often make a pretty good guess at how a word or phrase developed or was modified from some other context for a new application in poker. But one of the continuing mysteries for me is the word "case" to mean "last"--as I just used it in last night's post about hitting four-of-a-kind when the "case" six came on the river. The Oxford English Dictionary betrays no knowledge of this usage or anything akin to it. It completely baffles me how it came to mean what it does in poker.

If anybody has seen or heard anything reliable about this tidbit of etymological history, or even has some plausible speculation about it, please speak up in the comments.


There are some who call me... Tim said...

OK - here's a s.w.a.g. ... "case" as in "I rest my case" or "open and shut case"?

(yeah - pretty lame)

Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Here's some speculation:

I know the term is also used with reference to one's last available money -- as in, "Once I got there I found there were no jobs and so I had to dip into my case money for the down payment."

Perhaps it is a reference to the vessel (suitcase?) in which one's last money was kept?

Butch Howard said...

From Mike Caro University Dictionary

case card

(n phrase) The only remaining card (in the deck) of a rank or suit. See case. The term comes from faro, in which cards are kept track of with an abacus-like device called a case rack.

Now, why the 'abacus-like device' was called a case rack will have to be a question for some faro expert to give up for us.

GrrrlZilla said...

Oh, how you guys rock. I've wondered about this one for years!!

Big-O said...

I saw the ESPN coverage of the 40k event at the 2009 wsop.
There is a hand where Raymer flops a straight and wins the pot.
A fan yells something while Greg is raking in his chips.
I'm not sure, but I think it's "sunscreen" the fan yells.
Raymer says he doesn't know what it means.
Do any of you guys know if I've interpreted that right?
Is it sunscreen that the fan yells and if so, what it means?


Michael said...

You can play Faro here for free, and you can see the representation of the "case rack" at the bottom which counts off the number of each rank of card dealt.

Anonymous said...


It was "sunscreen". As in, "he was running hot".

That was what my ears heard anyways.

Love your blog Grump!!