Nicknames for Texas Hold’em Poker Hands

Josh H
by Josh H  |  Owner and Editor-in-Chief
The Hammer Poker Hand Nickname
The worst statistical starting hand in Hold’em with its tongue-in-cheek nickname of “The Hammer”.

With the literal poker explosion in the last several years and millions of new players flocking the the game, poker hand nicknames have become more prevalent and popular than ever.

With poker television announcers spreading the word and old-time cardroom regulars passing along the word like cultural oral tradition, new poker players might feel lost amongst the jargon and lingo of seasoned veterans. With the obscurity of some of these nicknames, who can blame them?

While some hand nicknames are fairly transparent (American Airlines, Fish Hooks, and Jackson Five), the newer poker generation may have trouble with others (Broderick Crawford, Dead Man’s Hand, and Walking Back to Houston).

The following list contains some of the most popular poker hand nicknames.

A-AAmerican Airlines, Rockets, Bullets, Snake Eyes
K-KCowboys, King Kong
J-JFishhooks, Hooks
9-9Phil Hellmuth (won the 1989 Main Event with two black nines), Wayne Gretzky
8-8Snowmen, Piano Keys (88 keys on a piano)
7-7Walking Sticks, Sunset Strip (TV show title)
6-6Route 66, Boots (for the slight resemblance of a boot to a 6)
5-5Speed Limit, Presto
4-4Magnum (the .44 Magnum pistol was Dirty Harry's gun), Sailboats
3-3Crabs, Treys
2-2Ducks (the 2 is similar to a duck's shape in water)
A-KBig Slick, Walking Back to Houston (overplay Ace-King and you'd be left walking back to Houston)
A-QDoyle Brunson (the poker legend hates to play AQ)
A-10Johnny Moss
A-8Dead Man's Hand (Wild Bill Hickok was holding Aces and Eights when he was shot and killed)
A-3Baskin-Robbins (an Ace is also a 1 when playing lowball, making 31 for 31 flavors)
K-JKojak, Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling)
K-9Canine, Fido
K-3King Crab, Commander Crab (a 3 is often called a "crab")
Q-JMaverick (Jacks and Queens from the "Maverick" theme song)
Q-7Computer Hand (statistically, this is the average winning hand in Hold'em)
J-6Railroad Hand (repeating "Jacks and sixes" sounds like a train on its tracks)
J-5Jackson Five, Motown
J-4Flat Tire (what's a jack for?)
10-5Dime Store, Woolworths (the old discount five and dime store chain)
10-4Broderick Crawford (his catchphrase in "Highway Patrol"), Roger That
10-2Doyle Brunson (he won both his WSOP Championships with this modest holding)
9-8Oldsmobile (the classiest model was the 98)
9-3Jack Benny (always claimed to be 39 years old)
7-6Union Oil (owns the 76 gas station brand)
7-5Heinz (for Heinz' 57 flavor varieties)
7-2The Hammer
6-3Blocky (from Doyle Brunson's Super System)
5-4Jesse James (he was allegedly killed with a shot from a .45 pistol)
K-K-KThree Wise Men
T-T-TThirty Miles of Bad Road (Gilroy to San Jose)
Q-Q-K-KMommas and Poppas
A-K-4-7Assault Rifle (named after the Russian machine gun)
2-2-2Huey, Dewey, and Louie (three famous "ducks")
NutsThe unbeatable hand
QuadsFour of a Kind
SetThree of a Kind (using a pocket pair)
TripsThree of a Kind (using a pair on the board)
Any Face CardPaint
A pair of 2's is "Ducks"
One of my favorite poker hand nicknames because it never gets old showing kids how there are hidden “ducks” on our cards.

Whether to add a bit of humor and sociality to the game or just made out of boredom in between deals, poker is one of the great purveyors of nicknames both for its players and its hands.

If you’re new to the game, understanding poker hand nicknames is important for getting yourself deep into the game’s culture. Knowing these terms can also aid in learning the strategic discussions around them, because they can act as sort-of mnemonic devices as you’re learning about hand-strength.

Big Slick.
Big Slick is one of the most iconic poker hand nicknames.

While Texas Hold’em starting cards have inspired most of the two-card hand nicknames, some have their roots way back in the Wild West draw poker days – like Dead Man’s Hand and Maverick. Even seemingly generic terms like using Bullets to mean Aces go all the way back to the old west.

7-2 Hand in Hold'em
The hammer, nicknamed sarcastically for being the worst statistical starting hand in Hold’em.

Poker is not just a game of cards; it’s a vibrant subculture rich with its own colorful language. Poker hand nicknames are just one of the many types of slang you’ll hear on the felt or see in the chatbox. Imbued with humor and history, they are an important part of the poker vernacular.

I’d argue that getting to know these terms is essentially learning alongside a successful poker strategy, especially if you want to ingratiate yourself into the poker community at large.

12 thoughts on “The Most Famous Poker Hand Nicknames”

  1. 2/7 Should be called No Man’s Hand. Playing off no man’s land, the land between the trenches in WW1. It’s no man’s hand because it does NOthing for you and your in danger if you dont fold and get the hell out of there.

  2. ak = anna kournikova the tennis player, looks pretty but wins nothing
    10-6 the graveyard, 10pm to 6am the normal nightshift

    • It’s A-K. I’ve seen a couple of opposite explanations for the term. Either players were prone to playing A-K too strongly so they would be left “walking back to Houston” after they overplayed it or the old Texas rounders would play the hand so well that when you ran into one of them with A-K you’d be left “walking back to Houston”. The former seems to make more sense.

      I’ve heard A-Q called “Little Slick” or “Doyle Brunson” because of how much he described his dislike of it in Super System.

    • Good ones. I’ve heard “Woolworths” as well for 10-5, which goes along with “Five and Dime” and “Dime Store”. I will have to add those in to the list.

      I don’t know the Murphy’s one. The closest I could find was “Merfs”, which describes a draw poker variant where Tens and Fives are wild of all things. Is that it?


Leave a Comment