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16/12/2005 No.27
he Guardian Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Friday December 16, 2005
How to play poker
(How to play has been running from issue 16)

Since the poker explosion, it has become mainstream and very uncool to talk seriously of "big slick" and "the cowboys". Inventing your own jargon, however, remains quite acceptable. There was a veritable snowfall of entries to my Yuletide poker competition a couple of weeks ago, in which I promised a free set of excellent poker chips (equipment) to whoever coined the best Christmassy nickname for a poker hand..

My favourite entries translated the visual look of the hands into festive symbols. Several readers suggested "candy canes" or "Christmas stockings" for JJ. Vicki Grimshaw from Leeds came up with "party hats" for AA. Brian Ballantyne emailed to suggest "the baubles" for 66 and "I Saw Three Ships" for a set of fours (444). I think all those nicknames are charming, and I shall be using them myself until twelfth night.
On a nativity theme, Dan Gregory suggested a full house could be "a no-roomer"; and Fran Oestreicher offered "a Herod" for 72, "because it should be put down on delivery." Many readers suggested "gold, frankincense and myrrh" for three kings, but I prefer the more poetic name put forward by Harry Markham: "the stargazers".

Peter Dunne suggested naming a royal flush after Cliff Richard, because "it's only seen once a year, but always number one". Harder-hearted Simon Alpren from Hertfordshire gave the same name to 92 "because it's crap". Another idea for a pair of jacks came from Bernie Hill ("the silent knights"), while Chris Taylor thought a heart or diamond flush could be "Santa" because it turns up in a red suit.

But the winner is Vicki Grimshaw. "Party hats" is a perfect seasonal nickname for AA. It's visually cute, and encapsulates that festive cheer one always feels on finding the aces. (I also liked Vicki's back-up suggestion of "the Queen's speech" for Q2, because "it's a queen with something entirely inconsequential".) Chips on the way, Vicki! I hope they go well with your turkey.