If you get a kick out of poker nicknames, this article is for you. If you enjoy the whimsy, transience, and candor of our peer-given monikers, then read on.
If, on the other hand, you find names such as Uncle Stinker and Vinnie Beans to be neither amusing nor intriguing, then you might as well keep on clicking, because right now you’re in a name-lover’s playground.
How do I know I’m not the only nickname fan?
What happened was, I was writing a poker story, and I needed a couple good nicknames. Typically I look forward to that kind of work. An opportunity to fill in a couple blanks with something fun.
Then it hit me. My current plan is to write novels, and these novels will no doubt have poker players in there. I will be filling in nickname blanks for years.
So I decided to tap into a writing resource even greater than Google — my newsletter readers. Sure, I can get facts and instruction from the internet. But not reams of fresh, free, funny grist for my writing mill. I asked my faithful to send me their favorite poker nicknames, and what I got back took two full days to process, laughing the whole time.
The Tigress / Dead Money / F-bomb / Mumbles
Most of the names I received are actual nicknames of actual people. And some contributors rattled off a slew of people in their home game or from their casino. So don’t be too shocked if you see your nickname in the word cloud.
Mudslide / Ace Hole / Trapper John / The Counselor
When I asked for names, I wasn’t planning an article. I was just going to stash them in a file and access as needed until my inkwell went dry. But when I read through the 250 names — many with explanations and backstories ranging from a few words to a few paragraphs — I had urges. Urges to share. This is too good to hog.
Billington Fold Factory / Mike the Hat / Hurricane Chan
My collection does not include internet screen names, though I did receive some hilarious observations about what happens when screen names get real.
A READER WROTE: “At my first live poker events, I always found it entertaining to exchange screen names with people. Nothing like a person having to tell you his name is ‘StickItInYourAce69’ or whatever. Also funny is when people with those names win WCOOP events and PokerStars has to promote them.
Nicknames by Category
I spotted six. For example, several people have been named after their card protectors, and The Bobs earned a category by force of numbers, with Drywall Bob, Bald Bob, Silent Bob, Pancake Bob, Sideshow Bob, and DCMB, also known as Don’t Call Me Bob, and I’m not making this up.
Four more categories:
- Tiny (described as “not tiny”)
- Genius (described as “pretty much wrong about everything”)
- Sat Nav (bad with directions)
A READER WROTE: “My best friend started calling me ‘Sunshine’ because he said I’d get to the game and everyone was having fun and cracking jokes and I’d suck the sunshine out of the room, by being so miserable. Eventually that nickname disappeared and I asked him why. He said he couldn’t call me Sunshine anymore because I had my shit together now and I was too happy.”
- Alex Two Guns (likes to bet with both hands full of chips)
- King Salmon
- California Condor
- Rutting Rhino
- Squirrel (has the nuts)
- Catfish (bottom feeder)
- Weasel (obvious)
- Flip-Flop and Piles (described as “a famous poker duo”)
- Rock and Roll (twin brothers, one is a nit and the other has deep pockets)
- Big and Little (as in, blinds) — a married couple who always sit next to each other, with him (“Big”) on the left and her (“Little”) on the right
A Writing Game
Some names have guessable origins, like Parking Lot Larry who slept in his car, and Hundred Dollar Mike who never bought in for more, and Too Tan who was, duh, too tanned.
But sometimes the obvious names are anything but. Einstein, for example. Why would a poker player be given that name? For being smart? Or not smart? Guess again…
A READER WROTE: “A number of years ago, my brother worked for a tech company called EMC. He gave me a hat with their logo on it, which is the letters EMC and a superscript 2. When I wore that hat at the poker table, my opponents called me ‘Einstein.’ Hah!”
Here’s a writing game I’ve been playing. There’s no typing. Just thinking. I look at one of the more colorful names, and I start asking questions: Who is this person? And how did they earn this name?
Really it’s just a natural compulsion brought on by the names themselves. Like the nickname Rug Doctor. See? Already your mind is concocting stories! Here are a few more good names for this game — Charlie Tuna, Rain Man, Dahmer.
To Be Named a Player
It’s a great feeling to be nicknamed. It says, “I am here, and I can prove it. Somebody cared enough about me to make up a name, just for me. I admit I would have been happier with something more flattering than ‘Unlimited Calling Plan,’ but hey, at least my existence has been validated.”
I’ve had my share of nicknames over the years, a function of playing a lot and talking a lot. One time I asked the waitress to bring me a glass of milk, and that generated some mocking banter. Then I flopped a monster and slow played it, as in, milked it, and for the rest of the night a couple guys called me Milk.
But ever since I disengaged at the table and started playing mum poker, I’ve become the nameless type. Which made this quote my favorite of the batch:
A READER WROTE: “I never got a nickname because someone taught me about mum poker so I stayed quiet and made no friends.”
I propose a toast. Okay, several toasts. First, to those who gave me my list. And then, to all of us. The named, and the nameless. And let us also raise our glasses to the name makers. The givers of truth, beauty, and names like Mike the Hat. Really? What the heck kind of name is that? But I love it! Okay, where were we…?
To the writer that lives in all of us.
::: clink :::
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