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Ace in the Hole

Origins, history, and evolution

by Michael Wiesenberg |  Published: May 14, 2010

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The ace is the most powerful card in the poker deck. Even though the ace sometimes ranks as a 1 in poker, and in other games (such as blackjack, where it can be a 1 or an 11), it is usually “better” than a king. This was not always the case. The word ace comes from Middle English (where it first appeared in print in the 14th century) as or aas, which comes from Anglo-French, and in turn from Latin, where it meant unit or unity. The word probably originated as the name of a small Roman copper coin. When it entered the English language, ace was used for the side of a die with only one pip, before it became a term for a playing card. (The name persists in dice contexts, and is also used for the single-pip domino.) Since this was the lowest roll of the die, ...


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