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The Most Overused Expressions in Poker

by Michael Wiesenberg |  Published: Nov 14, 2012


Michael Wiesenberg“One time”

In one of the 24 broadcasts of the World Series of Poker main event, prominent participants were asked what the most overused expression in poker is. To a man — and to a woman — all said, “One time.” Emphasizing that point, a number of all-in confrontations were covered, and in almost all of them the player needing help said those overused words. Typical was, “A diamond, dealer, one time.”

The expression was given a spurious role as something due every player as long as the player uses it only once. When one prominent player was all in needing a two-outer on the river, she said, seemingly in all seriousness, “I guess I shouldn’t have used my one time before when I needed that diamond.” She seemed to be implying that her heaven-sent wish would have been granted had she not already used it up. I don’t know where the WSOP participants got the idea that the universe owes everyone exactly one instance of a “one time,” and such a request must be used judiciously, but most of the utterers of the expression acted as if that were a well-established principle.

A corollary arises from this overuse. Those who ask for one time never ask just once. After catching the miracle card that keeps him in the running, the requester asks for “one time” the next time he’s all in, often within a round or two of the previous request. I wonder if the poker gods have a sense of irony.

“That’s what I’m talking about!”

Heard far too often, particularly in televised poker events, is “That’s what I’m talking about!” According to The Official Dictionary of Poker, this is an expression heard, usually in tournaments, that essentially means “I just won a pot.” The expression is generally uttered, usually in exuberant tones and often accompanied by a fist pump and a jubilant leap or dance, at the time of winning a crucial pot, usually a big one, often all in, and often involving less skill than luck, by poker newcomers, often young, particularly those who have played mainly online. The expression is considered by many players to be uncool.

“That’s poker”

“That’s poker” is another favorite. The expression is usually said, often by a broadcast commentator or an onlooker asked by an interviewer to comment, after something somewhat eventful happens, such as a hand that can win only by catching a flush card on either the turn or river. No, it’s not poker; it’s just a fulfillment of the approximately one-third of the time that it happens. A like expression exists in almost every sport. You’ll hear announcers say “That’s football” after a team wins by making a crucial fourth down pass play in the last seconds of a game.

“That’s so sick”

Tournament regulars, particularly young ones, like the expression “That’s so sick.” It’s usually said when someone defies the odds to win a pot. As in “That’s poker,” what just happened occurs predictably some known percentage of the time, and the expression is just a meaningless way of saying “What just happened happened.” Put more simply, “That’s so sick” means “Something happened.” A street expression that means the same thing as “That’s so sick” is “**** happens.”

“He came to play poker”

You hear television commentators say of a player, “He came to play poker.” Duh. He didn’t come to play tiddlywinks. That’s as meaningless as a sports announcer saying “This team really came to play baseball.” “He came to play poker” usually refers to aggressive play, but if I were doing the announcing, I would say, “He’s winning a lot of pots by betting more than opponents are willing to call.”

“Ship it!”

What “ship it” means is “I win.” That is, “Push me those chips.” There’s nothing particularly wrong with that, except that it shows a complete lack of class, because, unfortunately, the expression is almost always said in a crowing tone of voice and usually has a hidden undertone of “Nyah, nyah, nyah! I’m better than you! I outplayed you!” There’s nothing worse than being an ungracious winner. You don’t have to say “Sorry” when you’ve just busted someone; in fact, saying that almost always sounds insincere. Neither do you have to hit your opponent over the head with your win, and “Ship it!,” particularly in the tone of voice that invariably accompanies the expression, thus qualifies as one of the most overused expressions in poker. ♠

Michael Wiesenberg has been a columnist for Card Player since 1988. He has written or edited many books about poker, and has also written extensively about computers. His crossword puzzles appear daily in all Canadian editions of Metro, Canada’s most widely distributed independent newspaper. Also look for his collections on, which publishes interactive puzzles for mobile devices. Send arguments, adjurations, and answer asking to