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Playing Card Nicknames: 6s, 7s, 8s

by Michael Wiesenberg |  Published: May 29, 2013


Michael WiesenbergNicknames. Almost everything of value has them. That goes for playing cards. This series lists and explains many you have heard — and some you haven’t. So far we’ve looked at deuces through fives. Now we continue with individual ranks.


A 6 is sometimes called a 6-spot.

You may hear a 6 called a sax. That’s just because it sounds similar.

You also sometimes hear a cardroom wag call it sex, more often as the rank of an ace-to-five lowball hand than as the actual card. Back when the game was popular in Western states, particularly California, you might have heard this joke. He: “Do you like sex?” She: “Sure, sex-four, sex-five …” (That is, for example, 6-4-3-2-A or 6-5-4-2-A. Those of you who play high-low games or razz recognize the hands).

Similarly, the card or the ace-to-five lowball hand was sometimes called sickening.

All of the preceding are imitative.

The card is sometimes called a cherry because of the similarity of the fruit (with its stem) to the shape of the number 6.

Similarly, and this needs more of your imagining skills, a 6 is sometimes called a boot because it looks like a boot. Sort of.

A Specific 6

Sometimes specific cards have special names. In the 6 rank, at least one card has its own name.

The 6Heart Suit is sometimes called Grace’s Card or Grace-card. Colonel Richard Grace (circa 1612–1691) was an Irish Royalist soldier who fought for Charles I, Charles II, and James II. When James II came to Ireland after having been deposed by William III, James appointed Grace Governor of Athlone, a town on the River Shannon in the Midlands area. Grace was solicited, by promises of royal favor, to betray his trust, and espouse the cause of William III in Ireland. Grace produced a playing card. At this time, paper being much less available than today, short notes were often written on the backs of playing cards. Grace wrote upon the card the following reply, and handed it to the emissary who had been commissioned to make the proposal. “Tell your master I despise his offer, and that honour and conscience are dearer to a gentleman, than all the wealth and titles a prince can bestow.” The card supposedly was the 6Heart Suit — and there you have a bit of history, or perhaps legend. Less commonly, but from the same story, the 6Heart Suit has been called Loyalty at the Risk of Death, but that’s a bit of a mouthful for a card player.


A 7 is sometimes called a 7-spot.

In the imitative category, a 7 or the lowball hand is sometimes called salmon.
Also imitative is Savannah.

Because of the shape of the numeral, several nicknames have been attached to 7s.

A 7 is sometimes called a candy cane, although that is more obvious when a 7 is sloppily or childishly rendered.

More recognizably, a 7 is sometimes called a hockey stick.

Similarly, a 7 is sometimes called a walking stick.

A 7 is sometimes called a mullet, from the hair style, which is flat in front and long in back.

A Specific 7

In the 7 rank, at least one card has its own name.

The 7Diamond Suit is sometimes called the beer card. This supposedly comes from trick-taking games like bridge, in which the players sometimes agree that if a player takes the last trick with that card, his partner must buy him a beer. (The emphasis here is on sometimes, because this provision is far from widely recognized or even widely known.)


An 8 is sometimes called an 8-spot.

A few nicknames have been attached to 8s because of the shape of the numeral.

An 8 is sometimes called a fat lady.

An 8 is sometimes called a snowman. And you must admit that an 8 looks more like that than a fat lady.

An 8 is sometimes called infinity. Lay one on its side and you get the infinity symbol.

An 8 is sometimes called a racetrack, again from the appearance. (I would think that’s more like a slot car track.)

I’ve seen in some online references that an 8 can be called an octopus. I don’t think an 8 looks at all like an octopus, and I’ve never heard this usage, but I include it for completeness.

I’m not aware of special names for specific 8s, but do email me if you know of any. ♠

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 and computer languages. One of Wiesenberg’s crossword puzzles appeared April 6 in the New York Times, the holy grail for cruciverbalists, syndicated nationwide on that date, and appearing in many more newspapers some weeks later. Send cheers, castigations, and conundrums to