Card playing idioms

Here is a list of idiomatic expressions related to card games.

Above board

When you are above board, you are honest. Players used to keep their hands above the board or table while playing cards. This was done to show their honesty.

  • Be above board when you deal with people.

Ace in the hole

An ace in the hole is something important that you hold in reserve. When the time is right, you can use this to your advantage.

  • They are quite confident of winning. They must have an ace in the hole.

Ante up

To ante up is to pay a necessary amount of money for something. When you play cards, you are required to put a certain amount of money on the table before you can start playing the game. This amount is called the ante.

  • If we want to buy a nice wedding gift for Susie, all of us will have to ante up.

As cocky as the king of spades

If you are as cocky as the king of spades, you are boastful.

  • My neighbor is as cocky as the king
  • of spades. She thinks she is rich enough to buy just about anything.

Call a spade a spade

To call a spade a spade is to describe something as it is.

  • If you call a spade a spade, you run the risk of being very unpopular.

Call someone’s bluff

To call someone’s bluff is to force them to prove that what they are saying is true.

  • He always said he would quit his job and start a business of his own, so we finally called his bluff.