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What's in a name?

May 1, 2019

Five-card Stud, Let-It-Ride, Blackjack—ever wonder how these and other popular pastimes earned their notable nicknames? Some have roots in the Old South, some come from the modern era, but all of them have a story to tell:

Mississippi Stud

7 of spades, hearts, clubs and diamond fanned across a sailor’s wheel with the title, Mississippi Stud.

Previously known as: Stud Poker, Five-card Stud

First known reference: Early 1820s

Evolution: Commercial riverboats flooded the Mississippi waterways throughout the 19th century. These extensive routes brought lucrative cargo (think cotton, grain, and pork) to the north and west. Of course, businessmen, foreign explorers and stowaways tagged along for the ride. As the trips were often long, slow and tedious, Mississippi Stud helped passengers fight their boredom.

It started with a 20-card deck, split between four players betting on who held the best hand (pairs, three or four of a kind). The game went on to become a favourite of American civil war soldiers and standard in casinos the world over—including right here in Ontario.

Texas Hold’em

Straight Flush fanned across a lasso with bull horns and the name, Texas Hold’em.

Previously known as: Just “Hold’em” in Texas

First known reference: Early 1900’s in Robstown, Texas

Evolution: Now the main event at the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tournament, this famous version of poker migrated from Dallas saloons to Las Vegas casinos in 1967. At that time, only one second-rate casino offered the game and unsurprisingly, didn’t attract many players.

Years later, when a second casino invited professionals to play at its entrance in plain sight of passersby, Texas Hold‘em’s popularity soared, continuing to the heights it enjoys today.


Ace of spades and Jack of spades over the number 21 and two baguettes, with the name Blackjack.

Previously known as: “21”

First known reference: 1700’s France

Evolution: Originally, French colonists brought this classic game of cards to North America. Around WWI, Americans started offering a higher payout for the player who got an ace of spades or a “black jack”, giving us the name it would become known by the world over.

Let It Ride

Royal Flush fanned across a clock with roman numbers and a crawling snail, with the name Let it Ride.

The game: Let It Ride

Also known as: “Let It Die” by dealers referring to its slow, relaxed pace

First known reference: Created in 1993 by Shuffle Master

Evolution: Shuffle Master is a company that manufactures slot machines, table games and wouldn’t you know it, card shufflers. Its owner, John Breeding, developed the first mechanical shufflers after reading about card counting at Blackjack tables. The machine used a fresh deck with every hand, making it near impossible for players to count. A great idea, but poor timing: at the time of its release in 1992, casinos had just conquered their card-counting problem by using multiple decks at Blackjack tables.

So how could the inventor create demand for his new product? By developing a new game based on a single-deck of cards: Let It Ride.

Based on poker and played at Blackjack tables, Let it Ride is now played at casinos all over the world, including Ontario. And with only a single deck, you can be sure those Shuffle Master automatic shufflers are  keeping things random.

Now you know a few table game tidbits to bust out the next time you play. After all, who doesn’t love a useless fact?

Learn even more about table games here.

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