During the frontier-era of the American West (1880’s), the game of poker quickly picked up popularity in small town saloons – as did people’s suspicions for foul card play. To combat cheating and dirty dealing, a standard system was put into place: the dealer would simply change positions during the game, so everyone could have a turn and keep it fair. The person next in line to deal would be given a marker, most commonly a knife, an object that was as common to carry then as a phone is today. At the time, knives often had handles made of a buck’s horn, so when a dealer’s turn was done he “passed the buck” to indicate who’s turn it was to deal next.
If you’re interested in playing poker, one thing you shouldn’t pass the buck on is knowing how it all works.