What is an ‘A-game’?
When a player is ‘in the zone’ and ‘on a roll’ they are said to be ‘playing their A-game.’ As well as throwing down winning hands or perfect dice one after another it is also a frame of mind as well as a state of being – it is characterised by an unshakeable, unbreakable conviction that you are playing your very best game ever, abundantly blessed with luck and are truly unbeatable: a shark amongst minnows.
Players enjoying this euphoric winning streak are said to be ‘bringing their A-game’ to the table and often attract a crowd of enthusiastic spectators to cheer them on and soak up some of the glory. These same spectators disappear at the very first sign that an A-game player is about to crash and burn.
The A-game is often a transitory, all-to- brief state of affairs where your stars are temporarily aligned and you feel you can do no wrong. Your ability to rise to a challenge, play winning hands combined with total self-confidence in your abilities is you playing at your best – this is known as your A-game, and it is the heightened, Zen-like experience of knowing that each hand you’re dealt cannot and will not be beaten by anyone. The expression was first coined by professional card player, writer and coach Tommy Angelo in his self-published 2007 book, Elements of Poker, and is thought to derive from the highest grade that can be achieved in a school test.
It is worth bearing in mind that the A-game mindset is incredibly fragile and short-lived, and can be ended by sudden and comprehensive defeat at the hands of an opponent at any moment, so enjoy it while it lasts.