What are ‘Mites and Lice’?
In casino games, ‘mites and lice’ (sometimes ‘nits and lice’) are twos and threes, or hands that contain them. The phrase might mean a full house – either twos over threes or threes over twos – or even a two pair hand of 2-2-3-3. In some games, these ‘mites and lice’ might be designated as wildcards. The phrase is thought to be derived from the slang term ‘crabs’ for threes.
‘Mites and Lice’ Explained
When playing poker in a casino, a hand of ‘mites and lice’ contains only twos and threes, or contains some combination of twos and threes such as a 2-2-3-3 pair. Threes are often known as ‘crabs’ due to their pincer-like shape, so the phrase probably derived from this term – some kinds of lice are known as ‘crabs’. The phrase is also linked to the scattering of dots on the cards, and their low value which incites a derogatory nickname.
‘Mites and lice’ is a better hand than a pair or high card, even though the parts that make it up have a low value. A two pair hand of 2-2-3-3 or either of the full house hands 2-2-3-3-3 or 2-2-2-3-3 could be referred to as mites and lice. In a flop or stud game where the table turns up only twos and threes, this will also be called ‘mites and lice’.
Sometimes the phrase is used to describe a very fast paced and competitive form of poker where all of the twos and threes are wildcards. This allows for some very high hands to be made, and nearly every player will score either a natural or wildcard hand through the eight wilds at the table. Social games and after hours games often introduce more wildcards to the game in order to make the hands more interesting and create more drama in the game.