What are ‘Mnemonics’?
‘Mnemonics’ are memory devices taught to help with remembering strings of information or to serve as a mental reminder in a memory-related task. They often involve forming sentences or phrases from initials of the items to be recalled. In the casino, the term usually refers to the different nicknames which are given to poker hands.
In Hold’Em and stud games where some cards are dealt face down to the table, players often do not interact with those cards after looking at them in the first instance. This reduces the chance of accidentally flashing the card to another player and revealing their hand, or having an opponent learn their card values by getting help from the spectator’s gallery, using a mirror or some other underhand tactic. The cards stay face down until the reveal.
This means the player needs to remember exactly which cards they have in the hole. When many hands are being played, it would be easy for players to make a mistake or get confused about what is held – potentially throwing the game for themselves in the process. To avoid this situation, players often use ‘mnemonics’ – special memory devices – to help them in their play. These are usually nicknames for the various two-card combinations, relating to the value and sometimes the suit of the card.
Some of these mnemonics are fairly simple. For example, a player might say that they have ‘pocket threes’ (a pair of threes), ‘red ladies’ (the queens of hearts and diamonds), or a ’69’ (6-9 hand). Others are a little more complicated and based on pop culture references – for example, the ‘Jesse James’ hand is a 4-5, because the outlaw met his death at the barrel of a Colt .45 handgun. Each set of two cards has its own nickname – and some have multiple mnemonics.