What is a 'Pigeon'?
, the term pigeon usually refers to someone who is new to the game of poker
, or who is generally an unsophisticated, naive or 'easy' player. Easy to beat, they are known as 'easy prey' by more experienced gamblers
, giving rise to the term pigeon as a bird which is known for its stupidity, lack of finesse and as easy prey for carnivorous birds and land predators. A North American term, it can also refer to someone who is the victim of confidence tricks.
The term pigeon is a widely used Americanism, sometimes used to describe an opponent in sports (such as tennis) who is repeatedly beaten by a vastly better player, giving rise to the phrase: "if you keep beating a player, they become your pigeon". Generally taken to mean a gullible, easily fooled person, it can also describe someone who has been swindled in gambling either by a cardsharp or shark who may be more skilled, or someone who cheats and performs sleight of hand to gain an advantage.Pigeon is a term that is thought to derive from the roaring 1920s in the USA, when card games and confidence tricksters were in their heyday. A closely related term, 'pigeon drop' refers to a type of sleight of hand or confidence game where cash may be extracted from a victim as collateral to leverage a supposed share in a larger sum of discovered money, gambling winnings or illegal profits, which then turn out to be non-existent. The idea is that a junior or trainee swindler is themselves tricked into performing a naive act of extraction from an unknowing victim in the hope of gaining access to a group's wider winnings, but may simply be helping to top up the pot
for no gain.In the 1930s a pigeon drop then took on the meaning of a swindle, where a wallet is dropped in front of an intended victim - or pigeon. Another variation featured in popular films is where a confidence trickster persuades a victim that he has discovered a large amount of money that he will share with the victim if they first offer him a smaller sum as a show of good faith.