What is ‘Sell’?
In the casino, to ‘sell’ means to play their opponents in a successful bluff. It is usually applied in the sense of to ‘sell a hand’, meaning to pitch it as worse than it is through a low bet, or better than it is through a strong bet, in the hope of misleading the players into a certain action such as a raised bet or a fold.
Poker is a common card game in casinos and card rooms, in which the player is dealt cards from which they assemble ‘hands’. These hands are played off against the opponents at the table, and the best hand wins the pot. There are many variations – some cards are hidden, some are visible, some may be shared by the table and some can be exchanged with the dealer – but the basic principles remain the same. There is plenty of luck required as the cards are dealt at random, but the player can influence their luck by playing the hand well.
Players can bet multiple times on their hand during the game and they can raise the stakes if they choose. If a player has a very strong hand such as a royal flush, they might be expected to bet high. However, this could scare off the other players, causing them to fold early. The player has won, but the pot will not be very high. Instead, the player might choose to ‘sell’ their hand – that is, to act like it is a lesser hand by calling instead of raising. This can keep players in the game, thinking they may have a better hand, and therefore the pot will increase. Players might also be said to ‘sell’ their hand if they successfully bluff several times on a weak hand, and make the win in the process through seeing off the other players.