What is a 'Shark'?
In card gambling games
and particularly in poker, a 'shark' is a player who uses advantage play to snatch victory from weaker players. The term developed from 'card sharp
' - a person who is highly skilled at cards, either through their dexterity in dealing or through their knack for playing the game. A 'shark' might be used to describe a person who cheats at card games, although card sharks usually use legal methods to win, such as high-level bluffs
and clever bet strategies.
Depending on how it is used, being called a 'card shark' might be a compliment or an insult. 'Sharks' in poker
are the players who win the most often, with the metaphor relating to the marine food chain. This might be through skilled and clever play, reading the players well and taking advantage of any mistakes by opponents or of any signs of weakness. However, a 'shark' might also mean a player who is cheating to win, through any form of deck manipulation.'Card sharp' is often an interchangeable phrase, although a 'sharp' is more usually someone who is skilled at handling the cards. They might have sleight of hand skills which allow them to hide cards or stack the deck, or they might have a lot of showmanship when shuffling and dealing at the table. 'Shark' might be heard in this sense as well.A 'shark' is often a respected poker player who can read the game and who will almost always take big money from it. This might be through psychology techniques such as bluffing and playing strategy
bets, or through intimidation. It could also be through a skill of reading the cards and knowing exactly when to hold and when to quit. Some sharks may count cards, which is not an illegal technique but it is usually frowned upon.