What is a ‘Stranger’?
In poker, a stranger is a card in the hand which joined after the draw. For example, a player holds 3-4-5-6-10, discards the 10 and receives a 7 to complete the straight. That seven can be called the stranger. Even if the hand was not completed – for example, if a 9 was drawn, it would still be the stranger as it is new to the hand. The term is also applied to a card in the hand which is unrelated to the other four – for example, in 4-4-4-4-8, the eight is the stranger.
Poker players often use nicknames and phrases to refer to the cards in their hand during a game, either in identifying their value and suit or in describing their relationship to other cards and their function in the active hand. This culture of poker slang includes many different terms for the way that the cards can fall during a game.
The term stranger appears in draw poker games. In draw poker, players are dealt a starting hand and later given the option to remove any of the cards in that hand. Discarded cards are exchanged for fresh ones, making a new hand that is likely improved from the first turn. Players can hold onto the cards they wish to play with and get rid of any they feel have no value to the hand. The aim is to make a five-card hand that could win, though hands of less than five cards can also take the pot.
A stranger is a card which came into the hand after the draw – whether it improves the hand or not. Any new cards added are strangers to the ones already held. Sometimes a stranger is also used to describe a lone card that is unconnected to the rest. If a player holds four hearts with a spade, the spade could be called the stranger. A player is likely to exchange it at the draw and try to make the flush. The card sent away can be called the stranger – and the card drawn to replace it is also the stranger, in a different way.