While playing poker if you’ve ever heard someone whisper the words ‘card sharp,’ and thought it was a compliment, you just might be wrong. The term itself while also used outside of the poker context, is not something you want to be called by your peers. Why? Well, because it is generally used to refer to a cheating player. Let’s take a look at all the things this term means.
‘Card sharp’ or ‘card shark’ is most often used in poker and other card games to refer to people who use skill or deceptive means to win the game. It was heavily used during the 19th to the early 20th century when card games started becoming increasingly popular. The word is also used in reference to a skilled gambler who doesn’t mind taking advantage of weaker or less-skilled players. This person may not explicitly cheat to win but will use their skills to defeat their opponents.
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Although used to label cheaters on the poker table, the word does not always have a negative meaning to it. Magicians or even those who perform card tricks for entertainment are called ‘card sharp.’ People who travel to seek out high stakes games are also known as being card sharp.
Even though ‘card sharp’ and ‘card shark’ are one and the same, in America, the term ‘shark’ has a more negative connotation than ‘sharp.’ As the latter can be used to refer to being quick-witted or smart, the former has a more predatory tone to it. In popular culture, the Marvel superhero, Gambit is known to channel his powers through cards and is also deemed as being card sharp.