The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate,
MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
Card games have been around at least from antiquity. They can be as
innocent as Snap or Old Maid but often they suggest a shadier side of life—a
microcosm shadowed by finagling, guile, cheating, fraud, greed, temptations
of the flesh, loss of fortunes (and kingdoms), even love and death, all for
the thrill of betting on an unknown future. Even our language calls attention
to some of these nuances. We speak of something certain as being "in the cards."
We admire someone who "plays one's cards well." To "put one's cards on the
table" is to be honest; "having a card up one's sleeve," on the other hand,
while perhaps only prudent, also bears a faint whiff of trickery. When the
trickery becomes outright cheating or fraud, we speak of "cardsharps" and
"cardsharping." (Related terms might include "ace in the hole" as well as
"within an ace of" to designate someone with an advantage or someone just
short of winning, respectively.)
Southgate MT. The Card Players. JAMA. 2001;285(1):13. doi:10.1001/jama.285.1.13