Regarding the former, some will roll their eyes at yet another reference to someone “upping the ante” or having an “ace in the hole,” mainly because such poker allusions often sound trite or unimaginative, an obviously clichéd use of language. Meanwhile the latter will earn even more vitriol -- just watch the next time you see someone make reference to holding a big poker hand and then deciding to double down (crudely mixing poker and blackjack).
For me, I tend to appreciate any instance of poker-related language popping up in non-poker contexts, primarily because it often reinforces the prominence of America’s favorite card game in the larger culture -- which (in turn) supports a main argument of the “Poker in American Film and Culture” class I’ve taught many times over the last several years. Even when the terms are being used imprecisely or incorrectly, I still find it interesting how the language of poker bleeds over into all sorts of areas that have nothing to do with card playing.
The poker term “all in” has become one of the most popular in non-poker contexts over recent years. On a sports talk show I listen to regularly, they probably use the phrase at least once every two shows or so, usually when the hosts are arguing some point and are challenging one another to commit to a certain position.
“Are you all in with that?” one will ask the other, and sometimes the answer will be in the form of valuing the point according to hand rankings. “This is pretty good... these are two queens I’m holding here,” will come the response.
Those guys understand what the term means and are more or less using it correctly. Meanwhile, as discussed in a new article in The New Yorker appearing today, it’s frequent use in politics is often not used correctly.
The piece by Ian Crouch, titled “Going All In on ‘All In,’” was prompted by Jeb Bush’s “All in For Jeb” campaign slogan. Crouch points out how the phrase is used a lot in politics, and almost never does it actually mean a candidate is fully committed behind whatever it is he or she is said to be “all in” about.
He concludes as well that Jeb Bush in particular seems less committed than most at this early point of the presidential campaign, and not so inspiring to others seeking a candidate on whom to bet their vote and go “all in” themselves.
The article is worth a read, both for the political insight and for a quick-and-easy history of the term and how now, suddenly, everyone seems to be going “all in” all the time.