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Hold ’Em noun earlier than 1964

At any given poker night nowadays, there’s a good chance that Hold ’Em (also called Texas Hold ’Em) will be played. But before the 1970s, this particular form of the game, in which players seek to make the best possible hand from five community cards plus the two cards dealt to them individually, was relatively unknown. Legend has it that Hold ’Em originated in the town of Robstown, Texas in the early 20th century, but when the OED added an entry for the name in 2006, the earliest available evidence was from 1971. Since then, OED researchers have found an earlier quotation, from 1964:

As for the gaming situation in Castle Hills, Tom Moore still conducts judicious poker and Hold ’Em at his palatial home.

1964 San Antonio Express & News 17 Oct., p. 1/1

The earliest evidence found for the longer name Texas Hold ’Em is from a few years later, and contains tantalizing suggestions of alternate names and geographical origins:

Variously called Hold Me Darling, Tennessee Hold Me or Texas Hold ’Em—it started somewhere in the South or Southwest a few years ago and is threatening to catch fire with the rest of America’s 47 million poker addicts.

1968 Life 16 Aug. p. 38/1

Can you help us find even earlier evidence for Hold ’Em or Texas Hold ’Em?

Posted by OED_Editor on 2 August 2013 12.57
Comments: 2

  • hb1616

    Not more than a hint:
    Poker Hall of Fame
    Felton “Corky” McCorquodale, 1979
    A noted no-limit gambler, Corky introduced Texas hold ‘em to Las Vegas in 1963.

  • Jon Wallace

    According to patent applications, Albert H. Morehead’s Official Rules of Card Games had a chapter “Description of Hold ‘em Poker” by the 1963 edition at least. Suggest looking there and earlier editions.