Posted by Smokey Stover on March 13, 2004
In Reply to: Four flusher posted by ESC on March 12, 2004
: : : : Does any one here know where the term four flusher came from and what it refers to?
: : : : I thought that perhaps it referred to cheating at poker?
: : : Merriam-Webster online:
: : : Main Entry: four-flush
: : : Function: intransitive verb
: : : : to bluff in poker holding a four flush; broadly : to make a false claim : BLUFF
: : An actual Flush in poker consists of 5 cards of the same suit. If you have 5 consecutive cards of the same suit, it's a Straight Flush, and if those 5 cards run from 10 thru Ace, it's called a Royal Flush.
: : A cheating Four Flusher will show his hand, with only four cards of the same suit, and the 5th card obscured in such a way that anyone taking only a quick glance will think it's a true 5-card flush.
: : That's the meaning I've always understood, but in looking around on the internet, including the M-W.com definition posted by ESC, it seems that four-flushing can mean "bluff". That's funny, because bluffing in poker is not illegal, but cheating is. I had always thought of a Four Flusher as a cheater.
: More of a chiseler than a cheater.
: Four-flusher, fourflusher, four flusher - noun. One who bluffs; a pretender; especially one who pretends to have money while living off or borrowing from others; one who does not pay his debts. Colloquial. Fourflushing, adjective, living off or supported by others; borrowing from others. From "The Pocket Dictionary of American Slang" by Harold Wentworth and Stuart Berg Flexner (Pocket Books, New York, 1960, 1967)
There seems to be a near-unanimous consensus that a four-flusher uses or tries to use a four-card flush (or bob-tail flush) to deceive. There seems to be less unanimity as to whether this should be characterized as cheating (which is dishonest) or bluffing (which is deception but not necessarily dishonest in poker). Flexner & Wentworth seem to emphasize the four-flusher as sponger. Used figuratively I have most often heard the term used to signify a dishonest and unprincipled deceiver. I'm reminded of the term "ace up one's sleeve" as opposed to "ace in the hole." Each of them represents a concealed advantage. But the first results from cheating, the second does not. SS