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There's a pair to draw to

Posted by Smokey Stover on November 06, 2008 at 14:28

In Reply to: There's a pair to draw to posted by RRC on November 06, 2008 at 13:56:

: : : What is the origin of the phrase "there's a pair to draw to"?

: : This expression is part metaphor and part poker rules. In draw poker you are allowed to "draw" new cards in exchange for old ones, and if you have a pair, you will generally swap out the other three cards, or two of them, hoping to get something to raise the value of your hand: another pair, a third card to make your pair three of a kind, or just something higher to go with your pair than any that received originally. So when you choose how many cards to draw, you are drawing to a pair.

: : The other part, the metaphor, is any pair that you would like to emphasize, One example (from an Internet search), Dollie Parton and Hulk Hogan. No, the pair in question does not belong to Dollie, but consists of the odd couple, Parton and Hogan, together in defiance of common sense.

: : I think the phrase is used to emphasize something about the named pair, whether it's the odd contrast or something else. But then, I probably don't understand the phrase myself, since I find it so non-specific. It would make more sense to me if it were just plain prurient.
: : SS

: The poker usage is actually somewhat different. What you "draw to" is what you're hoping to get out of the draw (or other cards turned over like in Hold'em). If your hand has 4 hearts and 1 spade, you might discard the spade in hopes that the card drawn will be another heart which would give you a flush - in that case, you are drawing to a flush. If you're trying to draw to a pair, then you have a quite poor hand and have discarded several cards in hopes of getting just one pair. You would not try to match a 2 in this way because a pair of twos is a very low hand. You might however keep an ace and a queen hoping to draw to a pair of aces with queen high or a pair of queens with an ace high.
: So, "there's a pair to draw to" does in itself include the sense that the pair is particularly valuable, interesting, etc. otherwise you wouldn't bother.

Thanks, RRC. I knew I was treading on thin ice trying to explain poker, which I never play. I am still mystified by the question of how this phrase became popular, and what the people using it think it means.