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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

March 2015



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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

Style item about numbers...

I have finally figured out how to spell most numbers, and when not to use numerals in a manuscript. Except one thing. Playing cards.

So I have a scene where Dag is playing poker with a couple of high rollers and I want to indicate what the cards are that are on the table. Do you say:
  1. A two, a five, and a seven

  2. a 2, a 5, and a 7

  3. a Two, a Five, and a Seven

And if you have a face card, do you capitalize it? jack vs. Jack, ace vs. Ace?

Then you get to suits: spades or Spades?

And hands: flush or Flush? Pair of 2s or Pair of twos or pair of Twos?

Of all parts of speech, I find writing numbers to be the hardest. Any pros with an opinion?


i would try the grammarians community
How much of a card shark is the viewpoint character? Poker players tend to (not always, but on occasion) refer to deuces and treys instead of twos and threes, for example, but a casual player is less likely to.

I'll take a look at some of my poker books when I get home, and see how the poker writers do it.
Dan Harrington spells out everything in lower-case ("twos", "kings", "spades", "pair", etc), in his book Harrington on Hold'em (first publication 2004), widely considered to be a masterwork of poker writing. (He'll also use number-symbol notation for summing up hands, but I doubt you want your book littered with little hearts and clubs and such. :D)

Let me know if you need any other poker terminology. (Again, it depends on how comfortable and experienced the speaker is with the game...)
Thanks! My books are mostly Blackjack books and they usually use just the numeral for non-face/ace cards and capitalize the names of Ace, Jack, Queen, and King. I think this is going to be a case where no matter what I choose, an editor is going to say, "We don't do it that way." Well, worse things than that could happen.

Does Harrington capitalize the terms of Hold'em, like Flop, River, etc.?

Lower case for those, too. He generally uses "fourth street" instead of "turn", but that's an old-style usage that isn't common other than among people who've been playing for a few decades, and he acknowledges the newer term in his glossary. In fact, the only related term I've seen him capitalize is the "Texas" in "no-limit Texas hold'em". Though I've seen the entire game name capitalized often enough elsewhere that you could go either way with that if you wanted - and yeah, editors will probably have their own opinions anyway.

Glad I could help!