I am curious about the word origin of full house.

What is the relationship between three of a kind and a pair and a house?

  • My guess is because cards above ten represent characters it might derivate from a family image with two parents and three kids, a "full house". This is a random guess don't take it for answer
    – Arthur Hv
    Jul 9, 2019 at 14:45

3 Answers 3


Before straights and flushes were added to the game in the 1860s, it was called a "full hand", because it was the only hand that used all five cards. The term "full house" came later in the 1880s, probably encouraged by the previous use of that term for a sold-out theater. I don't know of any reasonable etymology for "full boat", or when that was first used.


A full House is a reference to real life.

You have a Pair which you would refer to as Mom and Dad. You have three of a kind, who resemble the kids or siblings of the parents.

And all together you have the House where the family lives in. It keeps them together. Since we calculate with the 5 highest cards in poker, the house is full. Neither can there be any Kicker cards nor can the Parents get more than 3 Kids in the Game.

You will find the Terminology "Full House" also in other games such as dice games with 5 dices.

  • Do you have any sources that support your answer?
    – Herb
    Jul 24, 2019 at 11:43

A full house was the first hand that used all five cards without including kickers. As such, it was considered the first full hand.

Poker was often played on riverboats rather than houses. Presumably, somebody decided to change “full house” to “full boat” due to being on a boat. This is supported by the fact that the first uses of the latter came after the former. Full boat was then shortened to boat.

I guess you can make it look like a boat too

  • I can find no attestation of "full boat" until many decades past the riverboat phase of the game, so it is unlikely that there is any relation. But the corpora I am able to access are surprisingly thin on the term, so it's anybody' guess. Jul 10, 2019 at 17:40

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