ace in the hole

noun
1.
Poker. an ace dealt and held face down, especially in stud poker.
2.
an advantage or a resource kept back until the proper opportunity presents itself: His ace in the hole is his political influence.

Origin:
1920–25, Americanism

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

ace in the hole definition


A hidden advantage or resource kept in reserve until needed: “The coach was certain that his new trick play would turn out to be his ace in the hole.” This term comes from the game of stud poker, in which one or more cards are turned face down, or “in the hole,” as bets are placed. The ace is the card with the highest value.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang Dictionary

ace in the hole definition


  1. n.
    something important held in reserve. : Mary's beautiful singing voice was her ace in the hole in case everything else failed.
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

ace in the hole

A hidden advantage or resource kept in reserve until needed, as in The prosecutor had an ace in the hole: an eyewitness. The term comes from stud poker, where each player is dealt one card face downthe so-called hole cardand the rest face up. Should the hole card be an ace, the player has a hidden advantage. Hole here simply means "a hiding place." In the 19th-century American West, the expression was used to refer to a hidden weapon, such as a gun concealed in a shoulder holster. By the 1920s it had become a metaphor for any surprise advantage or leverage.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
My ace in the hole as a human being used to be my capacity for remembering birthdays.
We science writers do have one ace in the hole, though.
Corliss, however, thinks he has an ace in the hole: a vent's temperature gradient.
Believe it or not, this could be your ace in the hole.
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