tinhorn gambler

tinhorn gambler

An unsuccessful player. In the dice game of chuck-a-luck, backroom players tossed the dice not with their hand but out of a small metal handheld cage called the “horn” (more upscale games used leather horns). Hence, the “tin horn” noun that became the “tinhorn” adjective when applied to nickel-dime gamblers. “Tinhorn” sounds as though it might also refer to a musical instrument, and composer Frank Loesser took advantage of that sound-alike association with “Fugue for Tinhorns” in his musical Guys & Dolls.
See also: gambler
References in periodicals archive ?
The scene of a tinhorn gambler popping one of these slick little argument-settlers out of his sleeve during a contentious poker game is a staple of the horse opera.
With a total production of 150,000, there were just not that many tinhorn gamblers to go around.
Only a pimp in a New Orleans whorehouse or a tinhorn gambler would carry a pearl-handled pistol," the General fumed.