For some time now, some of my on-line friends have advised me to provide a version of CassidySlangScam without the invective aimed at Cassidy and his supporters. In response to that advice, I am working on providing a glossary of the terms in Cassidy’s ludicrous book How The Irish Invented Slang with a short, simple and business-like explanation of why Cassidy’s version is wrong.
According to the late Daniel Cassidy in his etymological hoax How The Irish Invented Slang, the 19th century American term for a bogeymen, poker is from the Irish word púca, meaning a kind of spirit. It is not clear where poker came from or what its relationship was with words like the English dialect puck. In folklore there is a supernatural character called Tom Poker, who is found in dark cupboards. A spooky old house could be referred to as pokerish in 19th century English. Whatever the facts are, púca is not originally an Irish word and probably derives from the same (Norse) word as words like puck. Poker is possibly also derived from the same source but it is hard to say.