The phrase “read ’em and weep” is often said in poker when someone has a winning hand, as the others “weep” over their loss. This expression is mostly used as a taunt.
Read ‘Em And Weep – Its Origin
It’s thought that this phrase comes from poker, a popular card game. In poker, players put together different combinations of cards that are worth a fixed amount of points. Certain combinations are stronger than others, so before the round is over, players want to have the strongest set of cards possible. At the end, players can choose to reveal their cards to each other, and then a new round begins. This is the gist of the game.
If a player decides to reveal their cards, this is generally the time where the expression “read ’em and weep” is said. As they lay their cards down on the table, they are essentially telling the other players: “read my combination of cards and weep over your loss.” Today, this phrase is still used in poker, but it is also used outside the card game as well.
Anyways, the earliest printed form of the phrase I could find is from the early 20th century. For example, it is seen under the ‘Sports News’ section of The San Antonio Evening News newspaper, July 1919:
“With the exception of one or two close decisions, Umpires Lewis and Schaffer did faily good work, probably because they had been made very good ‘boys’ by the irate fans . . . Few arguments were indulged in with the arbiters. Read ’em and weep!”
Of note: Around the same time in 1919, several newspapers were using the idiom right before presenting a list of items for sale. It seems the implication was that customers would “weep” with happiness after seeing the cheap prices.
- Well, would you look at that! Read ’em and weep fellas, because I have a royal flush.
- I was playing Monopoly with my friends. As I built a hotel on Boardwalk, I said to them: “How do you like them apples?“