When The Chips Are Down

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If the chips are down, then you might feel a little awkward at that sense of finality and being powerless to affect the outcome.

What is the origin of this phrase?

Well it does seem to be the obvious one - from the poker table, where of course the chips represent how much money you have left in the game as you use them to represent cash amounts.

Now at each stage of betting and at the end of the hand, the chips are all down on the middle of the table, and at that stage there is nothing left to do but hope for the expected outcome.

And so it can be seen that it doesn't take a giant leap from that stage to the actual phrase taking a permanent place more generally and not just for poker speak.

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