Alligator blood is one of the oldest poker terms, originating from the Deep South of the USA. The term refers to the tenacity and resilience of alligators to take the big blows and still keep fighting on. A player with alligator blood is one who refuses to give up, whether they are winning or losing. They fight on in the face of defeat when they are down and ceaselessly attack their opponents when they are up.
Poker games packed with alligator blood can be some of the most competitive and cutthroat of them all. Players with alligator blood can wear down the opposition, even when the cards are against them, and frustrate other players with their ‘never say die’ attitude. ‘Alligator blood’ is a strong idiom that is not only inspired by the reality of the prehistoric swamp-dwellers, but also has some solid science behind it.
Alligators are some of the most successful creatures on the planet. They’ve survived unchanged for millions of years, flipping the finger at evolution with their determined, dinosaur-like, clawed hands. Part of their survival has been due to their sheer tenacity, but they’ve also benefited from a unique biology that gives them an arsenal of weapons in the war against germs.
After all, you can’t fight as violently as alligators—including dragging open wounds and even severed limbs through filthy, dirty swamps—without a serious set of infection-fighting defences. “They inflict wounds on each other from which they frequently recover without complications from infection, despite the fact that the environments in which they live are less than sterile,” says Barney Bishop of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.
As reported in the journal New Scientist, Bishop’s team of researchers found that alligators have a remarkable immune system, with antibodies that fight everything from E.coli to Staphylococcus aureus. Chemists in Louisiana even found that alligator blood can fight the HIV virus, as well as the new generation of antibiotic superbugs like MRSA, which have become major issues for our healthcare services. Dr. Mark Merchant, who led the study, says, “We’re very excited about the potential of these alligator blood proteins as both antibacterial and antifungal agents. There’s a real possibility that you could be treated with an alligator blood product one day.”
Of course, alligator blood isn’t just useful for medicine. It can also give your business a boost, as explained by David DeRam, co-founder and CEO of software firm greenlight.guru. “People with alligator blood are difficult to kill, relentless until the end, [and] it’s imperative to maintain such a mindset when you’re running a start-up”. He insists on alligator blood from all his staff. “To make alligator blood work, you have to embrace the idea that you’ll never give up,” he says.
So, the next time you take to the tables, remember your thick, scaly skin, your beaming, toothy grin, and your undefeatable determination. Perhaps Captain Hook was right when he warned us to ‘never smile at a crocodile’. They might just be holding a pair of aces in their claws.