Business Class: Ace In The Hole


“It was their ace in the hole! That’s how they won the bid.”, a learner of mine said.

The person I am speaking about is a salesman. He is in the services sector. Last week, he lost a deal because a competitor of his used a personal acquaintance to secure a contract. it was an unexpected move that turned the negotiation in the other guy’s favor.

An ace in the hole is something or someone who is held in reserve to turn things around when necessary.

Here is an example:

‘John, the new hire, is our ace in the hole. He has already worked on this kind of project in the past & he’s given us invaluable suggestions.’

Where does it come from?

An ace is one of the cards in a deck of playing cards. When playing poker, we can deal cards  face down and keep cards hidden. The hidden cards are called hole cards. If the hole card is an ace, it’s the best card you can have.

Here is another example in context:

‘ Three friends and I went out to a bar for drinks in Milan. We met a few Californian girls that night. They were being hit on by all the male patrons in the bar. We quickly pulled out our ace in the hole.  Giovanni, whose mom is American, spoke perfect English. ‘

Let’s just say they were victorious when Giovanni revealed he could communicate with the ladies!

‘Ace in the Hole’  is also the name of a movie in the 1950ies with Kirk Douglas. If you like  old flicks, this one is great…8.2 on IMDb.

I hope you have a few ‘aces in the hole’ ready for use;-)



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