There are many definitions of the word sandbagging, for now I'll consolidate some of the definitions I've found into one WU, however feel free to write better WUs for particular definitions, and /msg me so I can remove the short summary in my WU

In general

  • The act of placing sandbags. Usually used as defense or for flood control.
  • To hit someone with a small bag/sack filled with sand.
  • To treat severely or cruelly.
  • To force or coerce. Sandbagged into doing a job.

In sport

The act of keeping one's skill level lower than it should be. Very common in any handicap sport, including Golf, Internet games where people resign to lower their score, and in the world of Go. This can be used to make winning easier (eg for profit, in competition play, etc).

Sand bagging is a well known concept in poker and pool, where one will pretend to play bad for awhile, then when the stakes are high, win.

In Poker

Aside from the definition above (in sport), sandbagging can also be the act of betting weakly on a strong hand rather than betting strongly on a weak one. (Roughly the opposite of bluffing). The check-raise is one such method.

A player will check on a good hand at the beginning of play in the hopes of luring other players with weaker hands into the game. Once lured the sandbagger will then try to coach the players into thinking they have the best hand, and thus betting high.

Depending on the game and players, this can be frowned upon. Best to check before you play.

In climbing

The act of stating a route is easier than it really is.

Why? A climber may state that a particular route is (for example) a grade 22 when it's actually more like a grade 25. One might do this in order to encourage someone to do a route they can't yet do, to put a person down, or make themselves feel better.

Generally this is strictly frowned upon in the climbing community, however there are cases where it can be a Good Thingtm. e.g. If you are trying to encourage a friend to try for the next grade of climbing, you might say a route is within his/her reach, and (hopefully) when they make it, point out their real success.

As an added note, sandbagging is probably not solely a climbing term, and many other sports probably have the same, or similar terms.

If you know of another sport where the term sandbagging is used, /msg me

In the military

A term used to describe the act of avoiding assigned work (such as sentry duty, ambush, listening post duty, etc. Usually done with the intension the duty assigner doesn't find out.


Thanks to:

In Sales

Sandbagging refers to withholding information on pending deals, or perhaps even slowing down the completion (a.k.a. close) of deals, in order to best meet your individual targets and/or to get rewards.

One reason to sandbag is to avoid being assigned an overly aggressive sales quota. Once a salesperson overachieves in a particular quarter, they are often 'rewarded' with a new, higher quota for subsequent fiscal quarters. This may be an unwanted challenge, so holding back a deal until the start of the next period can prevent unsightly overachievement, as well as reducing the stress of making the next quarter's numbers.

There may also be an upcoming spiff which offers extra incentive to the salesperson for closing the deal during a specific period of time. If the incentive program is too predictable, the sales staff will plan for the spiff and time deals accordingly.

Depending on their MBOs, product managers may encourage sandbagging, if for example they have a tough Q3 goal and they want to defer some Q2 deals into Q3.

This is generally undesirable behavior for the company itself. Even there, however, it can be useful, if it allows the company to underestimate upcoming revenues and then surge at the last moment to 'beat the street.'


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