Green’s Dictionary of Slang

best (of it) n.

an advantage.

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 84/1: She [...] blamed Squib for taking the best of her while she was ‘maxy’.
[US] in H. Asbury Sucker’s Progress (1938) 71: There is but one way to gamble successfully, and that is to get Tools to work with and have the best of every Game you get into.
[US]J. O’Connor Wanderings of a Vagabond 32: All this made me suspect that the Captain had somehow the best of his adversaries. But how? was the question.
[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 20: The Red Man was a good poker player, and was always looking for the best of it.
[US]J. Black You Can’t Win (2000) 14: It has often been a question with me just how much the best of it a boy has [...] who has a home and its influences.

In phrases

get the best of it (v.)

(Aus./US) to gain an advantage, typically in a gambling game.

[UK]Egan Life in London (1869) 227: [note] Nine times out of ten the Watchmen ‘get the best’ of the night-charges.
[US]B. Schulberg Harder They Fall (1971) 141: I think George was getting the best of it, at that.
give someone best (v.) (also give it best, give something best)

to leave, to abandon, to acknowledge defeat.

[UK] ‘Autobiog. of a Thief’ in Macmillan’s Mag. (London) XL 501: After a time I gave him best (left him) because he wanted to bite my ear (borrow) too often.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 48: I could hardly stand for laughing, till the calf gave him best and walked.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘He Mourned His Master’ in Roderick (1967–9) I 106: And bushmen came and tried the world, / And ‘gave it best’ without assistance.
[Aus]‘Banjo’ Paterson ‘Saltbush Bill’ in Man from Snowy River (1902) 54: Then the drover said he would fight no more and he gave his opponent best.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 30 July 34/2: ‘So when me chance came I gave it best an’ cleared out t’ make another start. I did it as much for ’er sake as for me own [...].’ [Ibid.] 3 Sept. 36/2: [A]fter we had been at it until sundown and were all the color of the road from head to foot, we gave it best.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Joseph’s Dreams and Reuben’s Brethren’ in Roderick (1967–9) II 97: He [...] gave it best, and, riding back, / Said firmly, ‘Strike me pink!’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 12 Dec. 30/1: ‘Come on!’ He stirred the cabman bald – / ‘Don’t give the d---n thing best!’ / The cursing cabman woke the steed, / And roused it to its feet [...].
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘Digger Smith’ in Chisholm (1951) 93: Then ’e digs ’arf a fag out uv ’is vest, / Borrers me matches, an’ I gives ’im best.
[UK]Kipling ‘A Madonna of the Trenches’ in Debits and Credits (1926) 242: Suppose we face Bogey instead of giving him best every time.
[UK](con. WWI) Fraser & Gibbons Soldier and Sailor Words 22: Best, To Give It: To give up. To acknowlege defeat.
[UK](con. WWI) F. Richards Old Soldiers Never Die (1964) 56: We didn’t want to use force on an old lady [...] so we gave her best.
[Aus]N. Pulliam I Travelled a Lonely Land (1957) 233/2: give best – concede, admit defeat.
give someone the best of it (v.) (also give someone/something best)

(Aus./US) to allow someone the advantage, typically in a gambling game.

J. Farrell How He Died 80: Charley gave life best and died of grief.
‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Miner’s Right 174: It’s not like an Englishman to jack up and give these fellows best.
[US]F. Hutchison Philosophy of Johnny the Gent 23: I’d rather listen to the beef of a supposed to be smart bloke that’s given the best of it.
[UK]C.E. Mulford ‘Hopalong’s Hop’ in Pearson’s Mag. Nov. [Internet] This man gave him all the best of it just to tempt him to make a break.
[US]Bud Fisher drawing in S.F. Examiner 9 Oct. n.p.: Me. And I gave myself the best of it at that.
[US]R. Lardner ‘Champion’ in Coll. Short Stories (1941) 116: I gave him all the best of it in a money way.
[US]D. Runyon ‘A Nice Price’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 196: Giving her a few points the best of it.
[US]W. Winchell ‘On Broadway’ 6 Aug. [synd. col.] Mr. McEvoy’s Satevepost piece comes out this coming Tuesday. He sure gave you the best of it.
[US]D. Maurer Big Con 107: They gave him the best of it for about fifty G.