"Dead to rights" is a phrase that I learned this season when reading our Editor-in-Chief, Robert Flom's work. According to W.S. Farmer & J.L. Henley's, Slang and Its Analogues, vol. 2 (1891), "dead to rights" means "certain; without doubt," and asserts that it is simply an amplification of the earlier term "to rights," meaning "completely to one's satisfaction."