What Poker Terms Should I Be Familiar With?

Ace-High – A five-card-hand containing only an Ace (as a high card); and no pair, straight or flush.

Aces Full – A full-house consisting of three aces and any pair.

Aces Up – A hand containing two pairs, one of which is an Ace.

Action – A game in which players are playing a lot of pots is considered an ‘action’ game.

Active Player – A player who still remains in the hand.

Aggressive Player – A player who bets, raises, and re-raises frequently.

Air – A very weak hand.

All-In – The moment when you commit all of your chips to the pot.

American Airlines – Having a pair of Aces as your hole cards (AA).

Angling – Taking action or talking when it is not your turn in order to mislead your opponents. Some consider this to be cheating; others consider these tactics to be part of the game.

Animal – A nickname for a player that is loose-aggressive. Animals are involved in too many hands and will almost always bet and raise whenever the opportunity presents, often with a garbage hand (also referred to as a ‘maniac’).

Ante – A term used in poker to refer to the first money wagered on a hand, or the minimum that each player is required to put into the pot before a new hand can begin.

Baby A low-ranked card (usually 2 through 5).

Back Door – A draw that requires two cards to complete a straight, flush, or full house (Example: to complete a flush the correct suit must hit on the turn and the river).

Backdoor Flush – A hand with three cards that would support a flush, but needs the remaining turn and river cards to complete the hand.

Backdoor Straight Flush – A hand with three cards supporting a straight flush, but requires the remaining turn and river cards to complete the hand.

Bad Beat – This refers to losing a hand when you were the odds on favorite to win the hand (Example: An example of a bad beat would be holding pocket Aces against a player holding pocket 9’s, and your opponent ends up winning the hand by spiking one of the remaining 9’s in the deck on the river).

Bad Beat Jackpot – A reward or promotion in which the card room or casino offers a jackpot to a player who has lost with a really big hand (usually Aces full or better).

Bankroll – The amount of money you have available with which to play poker over a particular period of time.

Behind – A player at the table who acts after or ‘behind’ you.

Belly-Buster – This is also known as an inside straight draw or gut shot.

Best of It – To be the favorite to win the hand.

Bet – To commit money to the pot.

Bet the Pot – When a player bets the amount of the pot (a valid bet in certain types of games).

Big Blind – The position two to the left of the button, who is forced to pay a full small bet prior to the hole cards being dealt in Texas Hold’em.

Big Slick – Refers to holding an Ace and King as your two private hole cards.

Big Sister – Refers to holding an Ace and Queen as your two pocket cards.

Blank – A card that appears useless (also known as a ‘rag’ or a ‘brick’).

Blinds – Texas Hold’em Poker uses what’s called a ‘blind’ structure, meaning that two people on the table must post a bet prior to seeing their hole cards. Since they are forced to bet without seeing their hole cards, they are playing ‘blind’, thus the name of those bets are called ‘blinds’. There are two blinds, the big blind and the small blind. The small blind position must post half the minimum bet and sits immediately to the left of the dealer. The big blind must post the full minimum bet, and sits immediately to the left of the small blind, two seats to the left of the dealer. As the dealer button rotates around the table, each player takes turns posting the small blind and the big blind bets. This blind structure forces the action on the table since there will always be a pot to win (Example: if you are seated at a $5-10 limit Hold’em table, the small blind must post $5 and the big blind must post $10 bet. As play rotates around the table, each player may choose to call that $10 bet, raise, or fold. When it’s the small blind’s turn, that player is only required to call $5 to play the hand).

Blind Raise – When a player raises without looking at his hand.

Bluff – To bet with an inferior hand in the hope that players will fold and you can take down the pot.

Board  The board refers to the community cards that are dealt face up on the table. In Texas Hold’em, there will ultimately be five community cards on the ‘board’. The board does not include the two private or hole cards dealt to each player (Note: ‘the board plays’ means that the player is stating that the five community cards comprise his best poker hand, and he is not using any of the two private or hole cards dealt to him in order to make his best hand).

Boat – Full House.

Bottom Pair – Making a pair containing the lowest cards on the board.

Broadway – An Ace-high straight (A-K-Q-J-10).

Bubble – The point in a tournament at which only one player must bust out before all others win some money. It is also the person who was unfortunate enough to finish in that position.

Bullets A pair of Aces (AA).

Bump It – To raise.

Burn Card – Any card placed in the discard rack without being entered into play. After the deck is shuffled and cut, one card is ‘burned.’

Button A player who is in the designated dealer position. Also called the ‘dealer button’, this is a white puck (usually with the word ‘dealer’ inscribed on it), that signifies the dealer’s position on the table. The dealer’s position is significant because he is the last player to act for that hand. The dealer button rotates around the table, moving a seat left after each hand, so that each player takes turns being ‘on the button’.

Buy-In The minimum amount of money required to enter any game or tournament, usually five times the maximum bet in a cash game.

Cage A cashier window located in a casino where chip or money transactions take place (the casino version of a bank).

Call To place an amount of money equal to a previous players bet.

Calling Station A player who only calls bets and does not take advantage of their good hands by raising. They also will not fold very often, so you should not bluff them but you need to show down the best hand.

Capped Describes the situation in limit poker in which the maximum number of raises in the betting round has been reached.

Card Room The room or area in the casino where poker is played or conducted.

Cards Speak The face value of a h and in a showdown is the true value of the hand, regardless of a verbal announcement.

Cash Out To leave the game and convert your chips to cash.

Check To decline to bet or to pass, when it is your turn to act (the action is on you); however the player retains the right to to act if another player initiates the betting.

Check-and-Raise The act of checking a hand, in hopes of luring the other player to bet, so that you may then raise over the top of him and build a larger pot to win (also known as check-raise).

Cheques Chips.

Clock An expression wherein a player in the hand request the floor person (floor man) to limit the amount of time a player can take to act on his hand. Normally, the floor person gives the player (once it is determined that he has had adequate time to act on his hand) one-minute to act (providing a 10-second warning to the expiration of time)].

Chop To return the blinds to the players who posted them and move on to the next hand if no other players call. It can also mean to ‘split the pot’.

Collection The ‘rent‘ paid every half-hour for a seat in a poker game (most often in a time game without an individual per hand rake by the house).

Collection Drop A fee for each hand dealt paid to the house.

Collusion When two or more players conspire to cheat in a poker game.

Color Change A request by a player to change the chips from one denomination to another (also known as color-up).

Community Cards Cards placed in the middle of the table and shared by all players in Texas Hold’em and Omaha (flop, turn & river).

Connectors A starting hand of two cards in sequence, such as Q-J, 6-7, or 9-10 (or similar sequential cards).

Cowboys Two Kings.

Cut To divide the deck into two sections in such a manner as to change the order of the cards.

Cut Card Another term for the bottom card or security card (usually plastic consisting of a solid color and sized identically to the cards in play).

Dead Man’s Hand Two pair consisting of Aces and Eights (Wild Bill Hickok was shot in the back while playing this hand and that incident is the genesis of the naming of this particular hand).

Deuces A pair of 2’s.

Donkey Someone who is a bad poker player.

Doyle Brunson A Hold’em hand consisting of a 10-2 (Doyle Brunson won the world championship two years in a row on the final hand with these cards).

Drawing Dead Drawing to a hand that, even if it improves, will lose to a made hand that is already superior.

Drop Fold.

Ducks  A pair of 2’s.

Equity Your mathematical share of the pot and your chances of winning it.

Expected Value (EV) The average amount that you will win when betting in the same situation numerous times.

Face Cards The King, Queen or Jack of each suit.

Family Pot  When everyone at the table has entered the pot.

Favorite To be a favorite, you have the best chance to win the current hand in play.

Fifth Street Also known as the ‘river’ card. In flop games, this represents the fifth community card on the table and the final round of betting.

Fill Up To make a Full House from trips or a set.

Fish A loose player who loses his or her money regularly.

Flash To show one or more of your cards, usually when it is not required to do so (also known as a flashed card).

Flat Call Calling a bet without raising the bet (also known as ‘flatting’).

Floor Person A card room supervisory employee who seats players, balances tables, and renders decisions and rulings that are most often considered to be final (also known as a floor man).

Flop In Texas Hold’em, each player has two cards dealt to them, and then shares five community cards. These five community cards, however, do not get dealt at the same time. There are rounds of betting at certain intervals during the deal of the cards. After the first two cards are dealt to each player, there is a round of betting. Then, three of the five community cards are dealt at one time on the board. This is what is known as the ‘flop’ – the first three cards being dealt on the board. The fourth card dealt is called the ‘turn’, and the fifth and final card is known as the ‘river’.

Fold To throw a hand away and relinquish all interest in the pot.

Flush Any five cards of the same suit.

Flush Draw A hand where you have 4 of the 5 cards needed to make a flush. For example, if you are holding two clubs, and the board flops two more clubs, you would be holding a flush draw. You would need to draw an additional club to complete the flush.

Fold To discard your hand when it is your turn to act (also known as mucking your cards).

Fouled Hand A dead hand.

Four of a Kind Four cards of the same number or face value (‘quads’).

Four-Flushed Having four flush cards in your hand, or on the board (when you have two of the four flush cards in your hand with two additional flush cards on the board, your odds of completing your flush with the use of the turn or river cards are approximately 35%).

Fourth Street In flop games, it is the fourth community card dealt (also known as ‘the turn’) and initiates the third round of betting.

Free Card A round in which no player bets.

Free Card Play Betting or raising in late position on the flop in the hopes that the other players will check to you on the turn, giving you the option of seeing the river card for free.

Free Ride A round in which no one bets (also known as getting a ‘free card’).

Full House Any three cards of the same number or face value, plus any other two cards of the same number or face value in combination (also known as a hand with three-of-a-kind and a pair).

Gut Shot A hand where you have 4 of the 5 cards needed to make a straight, but your 4 cards are not ‘connected’ or in sequential order, so you need a single card in the middle of your straight to complete the straight (Example: You are holding 5-6, and the board shows 7, 9, 10 – at that moment, you have a ‘gut shot’ as only the 8 will complete your straight (also known as an ‘inside straight draw’ or a ‘belly-buster straight draw’).

Gypsy Bet To open the pot for the size of the big blind.

Hand The cards in a player’s hand or one game of poker in which a pot is won.

Hit When the flop cards are helpful to or improve your hand.

Hold ‘em Also known as Texas Hold ‘em, where the players get two down or hole cards and five community cards.

Hold Up  When a hand that is leading manages to win the pot at the showdown.

Hole Cards The cards dealt face-down to a player.

Hooks A pair of Jacks (JJ).

Image The perception that other players at the table have of your individual playing style.

Implied Odds Bets that you can reasonably expect to collect in addition to the bets already in the pot, if you make your hand.

Important Money Money that is not part of your poker bankroll and which should never be committed to a wager or commingled with your poker bankroll (According to Oklahoma Johnny Hale – ‘Never Play Poker with Important Money‘).

In Position To have position on your opponent is being able to act last post flop (Example: UTG raises and you call on the button and will be in position for the rest of the hand).

Inside Straight Four cards which require another card between the top and the bottom card to complete a straight.

Inside Straight Draw Four cards which require another card between the top and the bottom card to complete a straight. Also known as a ‘belly-buster straight draw,’ or ‘gut shot straight draw’.

In Turn –  A term describing when it is permissible for a player to act.

Keep Them Honest To call at the end of a hand to prevent someone from bluffing.

Key Card A card that provides a big draw, or makes your hand.

Key Hand In a session it is the one hand that ends up being a turning point for the player, either for the better or worse.

Kicker The kicker refers to your tie-breaking card (Example: holding an Ace and King, and the board shows Ace, 5, 7, 2, J – the player would have a pair of Aces with a King kicker).

Kojak A hand containing a K-J.

Ladies Two Queens (QQ).

Late Position The player’s position on a round of betting where the player must act after most of the other players have acted (usually considered to be the two positions next to the button).

Lay Down When a player folds or mucks his cards.

Lead The first player to bet into a pot.

Limit The set amount or amounts that may be bet, often expressed as 5/10 ($5 bets on the first two rounds and $10 bets thereafter).

Limp-In  To come into a hand with a call (rather than a raise) before the flop.

Limper The first player who calls a bet.

Live Hand A hand that could still win the pot.

Live One A player lacking knowledge or experience who plays a lot of hands.

Look When a player calls the final bet before the show-down.

Loose To play more hands than advisable.

Main Pot The center or main pot. Any other bets are placed in a side pot(s) and are contested among remaining players (Example: this occurs when a player(s) goes all-in for less money in the stacks of other players).

Maniac A very aggressive player who plays a lot of hands.

Middle Pair To have a pair containing the second highest card on the board.

Middle Position A location somewhere between early and late positions on a specific round of betting (the fifth, sixth and seventh seats to the left of the button).

Minimum Buy-In The least amount you can enter a game of poker with.

Miscall An incorrect verbal declaration of the ranking of a hand.

Misdeal – A mistake by the dealer on the dealing of a hand that causes the cards to be reshuffled and a new hand to be dealt.

Monster – A very big hand. In a tournament, a player who begins to accumulate chips after having a small stack is also considered to be a monster.

Muck – To discard a hand (also a term that describes the pile of cards maintained by the dealer containing all cards discarded by players at the table).

No-Limit (NL) – A game where players can bet as much as they like (limited only by the size of their stack) on any round of betting.

Nuts – The best hand possible.

Odds – The probability of making a hand versus the probability of not making a hand.

Off Suit – Cards of differing suits.

Omaha – A game in which each player is dealt four down cards with five community cards. To make your hand, you must play two cards from your hand and three from the board.

Open – To make the first or initial bet on a given round of betting.

Open-Ended Straight – Four consecutive or sequential cards whereby one additional (consecutive or sequential) card is needed at either end to make a straight.

Option – When it is the Big Blind’s turn to act and he has the option of checking or raising the action.

Outs – Cards yet to come that will improve your hand.

Over Card – A card that is higher than other cards, usually in reference to the community cards.

Paint(s) – Face card(s) (Kings; Queens or Jacks).

Pair – Two cards that are the same rank.

Playing the Board – When your best five-card-hand consists of the five cards on the board (Note: The cards on the board are also referred to as ‘community cards’) (also known as using all five community cards as your hand in Hold’em).

Pocket Rockets – Pair of Aces.

Position – Your place in the order of betting action that your seat commands for a particular hand. If you are the first to act first then you are in first position (also known as the order in which you act in a particular hand).

Post – To post a blind so you can enter the hand.

Pot – All the money that has been placed in the middle including all bets, blinds and antes.

Pot Odds – The mathematical computation of the odds of your hand improving, the amount of money in the pot, and the size of the bet that you must call.

Prop – Someone who gets paid by a poker room to play in their games, usually to start games or play in shorthanded games.

Quads – Four of a kind (such as four aces).

Re-Raise An increase in a wager at least the size of the previous bet which occurs after a raise.

Rake The house percentage taken from each pot on a per-hand basis (usually 10% to maximum of $4 or $5).

Rags – Weak cards; usually low cards.

Railbird – Someone who is watching a game on the rail.

Raise – To place a higher bet than an opponent has already placed.

Rake – The amount a card room takes from each pot, usually a percentage that has a set upper limit.

Read – An assumption as to what cards a player has.

Re-Raise – To raise after an opponent has raised (also known as two bet).

River – The last remaining community card after which there is one final round of betting.

Rivered – To get beat by a hand that is made on the river.

Rock – This is an extremely tight player at the table.

Round – When the button has moved completely around the table and everyone has had a chance to deal.

‘Rounders’ – A popular poker movie starring Matt Damon.

Royal Flush – The best possible hand, a royal flush is a straight flush involving the Ten, Jack, Queen, King and Ace.

Runner-Runner – To hit both the turn and the river card to make your hand.

Scramble A face-down mixing of the cards.

Seat Charge – The amount of money some card rooms charge per hour to play in addition to, or in place of, a rake (a time game).

Semi-Bluff – To bet with a hand that may not be the best hand but has a good chance to improve to (or become) the best hand.

Set – Three-of-a-kind (two cards in your hand that match one card on the board) (Note: trips are three-of-a-kind in which one of your hole cards match two cards on the board).

Setup Two suited decks of cards, each with a different color backing, to replace the current decks in play.

Short Buy A buy-in that is than the required minimum buy-in.

Short Stacked – To possess the smallest stack of chips at the poker table.

Showdown – The final act of determining the winner of the pot after all betting has been completed.

Shuffle The act by the dealer of randomly mixing the cards before the start of the hand.

Side Pot – An additional pot made when one player is all-in and two or more other players are still involved in the hand.

Small Blind – The amount put in the pot by the person immediately to the left of the dealer ‘button’ prior to the cards being dealt (also known as the smallest blind in a multiple blind game).

Solid – A fairly tight player (a good player).

Speed Limit – A pair of 5’s.

Stay – When a player remains in the game by calling, rather than raising.

Steal – To force the other player to fold when you don’t have the best hand.

Steel Wheel – A five high straight (A-2-3-4-5) of the same suit.

Straddle – A straddle is an additional blind bet which is usually double the size of the big blind (and that player may raise when the action gets to him) in a multiple blind game.

Straight – Five sequential or consecutive cards of any suit.

Straight Flush – Five sequential or consecutive cards of the same suit.

String Bet or Raise – A bet made in more than one motion, without declaration of a raise [Example: the player pushes chips forward (committing them to the pot) and then returns to his stack for additional chips].

Stuck – A player who is losing in a game.

Suited – Cards of the same suit (such as 8 and 9).

Table Stakes (1) The amount of money that you have in front of you at the table. This is the maximum amount that you can win or lose on any one hand; (2) The requirement that players can wager only the amount of money in front of them at the start of a hand, and can only buy more chips in-between hands.

Tell – An action that a player makes that gives away the strength of their hand.

Texas Hold’em – This is also the name for Hold’em, the most popular form of poker.

The Nuts – The best possible poker hand, based upon a combination of the players hole cards and the board or community cards.

Three of Kind – Three cards of the face value.

Tight – To play fewer hands than normal.

Tilt – When a player is emotionally upset and starts making poor decisions (also known as on-tilt).

‘Time’ – An expression used to stop or pause the action during a hand.

Top Pair – When the player pairs one of his down cards with the highest card on board.

Treys – A pair of 3’s.

Trips – Three-of-a-kind (two cards on the board match one in your hand) (Note: a set is three-of-a-kind in which two of your hole cards match one of the cards on the board).

Turn – This is the fourth community card dealt and instigates the third round of betting.

Two Pair – A hand consisting of two different pairs.

Under the Gun – The first person who must act on the first round of betting (UTG).

Up Card – A card that is dealt face-up.

Walking Sticks – A pair of sevens (77).

Wired Pair – When your hole cards contain a pair.

Worst Hand – A losing hand.

WPT – The World Poker Tour.

WSOP® – World Series of Poker®.


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