Poker Terms (A-Z):

A

Action: Includes bet, raise, call, check, fold etc.

Aces Up: Two pair, one of which is Aces.

Alias: Refers to the online screenname of a player. People who play mostly online are often known by their alias/screenname.

All-In: A bet that places all of a player’s chips into the pot at once.

Angle: In “angle shooting”, rules are manipulated in order to gain an unfair advantage.

Ante: A forced payment made before cards are dealt by all players at the table. In tournaments, antes are often used in the later stages.

B

Backdoor: Hitting the cards you need on the turn and the river to make your hand. For example, when you have two hearts in your hand and one heart shows up on the board, then two more hearts show up on the turn and river, you hit a “backdoor” flush.

Bad Beat: Refers to losing a hand of poker after getting unlucky. Most of the time, the money is placed as a favorite and our opponent “sucks”.

Bad Beat Story: A retelling or recollection of a bad beat that you already know the end of. For example: “I had ace-king, and my opponent had 2-3. There was an ace on the board. The turn was a 4, and then – Can you believe it? – the river was a 5!”

Big Blind: A position at the table directly to the right of the small blind that pays the mandatory big blind payment before the flop.

Blind: Players post blind bets to the left of the dealer button in flop-style poker games.

Board: Refers to either the community cards in variants such as Omaha and Hold’em or the “upcards” in Stud variants.

Bubble: The stage of a tournament directly before any player has made the prize pool.

Burn: In live poker games it is common for the dealer to “burn” cards to help minimize the possibility of cheating. Rather than deal from the top of the deck, the top card is discarded (or “burned”) and the second card is dealt.

Button: The button is the most profitable seat at the poker table. It’s to the right of the small blind (SB) and to the left of the cutoff (CO).

Buy-In: The amount required to join a game of poker. In cash games this can vary (within specified limits) while the buy-in amount is fixed for tournaments.

C

Call: To “call” means to match the existing wager on the current betting round.

Check: To “check” means to make no wager. The action instead passes to the player on our left. Note that checking is only a valid option if no wager has been made on the current betting round.

Check-Raise: To make a raise where our previous action on the current street was to check.

Cold Call: To call two or more bets on your turn. If a pot has been bet and raised before it gets to you, and then you call, you’re cold calling.

Connector: Refers to a hand that contains cards of consecutive rank.

Community Cards: Cards that are dealt face up in the center of the table, available for all players to use in making a hand.

Counterfeit: A situation where a previously strong hand loses a huge chunk of its value after further cards are dealt.

Cut-Off: The position to the immediate right of the button.

D

Dealer: The player who shuffles the deck and deals the cards.

Dealer Button: The button (often a plastic disk in live poker) that indicates the dealer. It is passed clockwise after every hand.

Draw: Refers to a situation where we are waiting on cards to complete our hand. For example, if we have four diamonds (and are waiting on that fifth diamond to make the flush) we have a “flush draw”. The term Draw also refers to a selection of poker variants where competitors replace cards in their hand with cards from the deck on each betting round.

Draw Out: To receive a card that transforms your hand from a losing hand to a winning hand.

Drawing Dead: A situation where none of our outs will give us the best hand. I.e. we have no shot to win.

F

Flop: The first three community cards dealt out after the first round of betting is complete.

Flush: A hand made with five cards of the same suit.

Fold: To “fold” means to discard our holding in a scenario where we don’t wish to match the wager made on the current street.

Four of a Kind: A hand containing all four cards of the same rank.

Full House: A hand consisting of a three of a kind and a (different) pair.

G

Gutshot: Refers to an “inside straight draw”. For example, we hold 5,6,8,9 and need to hit a 7 in order to complete our straight.

H

Hand: Five cards, made of a player’s pocket cards and the community cards.

Heads-Up: Playing a pot or tournament against only one other player.

High Card: In a hand of poker that has 5 different cards that do not form any kind of match, the highest card is the high card and it is only useful against another hand of 5 unmatched cards if a showdown takes place.

I

Implied Odds: Taking future calls from your fellow players into consideration when you are drawing to something. If you draw successfully, you expect they’ll call with their hands. These funds are speculative and not concrete, as they aren’t in the middle yet and won’t be unless you hit your card and they call your bets – hence, “implied.”

Inside Straight Draw: Also known as a “gutshot”. For example, we hold 5,6,8,9 and need to hit a 7 in order to complete our straight.

Insurance: A side wager made with another player at the table. If hero’s hand does not hold up, he’ll receive an insurance payout from the other player.

ITM: ITM in poker stands for ‘in the money’ and refers to players in line for a cash prize since they have successfully passed the bubble.

J

Jackpot: Some casinos and poker rooms offer a “bad beat jackpot” when an extremely strong hand gets cracked.

Jam: Colloquial term meaning to shove all-in.

Joker: Extra card added to a deck of cards generally with a picture of a court jester. Jokers are sometimes used as wild cards in poker.

K

Kicker: Cards that don’t directly formulate a hand but still contribute to the overall strength of a hand since they are used as side cards. In scenarios where two players have the same hand, the best kickers will win.

L

Late Position: 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).

Limp: Describes the action of just calling when there is no raise before us on the first betting round.

Limit: A structure of the game in which bets and raises are capped at a fixed amount.

Live Bet: Slang word for calling, implying it’s not an aggressive move

M

Muck: All the discarded cards in a hand. If a player folds, he tosses his hand “into the muck.”

N

No-Limit: A structure of the game in which players can bet their entire stack. There’s a minimum to what you can bet, but not a maximum.

Nuts: The best possible hand. The nuts can never lose, it can only chop.

O

Off-Suit: Holding pocket cards of different suits.

Omaha: A variety of hold’em in which players receive 4 hole cards and must use exactly two of them, together with 3 of the 5 board cards, to make a hand.

Open-Handed: A category of games characterized by a part of each player’s hand being exposed.

Over-Pair: In hold’em, a pair in the hole that is larger than any community card on the board.

Open-Ended: A straight completed from the outside by one of two possible cards. For example, if your pocket cards are 5-6 and the flop shows 4-7-king, either a 3 or an 8 on the turn or river would complete your open-ended straight. An open-ended straight is twice as likely to hit as a “gutshot.”

Orbit: After each player at a table has served as the dealer for a hand. Each time the button passes you is a complete orbit.

Out: A card that will improve your hand. If all the money is in the middle, and you turn over a pair of kings and your opponent has a pair of aces, you need one of the two remaining kings – your two “outs” – to beat your opponent.

Over-Cards: Having cards higher than the board cards or your opponent’s pocket. For example, if it’s heads up and someone’s all-in, the two remaining players would expose their cards. If it is a pair of sevens versus ace-king, the ace and king are referred to as “over-cards.”

P

Pair: Two cards of the same rank.

Pocket Cards: The cards in your hand that are not part of the community cards. In hold’em, it’s your two down cards. In Omaha, it’s your four down cards. Also known as hole cards.

Pot: The place in the center of the poker table where wagered chips are placed. The winner of the hand wins all the chips in the pot.

Pot-Committed: A situation that likely requires you to call due to the amount of money in the pot vis-a-vis your remaining stack of chips. In these situations, it makes no sense to fold.

Pot-Limit: A structure of the game in which bets and raises are capped by the current size of the pot.

Pot Odds: The ratio of money in the pot compared to what you need to call to keep playing. For example, suppose there is $100 in the pot. Somebody bets $10, so the pot now contains $110. It costs you $10 to call, so your pot odds are 11-to-1. Do you think the odds of your hand being the best are better than 11-to-1? If so, you should call. Similarly, if you are getting the same 11-to-1 odds and you don’t have a made hand but the odds of drawing to a better hand are greater than 11-to-1, it would also be correct to call.

Q

Quads: Four of a kind.

Qualify: In split pot games, a low hand must “qualify” before it is counted as a legitimate low hand. In most variants this means holding 5 cards 8 or lower. Check out this entry for more information on qualification rules.

R

Rainbow: Used to describe a board texture (or sometimes starting hand) where every card is of a different suit.

Rake: A small amount taken from the pot each hand as payment for running the poker game.

Ring Game: This term is used interchangeably with “Cash Game”. Since not all poker games are actually played with real money, the term “ring game” might be considered more applicable in some contexts.

River: Refers to the final betting round in Hold’em, Omaha and Stud variants.

Rock: Refers to a player type who only enters the pot with an extremely tight range. This term might be sometimes used interchangeably with the word “nit” although some assign the two words completely different meanings.

Raise: To wager more than the minimum required to call, forcing other players to put in more money as well.

Royal Flush: An ace-high straight flush, the best possible hand in standard poker.

S

Satellite: A tournament event that awards winners a ticket to an even bigger tournament.

Semi-Bluff: A bluff made with a drawing hand. For example, we make a bluff while holding a flush draw. Even if we don’t manage to pick up the pot, there is a possibility we’ll make our flush on the next street.

Set: Having a pocket pair that hits on the board, making three of a kind.

Short Stack: A player without many chips in his stack. Certainly refers to stack sizes less than 100bb, and frequently refers to stack sizes less than 50bb.

Showdown: Refers to revealing the strength of our hand to determine the winner. This happens after all the betting rounds are complete.

Side Pot: Separate from the main pot. If one or more players is all-in, the pot to which the all-in players contributed is the main pot. A side pot is created from any additional money bet by the remaining players. There can be many side pots if there are more than one all-in player. An all-in player is only eligible to win a pot to which he has contributed.

Sit-and-Go: A poker tournament that starts whenever a specified number of players have registered. As the name suggests, you “sit” (register), and, when there are enough of your fellow players to start the game, you begin, or “go.”

Sit Out: This is when you choose to leave a table for a few hands. If a Player sits out for more than fifteen minutes, or has missed two rounds of blinds, they are removed from the table.

Slow Play: When, in an attempt to have other players stick around and possibly call your bets, you play your hand less aggressively than necessary. For example, if you flop a full house, it is unlikely anyone is going to beat your hand. Slow-playing the hand may allow the other players to make their hands and therefore continue to call your bets.

Small Blind: The smaller of two blind bets. The position to the immediate left of the dealer button position, and to the right of the big blind position.

Split Pot: A split pot is one that is awarded to multiple players. This could be in the eventuality that a hand ties, or when playing a split pot variant of poker.

Straddle: A straddle is an optional blind bet made before any cards are dealt.

String Bet: Placing a bet on the table in a staggered motion or multiple motions. String bets are not allowed, and the dealer will remove the added amount of the bet if he determines a bet to be a string bet. It’s not permitted because it could be used to gauge the reaction of other players before you commit the entire intended amount of the raise.

Straight: A hand consisting of 5 cards in sequence but not in suit.

Straight Flush: A hand consisting of 5 cards in sequence and the same suit.

T

Tell: An interpretation of a physical action or a betting pattern that seemingly reveals how strong or weak a player’s hand is. The best players do not provide many tells themselves and have an ability to detect tells of their opponents in order to determine how to play a hand.

Tilt: Usually the result of taking a bad beat or series of bad beats, a player is said to be “on tilt” when he plays with reckless abandon. Presumably, the term derives from tilting a pinball machine.

Time: Requesting more time to think. A player will call for time to avoid the dealer killing the hand due to inactivity. Conversely, a player that takes excessive time to make decisions may have a “clock” called on them by the other players who seek to keep the flow of the game going.

Top Pair: A pair with the highest card on the board. For example, if you have an ace and 7 in the hole, and it’s a 3-4-7 flop, you’ve got a “top pair” with an ace kicker. If you had a pair greater than sevens in your pocket, you’d have an over-pair.

Trips: Slang term for three of a kind.

Turn: The third betting round in variants such as Hold’em and Omaha.

U

Under the Gun: Player sitting in the first-to-act position. It’s the position immediately to the left of the big blind, pre-flop, and to the left of the button for subsequent betting rounds.

Underbet: A bet sizing less than 50% of the pot.

Underdog: Sometimes abbreviated to the word “dog”. Describes a hand or player which is statistically unlikely to win.

Upcard: A card dealt to the player in Stud face up, meaning it is visible to the entire table.

Upswing: A prolonged period of winning (especially when the win rate is higher than anticipated). I.e. running good.

Up the Ante: A common expression meaning to “up the stakes”. Also can be used to describe the increased antes on each blind level of a poker tournament.

V

Value Bet: A bet with a made hand hoping to get paid off by a worse holding.

Variance: A term used to describe the ups and downs of a poker player’s career. Variance is much larger than many players realize.

Variant: A particular brand of poker: there are many. For example, Hold’em, Omaha, Stud, 5-card Draw, etc.

Vulnerable: A hand is vulnerable if it is susceptible to being outdrawn.

W

Whale: An extremely bad poker player. Especially used to describe bad poker players at higher stakes games.

Wrap Around Straight: A straight where the Ace falls somewhere in the middle of the five cards. Not a legal hand in the majority of poker variants.

WSOP: An acronym for perhaps the most prestigious poker event of all time The World Series of Poker. Held every year in Las Vegas.