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Poker Terms


American Airlines. Nickname for pocket aces
The highest, and lowest, card in poker
To make a play (bet, call, raise, or fold) at the required time.
A player's turn to act. I'm in on the action
Active player:
A player involved in the pot. If there are side pots an all-in player may only be active in some pots
The option to top-up your chip stack while you are still in a live game
A bet on a single-hand in which you put all your chips in the pot
A compulsory 'fee' paid by all players in a hand to increase the pot size


Catching two consecutive cards to fill a straight or a flush
Bad beat/luck:
A good hand that loses against a weaker hand is said to be 'catching a bad beat'
In home games the bank is the person responsible for distributing chips and paying winners
The amount of money a player has to bet with in a given period
The money wagered during a hand
Big blind:
A compulsory bet paid by one person in the hand for one deal per round, see also small blind
An attempt to win chips/cash by a player who knows he has the weakest hand
The community cards dealt to the whole table
Bottom pair:
A hand consisting of the lowest pair of cards, using either board cards or those dealt to a player (eg, 2,2)
A player who frequently raises aggressively in a bid to force weaker players into handing over their chips. This tactic is often used by players with large chip stacks (a big stack bully)
Burn card:
The card disposed of by the dealer prior to revealing the flop, turn and river cards
A player 'busts' out of a tournament (leaves) when they lose all their chips
An item used to indicate the dealer position at the table
The minimum amount needed to enter a game or the entry fee in a tournament. For example, in the World Series of Poker Main Event the 'buy in' is $10,000


A player calls when he has paid the required bet and either wants to continue in the hand or, after the final round of betting, see the opposing players' cards
Cash game:
A poker game where the pot size and winnings are determined not by a one-off entry fee but by a minimum entry bet per game (eg, small blind $2, big blind $4). Cash games can be either fixed-limit or no limit
When a player receives much-needed cards on draw they are said to have 'caught' what they needed
A player can check, if nobody before him in the hand has bet, to remain in the hand at zero-cost
Check raise:
When a player bets after already checking in the same round of betting it is known as a check raise (Eg, Player A checks, Player B bets $50 and rather than just calling, Player A raises another $50). Often used by players who 'put' their opponents on a weaker hand
The form currency used in most cash and all tournament poker games
Chip leader:
The player holding the most chips in a tournament at any given time
To split a pot because of a tie, split-pot game, or player agreement
Coin flip:
A situation where two players have a roughly even chance of winning a hand.
Illegal cooperation among two or more players.
Community card:
A card dealt to the entire table (eg in Hold'em the flop, river and turn)
Two or more cards of consecutive rank
Continuation bet:
A bet made after the flop by the player who took the lead in betting before the flop


The distribution of cards to players involved in the game
The person dealing the cards
A 2 card. Also called a duck, quack, or swan.
Dominated hand:
A hand that is extremely unlikely to win against another specific hand, even though it may be a reasonable hand in its own right.
Double up:
A player who bets all of their chips on one hand against a single opponent (who has an equal or larger stack) and wins will double their stack. This is known as 'doubling up'
A card that is dealt face down.
When a player has a chance to improve their hand to something considerably stronger through 'drawing' the required cards on the flop, turn or river
Drawing dead:
Playing a drawing hand that will lose even if successful because another player has better cards
To fold a hand


Early position:
To be sitting to the left of the big blind, ie, to be the first to act in a given hand. This is generally considered to be the worst position in poker, as you have to choose to call, bet or fold without any indication of how the other players will approach the hand
Expected Value:
A mathematical system of deciding whether or not to play a poker hand. The concept of 'EV' effectively means playing in a way which will be profitable in the long run, although not necessarily successful in any given game. To caluculate EV a player multiplies the amount of money in the pot by the expected probability of winning
Exposed card:
A card whose face has been deliberately or accidentally revealed to players normally not entitled to that information during the play of the game


The cloth covering of a poker table, whatever the actual material
Fifth Street:
The fifth card to be dealt to the board. In Hold'em, this is also known as the River card
Fill up:
To successfully draw to a hand that needs one card to complete it, by getting the last card of a straight, flush or full house.
Final table:
The last table in a multi-table poker tournament
First position:
See Early Position
A poor or very weak player
Fixed Limit:
A game where the amount a player can bet and raise are fixed
Flat call:
A straightforward call when a player may otherwise be expected to raise
The first three community cards in Texas Hold'em, dealt face-up
A hand comprising five cards of the same suit
A player who wishes to leave the hand and avoid further betting 'folds' his cards
Forward motion:
A strict rule in some casinos stating that if a player picks up chips from his stack and moves his hand toward the pot he has made a commitment to bet or call - and the player may not withdraw his hand to check or fold.
Four of a kind:
A hand containing four cards of equal rank. Also called 'quads'
Fourth Street:
The fourth card dealt to the board
A tournament with no entry fee. Many freerolls, especially in online poker, offer large cash prizes to attract a high number of players
The most common form of poker tournament. There is no ability for a busted player to 'rebuy' and play continues until one player wins
Full house:
A hand with three cards of one rank and two of a second rank.


Gap Hand:
A gap hand in Hold'em is a starting hand with at least one rank separating the two cards.
A player who earns a living by making small profits over a long period of consistent, conservative play – also known as a 'Rock'.
An inside straight draw


The 'hole' cards you are dealt at the start of play, eg, 'He played that hand well'.
Hand for hand play:
A system of careful dealing used in tournaments to carefully determine who finishes in what position.
Hand history:
Used in online card rooms to help you see how you have played your cards in recent games
Heads up:
Playing against a single opponent. All tournaments finish in a heads up battle to determine the winner.
High card:
A no pair hand, ranked according to its highest-ranking cards. Can defeat another player with the same high card if you have a superior kicker.
The world's most popular poker game. In Hold'em, each player is dealt two private cards (known as ‘hole cards’) that belong to them alone. Five community cards are dealt face-up, to form the ‘board’. This is followed by rounds of betting and two further community cards for remaining players – the Turn (4th Street) and the River (5th Street). All players use these shared cards in conjunction with their own hole cards to each make their best possible five-card poker hand. In Hold'em, a player may use any combination of the seven cards available to make the best possible five-card poker hand, using zero, one or two of their private hole cards.
Home game:
A game played at a private venue instead of a casino or public cardroom.
A mixed poker game. Each letter refers to one of the following poker variants of which it consists: Hold'em, Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Stud, Eight-or-better (Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo)


Inside straight:
A 'belly buster' or gutshot' draw where a player completes a straight with inside cards (eg, you are dealt 3,7 and 4,5,6 come on the flop)
In position, IP:
A player is 'in position' if they are the last to act on the flop, turn and river betting rounds.
In turn:
A player is 'in turn' if that player is expected to act next under the rules (eg, Jack said check when he was in turn, so he can't raise')
Any abnormal conditions in play, such as unexpectedly exposed cards
An isolation 'play' is a raise designed to force one or more players to fold to try and make the hand a one-on-one contest with a specific opponent


The 53rd card in the pack. Used mostly in draw games
Money collected by the house – also known as the rake
Hole cards with little or no expected value


An unpaired card used to determine the better of two equal hands. Kickers can be crucial in Hold'em.
A pool of money built by collecting small amounts from certain pots, often used to buy refreshments, cards, and so on.


A loose, aggressive style of play in which a player plays a lot of starting hands and makes many small raises in hopes of out-playing his opponents.
Last to act:
A player is last to act if all players between the player and the button have folded.
Lay down:
A tough choice to fold a good hand in anticipation of narrowly losing
In tournaments the 'level' refers to the size of the blinds, which are periodically increased. In the first level the small blind/big blind may be $10 /$20, in the second level the blinds may be $20 / $40
The minimum or maximum amount of a bet
Limp in:
A player who enters a pot by simply calling the bet to them instead of raising. Somebody who does this is known as a 'limper'
Limp re-raise:
When a player who limped in re-raises in the same round of betting
Live poker:
When poker is played in person, at a real table with cards – instead of online – it's known as 'live' poker
Live hand:
A hand still eligible to win the pot; one with the correct number of cards that has not been mucked or otherwise invalidated
To play aggressively but carelessly
The lowest card by rank.


A very loose and aggressive player, who bets and raises almost constantly, including when it is clearly bad strategy to do so. Opposite of 'Rock'.
Match the pot:
To push in an amount equal to all the chips in the pot
A deal which is illegal for some reason and must be dealt again
Missed blind:
When a player fails to make compulsory bet when it is his turn. The missed bet must usually be taken upon the player's return. Often the dealer will take chips from the missing players' stack to cover the blinds, even in his absence
In No Limit Hold'em, to 'move in' or to 'go all in' means to bet one's entire stake on the hand in play.
To fold and discard your hand without showing other players


No Limit:
The most common form of Hold'em. Players are allowed to wager any or all of their chips in a single bet.
When a player only has the possibility of a high card and no other hand that could possibly win
A player who is totally unprepared to take any risks.
The best possible hand given the board is called the 'nut hand'


Cards that are not of the same suit. The seven of clubs and the jack of spades are called Jack-seven offsuit
One-chip rule:
A call of a previous bet using a single chip of higher denomination than necessary is judged a call only - unless it is verbally announced as a raise
Open-ended straight draw:
An outside straight draw. Also called a 'two-way straight draw' or "double-ended straight draw".
An optional bet or draw, such as raising the big blind when every other player has checked. When a dealer says 'option' in a live game, it means the action is on you!
A card that will make your hand win. Normally heard in the plural (eg, any heart will make my flush, so I have nine outs)
Out of position:
A player is out of position if he is not the last to act on a betting round.
Outside straight draw:
When a player has a draw to an outside straight (eg, if you get 10,J on the turn and river when you already have 7,8,9 – you've hit an outside straight. See also Gutshot
Over bet:
To make a bet that is more than the size of the pot in a no limit game.
To call a bet after others have already called
Over pair:
A pocket pair with a higher rank than any community card


A pair of maching cards, eg Q,Q
A tight style of play in which a player repeatedly checks and flat calls
Play the board:
If your best hand consists of community cards, you are said to 'play the board'
Pocket cards:
Your hole cards
Pocket Pair:
Any pair, eg 8,8 in your hole cards
Poker face:
A blank expression that doesn't reveal any 'tells' about your hand in live poker. Also a shocking song by Lady Gaga
Position bet:
A bet made based more on your ability to get involved late and cheap in a given round than the strength of your cards
To make the required small or big blind bet, or antes
A decision to play a hand, even if it is weak, because so much of your stack is invested in the pot
When players already have their pocket cards but no flop has been dealt yet. This is also when the first round of betting takes place.
Prop, proposition player:
A player who gets paid to start poker games or to help them stay active. Prop players play with their own money, which distinguishes them from shills, who play with the casino's money
To bet all-in
Put the clock on someone:
To ask the dealer or a tournament official to force a slow player to act in the allotted time
Put on:
To put someone on a hand is to deduce what hand they have based on their actions and your knowledge of their game


four -of-a-kind


A coin flip situation
A low-valued card considered worthless
The sideline at a poker table
An observer of a poker game
When a flop shows three or four cards of different suits (and therefore colours)
To make a bet
The percentage of a pot taken in 'commission' by the casino or online poker room
An amount of chips purchased after the buy-in. In some tournaments, players are allowed to re-buy chips one or more times for a limited period after the start of the game
To deal a hand again, possibly after a misdeal
To make one hand and have a draw for a better hand
To represent a hand is to play as if you hold it (whether you actually hold it or are bluffing)
To raise after you've already been raised. Also known as coming 'over the top'
The fifth and final community card in Texas Hold'em. Also known as Fifth Street
An extremely tight player
Royal cards:
Face/picture cards – the Jack, Queen, and King of any suit
Royal flush:
A straight flush of the top five cards in any suit. The best hand in poker.
A long winning streak (Tim's on a rush lately)


A qualifying tournament in which the prize is a free entrance to another (larger) tournament
When a player bluffs on one round of betting with an inferior or drawing hand that might improve later
Three-of-a-kind, when a player holds two of the cards in the hole. See Trips
Short stacked:
A player is short-stacked when he's running out of chips and struggling
A game played with six players
If more than one player remains after the last betting round, remaining players expose and compare their hands to determine the winner
Side game:
A game running concurrently with a tournament and consisting of players who have either been eliminated or opted not to play in the main event
Side pot:
A pot created in which a player has no interest because he has run out of chips
Sit and go:
A tournament with no scheduled starting time that begins when enough players have put up their money
Small blind:
The smaller of two compulsory bets paid by one person in the hand for one deal per round, see also big blind
Smooth call:
A flat call
To share the proceeds of a pot equally in the event of a draw
The total chips a player has at any given time is known as his 'stack'
what it costs to buy in for – and to bet to stay in the game
When a player raises pre-flop hoping to win the blinds without a fight
Five consecutive cards (eg, 4,5,6,7,8) of any suit
Straight flush:
Five consecutive cards (eg, 2,3,4,5,6) of the same suit
String bet:
A raise where a player puts the chips in the pot in more than one 'motion'. Unless he told the dealer it was a raise, he can be forced to just call. This prevents the illegal strategy of pushing in enough chips to call in order to see the table's reaction – and then raising
Cards of the same suit
Suited connectors:
Consecutive cards of the same suit (eg, Kh, Ah)


A gesture or change in a player's behavior that gives a clue to his hand (Eg, 'Steve always raises his right eyebrow when he's bluffing...it's such an obvious tell'
Three matching cards (eg, 5,5,5)
A negative, defensive player. See Rock
When a player, perhaps because he is losing, gets angry and chases pots he is said to be 'on tilt'. In online poker, this is the time to shut down your machine and go walk the dog
To go:
The amount that a player is required to call in order to stay in the hand ('It's $20 to go')
Top pair:
The best pair in any given game
When one of a player's hole cards connects with two cards on the board to make three of a kind. This differs from a Set where three of a kind is made when a pocket pair connects with one card on the flop to make three of a kind
The fourth card to be dealt in Hold'em. Also known as Fourth Street.


Under the gun:
The player to the left of the blinds, who is first to act. The worst position in Texas Hold'em
An underdog or dog is a player with a smaller chance to win than another specified player
Up the ante:
to increase the stake


Value bet:
A bet made by a player who wants it to be called because he has a superior hand
A measure of the changes in your bankroll – good and bad. The higher your variance, the more dramatic the swings in your bankroll.


Weak ace:
An ace with a low kicker (e.g. three). Also known as an 'ace-rag'
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