Poker Terms

List of poker terms

A

  • ABC Poker
    Play poker by the book. When your hand is good you raise and when your hand is weak you fold. You don’t bluff very often either.
  • Ace (Ace-high)
    The Ace is the highest-value card in poker, but can also serve as a low card for a street such as A, 2, 3, 4, 5. Ace-high means the best possible hand without having a combination. This is worse than a pair.
  • Action
    When a player is on the turn and must respond (check, bet, fold, raise).
  • Action card
    A community card that can potentially improve the hands of multiple players, resulting in a lot of action at the table.
  • Add-on
    In a poker tournament there is an option where you purchase additional chips, regardless of how big your stack is at the time. The add-on is often offered in a Rebuy tournament.
  • Air
    A hand with a low value. You have nothing at all or you are bluffing without having a strong hand.
  • Aggressive (Offensive)
    An “aggressive player” plays aggressively in poker. He plays more offensively by playing more hands.
  • Ante
    A forced bet paid by each player to receive the cards.
  • All-in
    Putting your entire stack into the pot. At this point you are all-in and risk being eliminated from the tournament.
  • Anna Kournikova
    A term for the hand Ace-King in Texas Hold’em. Coarse translation “it looks better than it plays”.

B

  • Backdoor (flushdraw)
    Having to get one or more cards in sequence to complete your hand. For example, you start with two hearts. The flop has only one heart. The turn and river both bring a heart to form your flush.
  • Bad beat
    Losing a hand when you are a huge favorite. For example, you start with two Aces and your opponent has K, Q suited. In this case you win 82.13% of the time.
  • Belly buster
    Getting a card that leads to an “inside straight. This means a missing card in the middle of the street and not at the end.
  • Bet
    Putting money or chips into the pot without a raise.
  • Big blind
    A forced bet to always get money in the pot. It must be paid before you receive any cards. It is double the size of the small blind.
  • Big slick
    Big slick is the term for an Ace-King. The word ‘slick’ means ‘slippery and professional’ in English. It basically means that it is an attractive combination, but it often leads to big losses by overestimating this hand.
  • Big stack
    A stack of chips that is relatively large based on levels/limits being played at the time. It also sometimes refers to the largest stack at the table.
  • Blocking bet
    A significantly low bet to discourage opponents from making a higher bet.
  • Bluff
    A bet with a hand that mathematically is probably not the best hand.
  • Boat
    Another name for ‘Full house’, a combination of Three of a Kind and a Pair.
  • Bounty
    A common feature in a Bounty poker tournament that rewards players for eliminating other players. The value of a Bounty may vary by tournament type.
  • Bring in
    A forced bet in Stud poker. The holder with the highest card face up puts the bring in on the table.
  • Bubble
    The worst position to be eliminated from in a poker tournament. This player will just miss out on the prizes. Sometimes organizers or casinos will offer a consolation prize for these players.
  • Burn card
    A card that is removed from the deck before cards are dealt to players.
  • Button
    A round white disc that indicates the dealer.
  • Buy-in
    The minimum required amount you must pay to participate in poker tournaments or cash games.

C

  • Call
    Placing a bet equal to the ‘bet’ or ‘raise’.
  • Calling station
    A player who doesn’t raise much (Raise), but goes with a hand more often than he should (Call).
  • Cap
    A limit on the number of raises allowed in a betting round. Often three or four maximum. Sometimes the cap is removed when two players remain. A cap is also a limit on how much money dealers can take away from the pot (Rake) during a cash game.
  • Cash game
    A poker game where each hand is played for real money.
  • Check
    To bet nothing. You can only do this if no one has raised and you are already in the pot or in the big blind.
  • Check-raise
    A check with the intention of raising, should a player after you raise the bet.
  • Chip dumping
    A type of tactic where one player intentionally loses all of his chips to another player.
  • Chipleader
    The player with the most chips in a tournament.
  • Coinflip
    A situation where two players are all-in and have approximately equal chances of winning.
  • Cooler
    A situation where a player has the second-best hand and loses against the best possible hand. In this situation, almost all players will put their chips into the pot (all-in).
  • Cowboys
    Pocket kings in Texas hold’em.
  • Cut card
    An opaque card at the bottom of a deck to prevent players from seeing the bottom card.
  • Crap shoot
    Tournament with a poor structure, where poker skills play a lesser role
  • Cutoff
    The player on the right side of the button. The second-best position in Texas Hold’em.

D

  • Dealer
    The player with the button in front of him and/or the person who deals the cards.
  • Dead man’s hand
    Wild Bill Hickok (alderman) of 1926, was murdered while holding this hand. It is two black aces and eights.
  • Deep stack
    A relatively large stack compared to the usual stacks you get in a tournament. The blinds go up more slowly in a deep stack tournament because of longer lasting levels.
  • Dead Money
    Dead money refers to the money put into the pot by players who have already folded in the hand.
  • Double up
    Putting all your money against a player with the same or more chips and doubling your full stack after winning the hand.
  • Donkey
    A weak player (fish) who doesn’t know what he’s doing.
  • Downswing
    A prolonged period of time when a player loses more than he expected.
  • Doyle Brunson
    A hand consisting of a 10, 2. Doyle Brunson won the WSOP twice in a row with these cards in the final hand of the tournament.
  • Draw poker
    Poker games in which each player receives five cards face down. It has the option to trade in one or more cards and replace them with new ones in an attempt to make a better hand.
  • Drawing Dead
    You try to form a combination that you think will be the best hand, but actually it is not possible. For example, you have two pairs and are trying to make a full house on the fifth and final card (River), but your opponent is already holding a four of a kind. Then you are ‘drawing dead’.
  • Ducks
    A pair of deuces.

E

  • Entry fee
    Entry fee is paid when an organizer has organized a poker tournament. You pay this money for their services. A €50+€5 tournament means you pay a €5 entry fee and €50 is put into the prize pool.
  • Etiquette
    A set of rules of courtesy and manners. Consideration for others at the poker table.
  • EV (Expected Value)
    EV (Expected Value) means the profit on top of your investment that you can expect to get back based on the odds. If you have more than 50% equity, then your EV is positive, if it is lower, then your EV is negative.
  • Equity (Mathematically expected profit)
    The percentage of how likely you are to win a pot. If you have an 80% chance of winning, then you have 80% equity.

F

  • Family pot
    When each player participates in the pot with two cards.
  • Favorite
    A favorite is the player with the better hand. Often a player is called favorite when two players are all-in and one is much more likely than the other to win the hand.
  • Final Table
    The last remaining table in a poker tournament (6 or 9 players).
  • Fish
    Weak player just like a ‘Donkey’.
  • Fixed limit
    A structure for a form of poker where you can only bet and raise at certain limits.
  • Flat call
    A call in a situation where the player already expects to raise.
  • Flop
    The first three cards dealt on the table. Any player may use these cards.
  • Flush
    A hand consisting of five cards of the same suit.
  • Flush draw
    When you have four cards of the same suit and need one more card to make a flush.
  • Fold
    Giving up your cards and moving them face down across the line to the center of the table.
  • Four of a kind
    A hand consisting of four cards of the same rank.
  • Freeroll
    The chance to win money in a tournament which you can enter for free.
  • Freeze-out
    A poker tournament where players can buy-in once and play until only one player remains.
  • Full house
    A Full house is three cards of the same rank (Three of a Kind) plus two cards of the same rank (Pair). The best Full house is the one with the highest Three of a Kind. If you and an opponent both have a Full house, these three cards are looked at to indicate who is the winner.

G

  • GG
    GG means “Good Game” and is used by many players at the time they are eliminated or lose a big pot. With this they indicate that the opponent played the hand well.
  • Grinder
    A player who consistently uses poker as a source of income by making small gains over long periods of time.
  • Gut shot
    A Gut shot is a hand with four of the five cards needed for a street, but missing a card in the middle.

H

  • Hand for hand
    In a poker tournament, ‘Hand for hand’ is played the moment you reach the ‘Bubble’. At this point, only one more player needs to be out before you are in the prizes. At each table, they wait on other tables until players have finished the hand.
  • Heads-up
    Playing poker against one player.
  • Hero call
    Having a relatively weak hand and going with (calling) an opponent because you think he is bluffing.
  • Hi-low
    In most poker games, only the highest hand will win the pot. In Hi-low variants it is possible to win half the pot with the lowest hand.
  • High roller
    A player who gambles for higher stakes. Extreme high rollers are also known as “whales”.
  • Hold’em
    Also known as Texas Hold’em. A form of poker where players are dealt two cards and can use five community cards to form the best 5-card hand.
  • Hole cards
    Players’ cards face down.
  • Home game
    A poker game played in private (often in the home of one of the players or organizers).
  • High card
    A hand without a pair or any combination. The highest card is then considered. The Ace is the highest card in poker.
  • H.O.R.S.E
    H.O.R.S.E stands for the ‘H of Hold’em’, ‘O of Omaha’, ‘R of Razz’, ‘S of Stud’ and ‘E of Eight or better’. In an H.O.R.S.E tournament, these poker forms alternate and are often played with a ‘limit’ structure.

I

  • Implied Odds
    Taking into account future ‘Calls’ from opponents when you are on a ‘Draw’. You expect one or more players to call and based on that, you assume that more money will come into the pot. As a result, your own call can be called fair and you get the right ‘Pot odds’.
  • In Position
    When a player is “in position” it means he is last to act on the flop, turn and river. This gives more advantage.
  • Inside straight
    When you get a card to complete a straight. To do this you needed a card in the middle. For example, you have a J, 9 and the flop comes K, 10, 7. In this case you need an 8 to make an inside straight.
  • Iron Duke
    An unbeatable hand. As an example, a ‘Royal flush’. This hand consists of A, K, Q, J, 10 of the same suit. Also often called ‘Nuts’.
  • Isolation
    Isolating a hand where you encourage one or more players to put the hand away (fold). The reason for isolation is if you prefer to remain in the pot against a specific opponent.

J

  • Jackpot
    A large prize pool collected by the house (poker room). This jackpot can be won if, for example, you get a big Bad beat. Also called a bad beat jackpot.
  • Jacks or better
    A nickname for a pair of jacks or higher in value.
  • Jackson five
    A hand consisting of a J, 5. Named after a successful pop group that Michael Jackson and his brothers became known for.
  • Jam
    Shoving all the chips to the middle in one move (All-in).
  • Johnnies
    Poker term for a pair of jacks.

K

  • Knockout
    In a knockout tournament, each player has a “Bounty” on his head. If a player eliminates an opponent, he wins this Bounty. It can also refer to an MTT (multi table tournament) where 1 player per table advances to the next round.
  • Keycard
    A card which makes your hand strong.
  • Kicker
    When you have the same hand as another player at the ‘Showdown’. The one with the highest ‘Kicker’ wins the pot. If there is K, K, Q, Q, 5 on the table and you have A, J and your opponent has 10, 9, you win because you play Ace Kicker against his 10 Kicker.
  • Clock
    You can put the clock on someone if they take too much time in making a decision. When someone has asked for the ‘Clock’, the player must make a decision in a certain amount of time; if they fail to do so, their hand will be declared dead.
  • Qualifying hand
    The requirements for a hand to qualify for half the pot in a Hi-Lo game.

L

  • Ladies
    Two women.
  • Late position
    A position in a round where it is your turn to act after most players have been there. Usually these are the two positions next to the ‘Dealer button’. The button itself can also be considered a late position, but you will always be the last one to act and will have more information about what other players might have.
  • Level
    Used in tournaments to indicate the limits of the blinds. At the next level, the blinds are higher.
  • Laydown
    When you choose to lay down a strong hand.
  • Limits
    The minimum and maximum stakes allowed.
  • Limp
    Participating in a pot by just calling the ‘Big blind’ instead of raising.
  • Lowball
    A poker form of ‘Draw poker’ in which the lowest hand wins the pot.
  • Luckbox
    A person with so much luck it is disgusting. A ‘Luckbox’ shows that luck plays a bigger role than skill in poker.

M

  • Main pot
    The main pot (often the largest). Every other bet is placed in the ‘Side pot’. This only happens when one or more players are all-in and do not have enough stack to meet the rest of the bets in the main pot.
  • Micro
    The lowest limits in cash games or extremely low Buy-in for a ‘Sit and go’ or MTT (multi table tournament).
  • Min-raise
    Place no more than the minimum bet required. Raise at the lowest possible limits.
  • Misdeal
    A deal where a mistake has been made and must be re-shuffled and dealt out for certain reasons.
  • Monster
    A very strong hand.
  • Muck
    Discarding your cards. They are stacked cards that are no longer part of a round.
  • MTT
    A tournament where more than 9 players participate. In this case, multiple tables must be opened, also called “multi table tournament”.

N

  • No limit
    A limit at which it is permissible to bet all the chips in a single bet.
  • Nuts
    The ‘Nuts’ is the best possible hand in a given situation.
  • Nut flush
    The best possible flush (Ace high). A nut flush can still lose to a straight flush.

O

  • Offsuit
    Cards of different suit.
  • Omaha
    A poker variant in which five community cards (as in Texas hold’em) are used. Each player receives four cards of their own, two of which must always be used to form a poker hand.
  • Open ended (straight-draw)
    An “Open ended” is common to a straight draw. This means that two cards can help complete a street. For example, take a flop of 6, 9, 3 and you yourself hold the cards 7, 8. At this point, a 5 or 10 can complete your street, giving you a total of 8 Outs.
  • Open seat
    Online poker rooms often display “Open seat” at “Cash game” tables. This means that there is still room. Click on it and you will be given the option to enter an amount and join the game.
  • Orbit
    A full rotation of the blinds at a poker table. The number of rounds equals the number of players at the table.
  • Outs
    In a poker game where more cards are coming, an ‘Out’ is considered a card that has not yet been seen, but will come and can ultimately improve a player’s hand. It is important to know how many ‘Outs’ you have. The more, the better.
  • Overpair
    A pocket (Pair) that is higher than any of the cards on the table.
  • Overs
    Two cards higher than the opponent’s pair. In an all-in, this gives you two Overs (8 outs) to win the hand.

P

  • Passive
    A player who folds easily and prefers to check rather than call or raise.
  • Pot limit
    A betting structure in which there is a maximum limit set. Players are allowed to raise a maximum of the amount of the pot per betting round. This structure is ideally suited for ‘Tight’ players who prefer to wait their chances.
  • Pocket
    Having a ‘Pair’ when you ‘Hole cards’ (received cards from the dealer).
  • Pocket Rockets
    Two Aces, highest possible starting hand.
  • Poker face
    Having a face without expressions. In doing so, you do not reveal any information to the opponents.
  • Pot-committed
    A situation where someone cannot fold because the pot is too big compared to the size of the player’s stack. Often the player in this situation has already invested too many chips in the pot.
  • Pot odds
    The number of chips in the pot compared to how much it costs to join. If the pot odds are good, it is worth calling. This is based on cards still to come and the expected value of the pot in total.
  • Preflop
    The moment when all players have received their cards but no flop has yet been laid.

Q

  • Quads
    Four of the same cards, also called “Four of a kind”.

R

  • Raise
    To raise the bet.
  • Railbird
    A non-participating spectator in a poker game.
  • Rake
    The ‘Rake’ is the commission charged by a poker room or casino. Usually 2.5% up to 10% of the pot per hand is taken in Cash games.
  • Rakeback
    Rakeback is similar to ‘Cashback’ in an online casino. You receive back a part of the paid ‘Rake’ in a specific period of time from for example the poker room where you play poker.
  • Rebuy
    Chips which can be purchased after the Buy-in. In some poker tournaments players are allowed to buy-in additional chips. It is common to be allowed to rebuy four levels of chips.
  • Re-raise
    A Re-raise is a raise from an opponent’s Raise.
  • Rigged
    Rigged literally means “deception” in English. When improbable things happen continuously (often to the player’s detriment) such as losing extremely strong hands, the player can call a poker site ‘Rigged.
  • River
    The last card dealt in poker games with five community cards. In a card game like Stud, this will be the seventh card.
  • Rock
    A very passive player who plays few hands and continues to play consistently strong hands.
  • ROI
    The poker term ROI is often used by tournament players to calculate how much profit or loss they are making. Divide the profit by the cost and multiply by 100 to arrive at your ROI percentage.
  • Royal flush
    Having A, K, Q, J, 10 of the same suit. The highest possible hand in most poker games.

S

  • Satellite
    A poker tournament where players can win a ticket to a larger tournament. The ‘Buy-in’ to this is lower and the idea behind it is to qualify for, say, a Main event on the cheap.
  • Semi-bluff
    Making a bluff with the chance of making a good poker hand on the next card.
  • Shark
    A very strong player compared to less skilled players.
  • Short stack
    The player with the fewest chips at the table or in a poker tournament.
  • Shorthanded
    A table with 6 or fewer players. When there are 2 players, you call it “Heads-up.
  • Shove
    The action of going ‘All-in’, shoving all your chips across the line in one move.
  • Showdown
    When two or more players are still in the pot after the last card and betting round is over. Now the cards are flung open and the hand values are compared. The ‘Showdown’ can also occur earlier in the event that players are ‘All-in’.
  • Shoot-out
    A poker tournament in which the last player of a table remains and advances to the next round in which other remaining players compete. Each table is independent of the others.
  • Side pot
    A separate pot created at the time a player is “All-in”. Other players with more chips can place additional bets. The player who is previously All-in has no further chance of winning these side pots.
  • Side game
    A small tournament (Sit and go) in addition to an ongoing poker tournament. A Side game is a poker table opened to eliminated players in the main tournament.
  • Sit and go
    A poker tournament where there is no specific time specified to start. The ‘Sit and go’ starts when the required number of players participate.
  • Slow roll
    Slowing down the showing of your hand during a ‘Showdown’. Often poker players do this with a very strong hand that they are almost certain to win.
  • Small blind
    Half of the ‘Big blind’ and a forced bet before the player has seen his cards. The ‘Small blind’ is the player to the left of the ‘Button’.
  • Snowmen
    A poker term for two eights in Texas Hold’em. It is a play on words that refers to how two eights look like a snowman.
  • Split pot
    A split pot occurs when two or more players have the same hand value. In this situation, not one player wins the pot, but the pot is split among several players.
  • Stack
    The number of chips a player has at any given time in a poker tournament.
  • Straddle
    Common in a Cash game to ensure faster play. A bet can be placed (similar to “Big blind”) before any cards are seen. Then the person with the ‘Straddle’ is the last one to decide what to do. It can be a big advantage in the case of a good hand because poker players are keen on stealing your ‘Straddle’.
  • Street
    Street is a poker term used for any card that is dealt.
  • Straight
    A poker hand consisting of, for example, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 (five cards in sequence).
  • Stud poker
    A form of poker in which no community cards are present. Cards are often dealt face down as well as face up to the players.
  • Straight flush
    The second best possible hand in Texas Hold’em poker. This hand can be formed in several different ways. For example, 9, 10, J, Q, K of the same suit.
  • String bet
    When a player places a bet and then wishes to raise without indicating an intention to raise. If you decide to raise in a poker tournament, it is a requirement to slide or place all chips across the line at once and/or clearly say ‘Bet’ or ‘Raise’ in advance.
  • Suck out
    A situation where someone is heavily favored but equally loses the hand due to the cards that come up on the table.
  • Suited
    Cards of the same suit (e.g. hearts, diamonds, clubs, spades) are called Suited. With suited cards, you are more likely to make a flush before the flop.
  • Suited connectors
    A poker term referring to two cards in sequence of the same suit. For example, a K, Q of hearts. These hands are considered stronger than average because they offer the chance to make both a straight and flush with common cards on the table.

T

  • Tell
    A “Tell” in poker is a change in a player’s behavior. If you know how to detect a Tell, you can sometimes better estimate what the opponent has in hand (strong or weak hand).
  • Texas hold’em
    Texas Hold’em is the most popular poker variant in the world. Most poker tournaments are offered in this variant. It is played with two cards in the hand and five cards on the table (community cards).
  • Three bet (3-bet)
    The first player to place three units of a raise. For example, one player raises with 300 chips and one player “Re-raises” to 1200 chips.
  • Three of a kind
    Three similar cards, for example 8, 8, 8, 4, 3. It is also often called ‘Set’ or ‘Trips’. In a ‘Set’ you have a pocket (Pair) in your hands, and a card matching your pocket is on the table.
  • Tight
    When a player plays fewer hands than the average player. When a “Tight” player raises the bet, it may indicate a very strong hand.
  • Tilt
    Mental confusion, frustration or emotional upset which ultimately results in poor choices. A player may become ‘Tilt’ after a ‘Bad beat’ or large losses all at once.
  • Top Kicker
    A ‘Top kicker’ is the highest possible card in a hand in addition to the poker hand that was formed. If two players both have two similar pairs, the top kicker is looked at to determine a winner. In the case of a higher ‘kicker’ on the table, both players play equally and this results in a ‘Split pot’.
  • Tray
    A tray where chips are placed to move to another table. A tray is often used when a player has too many chips to carry themselves.
  • Top pair
    Highest possible pair on the table. For example, you hold K, Q and there is K, J, 10, 6, 4 on the table.
  • Top two
    Two highest possible pairs on the table. For example, you hold K,Q and there is K, Q, 10, 6, 4 on the table.
  • Trips
    Same as a ‘Three of a kind’, a poker hand consisting of three similar cards.
  • Turn
    The turn is the fourth of five cards dealt as community cards on the table. The turn comes after the flop (first three cards) and before the river (last and fifth cards).

U

  • UTG
    UTG literally means “Under The Gun” and is the position immediately to the left of the “Big blind. The player sitting UTG will be the first to act in a betting round and can be considered a disadvantageous position unless you are only competing against one of the ‘Blinds.
  • Underdog
    An underdog is a player with a lower chance of winning against another player.

V

  • Value bet
    A raise (based on the total pot) where the player wants the other player to call. Often in the case of a very strong hand.
  • Variance
    The statistical measure of how actual results differ from expectations in poker.
  • Video poker
    A slot machine on which poker can be played. This game comes with RNG software and will deliver random results every turn. On the first spin, you get to hold cards and spin the reels again to form a 5-card poker hand. Payouts are based on hand values and the highest payout is offered for a ‘Royal flush’.

W

  • WPT
    WPT is short for World Poker Tour, a series of international tournaments for professional poker players.
  • WSOP
    The largest poker event in the world. The WSOP is held annually in Las Vegas. Each WSOP comes with a Main event of $10,000 Buy-in. The winner is crowned the “best poker player in the world”.
  • Wheel
    A street with five-high (A, 2, 3, 4, 5), where the Ace counts as low.

Disclaimer poker terms

We do not claim that this list is complete. New techniques in poker are emerging all the time and so are new poker terms. We will try to keep the list up to date.

Also, the meaning of some poker terms is ambiguous and is explained differently per region and sometimes per game type. This is just for the sake of clarity. Nevertheless, we hope you’ll find our list useful! Once you know the terms, it’s time for the right poker strategy. Each situation requires a different strategy.