Initially, poker might seem like a relatively simple game that you can pick up quite quickly, but that couldn't be any further from the truth. There are many layers to poker and the more knowledge you acquire, the more apparent that becomes. Just like every other sport or game, there are specific terms and vocabulary that you need to learn and become familiar with. Some of these are easy to compute, while others are complicated and require much more thought in order to fully understand.
Whether you're an experienced player or you're learning the game for the first time, there will always be certain terms that you've never heard of, which is the beauty of poker. Also, just like the English dictionary, new terms are always invented in cohesion with the growth of the game. So, don't be concerned with the amount of information that you have to take in, it's a lot more straight forward than first meets the eye. Here are some of the various poker terminology that crop up on a daily basis when playing at the poker table.
An ace is the highest ranked card in poker and is the next best hand you can have if you do not hold a pair. The ace can also be used to make straights, such as; A-K-Q-J-T and A-2-3-4-5.
In a rebuy tournament, the add-on is the option that every players gets and is the opportunity to purchase additional chips regardless of your current stack. Add-ons are offered at the end of the rebuy period and usually cost the same amount as the initial tournament buy-in.
To have all of your stack/chips in the pot at any time. This can be done by betting, calling or raising. A typical phrase you will hear is; "I'm all-in."
A small bet that is mandatory from each player at a certain stage of a tournament. An ante is always smaller than the blinds and increases in increments with the blinds. The ante will only be in play once the tournament has reached a certain blind level.
A draw that requires two perfect cards on the turn and river in order to make your hand. For example; you hold three cards to a flush on the flop and need the turn and river to be the same suit in order to make a backdoor flush.
Losing a hand in poker which you were a big favourite to win. The bigger the odds are of losing the hand, the worse the bad beat is.
The amount of money the player has available to wager in poker.
A % of a players stack that is wagered as the first action in a betting round.
The player posting the big blind is always two seats to the left of the dealer and has to put in the amount of money at that blind level before the cards are dealt. Usually the big blind is double the amount of the small blind (SB) value.
A card that didn't help your hand and likely didn't help your opponents.
Making an aggressive move (bet or raise) without a made hand in hope that your opponent folds a better hand.
The set of cards that make up the flop, turn and river. E.g. 346 7 A would be a board that you and your opponent are playing on.
A boat is a hand that consists of three-of-a kind and a pair, e.g. 8-8-8-9-9. This can also be referred to as a full house.
The lowest possible pair on the board is known as bottom pair.
Some specific tournaments are formatted so that every time you eliminate a player, there bounty is credited to you in the full amount. For example, if a player has a bounty of $5 and you eliminate them from the tournament, that $5 will be credited into your account.
A forced bet in stud games, which requires the player with the worst door card to make a forced bet and start the action.
The last spot in a tournament before payouts begin and the player who busts in that spot is known to have "bubbled" the tournament. This is definitely a part of the game that nobody enjoys and is what makes tournaments so exciting and intense.
The cards that are dealt face down to the left of the board before dealing any community cards face up.
When a player loses all of their chips and has been eliminated from the tournament. For example, "I busted the tournament."
A marker that is used to identify the player on the button and is to always act last. This player has an advantage due to being able to see players make a decision before they make theirs.
1. The amount of money it costs to enter a tournament. For example, "The buy-in for the WSOP Main Event is $10,000."
2. The amount of money you exchange for chips in a cash game. For example, "My buy-in for the $5/$10 table is $1,000."
Matching the bet made by your opponent. For example, "My opponent went all-in and I made the call."
A player who rarely folds or bets (isn't aggressive), but calls their opponents bets on every street.
The last card of a certain rank in the deck. For example, if 3 J's are already in play and the last J comes out, that is the case jack.
A format of poker where players exchange their cash for the equivalent value in chips and can cash-out whenever they want too.
Completing a draw/hitting the card you needed in order to make your hand is known as catching a card.
A player looking to complete a draw is chasing the hand.
Checking your option means that you do not want to bet your hand. You can only do this if you are first to act and if nobody else has made a bet before you. For example, "My opponent checked and I decided to check behind as my hand wasn't good enough to bet for value."
When you initially decide to check but raise your opponents bet when the action comes back to you. This action is typically a sign of strength but can also be used as a semi-bluff to outplay your opponent. For example, "I check-raised him on the flop because I thought he was bluffing."
A betting token used to represent a specific value in a cash game or tournament.
This is a form of collusion/cheating which happens in tournaments. One player will purposely lose all of their chips to their collusion partner in order to enhance their chances of winning the tournament. After doing so, the pair will likely split whatever winnings they make.
The player who currently has the most chips in the entire tournament.
1. When both players have the exact same hand, the pot is chopped in half and divided between both winning players.
2. When an agreement is made by the remaining players in the tournament to chop the prize pool based on the current chip stacks. This is also known as a deal and can only take place at a final table if all players accept the deal.
A player who has no chips invested in the pot and decides to call after a bet and a raise is known to be cold calling.
This is where you couldn't avoid the situation due to the strength of your hand and your opponents. A cold deck can be in favour of you or your opponent and is a mutual thought that both players have when the hand is over.
A form of cheating involving more than one player.
A bet made after the flop by the player that made the first bet before the flop is continuing their betting.
A situation where your hand is decreased in value due to the board. For example, you have 7-7 and the board is 8-8-9-9-T, your hand has been "counterfeited" as the highest two pair combination is 8-8 and 9-9. Therefore, the 7-7 do not play as a pair anymore and you are simply playing the board with two pair and ten high.
Deciding to call a bet even though you think you are beat and can't get away from the hand.
The player to the right of the button is known as the cut-off.
Two or 2. A slang term that poker players use to relate to the card 2.
To negotiate a deal at the final table of a tournament is something that players can do in order to reduce the risk factor. For example, players may agree to make a deal so that each player can receive more monetary value for the current stack of chips they hold.
Another slang term used in poker and refers to $1,000.
When a player refers to their hand as dominated, it means their opponent holds a bigger statistical favourite over your hand. For example, you hold A-Q and your opponent holds A-K.
1. A bad player that makes mistakes or sometimes a good player who refers to themselves as a donk after making a bad play.
2. To make a bet into the pre-flop raiser when you are first to act. For example, "I donked the turn because I felt like that card was better for me than my opponent."
A hand that needs to hit a specific card to complete.
When a hand has no possible way of winning, regardless of any cards that are still to come.
A board that doesn't really connect and typically doesn't produce any action between the players.
This position is located in the three positions to the left of the blinds and consists of the player acting before most of the other players at the table.
Your share/equity of the pot that you are participating in. For example, if a pot contains $100 and you have a 20% chance of winning it, you have $20 equity in the pot.
This is essentially the return on your investment that you can expect to receive. This works in cohesion with odds and depending on your equity in each pot, you will either have positive or negative EV.
Any card with a picture on is known as a face card, e.g. J, Q or K. These are also known as paint cards.
This is mainly known as the river and is the fifth community card dealt.
In any tournament, this is when only one table remains and the money starts to become extremely significant.
A common term that good players use to label bad players.
Simply to just call a bet as opposed to raising.
Calling a bet with currently not much equity but with the possibility of making a good hand on later streets. Additionally, players will do this if they have a read on opponents and they think they can win the hand at a later stage.
The first three community cards that are dealt face up and the second stage of betting for the players.
A made 5 card hand that consists of cards that are all the same suit. A flush is ranked higher than a straight but a straight flush beats both of those hands.
Where you discard your hand rather than calling a bet.
The additional value you get from a hand when you make your opponent fold. If you believe you have fold equity when making a bluff, you can comfortably make another bet.
As you can imagine, this is having four of the same card, e.g. 7-7-7-7-2. The only hand that beats four-of-a-kind is a straight flush.
This is mainly referred to as the turn and is the fourth face up card to be dealt.
When all players decide to check and no bets are made, the players receive a "free card". This is a positive for a lot of players on a draw as they can realise their equity for free.
A poker tournament that doesn't require a buy-in and you can still win real money.
A tournament that doesn't involve any rebuys or add-ons. This is most popular form of tournament for poker players.
Exactly the same as a boat, a hand that consists of three-of-a-kind and a pair.
A hand that has a gap between which would otherwise be a connecting hand. For example, 9-7 is a one-gapper (missing the 8) and 9-6 is a two gapper (missing the 7 and 8).
A poker player that will typically play lower stakes and longer sessions to grind out results. This is simply the opposite approach of somebody who will play higher stakes that they can afford in order to try and hit a big score.
A gutshot is a form of straight draw and is where you are missing a middle card to make your hand. For example, if you hold 6-5 as your hand and the flop shows 7-3-K, a 4 would give you a straight. This is referred to as a gutshot straight draw.
The cards you are dealt every round.
When each tournament is approaching the bubble and only one more player needs to be eliminated, each table will play the same number of hands until the bubble bursts.
This is only applicable to online poker and each site allows you to view every hand you have played at the site. To activate this feature, you will need to enable it at each site you play.
When you are only playing one opponent, either in the last two of a tournament or a heads-up cash game.
When you are hitting a lot of big hands over a short period of time.
A hand that doesn't have a pair, straight, or a flush is known as a high-card hand. For example, if you have A-K on the board 3-6-7-J-T, you have ace-high.
The player that is seated to the right of the cut-off.
The face down cards that are dealt to each player at the beginning of a hand.
Odds that may not actually exist, but can be included in your calculations as you can expect to win a certain amount of chips off your opponent if you make your hand.
Once the bubble has burst in a tournament, you will then receive part of the prize pool whenever you get eliminated from that point onwards.
Betting or raising with the intention of isolating one player to play against post-flop. This is a move that is done to isolate weaker players that you have an edge over in a one-on-one scenario.
To move all-in at any point of a hand.
This doesn't change the ranking of your hand but plays a big part of a winning hand if your opponents holds the same pair. For example, if you have Q-J on Q-8-3 and your opponent has Q-K, he is currently ahead in the hand as he has a pair of queens with a K kicker (higher than a J). Therefore, this is something to consider when making a decision on a later street.
This is an acronym for a loose aggressive player and is a difficult style to combat when playing poker.
Essentially the same as a fold but is used mainly in situations where an opponent makes a difficult fold.
The player that was the first to bet takes the betting lead.
1. In a tournament, the level is the current size of the blinds and antes.
2. In regards of poker strategy, to level someone is to outthink your opponent and make them fold the best hand or make a losing call. This can be done on a number of levels and is more advanced depending on the quality of the players.
To enter a pre-flop pot by just matching the big blind and not raising. This suggests that they're hand is not good enough to raise but some players use that to their advantage.
Playing a vast amount of hands regardless of the situation and the quality of the hand itself.
The ratio of your chip stack to the equivalent of one round of blinds and antes.
A hand that cannot improve as it is a completed hand.
A specific stake level for players to play at, online poker cash games at $0.25/$0.50 and lower are usually referred to as micro stakes.
To go all-in.
The position of the players in the 3 to 5 seats off the button at a full table are known as middle position.
Multi-table tournament, probably the most popular format of poker.
1. To fold your hand
2. To muck your hand is a term that is used when you have called a bet or had a bet of yours called and you cannot win the hand, therefore do not show your cards and throw them into the muck.
A player who doesn't play many hands and when they do, they always have a strong hand.
A format of poker where a player can bet their entire stack whenever it is their turn.
The best possible hand at that moment.
Two cards that are not the same suit, usually a term used to describe your own hand.
A variation of poker which uses 5 community cards and each player is dealt a 4-card hand.
The first player to bet in a pot is known as the opener or has opened the pot.
An open-ended straight draw is where you can hit two cards to make your straight. For example, if you have 9-T on J-8-3, you can hit a 7 or a Q to make your straight.
The first person to act in the hand decides to just call the big blind and not make a raise.
Even if you are currently losing the hand, you can still hit specific cards to improve your hand. These are known as outs, but if you have no outs then your hand cannot be improved and you are drawing dead.
When a player bets more than the current size of the pot in a No-Limit game.
To call a bet after another player has already called that bet, this is known as an overcall.
A card that is ranked higher than the current pair you hold. For example, if you hold 9-8 on 9-6-4 and then turn card brings a J, this is an overcard to your hand and can make your hand vulnerable.
A pocket pair that is higher than the cards on the board. For example, if you hold A-A on 3-7-J, you have an overpair to the board.
Holding two cards of the same rank or matching a card in your hand to the board.
Someone who doesn't show an aggressive side and tends to call or fold rather than take the betting or raising approach.
Being dealt two of the same card as your hole cards.
The order of betting and which position you are in. Being in the first position means that you have to act first, which can be difficult. However, being in last position means you get to last act and see what everyone else does before you, giving you a huge advantage.
The money that is in the current pot for that hand. The winning hand collects the pot in front of them.
The amount of money you have to call in order to win the size of the pot.
Where you can't fold due to the amount of chips in the pot, the remainder of your stack and the future utility you have with the remaining chips if you were to fold.
All action that takes place before the flop.
Raising or betting to protect your hand against any equity, even if your hand isn't strong enough itself but can be weak if a certain card comes on a later street.
Having a four-of-a-kind hand. E.g. Q-Q-Q-Q-T
A card that isn't ranked high or the term "rags" can be used to describe a bad hand.
Fans and spectators railing the game.
This term is usually used to describe the board and refers to the fact that all cards are different suits. For example, "I decided just to call on a rainbow board as there were no flush draws out there I needed to raise and protect myself against."
By increasing the total bet made by your opponent.
This is the amount of money taken from each pot by the casino or online poker room.
The possible hands that your opponent may have at each stage of a hand. For example, "I don't think he has that specific hand in his range as I think he would play that hand differently."
When a player has certain information on their opponent and believes they have a betting pattern or weakness to a certain part of their game, this is known as a read. The more reads you have on your opponent, the easier it will be to play against them.
An option to add more chips to your stack if you have the required amount to do so. Also, you can rebuy into the tournament if you have been eliminated. This can only be done in rebuy tournaments and not freeze-outs.
To play your hand in a certain way to try and represent a stronger hand than you have. This is simply to make your opponent fold a hand better than yours so that you can win the hand.
If you have made a bet and your opponent raises, by raising again you are re-raising their bet.
A ring game is essentially a cash game and is played for real money directly.
The final card to be dealt is known as the river (fifth street).
Hitting the turn and river to make your hand is known as runner-runner. For example, if you have three cards to a flush on the flop, you need the turn and river to be the same suit to make your hand.
When you are losing all-in situations as a mathematical favourite over a sustained period of time.
A big winning streak that goes against the odds.
A tournament where you can win tickets into a higher buy-in tournament.
A card which completes a vast amount of draws can be thought of as a scarecard, especially when you are bluffing and trying to get your opponent to fold a better hand.
Making a bet or a raise with a hand that can be improved but is likely to be the worse hand at that moment in time.
Where you have a pair as your whole cards and hit the same card on the board to give you three-of-a-kind.
The player who has a small stack in comparison to the rest of the players in the tournament and at their table. Typically a stack that is below 20 big blinds.
Usually a table with 6 or less players.
When all betting has finished on the river and you have to show your hand to see who has won the pot.
A tournament styled format which starts as soon as a specific amount of players have registered.
Playing a big hand passively to try and perceive weak and let your opponent bluff at the pot.
Purposely waiting a vast amount of time to show your hand or make a call when your opponent is all-in. This usually happens when a player has the best hand possible and wants to punish their opponent. This is known as the worst possible etiquette in poker.
The smaller of the blinds which is always half of the big blind.
When both players hold the same hand or are playing the board, the pot is divided between those players.
Once a player has raised and has been called by another opponent, a squeeze play consists of you then re-raising to take advantage of the opponents call as it makes your hand look stronger.
When it is folded around to a player in a late position (hijack, cut-off or button) and decides to raise with a weak holding to try and steal the blinds.
A hand where the five cards have consecutive values e.g. 3-4-5-6-7 or 6-7-8-9-T. A straight cannot carry on from Q-K-A to 2-3, the highest straight possible is T-J-Q-K-A.
A hand where the five cards have consecutive values just like a straight, but they are all of the same suit.
Hitting a card that is statistically rare in order to beat your opponent.
When both of your hole cards are of the same suit.
Specific body language or a mannerism that your opponent shows which gives information away about their hand. The opponent may not be aware of what they're doing which gives you a huge advantage.
Bet, raise (2-bet), reraise (3-bet). This is generally treated as an aggressive action by the player, but can be done as a bluff.
A hand where you have three cards of the same value. For example, you hold K-Q and the board is K-K-7-9-3.
A player who only plays strong hands and avoids marginal situations with weaker hands.
Being emotional and reacting angrily to unfortunate bad beats or tough situations. Typically, players tend to play their worst game when on tilt.
The best possible kicker to have with your hand is an ace.
When you have paired one of your hole cards with the highest ranked card on the board.
When your hole cards match the two highest cards on the board to give you the top two pair hand.
The highest possible three-of-a-kind on board.
When you play an extremely strong hand very passively and wait for your opponent to make a mistake and bluff at the pot.
A slang term for a 3.
Another term for three-of-a-kind.
The fourth card to be dealt is known as the turn.
The player to the left of the big blind who is first to act pre-flop.
A player who is unlikely to do well against the opponents in the game due to ability levels or their hand is significantly worse than their opponents.
Making a bet that is aimed to be called by a worse hand that you beat.
The up and down swings that take place over a short and long period of time.
When everyone folds and you are in the BB, you collect the blinds and antes without being contested.
A straight from ace to five.
A straight draw in the game of Omaha that has 13 or more outs.
The World Poker Tour, a famous tournament series held all year round.
The World Series of Poker that takes place in Las Vegas every year.