Poker glossary

Learn poker terms, jargon and slang with our extensive glossary.

The world of poker is made up of complex jargon that can be very confusing for newcomers. Our rundown of poker terminology will help you cut through the babble and converse with advanced players.

Glossary table

Action:during a poker hand, whoever is next to ‘act’, is where the action is. You may also here poker players say “I got some good action last night at the casino.” This simply means they played in a good poker game, where money was flying about.
Ante:a small portion bet contributed by each player to start the pot.
All-in:after running out of chips, a player may not add more money to their stack during a hand.
After going all-in with their remaining chips, the player competes for the value of their final bet. A side pot is created for the remaining players.
Backdoor draw:a backdoor draw is when more cards are to be dealt and if the correct cards come, a player can make either a straight or flush. For example, you’re playing Texas Hold’em and you have AH KH, the flop is TH 4S 6C. Here you have a backdoor flush door and a backdoor straight draw. If two hearts or a Q and J come on the turn and river, you have hit your backdoor flush/straight.
Bad beat:when an underdog hand beats a favoured hand.
Bad beat jackpot:a special bonus paid to the loser of a hand. Certain additional rules apply.
Big blind:the larger of the two blinds in a Hold'em game.
Blank:a forced bet made by one or more players before any cards are dealt.
Board:all the community cards in a Hold’em game.
Bottom pair:a pair incorporating the lowest card on the board.
Burn:when the dealer discards the top card from the deck, face down, between each betting round.
Button:a white acrylic disk that indicates the current dealer.
Buying the pot:to bluff, hoping to 'buy' the pot by out-betting the other players without being called.
Call:matching the most recent bet or raise.
Calling station:an inexperienced player who calls a lot, but doesn't raise or fold frequently.
Cap:putting in the last raise permitted during a betting round.
Case:the last card of a given rank in the deck.
Check:choosing not to bet, with the option to call or raise later in the betting round.
Check raise:to check and then raise after a player behind you bets.
Cold call:when a player raises, then a second player re-raises, then you just call the re-raise.
Come hand:taken from craps: a drawing hand.
Community cards:cards, presented face-up in the middle of the poker table that are shared among players. Used in Hold'em and Omaha.
Complete hand:a straight, flush, full house or straight flush – hands incorporating five cards.
Connectors:a Hold'em starting hand in which the two cards are in sequence, for example 56, 9T, QJ. A suited connector are two hands in sequence of the same suit.
Counterfeit:your hand is counterfeited when the community cards make a better hand without using your hole cards. For example you’re holding 22, and the board is 99ATT. As there are two pairs already on the board, 99 and TT, both higher than 22, making your hand redundant.
Cracked:this refers to a big pocket pair being beating at showdown by a lesser hand. For example AA losing to 56 come to showdown. You’ll here players say “I got my aces cracked by 56.”
Crippled:when someone loses a big proportion of their poker chips.
Dealer:the player in a poker game who handles and distributes the cards.
Dominated hand:where two people hold the same card, with one having a higher kicker than the other. For example AK dominates AQ, and KQ dominates QJ.
Draw:if the right card comes, the player can improve their hand to make either a flush or a straight.
Draw dead:When it’s impossible to win the hand, regardless of what cards come down.
Equity:a player’s expected share of the pot.
Expectation:often written ‘EV’ – amount a player expects to gain on average based on a certain play.
Extra blind:a blind put in by a player just entering the game, returning to the game, or changing position at the table.
Family pot:a pot in which most or all players call before the flop.
Fast:to play a hand aggressively, betting and raising as much as possible.
Favourite:a poker hand that is the statistical favourite to win.
Flop:the first three community cards, dealt face up.
Fold:giving up your hand and surrendering the pot.
Foul:you break a rule at the poker table, or make an incorrect action during a hand.
Free card:a round where no betting took place and players got to see an extra card, be it on the turn or river.
Free roll:when a player can’t lose any money they invested into the pot, but has a chance to win everyone else’s. Free rolls are also popular tournaments where players don’t pay an entrance fee but can win cash prizes.
Gutshot straight:when a player needs one particular card to make their straight. For example holding AK on a TJ2 flop, they require a Q to complete their gutshot straight.
Heads up:a pot contested by only two players.
Hit:as in "the flop hit me" – the flop contains cards that help your hand.
Hole cards:cards dealt face-down to a player at the beginning of a round in community card games.
House:the establishment running the game.
Implied odds:pot odds that do not currently exist at the moment, but may be included in your calculations because of bets you expect to win if you hit your hand.
Inside straight draw:seeking one specific card to make a straight (same as a gutshot).
Kicker:an unpaired card used to determine the better of two otherwise equivalent hands.
Limp:to enter a pot by just calling, usually the sign of a novice player.
Live blind:allowing players to raise their hand who were forced to make a bet (small blind/big blind) before the cards were dealt.
Maniac:someone who is playing most hands aggressively and throwing around a lot of money.
Main pot:the first pot during a poker hand, as opposed to the side pots created if one or more players go all-in.
Muck:the pile of discarded cards in front of the dealer.
No-limit:a version of poker in which a player may bet any amount of chips during action.
Nuts:the best possible hand given the state of the board.
Offsuit:a Hold'em starting hand with two cards of different suits.
One-gap:a Hold'em starting hand with cards two values apart in rank.
Open ended straight draw:seeking one of two card values to hit a straight.
Out:a card that will cause your hand to win.
Outrun:to defeat another player who had a better hand than you at the start of the hand.
Overcall:to call a bet after one or more others players have called already.
Overcard:a card higher than any other on the board.
Overpair:a starting pair higher than any card on the flop.
Pay-off:calling a bet when the bettor has a hand that you can't beat, but the pot is large enough to justify the action.
Play the board:to show a hand in Hold'em when your cards don't make a better hand than the one shown on the board.
Pocket:cards that only the player can see (e.g. starting cards in Hold’em).
Pocket pair:a paired Hold'em starting hand.
Post:to put in a blind bet.
Pot limit:a version of poker in which a player may only bet up to the size of the pot.
Pot odds:the amount of money in the pot compared to the bet you have to call. If the pot is $75 and a bet of $25 has been made. The total pot is now $100 and you must call $25, so your pot odds are 3:1 or 25%.
Price:the pot odds you are for a draw or call.
Protect:to make a bet to protect your hand which you think is ahead, but scared of being out-run on the turn or river.
Quads:four of a kind.
Rag:a low kicker usually accompanied with an ace. People may refer to A2 as “ace rag.”
Rainbow:a flop containing three different suits, meaning no flush can be made on the turn.
Raise:to increase the current bet.
Rake:the amount of money taken out of every pot by the dealer.
Rank:the numerical value of a card.
Represent:to play as if you hold a certain hand, without necessarily holding it.
Ring game:a regular poker game as opposed to a tournament.
River:the fifth and final community card, played face up.
Rock:a player who is hard to beat.
Runner:typically 'runner-runner' to describe a hand that was made only by hitting the correct cards on both the turn and the river.
Scare card:a card that might render good hands useless.
Second pair:a pair including the second highest card on the flop.
Sell:when players sell a part of their 'action' in a ring game or tournament. For example a player may sell 50% of their action for a big tournament, the person who buys it, will receive a percentage of winnings if the player makes cash. Very similar to buying shares. Sell also refers to acting like you have a weak hand to get called, 'oh you sold that hand well.'
Semi-bluff:a bet or raise that you make with a no pair hand that has the ability to make something big on the turn or river.
Set:when you have a pair in your hand and the board has the same value card giving you three of a kind.
Short stack:a small number of chips that compared to the other players at the table.
Showdown:when all players remaining in the round turn their cards over and determine who has won the pot.
Side pot:created when one player goes all in, but the remaining players in the hand still have chip to bet.
Slow play:to play a strong hand which you don’t raise, hoping to misrepresent your holdings as something weak.
Small blind:the smaller of two blind bets typically used in Hold'em.
Split pot:a pot that is divided amongst two or more players with equivalent hands.
Spread-limit:a betting structure wherein a player may bet any amount within a range on ever betting round.
Straddle:an optional extra blind bet, equal to twice the big blind.
String bet:a bet or raise in which a player doesn't get all the chips required for the raise into the pot in one action.
Suited:a Hold'em starting hand in which two cards are of the same suit.
Table stakes:indicators the limit and maximum buy in for each table.
Tell:a clue or hint that a player unknowingly gives about the strength of their hand.
Tilt:to play wildly or recklessly because emotions have taken over, usually referred as going ‘on tilt.’
Time:a request by a player to suspend play while he decides what he's going to do.
Toke:a small amount of money (typically $0.50 or $1.00) given to the dealer by the winner of a pot – a tip, essentially.
Top pair:a pair with the highest-ranked card on the flop.
Top set:the highest possible three-of-a-kind, with the player holding a pocket pair.
Top two:two pair, with two hole cards pairing the two highest cards on the board.
Top and bottom:two pair, two hole cards pairing the highest and lowest cards on the board.
Trips:three of a kind, without a player holding a pocket pair in their hand.
Turn:the fourth community card, played face up.
Under the gun:the position of the player who is going to act first on a betting round.
Underdog:a person or hand not mathematically favoured to win a pot.
Value:as in 'bet for value', meaning you would like your opponents to call your bet because you believe yourself to have the best hand.
Variance:a measure of the losses and gains endured throughout a game.

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