How To Play

Learn how to play poker in minutes with our guide to the basics

Glossary of Poker Terms

Here's a glossary of terms used in the card game of poker. In addition to the terms listed here, there are thousands of other poker slang terms, both common and uncommon.

A

Air

Nothing of value; worthless cards.

Aggressive

A style of play involving more frequent betting and raising, rather than calling and checking.

Alternate

If the number of players wishing to take part in a live tournament is greater than the number of places available, they can register as reserves and take their place when someone is eliminated.

Ante

A forced pre-flop bet from all players.

B

Bad Beat
A hand lost after getting chips in as a strong favourite and then getting unlucky.
Bankroll

The money available to the player to play poker. Click for more information on bankroll management.

Big Blind

 A forced bet two to the left of the button in community card games such as hold’em.

Big Slick

Ace-King as hole cards.

Brick

An unconnected card that fails to complete any draws or improve a hand.

Bubble

The finishing position in a poker tournament one place outside the prize positions.

Bullets

Slang for pocket aces. A “bullet” can also refer to an entry in a re-entry tournament.

Button

A symbol showing the dealer position on the poker table.

Buy-in

The amount it costs to enter a tournament, or amount of chips needed to sit down in a cash game.

C

Call: To match the current highest bet (or go all in) to stay in a hand.

Case card: The last available card of any rank. 

Check: If no bet has been placed in a given round, the round passes to the next player who has not placed a bet.

Chop: Split the pot or prize money.

Cold deck: If a player has a strong hand, but another player has an even stronger hand, there's little chance of avoiding the showdown (also known as the "cooler");

Collusion: Two or more players working together in a poker game. 

Community cards: Five cards face up (also known as a "board"), used by all players in games such as Texas Hold'em and Omaha to create the best five-card poker hand, combined with their own "hole cards".

Cooler: See “Cold deck”. 

Counterfeit: if a hand has less chance of winning when a new card is placed on the table, it is said to be a counterfeit;

Crack: To improve in order to beat a strong hand. 

Crippled: When you have lost the majority of your chips in one hand or a series of hands.

Cut-Off (CO): The position on a poker table to the right of the button.

D

Dark (also Blind): A player acts in the dark (or blind) when he takes an action without seeing his own cards, or before dealing the community's cards.

 

Dead Money: Chips in the pot that have not been deposited by "live" (still active) players. This term is also sometimes used to designate inexperienced players who are not expected to win.

 

Dealer:  A player who shuffles and deals cards, marked by a button in dealer and online games;

 

Dirty Stack: If a live player randomly shuffles his chips, making them difficult to count, he is said to have a dirty stack.

 

Dominated: A dominant hand is one that has three or fewer outs, making it statistically very unlikely to win.

 

Donk lead: A play by a player in an earlier position that follows a play/raise by a player in a later position on an earlier goal.

 

Donkey (donk): Poker slang for a bad player.

 

Double Belly Buster: An inside straight when there are two rows of cards that can complete the straight (an inside straight is a "belly buster").

 

Double Board: A version of a community card game in which two flops, two turns and a river are dealt after the betting rounds, and the pot is shared equally between the winners of both tables.

 

Drawing Dead: Having no outs to win a hand, with cards still to come.

 

Dry Pot: When a player goes all-in and more than one player calls (with chips left to bet), a side pot, called a dry pot, is created;

E

Early Bird: Incentive for players to start up games (or show up at the beginning of live tournaments).

 

EV (Expected Value): The combined value of all the possible outcomes for a situation/hand over time. 

F

Fantasy Land: In Open Face Chinese, a player is dealt an entire hand (usually 14 cards) at once after receiving a set of QQ+ (usually) in the top hand. This procedure is known as "staying in fantasy land".

 

Felt: The hardware refers to the poker tables, and the verb "to field" means to eliminate a player from a tournament or win all his chips.

 

Field: Collective term for the players in a tournament.

 

Fill Up: To complete a full house draw.
 

Fish: Unflattering term for a new or unskilful player.

 

Fixed Limit: In fixed-limit games, players can only bet and raise according to the increments indicated on the table;

 

Float: Watching the game without a good hand with the intention of winning the pot - one way or another - on a later street.
 

Flop: The first three community cards dealt in e.g. hold’em, dealt after the first betting round.

Flush: Five non-consecutive cards of the same suit.
 

Fold: To throw your hand away and take no further part in a particular pot.

 

Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank. Also known as “quads”.

 

Freezeout: A tournament that allows each player just one entry.

 

Full House: Three of a kind plus a pair.

G

GG: Shorthand for “good game.”
 

Grind: Collect hours at the table on low-to-medium stakes for a regular return or take care of a short stack in a tournament.

 

Gutshot (also Inside Straight Draw): A straight draw where just one rank completes the draw

H

Hero FoldThe hero: A player who gets a very strong hand by reading his opponent or the situation is called a hero;
 

High Card: If, at the end of the hand, no player has a pair or better, the highest card wins (the ace is the highest);

 

Hijack: The position at the table two to the right of the button.

 

High-Low: A poker variant in which the pot is split between the winner of the highest hand and the winner of the lowest hand (if the lowest hand is the highest).qualifies – click for more). 

 

Hit: Getting a better hand when cards not in the starting hand improve it, e.g. an ace-king can hit an ace on the flop to get a pair;

 

Hold’em: Popular community card poker game in which players use any combination of two hole cards and five cards from the table to make the best five-card poker hand;

 

Hole Cards: Players' personal hands (opponents face down) (two cards in Hold'em, four+ in Omaha, three in Stud, etc.).

 

I

ICM (Independent Chip Model): It is used to calculate the value of a chip stack in terms of share of the prize pool in tournaments, and is often used in the context of the final table.

 

Implied Odds: Extension of pot odds, which includes the possibility of winning more money than the current pot in the event of a tie.

 

Insurance: The ability to reduce variance by paying insurance against loss when you go all-in with the strongest hand.

J

Jam: To move all in.

 

JokerJokers: Jokers are two additional cards (usually with images of jesters) which are added to a 52-card deck and are sometimes used as "wild cards".

K

Kicker: Extra" card(s) that complete a five-card poker hand. In the event of a tie (for example, an even-even pair in hold'em), the winner is determined by the strength of the "kicker".

 

Kill Pot: When a player wins several pots in a row, or when the pot exceeds a certain size, a kill pot is triggered on the next hand, where the limit for that hand is increased with a bigger blind.

 

Knockout (KO) Tournament: A tournament in which a portion of every player’s buy-in is placed on their own head as a bounty.

L

LAG: Loose-aggressive player.

Last Longer: A side bet on who will go further in a tournament.
 

Limp (Limp in): Call the amount of the big blind pre-flop (usually in NL/PL games).

M

M: A calculation used to measure stack size as a function of the cost to play each round. 

 

MTT: Multi-table tournament.

N

Nit: Term used to describe a tight player.
 

No Limit: In no-limit games, the minimum bet is equal to the big blind and the maximum bet is equal to all your chips during the betting round;

 

Nuts: The best possible hand currently available.

O

Offsuit: Unmatched in suit.

 

OFC: Chinese open-face poker is a variant of poker in which players stack three 13-card hands, two five-card hands and one three-card hand. OFC can be played at a high or "pineapple" level;

 

Omaha: A common-card poker game in which players are dealt four (or more) hole cards and combine exactly two of them with three cards from the board to make the best five-card poker hand;

 

Outs: The cards left in the deck that will improve a hand to a (probable) winner.

 

Overpair: A pair on the hole that is higher than the highest card on the table, for example a pair of queens, is an overpair compared to the ten highest cards on the flop.

P

Passive: A player who frequently checks and follows instead of controlling the game by betting and raising is playing "passively".

 

Peel: Stay in to see another card (usually hoping to hit something or bluff on a later street).

 

Polarized: If a player's action on a particular board means that he can only have a very strong hand or bluff within reach, the player is said to be "polarized".
 

Pot Committed: A player is committed to the pot when he has invested too much of his stack to fold without making a mistake.
 

Pot Limit: In pot-limit games, the minimum bet is equal to the big blind and the maximum raise is equal to the "pot" (the sum of the chips in the pot plus the amount of the raise).

 

Progressive Knockout (PKO): See Knockout (KO) Tournament

Q

Quads: Four of a kind. 

R

Rabbit Hunt: After a hand is over, to take a look at the card(s) that would have come next from the deck. 

 

Rags: Low-rank or low value cards. A two-six is a "messy" hold'em hand, as are all uncompleted low-card hands that don't connect.
 

Rail: In live poker, this is the area around the poker tables that spectators can watch. When you're eliminated from the game, you're "sent to the rail".
 

Rainbow: Cards of any suit (three or four). For example, a flop is rainbow if it contains three suits, as is a four-card Omaha hand with no double flushes.

 

Raise: Increase the bet after an initial bet from another player. 

 

River: The last card dealt before the final betting round (the fifth community card in hold'em games or the seventh card for each player in Seven Card Stud).
 

Rock: A tight player, playing only premium hands.
 

ROI: Return on Investment.

 

Royal Flush: T-J-Q-K-A of the same suit – the highest hand possible in poker.

Rundown: In Omaha, a starting hand where the cards are in consecutive order.

 

Run It Twice: In cash games, it's common for players who accept "double triggers" in all-in situations to deal two run-outs and split the pot between the winners of both tables (the same player can win both).

S

Satellite: A tournament with one or more tables, the prize of which is a ticket to a larger tournament (target tournament or satellite to the next stage).

 

Set: Three of a kind made using two hole cards and one board card in community card games.

 

Shark: A skilled player.
 

Ship: To win a tournament or pot is to “ship it”. Alternatively, slang for moving all in.

 

Shove: To move all-in.


Showdown: The end of a hand when remaining players reveal their hole cards and the winner receives the pot.

            

Side pot: When a player goes all-in with multiple bets, the pot in which the player has placed all his bets is considered the main pot and all other bets are placed in the side pot;

 

Slow Play: To feign weakness/decline to bet with a strong hand.
 

Slow Roll: 

 

Small Blind: The first forced bet to the left of the dealer button.
 

SNG (Sit and Go): A tournament (with one or more tables) that starts when a certain number of players sign up, rather than at a fixed time.

 

Soft Play: Deliberately making light of a situation where it is possible - and expected - to get more chips. This is considered bad etiquette at best, and match-fixing at worst.

 

Split Pot: Bank to be shared between two or more winners. In the event of a tie, the pot is split in high-win games; some games are designed as split-pot games, such as high-low or double-deck.

 

Squeeze play: After a raise and one or more follows, a new (big) raise is made, putting pressure on the first and following players.

 

Stack: If a player "stacks", this means he takes all his chips.

 

Station (Calling Station): An unflattering term for a player (usually passive) who tends to call a lot of bets instead of raising or folding.

 

Steam: See Tilt.

 

Straddle: An optional third blind (usually double the size of the big blind) posted preflop. 

 

Straight: Five consecutive cards in any suit with A-2-3-4-5 the lowest and T-J-K-Q-A the highest.

Straight Flush: Five consecutive cards of the same suit.
 

Street: A dealt card or betting round.
 

Suck Out: To win with inferior cards.

T

TAG: Tight-aggressive player.

 

Tell: A trait in a player's behavior or actions that indicates hand strength. Also known as "reading".

 

Three-Bet: The second raise of the betting round is a three-bet. For example, preflop action starts with a bet on the big blind, so the first raise is a raise and the next raise is a three-bet (the next raise is a four-bet, etc.).

 

Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank.

 

TightA player who plays fewer hands than average (and therefore has a narrower, stronger range) has a "tight" playing style.

 

Tilt: Emotional disorder caused by a poker-related event (often a bad result) that negatively affects decision-making.
 

Timebank: This is either a time limit to act (online), or an additional time limit that a player (usually online, but increasingly live) can use when faced with particularly difficult decisions;

 

Triple CrownA: When a player wins a WSOP bracelet, a WPT Main Event and an EPT Main Event in the course of his career, he is said to have won the Triple Crown.

 

Trips: Three of a kind. 

 

Turn: The fourth community card, dealt after the second betting round.
 

Two pair: Two pairs of cards of the same value. These are first compared with the highest card and, in the event of a tie, the one with the highest kicker as fifth card wins.

U

UTG (Under the Gun): The player to the left of the big blind – first to act pre-flop.

V

VPIP: A statistic showing how often a player Voluntarily Puts (Money) In (the) Pot forced bets outside the blind. The higher the VPIP, the more active (and generally aggressive) the player.

Villain: Slang for opponent.

W

Whale: A high-limit gambler with deep pockets. 

Wheel: The lowest straight, running from ace to five.  

Wrap: In Omaha, this is a tie-breaking hand where three or more lines can form a straight (click for an example).