A GLOSSARY OF POKER TERMS
It may not be your first time at the table, but it’s a good bet that brushing up on your poker vocabulary can only help your game. This glossary of poker terms is presented, for convenience, in alphabetical order, although reference to later terms may be necessary in order to gain a complete understanding of each. Becoming familiar with these terms may add to your playing confidence and might also give you a professional edge over your opponents.
A full house that includes 3 Aces and a pair.
A pair of aces with any other pair.
The opportunity to act, by checking, calling or raising.
An active player is one that remains in the action of a hand. An active player maintains an active hand.
An aggressive player tends to raise regularly, instead of holding or checking.
Pocket cards of 6 and 2, either of the same suit or offsuit.
Hole cards (cards dealt face down) comprising an Ace and a Jack.
Betting all your chips on one hand.
A slang term for a pair of Aces.
An initial bet made by each player to start the pot of a poker
hand. Most Texas Hold ‘Em games do not have an ante, but use “blinds” (see
“Big Blind” and “Small Blind,” below) to get opening money into the pot.
Achieving an unpredicted hand whilst aiming for another. For example, following the flop a player may have two pairs and bet on the potency of
such a hand. The turn card and river card may promote the hand to a straight
An unanticipated raise from a player who has already “called” in a particular betting round. This move might follow players with weaker hands folding, whilst encouraging a bettor with a stronger hand to add to the pot and then be caught off guard when you raise again.
To be beaten by a hand with a low statistical chance of success. A player
holding, say, 3 Aces following the flop can (although improbable) be beaten
by a player with a 2 and a 5 completing a low straight or flush with the
turn and river cards. This scenario sometimes draws criticism when playing online games, though it is statistically possible to occur, just as in land-based venues.
The money a player has available with which to wager. If a player consistently faces a losing streak they will eventually go bust or broke.
A Full House (or Full Barn), which consists of a three of a kind and a pair.
The pocket cards of 7 and 2, offsuit. This is a notoriously difficult combo to win with.
A straight (see below) consisting of Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5. Also called a Wheel.
An obligatory bet at the commencement of a hand before a player sees any cards. It follows the small blind, is twice the size, and is placed by the player two places to the left of the dealer. Blind bets can often be seen in games of Hold’em and Omaha.
Hole cards in the game of Texas Hold’em, consisting of an Ace and a King.
A community card that fails to improve a hand. Following a flop of the Ace
of Spades, Jack of Diamonds and 10 of Spades, the 2 of Hearts would be
considered a blank, whilst the 2 of Spades would not.
A compulsory bet put in by one or more players before cards are dealt.
Usually blinds are contributed by the player(s) immediately to the left of
the dealer, and are used in lieu of an ante in games of Hold’em and Omaha.
A raise made by a player before determining the value of their hole cards.
Raising in the hope that other players will believe a hand is substantially better than it is and thus fold their own hand.
Community cards used by all players in games such as Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha. The board consists of the flop, turn and river cards, and is used to complete each player’s hand.
Sign-on money or prizes that are separate from the pot.
A pair consisting of a player’s lowest value hole card and one of the
A straight consisting of Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10.
A concealed pair.
For the sake of security, between rounds of betting, the top card from the
deck is discarded, before dealing the next community card(s). This prevents
players from catching sight of the next card to be dealt onto the board.
A small acrylic disk that denotes the nominal dealer.
1. A player may bluff, hoping to “buy the pot” without being called.
2. A player may attempt to “buy the button,” by betting or raising,
endeavouring to make intervening players prior to the dealer fold their
hands, thus ensuring last action in later rounds of betting.
Matching a bet made by a preceding player, hence remaining in the hand.
A player who continually calls and is hence difficult to bluff. This could also refer to a passive player who rides along, placing the minimum required bet to keep the hand at play.
The probability that certain cards and/or card pairings will be dealt in any specific game.
The last card of a certain value remaining in the deck.
A player’s last chips.
Cash In or Cash Out
Exiting the game and swapping chips for their monetary equivalent.
If no player has made a bet in a particular betting round, a player may
choose to “check,” the equivalent of betting nothing. Action moves to the
following player, although the player who has checked may still call or
raise later on in the round of betting.
A player checks and then raises when the action returns to them.
Purposely losing one’s chips to another.
These are dealt face up in the middle of the table and shared amongst players in games such as Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha.
Hole cards that are consecutive in value, such as Jack, Queen or 9, 10.
To make a hand less valuable because community cards duplicate a player’s
hole cards. For example, a player may have hole cards of 10 and Jack, and
completes a straight with a flop of 8, 9, Queen. However, a further Queen on
the turn counterfeits the hand, making it of insignificant worth.
Cripple the Deck
This means that a player holds most, or all, of the desirable cards to
accompany the board. Hole cards of a pair of Queens, with a flop containing
the other two, cripple the deck.
Dead Man’s Hand
The dead man’s hand is a two pair poker hand, namely aces and eights. The
hand gets its name from reputedly being the 5-card draw poker hand held by
Wild Bill Hickok at the time of his shooting in August, 1876. It is widely accepted that the hand comprised the aces and eights of both black suits, with a Queen of Clubs “kicker,” although no contemporary citation has been
Deuces or Ducks
One thousand dollars.
Many players choose to play a hand such as King, 3, even though it is
dominated by, say, King, Queen. With the exception of a “lucky” flop
containing a King and a 3, or a pair of 3s, King, 3 will always be bettered
by King, Queen.
These are the cards dealt face down so that only the receiving player has
sight of them.
A combination of 2, 10 hole cards in a Texas Hold ‘Em hand. Professional poker veteran
Brunson won the No Limit Hold ‘Em event at the World Series of Poker in
two consecutive years (1976 and 1977) with this combination of cards, in each
case completing a full house.
Playing a hand that is not particularly good, but could improve greatly if the community cards fall kindly. Also known as Drawing Thin.
See “Fold,” below.
An early player must make a decision to make a bet or fold their hand prior
to the remaining players.
European Poker Tour
A player’s estimation of how much he or she can foresee winning or losing, based on playing history as well opponents’ skill levels.
Making a show of pondering a move you’ve actually already decided upon.
The 5th and final community card dealt, commencing the last betting round of
a hand. It is generally known as the “River” card.
To “Fill Up” means successfully converting 2 pairs or 3 of a kind into a
full house (see below).
An untried player. Also known as a donkey.
Jacks, originating from the shape of a “J.”
Hole cards comprising a Jack and a four, as in, “What is a jack for?”
Calling a bet whilst holding less-than-stellar cards. Used in an attempt to bluff.
The first community cards to be dealt. 3 cards are placed face up in the
middle of the table and each player can use these cards, in conjunction with
their hole cards, to form the best possible hand.
Games such as Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha employ a flop.
Any 5 cards of the same suit.
A player has a “Flush Draw” when holding 4 cards of the same suit, with one or more community cards remaining to be dealt.
Relinquishing a hand, along with any bets made on that hand.
Four of a Kind
Four cards of the same denomination.
The fourth community card to be dealt, also known as the “Turn” card.
This scenario occurs when one of two remaining players knows he will win at least part of the pot (for example, in a high-low split). However, this player may also still have the opportunity to win the entire pot if the final cards help beat their opponent’s hand.
A poker tournament with free entry.
In a “Freezeout” poker tournament, once a player has lost all their original chips, they are not allowed to purchase further chips in order to remain in
A 5-card hand containing three cards of one denomination and two cards of
another value, for example three 9s with a pair of 2s.
Also known as a “Belly Buster,” a card that makes up an inside straight, for example, a 10 if the player has 7, 8, 9, Jack,
To bet the minimum required in first round, in order to keep a hand in the game.
A player’s best five cards; in games like Omaha and Texas Hold ‘Em, a player’s hole cards are used with the community cards to form a hand.
Have the Nuts
A player is said to “have the nuts” when holding the best available hand at
any time in a game. For example, if a player with a pair of Aces as hole
cards, followed by a flop of Ace, Ace, King, no other player can conceivably
hold a better hand at that point.
Only two players remain in the betting on a particular hand.
Hit and Run
A “Hit and Run” poker player tends to leave the game immediately after winning a large pot.
These are cards dealt to a player face down. The term is most commonly used
for first two cards in Texas Hold ‘Em and the first four in Omaha.
Also known as Rake; the percentage of the pot the House will take.
A software feature that provides a “Heads Up Display” of stats as an overlay to the regular game.
When the denomination of the last card required to form a straight falls
between the other cards held. For example, a player holding 6,7,9,10 forms
an inside straight if an 8 is one of the remaining community cards dealt. At
best, this is a dodgy proposition and not one in which to invest heavily.
Raising to leave only 2 players in the betting.
Jacks or Better
A type of poker game that requires a player to hold a pair of Jacks or a
stronger hand in order to start the betting.
Keep Them Honest
A player calling on the last community (river) card, despite the fact that
they probably do not hold the best hand.
A card that creates a very strong hand. For example, for a
player holding two pairs such as King, King, 10, 10; a King or 10 is a key card, as
either will create a full house.
The highest card held by a player that does not contribute significantly to
the hand. For example, a hand containing Queen, Queen, Queen, 9, 2 is
referred to as “3 Queens with a 9 kicker.”
A player may knock on the table indicating that they want to check.
Hole cards comprising a King and a Jack.
A player in a “late position” is one of the last to bet (see “Buy,” above),
giving them the advantage of judging the strengths of the other players’
hands by the kind of action they take.
Lay Down Your Hand
See “Fold,” above.
Limit poker games have rules regarding the amounts that players can bet and
Calling the big blind, as opposed to raising it in the initial round of
A “live hand” is one considered strong enough to win the pot.
A “loose” player plays more hands than average and may even bet on substandard hands, simply to stay in the game.
A Limit poker game with small stakes.
A type of poker in which the lowest hand wins.
If betting on a hand carries on after a player has gone “all in,” a separate
“side pot” (see below) is created. Should the all-in player win the hand,
they may only collect the chips in the main pot.
An aggressive player who plays most hands and raises frequently.
Hole cards consisting of a Queen and a Jack. The term can also mean a highly skilled opponent.
See “Call,” above.
A pair formed by the middle denomination flop card and one of a player’s
A very strong, probable winning hand.
To fold so that other players do not see the cards held.
In a “No Limit” poker game, players can bet as many chips as desired in each
A high-stakes game.
In Texas Hold’em “offsuit” are hole cards belonging to different suits.
A type of poker which utilises four hole cards, of which two are required to
form a final hand.
On the Button
The player “on the button” is the nominal dealer and the last player in the
round of betting.
Open-ended or Outside Straight
Four consecutive cards requiring a card at either the upper or lower end to
complete a straight. For example, a player holding 6,7,8,9 needs either a 5
or a 10 to achieve an outside straight. This is far easier to achieve, and a
better betting proposition, than the above-mentioned inside straight.
To bet or raise significantly higher than previous bets in the play; sometimes used to bluff.
A pair of hole cards superior to anything amongst the community cards.
Picture cards, namely Jacks, Queens or Kings.
Two cards of the same denomination.
See “Fold,” above.
A player calling or raising, despite considering that they do not hold the
A player raising or re-raising a raise made by a player earlier in the round
Playing the Board
When a player holds, say, a pair of 3s, and a board shows 6,6,10,10, Ace, the player must “play the board” as the best available hand fails to utilise the player’s hole cards, with the community cards forming the strongest hand.
The best possible result in this situation is a tie, with the pot split amongst all the players remaining in the hand.
See “Down Cards” and “Hole Cards,” above.
Hole cards consisting of a pair of Aces.
A player’s seat position relative to that of the dealer.
The “pot” contains all the chips bet on a particular hand.
In a “Pot Limit” game, a player’s wager cannot exceed the total chips
already in the pot.
Four of a kind.
To ask to see the remaining undealt community cards once a game has ended.
A flop delivering cards of 3 different suits.
Increasing the value of a previous player’s wager, such that following must
at least match that sum in order to remain in the hand.
Card values, e.g. a King is of higher rank to a Jack.
Knocking on the table, in order to check (see “Check” and “Knock,” above).
Money paid by a player to purchase further chips for their stack.
Raising again after being raised by a previous player.
Scrutiny of the manner in which other players operate
A “ring” game is any non-tournament poker game.
The fifth, final community card dealt, sometimes referred to as Fifth
A player who tends to play only when holding a strong hand.
Round of Betting
The stage in the game where each player is given the opportunity to check,
bet, call or raise depending on their opinion of the cards held.
Professional poker players who make a living by playing the game.
The best possible hand, comprising Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10 of the same
A player who wins a number of hands in a short time is said to be “on a
Betting in a reserved manner on a strong hand in order to encourage other
players to stay in the pot and increase their betting. It is also known as
A lesser tournament that may allow entrance into a larger tournament.
A “scare” card greatly devalues a strong hand. A player holding, for
example, the 8 and 10 of Clubs, with a flop consisting of the Queen / Jack
of Diamonds and the 9 of Spades would probably hold the best hand (a 9-Queen
straight). A scare card would be the 10 of Diamonds on the turn, leaving the
other players with a possible flush draw or a potential higher straight.
A fee to play based on number of hands played or time spent playing. A seat charge might apply in lieu of the House taking a percentage of the pot.
A pair made out of the second highest community card on the board and one of the player’s hole cards.
See “Call,” above.
Bluffing in the knowledge that a hand may improve later in the game, given
the right community cards.
Abbreviation for “Session,” the time spent at any specific game.
A pair of hole cards of the same value as one of the community cards.
A form of poker where players are dealt 7 cards; the first two closed, then
four open, the last closed.
The final card dealt in Seven-Card Stud poker.
A “Short-Handed” game has few players.
The point at which all players remaining in the hand reveal their hole cards
to determine who has the best hand, i.e. on completion of the 4th round of
betting. If the final bet or raise in the hand is not called, there is no
A player with a “short stack” has relatively few chips compared to the other
players at the table.
If a player goes all-in, further chips bet on the hand go into a “side pot.”
Should the all-in play win the hand, they are only entitled to the main pot,
with the side pot going to the best hand amongst the remaining players.
In the event of a win by one of the players involved in the further betting,
that player collects both pots.
The 6th card dealt in Seven-Card Stud poker.
Betting weakly on a strong hand, usually producing more action from other
players, a larger pot and less chance of other players folding their hands.
When the last player to respond to an “all-in” bet takes an overly long time to call or raise the bet.
The first compulsory bet, placed prior to any cards being dealt. The small
blind is usually equal to ½ the minimum table stake.
See “Rock,” above.
A pair of 5s, named after the speed limit in the United States.
A tied hand, resulting in the pot being split between the winning hands.
The number of on-table chips possessed by a player.
See “Call,” above.
A player in a late position may raise in an attempt to persuade other
players to fold their hands, thus “stealing” the pot.
A straight flush comprising Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5.
5 cards with consecutive values, regardless of the suit of each.
Five consecutive cards of the same suit.
A losing player.
Each of the sets of 13 cards that comprise a deck, namely Hearts, Clubs,
Diamonds and Spades.
Texas Hold‘em hole cards of the same suit.
Tap on the Aquarium
To assist up-and-coming players by offering play advice during a game.
A clue or hint that a player unwittingly gives about their hand’s strength, their next action, and so on. The term may derive from “telegraph.”
A type of poker where the player is dealt two face down, hole cards and 5
community cards are dealt. A player must then compile the best 5-card hand
from these seven cards.
Three of a Kind
3 cards of the same denomination.
See “Rock,” above.
A player who is “On tilt” has allowed their behaviour to become erratic
because of losing. This may result in wild, reckless play, playing too many
hands, bluffing and raising on bad hands.
One of a player’s hole cards is the same value as the highest community
Top Two Pair
Two pair, with a player’s two hole cards pairing the two highest cards on
Three of a kind
The fourth community card, also known as Fourth Street.
A hand containing 2 pairs of different denominations, such as Queen, Queen,
Under the Gun
The position of the first player to act in a betting round, following the
“blind” bets. The player to the left of the big blind is said to be “under
the gun” prior to the flop.
A pair of hole cards lower in value than the community cards.
A card dealt face up.
Changes within one’s bankroll.
Sevens, because of the shape of the number.
World Poker Tour
The World Series of Poker is a world-famous series of poker tournaments held annually in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Stands for “Went to showdown,” and is used to describe a player who is likely to stay in a game for the long haul.