Basic Poker Terms
Ace in the hole
One of the hole cards is an ace.
To make a play (bet, call, raise, or fold) at the required time.
A player’s turn to act. A willingness to gamble. A bet, along with all the calls of that bet.
In Texas hold‘em and other community card poker games, a card appearing on the board that causes significant betting action, because it helps two or more players.
A player still involved in the pot. If there are side pots, an all-in player may be active in some pots, but not in others.
In live games, to buy more chips before you have busted. In tournament play, a single rebuy for which all players are eligible regardless of their stack size; this is usually allowed only once at the end of the rebuy period. The add-on often offers more chips per dollar invested than the buy-in and rebuy.
To make an obvious play or expose cards in order to deliberately convey an impression to opponents about one’s style of play.
The tendency for a player to open bet or raise rather than call or check.
A measure of a player’s aggression in a betting round.
A very weak hand that is lower in value than an ace high or face high card hand.
When a player bets all of his or her chips in a given hand.
A permitted but borderline unethical play.
A forced bet required of all players before the hand begins (note: only in some poker games).
In tournament play, to force an absent player to continue paying antes, blinds, and other forced bets so that the contest remains fair to the other players; also called blinding off.
Any two cards
An expression used in Texas Hold\’em to say that a player\’s cards do not matter in the decision of a given hand.
A draw requiring two or more rounds to make. A hand made which the player did not intend to make.
To win a pot with a hand that would have folded to any bet.
To lose to a weaker hand when one’s hand is considerably ahead of the eventual winning hand.
Playing very different hands similarly with the aim of making it more difficult for an opponent to gain useful information about one’s cards.
The amount of money that a player has to wager for the duration of his or her poker career.
Choosing the correct stakes and game type to avoid exhausting a bankroll during downswings.
Not (currently) having the best hand. Money on the table but not currently in the pot, which can be bet later in the hand. Money in play but not visible as chips in front of a player.
Any money wagered during the play of a hand. The opening bet of a betting round. In a fixed limit game, the standard betting amount.
The complete set of rules regarding forced bets, limits, raise caps, and such for a particular game.
Big bet game
A game played with no limit or pot limit betting structure.
The larger of two forced bets in certain types of poker.
Big blind special
A hand won by the big blind playing very weak pocket cards because there was no raise pre-flop.
The best possible full house in community card games.
A stack of chips that is relatively large for the stakes being played. Also called deep stack. Also the biggest stack at the table.
A card, frequently a community card, of no apparent value.
To consistently lose chips through bad play, possibly resulting from tilting.
To call or raise your opponent\’s raise when in the big blind, rather than folding an otherwise weak hand, in order to exploit overly aggressive players.
When all other players have folded, a raise with a weak hand from late position with the intention of winning the blinds and antes.
Holding one of the opponent’s outs, typically when the board threatens a straight or straight draw. A blocker is also having a combination of cards that turn your opponent’s outs into your own.
An abnormally small bet made by a player out of position intended to block a larger bet by an opponent.
A bet made with a hand that is mathematically unlikely to make money and can be made to disguise play patterns.
Bluff catching range
The number of hands that do not have any real value left on the river, but might still be good enough to catch the bluff of an opponent.
To make an aggressive move with a strong hand to give the impression it is a bluff, in order to draw a bluff from an opponent.
The set of community cards in a community card game. The set of face-up cards of a particular player in a stud game. The set of all face-up cards in a stud game.
Another name for a full house.
The lowest of possible straights that can be made in a given hand.
Bottom pair, bottom set
In a community card game, a pair (or set) made by matching the lowest-ranking board card with one (or two) in one\’s private hand.
An aspect of some poker tournaments that reward players with a cash prize for eliminating other players (separate from the tournament payout structure).
During a tournament, an intermission.
A blank, though more often used in the derogatory sense of a card that is undesirable rather than merely inconsequential.
A 10 through ace straight; can also include any group of cards from 10 to ace.
The period in a poker tournament just before entering the payout structure.
Marker to indicate which player is the dealer (or last to act). Also known as the button.
A player who raises frequently to force out more cautious players, especially one with a large stack for the given size of the game.
An uncompleted hand. To lose all of one’s chips.
Most commonly a marker that indicates the dealer position at the table (note: other specialized buttons do exist).
The minimum required amount of chips that must be bought to become involved in a game or tournament.
To buy into a game for an amount smaller than the normal buy-in.
To match a bet.
A player who frequently calls bets, but rarely raises them. A calling station is usually a loose passive player.
A limit on the number of raises allowed in a betting round, typically three or four (in addition to the opening bet). In most casinos, the cap is removed if there are only two players remaining either at the beginning of the betting round, or at the point in time that would have otherwise been when the last raise was made.
Similar to a cap, but refers to a no-limit or pot limit game with a cap on the amount that a player can bet during the course of a hand. Once the cap is reached, all players remaining in the hand are considered all-in.
A game where each hand is played for real money as opposed to tournament play.
To receive cards necessary to make a hand on a draw.
To successfully complete a draw, thus defeating a player who previously had a better hand.
The main pot in a table stakes game where one or more players are all-in.
To call a bet with a drawing hand to see the next card when the pot odds do not merit it. To continue to play with a drawing hand over multiple betting rounds, especially one unlikely to succeed. To continue playing with a hand that is unlikely to be the best because one has already invested money in the pot.
To bet nothing.
Deceptive play whereby a player initially checks with the intention of raising should another player bet.
A small disk used in place of money.
A strategy whereby one player deliberately loses chips to ship them to another player. When players have agreed to participate in such action together, this is known as a form of collusion.
The player currently holding the most chips in a tournament.
To exchange lower-denomination chips for higher-denomination chips. In tournament play, the term means to remove all the small chips from play by rounding up any odd small chips to the nearest higher denomination rather than using a chip race. To steadily accumulate chips in tournament play, typically by winning small pots with minimal risk-taking.
To split a pot because of a tie, split-pot game, or player agreement. An agreement by all remaining players in a tournament to distribute the remaining chips in the prize pool according to an agreed-upon formula instead of playing the tournament to completion. Usually occurs at the final table of a large tournament.
Making the minimum raise. Refers to online poker where players click the raise button without specifying the raise amount.
A situation in which two players have invested all of their money in the pot and roughly have an even chance of winning.
To call an amount that represents a sum of bets or raises made by more than one player.
A form of cheating involving cooperation among two or more players. See cheating in poker.
Card opened in the middle of the board. These cards can be used by all players.
To raise a small bet up to the amount that would be the normal-sized bet.
Two or more cards of consecutive or close to consecutive rank.
A bet made after the flop by the player who initiated the betting before the flop.
A situation in which a player holds the second best hand, which is strong considering the circumstances, and apt to lose the maximum with it no matter how he or she plays it.
Calling even though a player thinks he or she does not have the best hand.
The seat immediately to the right of the dealer button. In home games, the player on the button actually shuffles and deals the cards while the player in the cutoff seat cuts the deck (hence the name).
A blind that is not live such that the player posting it does not have the option to raise if other players just call. Usually involves a small blind posted by a player entering, or returning to, a game (in a position other than the big blind) that is posted in addition to a live blind equal to the big blind.
To distribute cards to players in accordance with the rules of the game being played. A single instance of a game of poker beginning from the shuffling of cards and ending with the awarding of the pot; also called a hand. An agreement to split tournament prize money different from the announced payouts.
Deal three times
In a cash game, when two players are involved in a large pot and one is all-in, they might agree to deal the remaining cards three times. Each outcome is worth ⅓ of the pot.
The person dealing the cards. The person who assumes that role for the purpose of betting order in a game, even though someone else might be physically dealing the cards.
A stack of chips that is relatively large for the stakes being played. Also called a big stack.
Making a play that defends the player against a bluff by forcing the suspected bluffer to fold or invest further.
The 2 card. Also called a duck.
A hand that is extremely unlikely to win against another specific hand, even though it may not be a poor hand in its own right. Most commonly used in Texas Hold ’em.
A bet made in early position by a player who did not take the initiative in the previous betting round. It was named so because this move is often indicative of a weak player (since it is more often reasonable to expect a continuation bet).
A weak player, also known as a fish or a donk.
Double belly buster straight draw
A combination of hole and exposed cards in hold’em or stud games, which does not include four connected cards, but where there are two different ranks of cards that complete a straight.
An Omaha starting hand where two pairs of suited cards are held.
Double up, double through
Usually in a game with a considerable pot size, to bet all of one’s chips on one hand against a single opponent (who has an equal or larger stack) and win, thereby doubling the stack.
A period during which a player loses more than expected.
Draw, drawing hand
A drawing hand is when a player has a chance to improve their hand to something considerably stronger by drawing the required cards on the flop, turn or river.
Playing a drawing hand that will lose even if completed. Playing a hand that can never improve beyond the opponent’s hand.
Not drawing dead, that is, drawing to a hand that will win if completed.
Not drawing completely dead, that is, chasing a draw while facing poor odds.
An ace in one’s hand with the other hole card not of the same suit; when the board presents a flush possibility and the player does not hold a flush at that time, holding the ace presents some bluffing or semi-bluffing opportunities as well as a redraw in case the flush draw comes on the turn.
The texture of the community cards. A board is considered dry when the cards on the table show that it is unlikely or impossible for any player to make a strong hand like a straight or flush.
A side pot with no money created when a player goes all-in and is called by more than one opponent with no subsequent raises. If subsequent betting occurs, the money will go into the dry pot.
One’s mathematical expected value in a current deal, calculated by multiplying the amount of money in the pot by one’s probability of winning. If a split is possible, the equity also includes the probability of winning a split multiplied by the size of that split.
Expectation, expected value, EV
Used in poker to mean profitability in the long run.
A deal in which every, or almost every, seated player called the first opening bet.
In Open Face Chinese poker, if you meet a certain condition, you get to play a hand in Fantasy Land which gives the player a big advantage.
Aggressive play comparable to speeding.
A hand which, when matched against another in a showdown, has an advantage odds-wise over the other. A hand can be called a small or big favorite depending on how dominating it is in contrast to the underdog, to which the situation is reversed. Favorites are usually used to compare how one player’s two hole cards fare against another player’s two hole cards pre-flop.
The cloth covering of a poker table, regardless of its actual material. Metaphorically, the table itself.
All players as a collective in a large tournament.
The last card dealt to the board in community card games. Also known as the river.
Fill, fill up
To successfully draw a hand that needs one card to complete it by getting the last card of a straight, flush, or full house.
The last table in a multi-table poker tournament. The final table is set when a sufficient amount of people have been eliminated from the tournament leaving a specific amount of players to occupy one table (typically no more than ten players).
Also known as under the gun. The player in first position must act first on the first round of betting.
A weak player. To chase draws holding a weak hand especially when facing aggressive players.
A call in a situation in which one might be expected to raise.
Calling a bet with the intention of bluffing in a later betting round.
The dealing of the first three face-up cards to the board, also referring to those three cards themselves.
A hand comprising five cards of the same suit.
To discard one’s hand and forfeit shares, if any, in the current pot.
The portion of the pot one expects to win on average by placing a bet that induces your opponents to fold, rather than seeing the showdown.
Four cards of the same suit. A non-standard poker hand in some games, while an incomplete drawing hand in most.
Four of a kind
A hand containing four cards of equal rank. Also known as quads.
Four cards in rank sequence; either an open-ender or one-ender. A non-standard poker hand in some games, while an incomplete drawing hand in most. Sometimes four to a straight.
The fourth card dealt to the board in community card games. Also called the turn.
A card dealt to one’s hand (or to the board of community cards) after a betting round in which no player opened. One is thereby being given a chance to improve one’s hand without having to pay anything.
A poker event with no buy-in.
The most common form of tournament. There are no rebuys, and play continues until one player has all the chips.
Full house, full boat, full hand, full
A hand with three cards of one rank and two of a second rank. Also known as a boat or tight.
A full ring game is a cash game with more than six involved players, typically nine to eleven. This term is normally used in the context of online poker.
In Texas Hold ’em, a gap hand is a starting hand with at least one rank separating the two hole cards. Usually referred in context to one-gap and two-gap hands.
To fold a strong hand against a supposedly superior hand.
A player who earns a living by making small profits over a long period of consistent, conservative play.
Inside straight draw
The textual representation of a hand(s) played.
Heads up poker
Playing against a single opponent.
Calling when a player has a relatively weak hand but suspects his or her opponent may be bluffing.
A no pair hand, ranked according to its highest-ranking cards.
The seat to the right of the cutoff seat, or second to the right of the button. In tournaments, this is generally considered to be the easiest position to steal the blinds, hence the name.
Face-down cards. Also known as pocket cards.
A player financially backed by someone else.
To achieve a better hand than what one currently holds by adding or exchanging cards as provided in the rules of the game being played.
A player is said to be in position if the player is last to act on the flop, turn, or river betting rounds.
In the money, (ITM)
To finish high enough in a poker tournament to win prize money.
A player is said to be in turn if that player is expected to act next under the rules.
A bet or raise made with the intention of isolating a player to play heads up.
A hand with very little to no expected value.
A loose aggressive style of play in which a player plays a lot of starting hands and makes many small raises in hopes of out-playing his or her opponents.
Last to act
A player is last to act if all players between the player and the button have folded.
The act of folding a strong hand in anticipation of superior opposition, often depicted as a difficult decision.
The player who makes the last bet or raise in a round of betting is said to have the lead at the start of the next round. Can also be used as a verb meaning to bet out into the pot, or to lead into the pot.
Used in tournament play to refer to the size of the blinds that are periodically increased.
A hand that is not likely to be the best, usually used as an action descriptor (i.e. call light, or three-bet light).
The minimum or maximum amount of a bet.
Limp, limp in
To enter a pot by simply calling a bet instead of raising.
A reraise from a player that previously limped in the same betting round.
A bet posted by a player under conditions that gives him or her the option to raise, typically because it was posted as a blind or straddle.
A player’s hand is said to contain live cards if matching either of them on the board would give that player the lead over his or her opponent; typically refers to a hand that is weak, but not dominated.
A hand still eligible to win the pot; one with remaining live cards that has not been mucked or otherwise invalidated in order to complete and possibly win the hand.
A game with a lot of action.
To play more hands than one’s normal play style or the average player in the game.
The lowest card by rank
A measure of the health of a chip stack as a function of the cost to play each round.
A hand that does not need improvement to win.
A very loose and aggressive player, who bets and raises frequently, and often in situations where it is not good strategy to do so.
Match the pot
To bet an amount equal to all the chips in the pot.
Internet poker games with stakes so small that real cardrooms could not profit from them, are said to be at the micro-limit level.
In a community card game, making a pair with neither the highest nor lowest card of the community cards.
A required bet that is not posted when it is a player’s turn to do so, perhaps occurring when a player is not present on the table. Various rules require the missed bet to be made up upon the player’s return.
In a no-limit game, to move in or to go all-in means to bet one’s entire stake on the hand in play.
To fold. The discard pile.
A pot where several players compete for it. Also known as a family pot, although a family pot sometimes refers to a pot where all players participate.
A player who is unwilling to take risks and plays only premium hands in the top range.
Rules designating that players are allowed to wager any or all of their chips in a single bet.
When a player only has the possibility of a high card and no other hand that will win.
Nut hand (the nuts)
The nut hand is the best possible hand in a given situation. Players sometimes evaluate hands by ranking them as being the second nuts or the pure nuts.
Cards that are not of the same suit.
To bet first to enter the pot.
Open-ended straight draw
An outside straight draw. Also known as a two-way straight draw or double-ended straight draw.
Being the first person in the pot pre-flop, but not raising.
An optional bet or draw. The right to raise possessed by the big blind if there have been no raises.
A full rotation of the blinds at a table, equal to the number of people at the table.
Cards needed to make a certain player win the hand.
Out of position
A player is said to be out of position, if they are either first to act, or is not last to act in a betting round.
To make a bet that is more than the size of the pot in a no limit game.
To call a bet after others have called.
A community card with a higher rank than a player’s pocket pair. A higher card.
A pocket pair with a higher rank than the highest community card.
Any royal card.
Two cards of the same rank.
A style of play characterized by checking and calling.
To call a bet when the player is most likely drawing dead because the pot odds justify the call.
Games representing frivolous to low stakes, or for fun-only games; a game where no significant stake is likely to change hands.
Play the board
If one’s best hand during showdown is on the board without the use of hole cards, then the player is said to play the board.
Same as hole cards.
When two of a player’s hole cards make a pair.
A player’s blank facial expression that does not reveal any information about his or her cards.
A bet that is made more due to the strength of the bettor’s position than the strength of the bettor’s cards.
To make the required small or big blind bet in Texas Hold’em or other games played with blinds rather than antes.
The amount of all the players’ bets in a given hand. Winner of the hand takes the entire pot.
More often in the context of a no limit game, a situation where one can no longer fold because the size of the pot is so large compared to the size of one’s stack.
The ratio of the amount of money in the pot to the amount of money needed to call the current bet. If the pot holds $100 and it will cost you $20 to call, the pot is laying you 5-to-1 odds.
The point in which players have been dealt their hole cards but no flop has been dealt.
After the flop is dealt, a bet made by a player, who did not take the lead pre-flop, to gain knowledge about the strength of opponents’ cards.
A pot that seems impossible to win by bluffing because too many players are committed and/or the chances of another player either calling on the river or raising beyond measure are highly likely.
The total prize pool in a poker tournament.
To bet all-in.
To put on a hand is to deduce what hand or range of hands opponents may have based on their actions and gameplay style.
Four of a kind.
After a hand is completed, to reveal cards that would have been dealt subsequently had it continued. This is usually prohibited in casinos because it slows the game and may also reveal information about concealed hands.
A poor player. To make calls based on the hopes of hitting runner-runner, inside, or backdoor draws.
Same as a coin flip.
A low-valued and presumably worthless card.
A non-participatory spectator of a poker game.
Three or four cards of different suits, especially said of a flop. Betting a rainbow is to make a bet of one chip of each color currently in play.
Rebate or repayment to a player, which is a portion of the rake paid by that player.
Range of hands
A range of possible cards that a player considers an opponent may have.
An amount of chips purchased after the initial buy-in. In some tournaments, players are allowed to rebuy chips more than once for a limited period after the start of the game, provided that their stack is equal to or under its initial level.
To deal a hand again, possibly after a misdeal.
To make one hand and have a draw for a better hand. The second or subsequent draw(s) in a draw game with multiple draws.
To represent a hand is to play as if the player actually holds it whether it is or not.
Raise after one has been raised. Also known as coming over the top.
The river or river card is the final card dealt in a poker hand, followed by a final round of betting and, if necessary, a showdown. The river is the fifth and last community card to be dealt, after the flop and turn. A player losing the pot due to the river card is said to have been rivered.
A very tight player.
An expert player who travels around seeking out high-stakes games.
Royal cards are also known as face cards or picture cards. These cards consist of the jack, queen, and king of any suit.
A straight flush of the top five cards of any suit. This is generally the highest possible hand.
Run it three times (RITT)
A gentleman’s agreement, not allowed in some casinos, where the players (usually two) agree to draw each remaining card(s) to come in three different occasions/runs instead of just once after all parties have gone all-in. The winner of each run takes 1/3 of the pot. Running it three times is done to minimize bad beats and reduce bankroll swings.
A hand made by hitting two consecutive cards on the turn and river.
A prolonged winning streak. A player who has won several big pots recently is said to be on a rush.
A tournament in which the prize is a free entrance to another (larger) tournament.
A card dealt face up (either to a player in a game such as stud or to the board in a community card game) that could create a strong hand for someone.
To win all three rows in Open Faced Chinese Poker.
In community card poker games, a pair of cards of the second-top rank on the board. Second pair is a middle pair, but not necessarily vice-versa.
When a player bluffs on one round of betting with an inferior or drawing hand that might improve in a later round.
Three of a kind, especially a situation where two of the cards are concealed in the player’s hole cards.
A professional player.
A poker tournament format where the last remaining player of a table goes on to play the remaining players of other tables. Each table plays independently of the others; that is, there is no balancing as players are eliminated.
In no limit poker, to buy into a game for considerably less money than the stated maximum buy in, or less than other players at the table have in play.
A stack of chips that is relatively small for the stakes being played.
A poker game that is played with six players or fewer, as opposed to a full ring game, which is usually nine or ten players. A tournament where all tables are shorthanded at all times is called a short table tournament.
When, if more than one player remains after the last betting round, remaining players expose and compare their hands to determine the winner or winners.
A separate pot created to deal with the situation of one player going “all in”.
Sit & Go
A poker tournament with no scheduled starting time that starts whenever the necessary players have put up their money.
To play a strong hand as if it were weak to trick your opponents.
Same as flat call
To intentionally go easy on a player. Soft play is expressly prohibited in most card rooms, and may result in penalties ranging from forced sit-outs to forfeiture of stakes or winnings.
A bluff reraise in no limit hold’em with less-than-premium cards, after another player or players have already called the original raise. The goal is to bluff everyone out of the hand and steal the bets.
The total chips and currency that a player has in play at a given moment. A collection of 20 poker chips of the same denomination, usually arranged in an orderly column.
The amount one buys in for and can bet.
Staking is the act of one person putting up cash for a poker player to play with in hopes that the player wins. Any profits are split on a predetermined percentage between the backer and the player. A backed player is often known as a horse.
Hole card hands that players can start with.
Betting and winning the hand pre-flop and taking the blinds is called stealing the blinds.
A state of anger, mental confusion, or frustration in which a player adopts a less than optimal strategy, usually resulting in poor play. Same as tilt.
Stop and go
When a player bets into another player who has previously raised or otherwise shown aggression.
To post a bet two times the size of the big blind when sitting on the left of the big blind before looking at his/her hole cards. By straddling, the player is able to act last preflop.
A street is another term for a dealt card or betting round.
A structured betting system is one where the spread of the bets may change from round to round.
A situation when a hand heavily favored to win loses to an inferior hand after all the cards are dealt. The winning hand is said to have sucked out.
Having the same suit.
Connecting cards with the same suit.
A multi-table poker tournament in which the prize is a free entrance to a satellite tournament or a tournament in which all the top finishers gain entrance to a larger tournament.
A tight aggressive style of play in which a player plays a small number of strong starting hands, but when in pots plays aggressively.
Cards that improve a hand so that it is better than the other current hands, but simultaneously improve other hands even more.
A tell in poker is a detectable change in a player’s behavior or demeanor that gives clues to that player’s assessment of their hand.
How well coordinated the community cards are to one another. This is used to estimate relative hand strength.
Three bet, three betting
To be the first player to put in a third unit of betting.
Three of a kind
A poker hand made with three cards of the same number.
To play fewer hands than average for the game or for the player normally.
Emotionally upset, mental confusion, or frustration in which a player adopts a less than optimal strategy, usually resulting in poor play.
The amount that a player is required to call in order to stay in the hand.
In community card poker games, top kicker is the best possible kicker to some given hand.
In community card poker games, top pair is a pair comprising a pocket card and the highest-ranking card on the board.
A two pair, matching the highest-ranking two flop cards.
When one of a player’s hole cards in Texas hold’em connect with two cards on the board to make three of a kind. This differs from a set where three of a kind is made when a pocket pair connects with one card on the flop to make three of a kind.
A type of tournament where the blind levels increase much faster than in standard play.
The turn, turn card or fourth street is the fourth of five cards dealt to a community card board, constituting one face-up community card that each of the players in the game can use to make up their final hand.
Under the gun
The position directly left of the blinds in Texas hold’em or Omaha. The player who is under the gun must act first on the first round of betting.
An underdog or dog is a player with a smaller chance to win than another specified player. Frequently used when the exact odds are expressed.
A full house made where the three of a kind has lower-ranking cards than the pair.
When used with a card rank to describe a poker hand, refers to two pair with the named card being the higher pair.
A card that is played face up.
A period during which a player wins more (or loses less) than expected.
Up the ante
Increase the stakes.
A bet made by a player who wants it to be called (as opposed to a bluff or protection bet).
The statistical measure of how far actual results differ from expectation.
Voluntary put money in pot. Represents the percentage of hands with which a player puts money into the pot pre-flop, without counting any blind postings. VPIP is an excellent measure of how tight or loose a player is.
To “wake up with a hand” means to discover a strong starting hand, often when there has already been action in front of the player.
A walk is a situation where all players fold to the big blind.
To mix the deck by spreading the cards face down on the table and mixing them up.
An ace with a low kicker. Also called small ace, soft ace, or ace-rag.
A player who is easily bullied out of a hand post-flop by any sort of action.
A form of online poker which allows players to watch each other during play via a webcam.
A wet board is when the cards on the table make it possible for players to have hit strong hands.
The window card is the first card shown when the dealer puts out the three cards for the flop.
In Omaha, an open ended straight draw comprising two board cards and three or four cards from a player’s hand.