Poker jargon

Home » Blog » Poker jargon

The large and growing jargon of poker includes many terms. This page contains brief definitions of the most common terms you may encounter in text or at play. If possible, a link to a more complete article on the topic is given. Though space is not an issue here, the list has been trimmed to primarily those poker-specific terms one might find in poker texts or in common use in casinos.

Various poker hands have been given many names, and these are listed in List of slang names for poker hands. Finally, this is not meant to be a formal dictionary; precise usage details and multiple closely related senses are omitted here in favor of concise treatment of the basics.


A-B-C, A-B-C-D
A sequence of the lowest cards in a game. For example, the hand 8-6-3-2-A might be called an “eight-six-a-b-c”.
Uncreative or predictable play. He’s an a-b-c player.
ace-to-five, ace-to-six
Methods of evaluating low hands.
aces and spaces
A hand with one pair of aces, and nothing else. Used derogatorily, especially in games such as seven-card stud, where two pair is a typical winning hand.
A player’s turn to act. The action is on you.
A willingness to gamble. I’ll give you action or There’s plenty of action in this game
A bet, along with all the calls of that bet. For example, if one player makes a $5 bet and three other players call, he is said to have $5 “in action”, and to have received $15 worth of action on his bet. Usually this term comes into play when figuring side pots when one or more players is all in. See table stakes.
action button
A marker similar to a kill button, on which a player places an extra forced bet. Typically in a stud game, a player is required to post an amount representing a completion of the bring-in to a full bet. For example, in a stud game with $2 and $4 betting limits and a $1 bring-in, a player with the action button must post $2; after the cards are dealt, the player with the low card must still pay the $1 bring-in, then when the betting reaches the player who posted the $2, he is required to leave it in as a raise of the bring-in (and has the option to raise further). Players in between the bring-in and the action button can just call the bring-in, but they know ahead of time that they will be raised by the action button.
action player
Euphemism for a less skillful player who bets and calls frequently with inferior hands.
In a live game, 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.
To make an obvious play or expose cards in such a way as to deliberately convey an impression to your opponents about your style of play. For example, to make a bad play or bluff to give the impression that you bluff frequently (hoping opponents will then call your legitimate bets) or to show only good hands to give the impression that you rarely bluff (hoping opponents will then fold when you do).
A player who frequently bets and raises. Compare to “passive”.
In a lowball game, “giving air” is letting an opponent who might otherwise fold know that you intend to draw one or more cards to induce him to call.
all in
Having bet one’s entire stake. See table stakes.
all blue/all pink
A flush, “blue” usually referring to black suits and “pink” to red ones. Occasionally one hears “all green” or “all purple”.
ammo, ammunition
Chips in play. I’m going to need more ammo for this game. Compare to “fire”.
A technically legal, but borderline unethical, play. For example, deliberately miscalling one’s own hand to induce a fold, or placing odd amounts of chips in the pot to confuse opponents about whether you mean to call or raise. A player employing such tactics is called an “angle shooter”.
Once meaning a first-round bet, now a type of forced bet before cards are dealt. .
ante off
In tournament play, to force an absent player to continue paying antes. blinds, bring-ins, or other forced bets so that the contest remains fair to the other players. Go ahead and take that phone call. We’ll ante you off until you get back. Also “blind off”.


A low-ranked card, usually used in lowball games. See also “spoke”.
A draw requiring two or more rounds to fill. For example, catching two consecutive cards in two rounds of Seven-card stud or Texas hold ’em to fill a straight or flush.
A hand made other than the hand the player intended to make. I started with four hearts hoping for a flush, but I backdoored two more kings and my trips won.
back in
To enter a pot by checking and then calling someone else’s open on the first betting round. Usually used in games like Jackpots, meaning to enter without openers.
To enter a pot cheaply or for free because of having posted a blind.
back into
To win a pot with a hand that would have folded to any bet. For example, two players enter a pot of draw poker, both drawing to flushes. Both miss, and check after the draw. The player with the ace-high draw “backs into” winning the pot against the player with only a king-high draw.
bad beat
An event in which a player with a high expectation of winning the pot loses. This expectation may be based on having an unusually strong hand beaten by an even stronger one, or by having an opposing player make an extremely unlikely draw. “Bad beat stories” are frequent topics of conversation at poker tables. Lou Krieger started a tradition among some players of charging $1 to listen to one. In some casinos there is a “bad beat jackpot” awarded to a player who suffers a particular beat, for example, having four of a kind beaten.
Not currently having the best hand. I’m pretty sure my pair of jacks was behind Lou’s kings, but I had other draws, so I kept playing.
Describing money in play but not visible as chips in front a player. For example, a player may announce “I’ve got $100 behind” while handing money to a casino employee, meaning that he intends those chips to be in play as soon as they are brought to him.
belly buster
An inside straight draw. Also called a “gutshot”.
berry patch
A game with many unskilled or “live” players; a lucrative opportunity for profit.
Any money wagered during the play of a hand.
More specifically, the opening bet of a betting round.
In a fixed limit game, the standard betting amount. There were six bets in the pot when I called.
betting structure
The set of specific rules for any game covering how much one may or must bet at any point in the game, including forced bets, limits, and raising cap.
bicycle, bicycle wheel
The hand A-2-3-4-5. See wheel.
big bet
In a fixed limit game where the limit is higher in later rounds than in early rounds, the higher amount is called a “big bet”. That $10-$20 game looked good, but I only had 8 big bets in my pocket at the time.
big bet game
A game played with a no limit or pot limit betting structure.
big slick
A slang term for a Texas Hold’em starting hand that consists of an Ace and King regardless of suit.
A card, frequently a community card, of no apparent value. I suspected Margaret had a good draw, but the river card was a blank, so I bet again. See “brick”.
To lose small amounts continually, so as to add up to a large loss. I won that large pot with my kings, but then I bled it all off over the next hour.
A type of forced bet.
A term applied to any action taken by a player before seeing some piece of information to which that player would normally be entitled before that action. For example, a player who would be first to act after the draw in a draw poker game might discard cards and then announce “I bet $10 blind” before looking at his replacement cards. One can similarly check blind, raise blind, etc. Also “dark” or “in the dark”.
blind stud
A stud poker game in which all cards are dealt face down. Was popular in California before legal rulings made traditional stud legal there.
To bet an inferior hand hoping the opponent will fold.
On the last betting round, a hand that cannot win if the opponent is making a legitimate value bet, but that might win if the opponent’s bet was a pure bluff. It looked like Jim and I were both drawing for a flush. I missed and he bet, but I figured the pair of nines I caught along the way made a bluff-catcher, so I called.
The set of community cards in a community card game. If another spade hits the board, I’ll have to fold.
The set of face-up cards of a particular player in a stud game. Zack’s board didn’t look too scary, so I bet into him again.
The set of all face-up cards in a stud game. I started with a flush draw, but there were already four other diamonds showing on the board, so I folded.
A full house. See also “full boat”, “tight”.
An open-ender, or “outside” straight draw. Occasionally used to refer to an inside straight draw or a four-card flush draw as well.
A brick.
A chip, often of small denomination.
bottom end
The lowest of several possible straights, especially in a community card game. For example, in Texas hold ’em with the cards 5-6-7 on the board, a player holding 3-4 has the bottom end straight, while a player holding 4-8 or 8-9 has a higher straight. Also “idiot end”.
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.
The chip tray in front of a house dealer, and by extension, the house dealer’s position at the table. You’ve been in the box for an hour now; don’t you get a break?
boxed card
A card encountered face-up in the assembled deck during the deal, as opposed to one overturned in the act of dealing. Most house rules treat a boxed card as if it didn’t exist; that is, it is placed aside and not used. Different rules cover cards exposed during the deal.
In a draw poker game, to discard cards that make a made hand in the hope of making a much better one. For example, a player with J-J-10-9-8 may wish to break his pair of jacks to draw for the straight, and a lowball player may break his 9-high 9-5-4-2-A to draw for the wheel.
To end a session of play. The game broke at about 3:00.
A blank, though more often used in the derogatory sense of a card that is undesirable rather than merely inconsequential, such as a card of high rank or one that makes a pair in a low-hand game.
brick and mortar
A poker game played in person with real physical cards at a traditional casino. The term is meant to distinguish brick and mortar games from online poker games. Abbreviated “B&M”.
bring in
To open a betting round. Gary brought it in for $5, and Kevin raised $10.
A kind of forced bet.
An ace-high straight. A “broadway card” is any card that might make such a straight, namely a 10, J, Q, K, or A.
A casino employee whose job it is to greet players entering the poker room, maintain the list of persons waiting to play, announce open seats, and various other duties (including brushing off tables to prepare them for new games, whence the name).
A token used to mark the position of the dealer. See “button”.
A wild card that can serve to fill a straight or flush, but which otherwise plays as an ace. See bug.
An ace.
A chip. See “ammo”.
To bluff repeatedly at all opportunities, or a player who does so. See “run over”.
To raise. I raised $5, and Joe bumped it to $20.
burn, burn card
To deal a card directly into the discards, often at the start of the second and subsequent rounds of a multiple-round game (for example, before giving players their draws in a draw poker game, or before the flop in a community card game). This is done for several reasons, including protecting the players against marked cards, making it easier to recover from irregularities in the deal, and others.
A token (also called a buck) used to mark the position of the dealer. In casino games with a house dealer, a buck may still be used to mark the position of the player who acts last on that deal (which would normally be the dealer in a home game).
The player currently seated in the position marked by the button. The button raised last round, so I checked into him.
The minimum required amount of chips to become involved in a game (or tournament). For example, a $4-$8 fixed limit game might require a player to buy at least $40 worth of chips to play. This is typically far less than an average player would expect to play with for any amount of time, but large enough that the player can play a number of hands without buying more, so the game isn’t slowed down by constant chip-buying.
buy short
To buy into a game for an amount smaller than the normal buy-in. Some casinos allow this under certain circumstances, such as after having lost a full buy-in, or if all players agree to allow it.
buy the button
A rule originating in northern California casinos in games played with blinds, in which a new player sitting down with the button to his right (who would normally be required to sit out a hand as the button passed him, then post to come in) may choose to pay the amount of both blinds for this one hand (the amount of the large blind playing as a live blind, and the amount of the small blind as dead money), play this hand, and then receive the button on the next hand as if he had been playing all along.


To match the current bet amount, maintaining one’s interest in the pot.
calling station
A weak player who frequently checks and calls, but rarely raises.
A limit on the number of raises allowed in a betting round. Typically three or four (in addition the opening bet). In most casinos, the cap is removed if there are only two players remaining either (1) at the beginning of the betting round, or (2) at the time that what would have otherwise been the last raise is made.
cards speak
Describing a split-pot game, one without a declaration.
A common house rule stating that properly shown hands at showdown may be read by anyone, and need not be announced.
case card
The last available card of a certain description (typically a rank). The only way I can win is to catch the case king., meaning the only king remaining in the deck.
cash plays
See “money plays”.
To receive needed cards on a draw. I’m down 300–I can’t catch anything today. or Joe caught his flush early, but I caught the boat on seventh street to beat him. Often used with an adjective to further specify, for example “catch perfect”, “catch inside”, “catch smooth”.
catch up
To successfully complete a draw, thus defeating a player who previously had a better hand. I was sure I had Karen beat, but she caught up when that spade fell.
In five-card draw, a longshot draw requiring two desired cards to make a hand, specifically drawing two cards to a straight or flush, or drawing two cards to a small pair and kicker to make a full house.
center pot
The main pot in a table stakes game where one or more players are all in.
To continue to play a drawing hand over multiple betting rounds, especially one unlikely to succeed. Frank knew I made three nines on fourth street, but he chased that flush draw all the way to the river.
To continue playing with a hand that is not likely the best because one has already invested money in the pot.
To bet nothing.
A casino chip.
check out
To fold, in turn, even though there is no bet facing the player. In some games this is considered a breach of etiquette equivalent to folding out of turn. In others it is permitted, but frowned upon.
To check, and then raise someone else’s open.
A poor hand. Throw that piece of cheese in the muck and move on to the next hand.
A token representing money used for betting.
chip along
To bet or call the minimum required to stay in, often done with little or no reflection. See also “white check”.
chip declare
A method of declaring intent to play high or low in a split-pot game with declaration.
chip up
To exchange lower-denomination chips for higher-denomination chips. In tournament play, the term means to removing all the small chips from play by rounding up any odd small chips to the nearest large denomination, rather than using a chip race.
chip race
In tournament play, the act of removing all the small chips from play by dealing random cards to players holding odd chips, and awarding a proportional number of larger chips to the highest-ranking cards.
To split a pot because of a tie, split-pot game, or player agreement.
To play a game for a short time and cash out; see “hit and run”.
A request made by a player to a dealer after toking a large-denomination chip that he wishes the dealer to make change.
To chop blinds.
chop blinds
An agreement between neighboring players having posted blinds that if all other players fold to them, they will each retrieve their respective blind amounts and discard their hands rather than playing out the hand. This is done to avoid excessive charges by the casino for small pots. It is generally frowned upon by casinos, so it usually takes the form of the small blind folding, and then the player with the large blind refunding the small blind amount while the dealer isn’t looking. Agreement must be made ahead of time.
Describing a betting round, the condition that no player is eligible to raise, either because the last raise was called by all players, or because the cap was reached.
Describing a poker game, one in which each player’s cards are concealed from all opponents.
Euphemism for a player who frequently raises the pot in an blantant attempt to steal the antes or blinds.
To make annoying smalltalk during a game, to make comments about a hand in progress, or to make deceptive comments about one’s own play.
Consecutive, as in I caught three cold spades for the flush.
Unlucky, as in I’ve been cold all week.
cold call
To call an amount that represents a sum of bets or raises by more than one player. Alice opened for $10, Bob raised another $20, and Charlie cold called the $30.
cold deck
A deck previously arranged to produce a specific outcome, then surreptitiously switched into the game. Called “cold” because such a deck switched in during play will not have been warmed by the dealer’s hands. I can’t believe Jim got those four kings the same time I got four sixes–it was like being cold-decked. Also “ice”.
A form of cheating involving cooperation among two or more players.
color change, color up
To exchange small-denomination chips for larger ones.
combo, combination game
A casino table at which multiple forms of poker are played in rotation.
come bet, on the come
A bet or raise made with a drawing hand, building the pot in anticipation of filling the draw. Usually a weak “gambler’s” play, but occasionally correct with a very good draw and large pot or as a semi-bluff.
community card
A card dealt face-up to the center of the table (not to any one player’s hand), which can be used in some way by multiple players according to specific game rules. See community card, community card game.
To raise a small bet up to the amount of what would be a normal-sized bet. For example, in a $2/$4 stud game with $1 bring-in, a player after the bring-in may raise it to $2, completing what would otherwise be a sub-minimum bet up to the normal minimum. Also in limit games, if one player raises all in for less than the normally required minimum, a later player might complete the raise to the normal minimum (depending on house rules; see table stakes).
Two or more cards of consecutive rank.
Especially in lowball, two hands very nearly tied that must be compared in detail to determine a winner, for example, 8-6-5-3-2 versus 8-6-5-3-A.
The act of counting the cards that remain in the stub after all cards have been dealt, done by a dealer to ensure that a complete deck is being used.
Most often used in community card games, a card appearing on the board that doesn’t change the value of one’s own hand, but that makes it much more likely for an opponent to tie or beat you, often because it duplicates what was previously a valuable card in your hand. Also “duplicate”.
A player with whom one is sharing a buy-in, with the intent to split the result after play. To “go cow” is to make such an arrangement.
A king. And he’s flopped a pair of cowboys
See “whipsaw”.
Folding to dealt hand when the action to check is an option.
crying call
A call made reluctantly on the last betting round with the expectation of losing (but with some remote hope of catching a bluff).
The seat immediately to the right of the dealer button. Also “pone”.


Describing an action taken before receiving information to which the player would normally be entitled. I’m drawing three, and I check in the dark. See “blind”.
dead blind
A blind that is not “live”, in that the player posting it does not have the option to raise if other players just call. Rarely used.
dead button
A dealer button placed in a position where there is no player. This occurs in some casinos when the player who would otherwise be entitled to the button leaves the game (other casinos move the button forward to the next player).
dead hand
A player’s hand that is not entitled to participate in the deal for some reason, such as having been fouled by touching another player’s cards, being found to contain the wrong number of cards, being dealt to a player who did not make the appropriate forced bets, etc.
dead man’s hand
A dead man’s hand is the famous hand Wild Bill Hicock was holding when he was shot and killed in 1877. This hand contains of a pair of aces and a pair of eights.
dead money
Money placed into a pot that does not represent equal bets and calls by active players in the pot. This can be the earlier bets of players who have folded, or money placed in the pot before the deal.
By extension, it is used as a derogatory term for money put in play by unskilled players who are legally eligible, but unlikely, to win it back. Can also refer to the player: Let’s play that stud game–Joe and Diane are dead money.
The muck.
To distribute cards to players in accordance with the rules of the game being played.
A single instance of a game of poker, begun by shuffling the cards and ending with the award of a pot. Also called a “hand” (though both terms are ambiguous).
An agreement to split tournament prize money differently from the announced payouts.
See “business”.
The person dealing the cards, or the person who assumes that role for the purposes of betting order in a game, even though someone else might be physically dealing. In the latter case, that player is often marked with a button, and may be called “the button”.
To verbally indicate an action or intention.
To raise after having sandbagged for a time (making it clear that you were, in fact, sandbagging). See “in the bushes”.
Describing a large amount of money, either in play or having been lost. How deep are you? (meaning “How much money do you have”, in anticipation of making a very large bet). I won that large pot, but I’m in much deeper than that.
Playing to minimize investment or loss rather than maximize a win; for example, with a drawing hand that is risky but that you think should call an opponent’s bet, you might make a smaller “defensive bet” yourself that you think your opponent will just call, rather than checking and calling a larger bet, or showing weakness.
Occasionally calling with weak hands to discourage opponents from bullying, especially when in the blinds.
A 2-spot card.
Any of various related uses of the number two, such as a $2 limit game, a $2 chip, etc.
A method of evaluating low hands.
To take a previously dealt card out of play. The set of all discards for a deal is called the “muck” or the “deadwood”.
Underdog; that is, a player with a smaller chance to win than another specified player. Frequently used when the exact odds are expressed. Harry might have been bluffing, but if he really had the king, my hand was a 4-to-1 dog, so I folded.
dominated hand
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 hand like A-Q, for example, is a good hand in general but is dominated by A-K, because whenever the former makes a good hand, the latter is likely to make a better one. A hand like 7-8 is a poor hand in general, but is not dominated by A-K because it makes different kinds of hands.
A call made by a player who fully expects to lose; made either out of boredom or irrational optimism.
door card
In a stud game, a player’s first face-up card. Patty paired her door card on fifth street and raised, so I put her on trips.
Window card.
double-ace flush
Under unconventional rules, a flush with one or more wild cards in which they play as aces, even if an ace is already present.
double-board, double-flop
Any of several community card game variants (usually Texas hold ’em) in which two separate boards of community cards are dealt simultaneously, with the pot split between the winning hands using each board.
Any of several Draw poker games in which the draw phase and subsequent betting round are repeated twice.
double gutter, double belly buster
In games involving six or more cards, a draw to a straight that can be filled by two ranks, but that is not an open-ender. For example, K-J-10-9-7, which can become a straight with any Q or 8.
double through, double up
In a big bet game, 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 your stack. I was losing a bit, but then I doubled through Sarah to put me in good shape.
down to the felt
All in, or having lost all of one’s money. Refers to the green felt surface of a poker table no longer obscured by chips.
Draw poker.
To replace one or more cards in one’s hand with new ones from the deck stub, as in draw poker.
The act of staying in a hand in hopes of improving, usually to a straight or flush–on a draw.
A drawing hand.
drawing hand
In any game, an incomplete hand which is not likely to win unless future cards, received by whatever means the game specifies, improve it. For example, having four club-suited cards but no pair in a stud game, hoping that one of the cards to come will be a fifth club, making a flush.
drawing dead
Playing a drawing hand that will lose even if successful (a state of affairs usually only discovered after the fact). I caught the jack to make my straight, but Rob had a full house all along, so I was drawing dead.
drawing live
Not drawing dead; that is, drawing to a hand that will win if successful.
drawing thin
Not drawing completely dead, but chasing a draw in the face of poor odds. Example: a player who will only win by catching 1 or 2 specific cards is said to be drawing thin.
drink pot
A pot won by a player with the agreement that drinks will be bought from the proceeds. See “pot”.
To fold.
Money charged by the casino for providing its services, often dropped through a slot in the table into a strong box. See “rake”.
dry pot
A side pot with no money. Created when a player goes all in and is called by more than one opponent, but not raised. Bluffing into a dry pot is a play that cannot possibly earn a profit, so doing so is considered foolish. It may also be unethical, because it serves to protect the all-in player at the expense of the bettor and the other players, and so is a form of collusion.
To counterfeit, especially when the counterfeiting card matches one already present in the one’s hand.


early position
In a betting round with multiple players involved, those who bet first are said to be in early position. See position.
One’s mathematically expected income from the current deal, calculated by multiplying the amount of money in the pot by one’s probability of winning. For example, if the pot currently contains $100, and you estimate that you have a one in four chance of winning it, then your equity in the pot in $25. Compare to “expected value”.
Expected value.
One’s typical win rate for a particular game, ignoring variance. That is, how much one expects to win (or lose) per hour or per hand over the long run.
expected value, EV
In probability theory, the overall expected payoff of a particular event, calculated by multiplying the probability of each possible outcome by the payoff from each. For example, if there are two possible outcomes from an event (say, flipping a coin), one of which pays $2 and the other of which pays nothing, your EV for the event is $1 (in the long run, if this event happened many times, you would average $1 per event). In poker, one generally associates an EV with a particular action. One’s EV from calling a bet, for example, is the sum of all possible outcomes from calling the bet multiplied by the probability of each. Note that since a bet costs money to make, the payoff of some outcomes–and therefore the EV itself–may be negative.
exposed card
A card whose face has been deliberately or accidentally revealed to players normally not entitled to that information during the play of the game. Various games have different rules about how to handle this irregularity. Compare “boxed card”.


family pot
A deal in which every (or almost every) seated player called the first opening bet.
Aggressive. I was afraid of too many chasers, so I played my trips fast.
In a casino setting, a second or third table playing the same game as a “main” table, and from which players move to the main game as players there leave. Also called a “must-move table.”
See “hop the fence”.
fifth street
The last card dealt to the board in community card games. Less common than river.
The fifth card dealt to each player in stud poker.
fill, fill up
To successfully draw to a full house, typically starting with two pair or three of a kind. Jerry made his flush when I was betting my kings up, but I filled on seventh street to catch up.
To make the opening bet of a round, following the same analogy by which chips are called “ammo”. I called Ken’s bet on fourth with a draw, but I bricked, and when he fired again I had to fold. or I think Randy suspected my earlier bet was a bluff, but when I fired a second shot he let it go.
An unskilled player, or an otherwise skilled player playing carelessly.
To risk money on a long-shot bet
five of a kind
A hand possible only in games with wild cards, defeating all other hands, comprising five cards of equal rank.
fixed limit, flat limit
A betting structure in which a player never chooses the amount to bet, only whether to bet a fixed amount or not.
flat call
A call, in a situation where one might be expected to raise. Normally I raise with jacks, but with three limpers ahead of me I decided to flat call.
floorman, floorperson
A casino employee whose duties include adjudicating player disputes, keeping games filled and balanced, and managing dealers and other personnel. Players may shout “floor!” to call for a floorperson to resolve a dispute, to ask for a table or seat change, or to ask for some other casino service.
In a community card game, the first set of community cards dealt, and the betting round that follows. In Texas hold ’em and Omaha hold’em in particular, this involves a set of three community cards dealt before the game’s second betting round.
flop game
Community card game.
A hand comprising five cards of the same suit.
To relinquish one’s cards, forfeiting any further interest in the pot for this deal.
forced bet
Money that a player is required to place into the pot by the rules of the game. The three common forms are antes, blinds, and bring-ins.
In a casino where more than one table is playing the same game with thesame betting structure, one of the tables may be designated the “main” table,and will be kept full by requiring a player to move from one of the feeder tables to fill any vacancies. Players will generally be informed that their table is a “forced-move” table to be used in this way before they agree to play there. Also “must-move”.
forward motion
A house rule of some casinos states that if a player in turn picks up chips from his stack and moves his hand toward the pot (“forward motion with chips in hand”), this constitutes a commitment to bet (or call), and the player may not withdraw his hand to check or fold. Such a player still has the choice of whether to call or raise.
foul hand
A hand that is ruled unplayable because of an irregularity, such as being found with too many or two few cards, having been mixed with cards of other players or the muck, having fallen off the table, etc. Compare “dead hand”.
Four cards of the same suit. A non-standard poker hand in some games, an incomplete drawing hand in most. See “bobtail”, “four-straight”.
four of a kind, fours
A hand containing four cards of equal rank.
Four cards in rank sequence; either an open-ender or one-ender. A non-standard poker hand in some games, an incomplete drawing hand in most. See “bobtail”, “four-flush”.
fourth street
The fourth card dealt to the board in community card games. Less common than turn.
The fourth card dealt to each player in stud.
fox hunt
After a hand is over, a fox hunt means to reveal the next card that would have come up. If the next card would have been the final card, such as in a community card game with a fixed number of cards, this is called rabbit hunting. Such activity is usually prohibited in most casinos.
free card
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. I wasn’t sure my hand was good, but I bet so I wouldn’t give a free card to Bill’s flush draw.
A situation in which a player is guaranteed to at least break even and may possibly profit. Common in split-pot games.
A tournament with no entry fee. Sometimes offered as a casino promotion, or as a reward for earlier play.
A winner-take-all tournament. That is, a game in which play continues until one player has all the chips.
full, full boat, full hand, full house
A hand with three cards of one rank and two of a second rank. The term “full hand” seems to have been the original, but today “full house” is standard. See full house, “boat”, “tight”.
full bet rule
In some casinos, the rule that a player must wager the full amount required in order for his action to constitute a raise. For example, in a game with a $4 fixed limit, a player facing an opening bet of $4 who wagers $7 is deemed to have flat called, because $8 is required to raise. The alternative is the “half bet rule”.


The muck.
A worthless hand.
A player who earns a living by making small profits over a long period of consistent, conservative play. See “rock”.
guts, guts to open
A game with no opening hand requirement; that is, where the only requirement to open the betting is “guts”, or courage.
Any of several poker variants where pots accumulate over several hands until a single player wins.
An inside straight draw.
To enter the pot cheaply by just calling the blind rather than raising. Also “limp”.


half bet rule
In some casinos, the rule that placing chips equal to or greater than half the normal bet amount beyond the amount required to call constitutes a commitment to raise the normal amount. For example, in a game with a $4 fixed limit, a player facing a $4 opening bet who places $6 in the pot is deemed to have raised, and must complete his bet to $8. The alternative is the “full bet rule”.
half kill
A kill for less than double the normal limits. For example, a $6 game may have a kill for $9 rather than the usual $12.
half-pot limit
A betting structure resembling pot limit, but which allows maximum raises of half the amount in the pot rather than the full amount.
To bet and raise aggressively. Nora kept hammering, so I folded.
“Having the hammer” is being in last position, especially head up. You’ve got the hammer; I check to you.
The set of cards played by one player.
A single instance of a game of poker, begun by shuffling the cards and ending with the award of a pot. Also called a “deal” (though both terms are ambiguous).
hand for hand
In tournament play, the act of equalizing the number of hands played at two or more tables by waiting for slower tables to finish each hand before beginning the next hand on every table. This is usually done to ensure an accurate finishing order to distribute prize money.
Aggressive and uncompromising, said of one’s play. Jim played me hard all night; I could never get a break.
Chips, as opposed to paper money. I gave the floorman $100 for $50 hard and $50 soft.
head up, heads up
Playing against a single opponent. After Lori folded, Frank and I were head up for the rest of the hand.
high, high hand
The best hand using traditional poker hand values, as opposed to lowball. Used especially in high-low split games.
high card
A no pair hand, ranked according to its highest-ranking cards.
To defeat another player by virtue of high-ranking cards, especially kickers.
To randomly select a player for some purpose by having each draw one card, the highest of which is selected (for example, to decide who deals first). When all the players get here, we’ll high card for the button. Often high card by suit is used for this purpose.
high-low, high-low split
Any of several games in which the pot is divided between the player with the best conventional poker hand and the best lowball hand.
high society
Large-denomination chips. Also “society”.
$10,000 worth of chips. “Give me three stacks of high society.”
hit and run
To play for a short time, make money, and leave. Also called “chopping” a game.
hog, hogger
To win all of the pot in a split-pot game, for example, by having both the best high hand and best low hand simultaneously. Also called “scooping” the pot.
hole, hole card
Face-down cards. I think Willy has two more queens in the hole.
A seat, often preceded by a number relative to the button. Sara opened from the 2-hole.
Overt acting to deceive other players. Karl had a big smile when he bet, but it seemed too Hollywood to me, so I called anyway.
home game
A game played at a private venue (usually the home of one of the players), as opposed to a casino.
hop the fence
The enter the pot with a cold call.
A player financially backed by someone else. I lost today, but Larry was my horse in the stud game, and he won big.
A combination game with five games played in rotation: Texas hold ’em, Omaha hold’em, razz, seven-card stud, and eight-or-better seven-card stud high-low. Other combinations of the letters are often seen as well: S.H.O.E., H.O.E., etc.
Looking further into the deck after the hand is over to see what cards would have come next (see also: fox hunt, rabbit hunt).


A cold deck.
idiot end, ignorant end
The bottom end of a straight.
Unbeatable; often said of a hand that a player knows cannot be beaten under the circumstances of play. See also “lock”, “nuts”.
implied odds
Similar to pot odds, but including future bets one can reasonably expect to win. I only had 3-to-1 pot odds for a 5-to-1 draw, but I knew if I made it I’d get two extra bets from Jim, so I called for the implied odds.
To achieve a better hand than one currently holds by adding or exchanging cards as provided in the rules of the game being played. I didn’t think Paula was bluffing, so I decided not to call unless I improved on the draw.
inside, inside straight
A draw to a straight with a single missing rank in the interior, for example, 8-9-J-Q, seeking a 10. Sometimes used to describe a one-end straight, which is mathematically equivalent. Also “belly buster”, “gutshot”. Compare “bobtail”, “open-ender”.
A “business” deal in which players agree to split or reduce a pot (roughly in proportion to the chances of each of them winning) with more cards to come rather than playing out the hand, or else a deal where one player makes a side bet against himself with a third party to hedge against a large loss. This is usually done when one player is all in.
in the bushes, in the weeds
A player sandbagging is said to be “in the bushes” during the time he is quietly checking and calling while others bet aggressively. He will eventually “decloak”.
in the middle
In a game with multiple blinds, an incoming player may sometimes be allowed to post the blinds “in the middle” (that is, out of their normal order) rather than having to wait for them to pass.
A player being whipsawed is said to be “in the middle”.
in the money
To place high enough in a tournament to get prize money.
in turn
A player, or an action, is said to be in turn if that player is expected to act next under the rules. Jerry said “check” while he was in turn, so he’s not allowed to raise.
irregular declaration
An action taken by a player in turn that is not a straightforward declaration of intent, but that is reasonably interpreted as an action by other players, such as rapping the table to signify “check”, or pointing a thumb up to signify “raise”. House rules or dealer discretion may determine when such actions are meaningful and/or binding.
Any of a number of abnormal conditions in play, such as unexpectedly exposed cards, that may call for corrective action. See irregularities.
To play aggressively in order to drive out all but one specific opponent who you believe to be weak. I reraised to isolate Diane because she’s been playing junk all day.


jack it up
To raise.
A game of “jackpot poker” or “jackpots”, which is a variant of five-card draw with an ante from each player, no blinds, and an opening requirement of a pair of jacks or better.
A large pool of money collected by the house and awarded for some rare occurrence, typically a bad beat.
To open or raise the maximum amount allowed.
Money collected by the house. See also “rake”.


Kansas City low
Deuce-to-seven lowball.
keep (a bettor) honest
To call a final bet while not expecting to win, for the primary purpose of discouraging future bluffs.
A card not directly involved in evaluating a hand, but that may be used for breaking ties.
A non-paired card kept before the draw in draw poker in hope of pairing it.
kill, kill pot
An occasional hand played at double the usual stakes at an agreed-upon time; often when a player wins two hands in a row, or when a player scoops in a split-pot game. The “lucky” player is often required to post an extra blind for double the usual blind amount. See also “half-kill”.
The custom of dealing one card face down to the side for each card dealt face up as community in community games. The cards dealt face down (not to any players) are out of play (have been killed) and ensure that the deck is not stacked.
A pool of money built by collecting small amounts from certain pots, often used to buy refreshments, cards, and so on. The home-game equivalent of a rake.


limp in
To enter a pot by simply calling instead of raising.
A player who often calls. Compare to “tight”; see also “aggressive”, “passive”.


move in
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. See table stakes.
To fold.
To discard one’s hand without revealing the cards. Often done after winning without a showdown or at a showdown when a better hand has already been revealed.
The discard pile.
A player who is constantly aggressive and plays many inferior hands.


The best possible hand given the cards on the board


Cards that are not of the same suit. Example: the Ace of Clubs and the King of Spades is Ace-King Offsuit
Cards remaining in the deck that can improve one’s hand.
over the top
re-raising a player’s raise, as in, “I opened the pot from early position, the button popped me back, but I came over the top all in and shut him out.”


Two of the same cards in a given hand.
An opponent who rarely raises. Compare to “aggressive”; see also “loose”, “tight”.
pink game
Any form of poker played with a $7.50 – $15 limit betting structure. Players in these games generally use pink colored $2.50 chips
pocket pair
In Community card or Stud poker, when two of a player’s private cards make a pair.
poker face
A blank face that does not reveal anything about the cards being held. Often used metaphorically outside the world of poker.
position bet
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
post dead
To post a bet amount equal to the small and the big blind combined (the amount of the large blind playing as a live blind, and the amount of the small blind as dead money). In games played with blinds, a player who steps away from the table and misses his turn for the blinds must either post dead or wait for the big blind to re-enter the game.
pot odds
The size of the pot in comparison to the bet. Example: in Hold ’em, the pot contains $100, Joe bets $10, and Ed ponders a call. Ed is getting pot odds of $110:$10, or 11:1
A player that gets paid an hourly rate to start poker games or to help them stay active. Prop players play with their own money, which distinguishes them from shills, who play with the casino’s money.


Four of a kind.


rabbit hunt
After a hand is over, a rabbit hunt means to reveal the last card that would have come up in a community card game with a fixed number of cards. Such activity is usually prohibited in casinos.
1. A collection of 100 chips of the same denomination, usually arranged in 5 stacks in a plastic tray.
2. A plastic tray used for storing a rack of chips.
Three or four cards of different suits, especially said of a Flop.
A fee taken by the house.
ram and jam
To aggressively bet, raise, and reraise on a draw to a strong hand. Similar to a come bet but a bit more aggressive.
ring game
A non-tournament poker game played for stakes, as in a casino or a serious home game.
The fifth card dealt in communal card games such as Texas hold ’em.
A very tight player.
rolled-up trips
In seven-card stud , three of a kind dealt in the first three cards.
A tournament entrant, a contestant.
a hand made by hitting two consecutive cards on the Turn and River. See also, “Backdoor”, and “Bad Beat”


To play your hand slowly to gain an advantage in a tournament with a timed blinds structure. Sandbagging can also refer to wasting time before checking in a hand to lure opponents into thinking you have a poor hand. See sandbagging.
A tournament in which the prize is a free entrance to another (larger) tournament.
Three of a kind with two of the cards in the player’s hole cards and the third card in the community cards. Often confused with “trips”.
When the cards are revealed at the end of the game. Also used outside poker to mean facing up to an opponent.
side pot
A separate pot created to deal with the situation of one player going “all in”. See table stakes.
slow play
A strategy whereby good cards are played conservatively, with hopes that other players will keep playing the hand and build a larger pot.
slow roll
To expose only part of one’s hand at the showdown with the intent of deceiving an opponent as to the actual strength of one’s hand. Usually done by someone with a winning hand by first exposing a card or cards, waiting for a reaction from an opponent, and then exposing the remaining cards to show the winning hand. Considered distasteful and very poor etiquette.
A collection of 20 chips of the same denomination, usually arranged in an orderly column.
In poker, the term steal is often used as merely a synonym for bluff, but there is a more specific use of the term. See Steal
Hand of five consecutive cards which are not all the same suit.
straight flush
Hand of five consecutive cards of a single suit.
Having lost money. I’m stuck $300 right now.
A card placed upwards in Stud poker; also, that form of poker itself.
Cards that are of the same suit
super satellite
A 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.


table stakes
A rule that states that only money on the table at the beginnin of a hand is playable, and that a player may not retrieve money from his or her wallet or purse during the play of a hand. This rule prevents abuse of all-in protection. See table stakes for further explanation.
A player who rarely calls. Compare to “loose”; see also “aggressive”, “passive”.
To make reckless betting decisions as a result of frustration. Players showing this behavior are often said to be on tilt.
Three of a kind with two of the cards in the community cards and the remaining card in the player’s hole cards. Often confused with “set”.
The fourth card dealt in communal card games such as Texas hold ’em.


under the gun
The playing position to the direct 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.
up the ante
Increase the stake. Also commonly used outside the context of poker.


value bet
A bet made for the purpose of increasing the size of the pot, and which the player wants his opponents to call. This is in contrast to a bluff or a protection bet (though some bets may have a combination of these motives).


A 5-high straight.
wild card
a card designated by the dealer before dealing (for instance all sevens) that may be used as any of the 52 cards to fill a hand. In some cases, wildcards can also be used to make five of a kind, a hand that is not possible using the standard 52-card deck. See also “bug”.
wired pair
In Community card or Stud poker, when two of a player’s private cards make a pair. Also called a “pocket pair.”




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *