Poker Terminology

This quick guide will show the main poker terms you need to know in order to not look like a rookie when trying your luck at the tables.

You know the rules and a few strategies but do you know all the poker terms and slang? Many players, rookies and seasoned alike agree that one of the most difficult things to understand about poker is poker terminology. These are common expressions that are used on a poker table or when talking to other players, essentially.

Poker Terms

Below you will find a non-comprehensive list of poker terms to help you get familiar with the frequently used words at the poker tables. It helps a lot to know beforehand what’s happening during a round of cards or when talking to other players.

Knowing the most common poker terms or poker lingo, like some players prefer to say, increases your grasp of the game and makes you more confident around poker tables. You can use the following jump links to go around:

A – B – C – D – E – F – G – H – I – J – K – L – M – N – O – P – Q – R – S – T – U


  • Angle Shooting – This is the practice of any form of unethical play, usually targeted at inexperienced players, for example, banking on someone misinterpreting the game. It is not illegal but it is frowned upon.
  • Ante – In Poker, Ante means the money which must be put forward by the players in order to play that round of poker. You are likely familiar with the term “Up the Ante”, which comes from the phrase.
  • All-in – To run out of chips while betting or calling. A player may not go into their pocket for more money during a hand, if they run out, a side pot is created in which they have no interest.


  • Backdoor – To secure a win using the turn and the river.
  • Bad Beat – a bad beat is when you have a strong hand, but it loses anyway.
  • Big Blind – The second bet of a round, which must be higher, usually double, than the small blind. Made by the person to the left of the small blind.
  • Big One for One Drop – a poker tournament with a $1,000,000 buy-in.
  • Big Slick – Holding an ace or a king as your hole card.
  • Bluff– To carry on playing despite knowing that your hand is not going to win, or unlikely to win.
  • Button – Sometimes referred to as the “Dealer” button this is the indicator of where each betting round begins. The person to the left of the button will put the small blind, followed by the next person on the left who will put the big blind. In smaller games, the dealer may literally just be the person who deals the cards, but not at casinos.
  • Buy – To bluff, hoping to “buy” the pot without being called. (2) As in “buy the button.” To bet or raise, hoping to make players between you and the button fold, thus allowing you to act last on subsequent betting rounds.


  • Call – a poker call is to meet the funds already bet in a game of poker. A necessary element of the game if you want to continue playing.
  • Coin Poker – a popular cryptocurrency poker site.
  • Community Cards – The cards shared by all players that can be used with your own hand.
  • Check – To choose not to raise. This can only be done if you have an equal amount on the table like everyone else.
  • Check-raise – To raise after initially checking.
  • Cold Call To call more than one bet in a single action. For instance, suppose the first player to act after the big blind raises. Now any player acting after that must call two bets “cold.” This is different from calling a single bet and then calling a subsequent raise.
  • Complete Hand – This is simply a hand that is defined by all five cards – a straight, flush, full house or straight flush.
  • Connector – A Hold’em starting hand in which the two cards are one apart in rank. Examples: K-Q, 7-6.
  • Counterfeit – To make your hand less valuable because of board cards that duplicate it. Example: you have 8-7 and the flop comes 9-T-J, so you have a straight. Now an 8 comes on the turn. This has counterfeited your hand and made it almost worthless.
  • Crack – To beat a big hand. You hear this most often applied to pocket aces.
  • Cripple – Means that you have most or all of the cards that somebody would want to have with the current board. If you have pocket kings, and the other two kings flop, you have crippled the deck.


  • Dead Man’s Hand – This term is a nickname for either a two-pair of black aces or black eights.
  • Deuces Wild Poker – a variety of video poker. Deuces Wild strategy guides can be found online to help you get started.
  • Draw – To stay in the game with a weak hand in the hope that it will be improved via cards dealt later in the game.
  • Drawing Dead – When you have decided to draw, but it doesn’t pay off. For example, if you’re drawing to make a flush but your opponent already have a full house.
  • Draw Out – When a draw pays off and your hand is improved by the newly dealt card.


  • Equity – It’s a fancy term to say your share of the pot. Basically,t it gives you an idea of how much you can “expect” to win.


  • Final Table – The final table is found in poker tournaments. It will see the last poker game happening between the final players who made it through the earlier stages.
  • Flop – A poker flop is the practice of the first three community card being dealt in Omaha or Texas Hold’em, preceding the turn.
  • Fold – To forfeit that round due to failing to meet the raise or not feeling comfortable enough with your hand.
  • Foul – A hand that may not be played for one reason or another. A player with a foul hand may not make any claim on any portion of the pot.
  • Full House – This is a hand in poker. Full house cards consist of three cards with the same number or value and 2 other cards with the same number or value.
  • Free Card – A turn or river card on which you don’t have to call a bet. For example, if you raise when you flop a flush draw, your opponents may check to you on the turn. If you make your flush on the turn, you can bet. If you don’t get it on the turn, you can check as well, seeing the river card for “free.”


  • Gutshot Straight – When you have a sequence of four cards that would equal a straight, but the card in the middle of the sequence is missing. For example, holding a 9, J, Q, K, but missing the 10.


  • Heads-up Poker – A form of poker played between just two people.
  • Hit – As in “the flop hit me,” meaning the flop contains cards that help your hand.
  • Hole Cards – The cards you hold in your hand, which you combine with the deck to form a sequence.


  • Implied Odds – Pot odds that do not exist at the moment, but may be included in your calculations because of bets you expect to win if you hit your hand.


  • Jackpot – A special bonus paid to the loser of a hand if he gets a very good hand beaten. In Hold’em, the “loser” must typically have aces or better beaten. The jackpot is funded with money removed from the game as part of the rake and can accumulate massively.


  • Kicker – It is an unpaired card used to determine the better of two almost-equivalent hands. For example, you have A-K and your opponent has A-Q. If the flop has an ace in it, you both have a pair of aces but you have a king kicker, this is especially important for the Hold’em variation of the game.


  • Let It Ride – A type of poker game. Free Let it Ride is available online if you want to try it.
  • Live Blind – A forced bet put in by one or more players before any cards are dealt.


  • Muck – To discard your hand when have folded.


  • No Limit – A version of poker in which a player may bet any amount of chips (up to the number in front of them) whenever it is their turn to act.


  • Offsuit – A starting hand with two cards of different suits (on the variation Hold’em).
  • One Gap – A starting hand with two cards two apart in rank (on the variation Hold’em).
  • Open-Ended Straight Draw – Seeking one of two card values to make a straight. For example, if you’re holding 9-8 with a board of 2-7-6 it can make a straight with either a ten (6-7-8-9-T) or with a five (5-6-7-8-9).
  • Out – A card that will make your hand win.
  • Overcall – To call a bet after one or more other players have already called it.
  • Overcard – A card higher than any card on the board. For instance, if you have A-Q and the flop comes J-7-3, you don’t have a pair, but you have two overcards.
  • Overpair – A pocket pair higher than any card on the flop. If you have Q-Q and the flop comes J-8-3, you have an overpair.


  • Poker Room – A room where poker gameplay happens, in the real-world or online.
  • Poker River – The final community card dealt in Omaha and Texas Hold’em poker to complete the 5 in the middle of the table.
  • Poker Sequence – The cards a player is holding all together.
  • Pay Off – To call a bet when the bettor is representing a hand that you can’t beat, but the pot is sufficiently large to justify a call anyway.
  • Play the Board – To show down a hand in Hold’em when your cards don’t make a hand any better than is shown on the board. Note that if you play the board, the best you can do is split the pot with all remaining players.
  • Pocket – It’s a slang to refer to your unique cards that only you can see.
  • Post – To put in a blind bet, generally required when you first sit down in a card-room game. You may also be required to post a blind if you change seats at the table in a way that moves you away from the blinds.
  • Pot Limit – A version of poker in which a player may bet up to the amount of money in the pot whenever it is his turn to act.
  • Price – The pot odds you are getting for a draw or call.


  • Quads – Four of a kind.


  • Ragged – A flop or board that doesn’t appear to help anybody.
  • Rainbow – A flop that contains three different suits, thus no flush can be made on the turn. Can also mean a complete five-card board that has no more than two of any suit, making a flush impossible.
  • Raise – To increase the amount of the current bet in play.
  • Rake – the rake in poker is the commission owed to the casino from the pot each hand. Thus, taking a rake is when a casino takes the money from the pot.
  • Rank – The numerical value of a card (as opposed to its suit).
  • Represent – To play as if you hold a certain hand. Let’s say you raised before the flop and then raised again when the flop came ace high, you would be representing at least an ace with a good kicker.
  • Ring Game – A regular poker game as opposed to a tournament. Also called live game since hard cash is in play instead of plastic chips.
  • River – The fifth and last community card, put out face-up, by itself. Also known as “fifth street.
  • Rock – A player who plays very tight and not creatively. He raises only with the best hands and folds with bad cards, thus making these players very predictable.


  • Set – Three of a kind when you have two of the rank in your hand, and there is one on the board.
  • Short Stack – A number of chips you have compared to the other players at the table.
  • Showdown – The point at which all players remaining in the hand turn their cards over and determine who has the best hand.
  • Side Pot – A pot created in which a player has no interest because he has run out of chips. Example: John bets £6, Mark calls the £6, and Patrick calls but he has only £2 left. In this case, an £8 side pot is created that either John or Mark can win, but not Patrick. However, he can still win all the money in the original or main pot.
  • Slow Play – To play a strong hand weakly so more players will stay in the pot.
  • Slow Rolling – A poker slow roll is a frowned-upon practise where a player with the best hand makes his final bet overly extravagant to add unnecessary drama.
  • Small blind – The opening bet of a round, usually pre-determined by the casino, played by the player sat next to the dealer.
  • Split Pot – When two players have identical hands and then proceed to share the winnings.
  • Split Two Pair – A two pair hand in which one of each of your cards’ ranks appears on the board as well.
  • Straddle – What is a straddle in poker is when a player voluntary makes a bet after the small and big blinds, but before the flop.
  • String Bet – This is a form of bet where the player doesn’t put all the chips required for a bet in one motion. Instead, he does it in multiple motions. This is illegal in most live poker games online.


  • Top Pair – A hand that contains a pair with the highest card in-play.
  • Turn – The fourth card dealt into the community cards after the flop in a game of Omaha or Texas Hold’em, preceding the river.
  • Tell – A clue or hint that a player unknowingly gives about his hand, his next action, etc. That’s why many players use sunglasses to hide their facial expression.
  • Tilt – To play wildly or recklessly. A player is said to be “on tilt” if he is not playing his best, playing too many hands, trying wild bluffs, raising with bad hands, etc.
  • Time – This is usually a simple request by a player to suspend play while he decides what he’s going to do because if a player doesn’t request time, the dealer may rule that the player has folded.
  • Top Two – Two pair with your two hole cards pairing the two highest cards on the board.
  • Top and Bottom – Two pair, with your two hole cards pairing the highest and lowest cards on the board.
  • Trips – Three of a kind.


  • Under the Gun – Under the Gun in poker means to next to the big blind in hold’em or Omaha poker. As such, you are the first to act in the round.
  • Ultimate Bet – a controversial poker site that was involved in a scandal a decade ago.


With all this poker terminology in your arsenal, there are now very few situations that you will find yourself unable to understand or articulate properly.

If you want to go a step further and practice your poker terms at the table, take a look at our other poker guides below for more necessary information and where to find online casinos offering poker tables.

Good luck at the Poker tables, play safe and have fun!

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Harper Gallagher, a specialist in online casino games, has established her presence in the virtual gambling world with her profound knowledge of craps and a variety of other table games. With an innate talent for numerical examination and a keen analytical intellect, Harper's transition from her humble roots to a notable position within the online gambling sphere reflects her relentless commitment and passion for the field.
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