How to Play | Terms
Speak poker as well as you play it:
Now that you've decided to master the game of poker, in addition to a keen eye and bucket of confidence, you need to be able to talk the talk. Our comprehensive list of poker terminology will help you get your lingo on!
(1) One's turn to act during a hand.
(2) To bet or raise.
(3) Used to describe a game in which there is a lot of betting and raising.
A small bet all players are required to make before a hand is dealt. An ante is similar to a blind, but everyone has to contribute it before a hand commences. Antes give the pot a value right off the bat.
A bet that places all of a player's chips into the pot.
Hitting your needed cards on the turn and the river to make your hand. For example, if there's one heart on the board and you have two in your hand and two more hearts show up on the turn and river, you've hit a "backdoor" flush.
When a player who initially had a substantial statistical lead over an opponent loses his hand to that opponent after the flop, turn, or river.
Bad Beat Story
A retelling or recollection of a bad beat. These are often boring tales you already know the end of. For example: "I had ace-king, and my opponent had 2-3. There was an ace on the board. The turn was a 4, and then - Can you believe it? - the river was a 5!"
The amount of chips the second player to the left of the dealer has to bet. The amount depends on the stakes. Like an ante, it is a posted amount that makes the pot worth playing for before the action begins. It is equivalent to one complete first round bet. It's a called a blind because it amounts to placing a bet without seeing the cards first.
The generic term for either the big blind or the small blind. If you are one of the blinds, you are sitting either immediately to the left of the dealer button (small blind position) or one position farther left (big blind).
The community cards that everyone uses in combination with their pocket cards to form the best hand.
In a tournament, the bubble is the top finisher out of the money. For instance, if there are 450 players in a tournament and the top 45 get paid, then 46th place is known as "the bubble."
The discarding of the top card before each betting round. In the case that there is a distinguishing mark on the top card, the burn card keeps the next card to be dealt concealed before it comes out. That way no unfair information is being intentionally or unintentionally conveyed.
The position of the dealer. In live poker, it's usually denoted by placing a plastic disk in front of the dealer. It rotates clockwise each time the dealer shuffles for a new hand. The button is in an advantageous position, for he acts last in a betting round.
The cost to enter a tournament, or the minimum amount needed to sit down in a cash game at a specific table. Usually 20 times the big blind. So, for example, if you're at a $5/$10 table, you'll need $200 to take a seat.
To contribute the minimum amount of money to the pot necessary to continue playing a hand.
To pass on betting. If there's no action (bet) to you, there's nothing to call. If you don't want to bet, you can just "check." If there's subsequent action from your fellow players in the betting round, then the action will come back to you to either call, fold or raise.
A check-raise is made when a player checks on the first opportunity to bet and later raises any subsequent bet in the same betting round.
To call two or more bets on your turn. If a pot has been bet and raised before it gets to you, and then you call, you're cold calling.
Sequential pocket cards. A 5 of clubs and 6 of hearts would be connectors. If the connectors are the same suit, they are "suited connectors" - e.g., 5 and 6 of clubs.
Cards that are dealt face up in the center of the table, available for all players to use in making a hand.
A duplicate card on the board that greatly devalues your hand. If you have a pair of 6's in your hand, and the board is ace-ace-7-4, and the river card is a 7, you've been "counterfeited." You had two pairs, but now the board has two better pairs. Any other player with a card higher than a 6 in his hand now beats your hand.
The position to the immediate right of the button.
The player who shuffles the deck and deals the cards.
The button (often a plastic disk in live poker) that indicates the dealer. It is passed clockwise after every hand.
Remaining in a hand in the hopes of improving it. For example, you don't have anything concrete yet, but need one or more cards for a straight or a flush. If you call (or raise) a round of betting to see if the needed card(s) come, you are said to be "drawing." The two most common draws are flush draws (drawing for a flush) and straight draws (drawing for a straight). You can also draw for a three of a kind, full house, or better.
To receive a card that transforms your hand from a losing hand to a winning hand.
You're drawing, but it's futile because there is not one card in the deck that will create a winning hand for you. If you have two pairs and hope to make a full house on the river, but your opponent already has four of a kind, you are "drawing dead."
The first three community cards dealt out after the first round of betting is complete.
A poker hand consisting of five cards of the same suit.
To give up by placing your cards face down on the table, losing whatever you have bet so far. You only fold when you think your hand is too weak to compete against the other players.
Four of a Kind
A hand containing all four cards of the same rank.
A hand consisting of a three of a kind and a (different) pair.
A straight completed from "inside" by one possible card. For example, if your pocket cards are 5 and 6 and the flop shows 4-8-king, a 7 and only a 7 on the turn or river would complete your "gutshot" straight. It is the opposite of an open-ended straight, which is completed by any one of two cards from the outside. A gutshot is half as likely to hit as an open-ended straight.
Five cards, made of a player's pocket cards and the community cards
Playing a pot or tournament against only one other player.
Taking future calls from your fellow players into consideration when you are drawing to something. If you draw successfully, you expect they'll call with their hands. These funds are speculative and not concrete, as they aren't in the middle yet and won't be unless you hit your card and they call your bets - hence, "implied."
If you have the same hand as another player at showdown, the one with the highest kicker wins the pot. If the board is 7-7-5-5-2, and you have ace-king and your opponent has king-queen, you win because your ace beats his king. Your ace is the "kicker." The highest card completing a five-card hand is the only determination between winning and losing in this example.
Slang word for calling, implying it's not an aggressive move.
A structure of the game in which bets and raises are capped at a fixed amount.
All the discarded cards in a hand. If a player folds, he tosses his hand "into the muck."
A structure of the game in which players can bet their entire stack. There's a minimum to what you can bet, but not a maximum.
The best possible hand one can have at a given moment. For example, if you have pocket 7's, and the flop is 7-6-2, you have the "nuts" at this point, as trip 7's would be the best possible hand. If the turn card is a 5, you would no longer have the nuts, as that honor now goes to anyone holding 8-9, making a straight. If the river is the last 7, you'd again have the nuts, as your hand is once again the best possible hand.
Holding pocket cards of different suits.
A variety of hold'em in which players receive 4 hole cards and must use exactly two of them, together with 3 of the 5 board cards, to make a hand.
A category of games characterized by a part of each player's hand being exposed.
In hold'em, a pair in the hole that is larger than any community card on the board.
A straight completed from the outside by one of two possible cards. For example, if your pocket cards are 5-6 and the flop shows 4-7-king, either a 3 or an 8 on the turn or river would complete your open-ended straight. An open-ended straight is twice as likely to hit as a "gutshot."
After each player at a table has served as the dealer for a hand. Each time the button passes you is a complete orbit.
A card that will improve your hand. If all the money is in the middle, and you turn over a pair of kings and your opponent has a pair of aces, you need one of the two remaining kings - your two "outs" - to beat your opponent.
Having cards higher than the board cards or your opponent's pocket. For example, if it's heads up and someone's all-in, the two remaining players would expose their cards. If it is a pair of sevens versus ace-king, the ace and king are referred to as "over-cards."
Two cards of the same rank.
The cards in your hand that are not part of the community cards. In hold'em, it's your two down cards. In Omaha, it's your four down cards. Also known as hole cards.
A situation that likely requires you to call due to the amount of money in the pot vis-a-vis your remaining stack of chips. In these situations, it makes no sense to fold.
A structure of the game in which bets and raises are capped by the current size of the pot.
The ratio of money in the pot compared to what you need to call to keep playing. For example, suppose there is $100 in the pot. Somebody bets $10, so the pot now contains $110. It costs you $10 to call, so your pot odds are 11-to-1. Do you think the odds of your hand being the best are better than 11-to-1? If so, you should call. Similarly, if you are getting the same 11-to-1 odds and you don't have a made hand but the odds of drawing to a better hand are greater than 11-to-1, it would also be correct to call.
Four of a kind.
In flop games, a flop in which no two cards are of the same suit. E.g., "The flop was an ace-9-7 rainbow."
The amount that the house takes out of a poker hand.
A standard poker game in which money is wagered during each hand.
The final of the five community cards.
Slang for a "tight" player. A rock can sit at a table orbit after orbit without playing for a pot. When he enters a pot, you know he's got the goods.
To wager more than the minimum required to call, forcing other players to put in more money as well.
An ace-high straight flush, the best possible hand in standard poker.
A tournament with a smaller buy-in that pools all the entrants' funds and awards seats to a higher-value tournament rather than cash. For example, a $500 satellite that awards a WSOP.com Main Event seat ($10,000 value) would award one seat for every 20 entrants in the satellite tournament. Satellites give players the chance to enter into an expensive tournament by winning or placing well in a less expensive tournament.
A bluff with a hand that has the potential to improve should the bluff itself be ineffective.
Having a pocket pair that hits on the board, making three of a kind.
Having fewer chips than the rest of the players at the table or in the tournament.
When, after the final round of betting, players turn their hands face-up. A poker hand will only reach a showdown if there are callers in the last round of betting, or if someone is all-in prior to the last betting round.
Separate from the main pot. If one or more players is all-in, the pot to which the all-in players contributed is the main pot. A side pot is created from any additional money bet by the remaining players. There can be many side pots if there are more than one all-in player. An all-in player is only eligible to win a pot to which he has contributed.
A poker tournament that starts whenever a specified number of players have registered. As the name suggests, you "sit" (register), and, when there are enough of your fellow players to start the game, you begin, or "go."
When, in an attempt to have other players stick around and possibly call your bets, you play your hand less aggressively than necessary. For example, if you flop a full house, it is unlikely anyone is going to beat your hand. Slow-playing the hand may allow the other players to make their hands and therefore continue to call your bets.
The smaller of two blind bets. The position to the immediate left of the dealer button position, and to the right of the big blind position.
When two or more players make the same hand and the pot is divided between equivalent high hands.
An optional pre-deal bet, typically made by the player to the left of the big blind. The straddle amount is twice the big blind (same as a legal raise). The straddler earns the "option" from the big blind. He may re-raise when the action comes around to him. A straddle is a cash game convention and is not usually permitted in a tournament.
Placing a bet on the table in a staggered motion or multiple motions. String bets are not allowed, and the dealer will remove the added amount of the bet if he determines a bet to be a string bet. It's not permitted because it could be used to gauge the reaction of other players before you commit the entire intended amount of the raise.
A hand consisting of 5 cards in sequence but not in suit.
A hand consisting of 5 cards in sequence and the same suit.
An interpretation of a physical action or a betting pattern that seemingly reveals how strong or weak a player's hand is. The best players do not provide many tells themselves and have an ability to detect tells of their opponents in order to determine how to play a hand.
Usually the result of taking a bad beat or series of bad beats, a player is said to be "on tilt" when he plays with reckless abandon. Presumably, the term derives from tilting a pinball machine.
Requesting more time to think. A player will call for time to avoid the dealer killing the hand due to inactivity. Conversely, a player that takes excessive time to make decisions may have a "clock" called on them by the other players who seek to keep the flow of the game going.
A pair with the highest card on the board. For example, if you have an ace and 7 in the hole, and it's a 3-4-7 flop, you've got a "top pair" with an ace kicker. If you had a pair greater than sevens in your pocket, you'd have an over-pair.
A poker event involving one or more tables of players who each begin with a fixed amount of tournament chips. They play until they have either lost that amount, are the last player remaining holding all the chips, or the remaining players enter into an agreement to end the game. In a tournament, players buy in for a certain amount, which goes into a prize pool that is distributed to the top performers, usually the final 10% of the remaining players. You cannot get up with your chips and leave the game like a cash game. You are in the tournament until its conclusion.
Slang for three of a kind.
The fourth community card. Put out face-up, by itself. Also known as "Fourth Street."
Under the Gun
Player sitting in the first-to-act position. It's the position immediately to the left of the big blind, pre-flop, and to the left of the button for subsequent betting rounds.