Poker Terms Glossary: Understanding the Lingo of the World’s Most Popular Card Game

The most commonly used poker terms
Reading time: 22 minutes

Along with all the skills, tricks, tips, and strategies to master the game of poker, you need to know the lingo. That’s why we created a glossary of the most popular poker terms.

By reading our guide, you go from a poker novice to a Las Vegas card shark in next to no time!

The Most Common Poker Terms Explained

Now that you understand the different poker games, you’ll probably want to learn the most common poker terms.

Here are some common poker terms that will help your skills at the poker table:

A

Ace in the hole: ‘Ace in the hole’ refers to a player having an ace in the hand of cards they have been dealt. They have an Ace as one of their hole cards.

Ace High: A hand you can make where the high card is an Ace without at least a pair.

Aces Up: A hand with two pairs, one of which is an Ace.

Action: Any betting or raising that takes place during a hand.

Action Card: Action cards in poker are community cards that influence gameplay and betting, typically appearing on the flop, turn, or the river, and prompting players to make strategic decisions based on the new information provided by these cards.

Active Players: Active players are players who are still playing with a chance of winning the pot. They have yet to fold.

Add-On: Adding an amount (during a designated break) to a stack of tournament chips for a set fee.

A-Game: When you play poker with an optimal mindset, you’re said to be playing your ‘A-Game, or playing ‘in the zone’.

All-in: A bet that commits all of a player’s chips to the pot.

Angle: Players are said to be ‘angle shooting’ when they aim to manipulate the rules to gain an unfair advantage.

Ante: A small forced bet that all players must make before the flop is dealt.

Any Two Cards: An expression used in Texas Hold’em poker to convey that the two hole cards don’t matter.

B

Backing: When money is lent to a player, and the lender receives a percentage of their profits in return.

Bank: In poker, the bank refers to the collective amount of money or chips that are available for betting during a game. It serves as the central pool from which players can win or lose chips and it is usually managed by a designated dealer, or in a tournament or professional setting, the casino itself.

Bankroll: A bankroll refers to the total amount of chips or money a player sets aside specifically for playing poker.

Bet: A bet is an action where a player puts money or chips into the pot during a betting round. The amount of the bet can vary based on the specific game and table limits.

Betting Structure: Betting Structure refers to a predetermined set of rules for betting limits in a particular game. Common betting structures include no-limit, pot-limit, and fixed-limit.

Big Blind: A forced bet that is made by the player sitting 2 positions clockwise left of the dealer during the preflop betting round. The big blind’s bet must be double that of the small blind.

Blank: A blank refers to a card in a flop game of poker that has been dealt but does not affect the strength of a player’s hand. For example, if a player was looking for a heart card to complete a flush but a 4 of spades was turned over, this card would have no effect on the player’s hand.

Blind: To perform an action during a poker game without looking at your cards.

Blocker: A card that helps to block your opponent from making a winning hand. For example, holding a King in your hand helps to block them from getting a King.

Bluff: A bet or raise made with a weak hand in an attempt to make other players believe that you have a strong hand.

Board: The board is the name given to the community cards that are dealt face-up on the table and are shared by all the players.

Boat: This is another name given to a Full-house hand

Bottom dealing: This is trick or cheat dealing, where the card is dealt from the bottom of the deck rather than the top.

Bottom Pair: When you make a pair with the lowest rank card on the board when playing a version of poker that uses community cards like Texas Hold’em and Omaha.

Bounty: When players collect a prize after they knock out a specific player in a poker tournament. A bounty is usually put on professional poker players during big games.

Bring-in: When a player is forced to make a payment because they have the worst upcard during the third street in Stud poker.

Broadway: Cards with a value of 10 are known as ‘Broadway’ cards, such as 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace. An Ace-high straight is also known as ‘Broadway’.

Brunson: A Brunson refers to a starting hand of a 10 and 2, specifically the 10 of spades and 2 of any suit. It is named after poker legend Doyle Brunson, who won the World Series of Poker twice in a row (76 & 77) with this particular hand. Despite the hand being given a name, it is considered a weak hand and not recommended for play in most situations.

Bug: A bug is another name given to a wild card. This card can be used as any card value to make a strong hand.

Burn Card: When a dealer is dealing the cards to the players, he/she must discard the first card of the deck. This prevents cheating or trick dealing.

Bum Deal: If the dealer misdeals the cards, the deal is called a bum deal and all the cards must be returned for the dealer to deal again.

Busted: Refers to a draw, like a flush-draw or straight-draw, that missed its card and didn’t complete.

Buy the Pot: If a player makes a large opening bet with the intention of forcing the other players to fold their hands, this player is said to have ‘bought the pot’.

Buy-in: The amount of money required to join a game of poker. This can vary depending on the casinos, but the buy-in amount is usually fixed during tournaments.

C

Call: To match the amount of the current bet.

Calling Your Bluff: When an opponent suspects you’re bluffing, they’ll ‘call your bluff’ – which means they make a correct call during a cash game.

Cap: When a limit is placed on the amount you can wager post-flop.

Case: The last card of a certain rank in the deck of cards. For example, if there are already three Kings in play, the last King in the deck is known as the ‘case’ King if it’s dealt during online poker or poker games in a physical casino.

Centre Pot: The centre pot is the name given to the main portion of the pot formed during a game. This includes bets and chips wagered by all active players up to a certain point in the game.

Chance: The probability of something occurring during a game of poker, usually presented as a percentage.

Chase: In poker, chase refers to a player’s decision to continue betting or calling to pursue a hand that is currently not strong but has the potential to improve on future community cards.

Check: To pass on betting in a round without folding. Depending on the position at the table and betting round, if a player is undecided about whether to play, they can check to see if other players are playing before making the decision to fold or bet. They can do this by knocking or tapping the felt, or by simply saying check.

Chip: A round circular disk representing a certain amount of money a player has to bet.

Cold-Call: A call made in the first round of betting, which is the player’s first action during the betting round.

Cold Deck: An expression that can be used during a game when there seems to be a bad run of cards.

Collusion: When two or more players collude to cheat against other unsuspecting players.

Community card: A community card is a card placed by the dealer which all players at the table can play with to create strong ranking hands.

Complete: Used in both Omaha and Hold’em to refer to calling in the small blind. Also, refers to raising the small bet size if you’re playing the bring-in during Stud poker games.

Continuation Bet: When you bet on the current street after being the final aggressor on the previous street.

Cutoff(CO): The player who is seated at the poker table to the direct right of the button. It offers a good opportunity for stealing the blinds.

D

Dark Bet: When a player makes a bet without waiting to check which additional cards are dealt on the current street.

Dead Hand: A ‘dead hand’ is a hand that is no longer in play due to a rule violation or disqualification. A dead hand may occur if a player exposes their cards prematurely, acts out of turn, touches another player’s cards, or is found to have broken the rules.

Dead Man’s Hand: Dead Man’s Hand consists of two pair (a set of black aces, and a set of black 8s). It is known as Dead Man’s Hand after a legendary wild west tale, where Wild Bill Hickok was shot and killed during a poker game in 1876. This was the hand he was holding when he was shot.

Deal: Deal, or dealing, refers to the action of distributing cards to players at the beginning of a hand or during certain stages of the game. The deal rotates around the table so each player has the chance to deal the cards unless there is an official card dealer present. This is usually the case in a casino setting or a tournament.

Dealer: The dealer is the person who deals the cards. If in a casino or tournament setting, the dealer is the name given to the position from which play begins.

Dealer’s Choice: In house games of poker, dealer’s choice refers to the dealer being allowed to choose which version of poker or rules the next hand is to be played. For example, once a hand ends and the dealer moves on to the next position, the new dealer may call ‘five card draw’ despite the last hand played under Texas Hold’em rules. Similarly, the dealer can simply say ‘one-eyed jacks are wild’, meaning the jack of spades and jack of hearts are played as wild cards.

Deuce: Deuce is commonly used to describe the 2 of any suit in a game of poker.

Discard: Discard refers to the act of getting rid of one or more cards from a player’s hand. This only occurs in specific versions of poker such as draw poker, video poker, or certain forms of stud poker.

Domination: When a weak hand or a weak draw is up against a strong hand or draw when there’s lots of action.

Donkey: Similar to fish, ‘donkey’ refers to a weak player.

Door Card: A ‘door card’ refers to the first face-up card that is dealt to each player in specific variants of Stud Poker. This card is dealt after all hole cards have been dealt.

Double Up: When a player doubles the size of a chip stack after they win an all-in.

Downcard: During Stud poker, this refers to any cards dealt face down to a player.

Draw: A player can ‘draw’ new cards in some variants of poker, such as five-card draw and video poker. This action involves a player exchanging or replacing some of the cards in their hand with new cards from the deck.

Drop: Drop is another word for ‘fold’. When a player decided to exclude oneself from a hand.

Ducks: A nickname for pocket twos when playing Texas Hold’em poker.

E

Early Position: The first two or three seats of a full-ring poker table. Also refers to the lojack position on a six-handed table.

Effective Stacks: When there are two stacks in play, this refers to the smallest stack.  It’s known as an effective stack because the larger stack cannot wager more chips than what the shorter stack has in play.

Expected Value: Refers to calculations you can use to determine how profitable you can expect a certain play to be in the long run.

F

Face Card:  Refers to a Jack, Queen, or King where the card design features a picture of a face.

Family Pot: This refers to a situation where all or most of the players at the table decide, to enter the hand by calling the initial bet or raising.

Fastplay: Describes when a player comes out betting and raising because they have a strong hand.

Favourite: A certain player or hand more likely to win statistically.

Felt: The material covering a poker table. It usually comes in variations of green, blue or red.

Fold: To give up on a hand and forfeit any chips that have been bet.

Fold equity: The probability that an opponent will fold to a bet or raise.

Fifth Street: During a Stud poker game, this term describes the third round of betting. Where every remaining player is dealt a fifth card.

Fish: Like ‘donkey’, a fish refers to a weak player.

Five of a Kind: In games where there are wild cards in play, a new hand can be created consisting of 4 of a kind and a wild card.

Flop Game: Flop games refer to games with community cards. These games deal cards on the table that can be used by any player to form his/her hand. It can also refer to the second betting round when playing versions using community cards.

Flush: A flush poker hand is a hand comprising of cards all from the same suit.

Fold: When you ‘fold’ in poker, you exclude yourself from the current hand/round.

Fouled Hand: Like ‘dead hand’, this refers to a hand that is considered invalid or disqualified due to a rule violation or error made by the player.

Four of a Kind: A hand in poker consisting of 4 cards of the same value.

Fourth street: Fourth street refers to the fourth community card that is dealt face-up on the table in certain variants, such as seven-card stud and Texas Hold’Em.

Freeroll: A poker tournament where there is no buy-in needed. It can also refer to a hand that can chop or win but rarely lose.

Full House: A poker hand consisting of three of a kind and a pair.

G

Gap: The gap between cards of a consecutive rank.

Grinding: Players who are in for the long haul, playing for long hours and slowly making a profit.

Gutshot: An inside straight draw, such as holding a 5, 7, 8, 9 and needing a 6 to complete the straight.

H

Hanger: A card that protrudes from the bottom during base dealing.

Hand: The five cards that a player has in their hand, plus any community cards that have been dealt. It can also refer to a whole round of poker between the same set of players.

Hand for Hand: During a poker tournament, each table needs to finish its current hand before the tournament can progress to the next hand.

Heads-up: A poker game between two players.

Hero Call:  When a player makes a speculative call in the hope that their opponent is bluffing.

High Hand: A poker hand where a player doesn’t hold a pair (or stronger). The strength of the hand is defined by the highest card, with Aces typically the highest in most variations of poker.

High Roller: Gamblers who play high-stakes games and typically bet a large amount of money. The term isn’t just used in poker but also in various casino games.

Hit: Players choose to ‘hit’ when a card falls, giving them a decent hand.

Hole cards: The cards that are dealt to a player by the dealer in certain variants of poker. They are also known as pocket cards.

Hold ’em: A type of poker game in which each player is dealt between 2 and 4 private cards and then five community cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table. Variations include Texas Hold’Em and Omaha Hold’em.

House: The casino that runs the game, either an online casino or a physical casino.

I

Implied Odds: A main pot odds calculation that factors in the additional chips players could win on later streets if they make their hand.

Insurance: A side bet with another player at the table.

ITM: Stands for ‘in the money’. Used in a poker tournament when players are in line for a cash prize because they’ve passed the bubble. The bubble is when one more player needs to be knocked out before all the remaining players have a chance to win money.

J

Jackpot: In certain games, players can enter into a ‘jackpot’, which can be won under specific circumstances or conditions. Players place an extra wager to enter into the jackpot. Usually, in tournament or casino settings, if a player gets a royal flush they win the jackpot.

Joker: Joker is an extra card, found in a 56-card deck. In certain games, this card is playable as a wild card.

K

Kicker: Describes a card that doesn’t directly form a hand but contributes to the strength of a hand. When two players have the same hand value, the person with the best kicker cards will win.

Kitty: Kitty is another name given to the pot.

L

LAG: Acronym for ‘Loose Aggressive’, describing a player who plays their starting hand aggressively.

Last Longer: A side bet between tournament players to see who will last longer in the tournament.

Laydown: When a player folds their hand, usually reluctantly.

Leverage: Refers to chips that influence correct poker strategy even though they’re not currently in play.

Limit: Describes a game with a fixed-limit betting structure, where bets and raises go up in fixed increments.

Limp: When a player calls when there’s no raise during the first betting round.

Lowball: A type of poker that uses a low-hand ranking system, basically when the lowest hand wins. Sometimes known as low-hand poker.

M

Mark: Refers to a weak player at the table whom stronger players may target.

Match the Pot: This describes a betting action where a player matches the total amount of chips or money that is already in the pot.

Mental Game: The importance of a strong mental outlook when you play poker because so much relies on reading other players and being aware of how others perceive you.

Middle Position: When playing on a full-ring poker table, the middle position refers to the hijack, lojack and mp1. If playing a six-handed table, it refers only to the hijack.

Muck: When a dealer ‘burns’ a card, this card gets placed face down in a spot away from the other cards, which is known as the ‘muck’.

Must Move: At a physical casino, when the main poker table is full, the casino will create an overflow game at another table. The players must move when a seat becomes free at the main table.

N

Nit: Describes a risk-averse player who doesn’t play many of their starting hands but prefers to wait and hope for a big payout.

Nosebleed: Describes an ultra-high-stakes cash game of poker.

No-Limit: A poker betting structure where you can bet or raise any amount at any point in the game.

O

Offsuit: Used to describe a starting hand with no coordination between the suits. It’s always better to start with a suited hand than an offsuit hand to create a stronger hand.

Omaha: A popular version of poker that uses community cards. Every player receives four hole cards on the preflop betting round.

One-Gap: Used to describe two cards that aren’t in consecutive order, containing a gap of one.

Open-Ended Straight Draw: When a player is waiting for one of two cards to fit the outside of a potential run. For example, if a player was holding a 5, 6, 7, 8, to make a straight, they would need a 9 or 4.

Open-Raise: When a player makes the first raise during the first betting round.

OOP: Stands for ‘out of position’ when a player isn’t in a strong playing position.

Overbet: Making a bet that’s larger than the current size of the pot.

Overcall: When a player makes a call that another player has already made.

Overcard: Refers to a card higher than the board or the current holding. For example, if you’re holding a pair of 10s on the flop and the turn card is a King, the King is the overcard to the pair.

Overlay: When the poker room injects more money into the prize pool of a tournament prize pool. Usually, this occurs when a tournament can’t deliver on the promised payout from using player buy-ins alone.

Overlimp: When a player limps on the first betting round after another player has already limped (see Limp).

Overpair: A pair in the hole higher than the highest card on the board. It’s used in versions of poker that use community cards, like Hold’em and Omaha.

P

Pair: A hand consisting of 2 cards of the same card value.

Play the Board: In a flop game, specifically Texas Hold’Em, a player can play a hand which consists of only community cards. This is called ‘playing the board’.

Pocket Aces: If you are dealt a pair of aces from the dealer, these are known as pocket aces.

Poker Face: The act of portraying a motionless expression while playing poker, so another player cannot read your face to tell if you are bluffing or not.

Position: Refers to the specific position of a player at the poker table. Usually referred as “in position” or “out of position”.

Postflop: Describes every round after the second betting round (the flop) in community card versions of poker.

Pot: The total amount of money that has been bet in a hand.

Pot Committed: The idea that a player has invested enough and is too committed to fold their hand.

Pot odds: Usually expressed as a percentage or ratio, this is the amount players need to call when facing a bet relative to the amount in the pot.

Pot Limit:  A poker betting structure where the maximum bet or raise allowed is pot-sized.

Pre-Flop: The Pre-flop is the opening betting round in a Hold’Em game of poker. The Pre-flop comes before the first three community cards are dealt face-up on the table.

Prop Player: A poker player whom a casino gives an hourly wage to play poker at their tables. While they receive a wage, they still gamble using their own money.

Protection: Making a bet or a raise with a made hand to fold out an opponent’s live equity.

Q

Quads: Quads is another name for Four of a Kind.

Qualify: If you’re playing where the low hand wins, it must qualify before being recognised as a legitimate low hand. You need to hold five cards with an eight or lower value.

R

Rainbow: Describes a starting hand or a board texture where each card is a different suit.

Raise: To increase the amount of the current bet.

Rake: The rake is the percentage from the pot that a casino or tournament host takes as a commission for running the game.

Rank: A card’s value or number. For example, a Jack is worth 10, and numbered cards are worth the value written on them.

Range: Describes a distribution of potential holdings a player might hold.

Read: Also known as ‘tell’, it describes having a good vision over the hand your opponent is likely to have based on their mannerisms and behaviour.

Redeal: This refers to the action of invalidating the current hand and starting a new hand from the beginning. This may occur for a number of reasons, including a bum deal, a rule violation, or a significant error that interferes with the integrity of the hand.

Re-raise: Raising after a raise has already been made on the current street.

Reverse Implied Odds: An adjusted pot odds calculation considering the money you may lose on later streets after completing the draw.

River: The fifth and final community card that is dealt in a flop poker game.

Rounder: This term, made famous by the movie starring Matt Damon, refers to a person who travels to different locations to play poker tournaments.

Royal Flush: The strongest hand in poker. A royal flush consists of an Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and 10 all of the same suit.

Royal Cards: King, Queen and Jacks of any suit are referred to as royal cards.

Run: Describes the fall of cards. Running good or running bad can also be used to describe a lucky or unlucky streak.

Rundown: Typically describes when you’re dealt a starting hand in Omaha that is connected, such as a 10, 9, 8 and 7.

S

Scare Card: A card that may scare an opponent and means they end up folding more often.

Semi-Bluff: Making a bluff with a drawing hand. For example, bluffing while you hold a flush draw, so even if you don’t pick up the pot, you may make the flush on the next street.

Sequence: The order of the cards. For example, a hand with five cards in sequential rank order is a straight in poker.

Set: A three-of-a-kind hand where a player is holding a pocket pair and makes a matching third card.

Shark: An experienced poker player.

Short-Handed: A poker table with six or fewer players.

Short Stack: A player without many chips.

Shove: A shove refers to an aggressive move in poker. This could involve going ‘all in’, or trying to ‘buy the pot’.

Showdown: The final stage of a hand in which all players reveal their hands. The player with the best hand wins the pot.

Side Pot: A side pot is a separate pot that is created when one or more players are ‘all-in’ and have contributed different amounts of chips to the main pot. The side pot is formed to accommodate the additional bets or raises made by players who still have chips remaining. At the end of the round, the side pot is awarded to the player with the best hand among those who contributed to that specific side pot.

Slowplay: Playing a strong hand deceptively and passively, hoping your opponent will believe you have a weaker hand.

Small Bet: Used in games with a fixed limit structure – you can either bet big or bet small.

Small blind: The small blind is the person position left of the dealer who opens the betting.

Snap Call: Calling immediately without any hesitation during play.

Splash the Pot: Putting chips in the middle of the table messily. Putting chips in neat piles is good etiquette when making a large bet.

Split: Where half the pot is awarded to one type of hand (e.g. a high hand), the other half is awarded to another type of hand (e.g. low hand).

Split Pair: A split pair is a poker hand consisting of one card from a player’s hole cards combined with a community card with the same card value.

Split Pot: When a pot is split between multiple players, potentially caused by a tie or when playing a split pot version of poker.

Stab: Making a bet when an opponent has shown weakness.

Stakes: The wager, or bet, of a poker game.

Straddle: An optional blind bet a player can make before any cards are dealt.

Straight: A poker hand consisting of a sequence of card values in order, regardless of suit.

Straight Flush: The second strongest poker hand. A straight flush is comprised of a sequence of numbers in order all in the same suit.

Street: A round of betting in poker. There are four streets in a typical poker hand: the pre-flop, the flop, the turn, and the river.

String Bet: Refers to splitting a betting decision into multiple parts, such as calling a bet and raising it by an additional amount.

Structure: This can refer to a specific tournament or betting structure during a poker game.

Stud: A variant of poker.

T

Table: The physical or virtual space where a poker game is played.

Three of a Kind: A poker hand consisting of 3 of the same card value.

Three Pair: Mostly used when playing Omaha poker, when only two pairs count, but the third pair gives you an additional out.

Tilt: When a player is playing in an affected mental state, typically anger, but can also be fear or lack of motivation.

Trap: Passively playing a strong hand, hoping to trap your opponent into launching a big bluff.

Trips: Trips is another name for Three of a Kind.

Turn: The fourth community card that is dealt in a poker hand.

Two Pair: Holding two sets of pairs and a kicker.

U

Under the Gun: This refers to a player who is forced to bet or fold while knowing as little as possible about the betting potential of the round. This is usually reserved for the person sitting directly left of the big blind in the pre-flop. They must play or fold without knowing how others are going to play.

Underbet: A bet size less than 50% of the pot.

Underdog: A player who is statistically less likely to win.

Upcard: During a Stud poker game, this card is dealt face-up to the player so all players can see it.

Upswing: When a player experiences a long period of winning.

Up the Ante: A term referring to a significant increase to the pot or the stakes.

V

Value bet: A bet made with a strong hand in an attempt to win as much money as possible.

Variance: Describes the ups and downs a career poker player experiences.

Variant: A particular type of poker, including Stud, Hold’em, Omaha, 5-card Draw etc.

Villain: A common term used in poker to describe your opponent.

VPIP: Means ‘voluntarily put in pot’. It’s a percentage that identifies how often a player voluntarily invests in the pot preflop.

Vulnerable: A vulnerable hand that’s more likely to be outdrawn during a game.

W

Wheel: A name for a straight poker hand running from Ace to 5, with Ace playing low.

Wild Card: A Wild Card is a predetermined card that can be used as any card value. Popular in Deuces Wild and Joker Poker, where 2s and jokers are used as wild cards in the respective games.

Whale: Typically used at high-stakes games to describe a bad poker player.

Wheel: Refers to the Ace to five straight, which is a strong hand that can win either the high or low pot.

Wired: A pair on third street, where both cards are downcards.

Wrap: A large straight draw in Omaha variants.

WSOP: Stands for one of the world’s most prestigious poker events, The World Series of Poker, which is held annually in Las Vegas.

WTSD: Stands for ‘went to showdown’, which measures how regularly a player goes on to see the showdown after seeing the flop.

WWSF:  An acronym that stands for ‘won when saw flop’. It’s a measure of how regularly a player goes on to win the hand after they see the flop.

The Bottom Line

These are just a few of the most common poker terms. There are many more, but this should give you a good start. As you learn more about the game, you will come to understand more about the meaning of these terms, along with many others.

So, what are you waiting for? Try out your new vocabulary on the best poker sites in NZ.

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Noah Adams
Noah Adams
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Noah is the senior content editor at CasinoCrawlers and a writer with many iGaming articles under his portfolio. Therefore, he is skilled at writing bonus guidelines, gambling strategies, and casino reviews. During his spare time, he enjoys playing Call of Duty and is a huge rugby fan.

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