Poker Terminology in Alphabetical Order


ACTION – A players turn to make a decision in a hand.

ADD-ON – In a tournament, you may have the option to add chips to your stack by purchasing more chips. This is not always offered, and if it is ends at a determined blind level.

ANTE – A small bet that all players are required to make before a hand is dealt.

ALL-IN – A bet that a player makes committing all of their chips into the pot.

BACKDOOR Making your hand by hitting the cards you need on the turn and the river.

BAD BEAT – When a player’s hand with a significant statistical advantage over an opponent loses.

BAD BEAT STORY A retelling of a hand someone lost when they were way ahead; usually told to position how unlucky they are or how lucky their opponent was. 

BIG BLINDPositionally 2 seats to the left of the dealer button. Like an ante, the player must put in the amount before looking at their cards. This is also the starting minimum raise size.

BLINDThe term to describe either the big or small blinds. It’s called a blind because you have to bet it before you look at your cards. The small blind is to the immediate left of the dealer button, and the big blind is the following seat on the left.  

BLUFF – A bet made to get an opponent to fold their hand that you believe is better than yours.

BOARD – The community cards that everyone uses in combination with their pocket cards to make their best 5 card poker hand. Comprised of the flop, turn, and river. 

BOAT Slang for a full house.

BUBBLE – In a tournament, the bubble describes the top finishers who just missed the money payout cutline; like the “cut” in golf. 

BURNPart of typical dealing procedure where one cards is discarded from the top of the deck before dealing any community cards. The purpose is intended to keep the next card to be dealt concealed so that no unfair information is being given.

BUTTON –  This position denotes the dealer represented by a plastic disk. It moves around the table clockwise, 1 player to the left after each hand before a new hand is dealt. Considered to be the most advantageous position because this player gets to see what everyone does before acting.

BUY-IN – The amount a player must put up to enter a tournament or cash game. 

CALL – To match the current bet in order to continue playing a hand.

CHECK – To pass on betting. If there is not a bet, you can “check” with the intention of getting a free card. If there is a bet after you check, you have a new decision to with call, fold, or raise. 

CHECK-RAISE – A check-raise is made when a player checks their first opportunity to bet, waits for their opponent to bet, and then raises in that same round of betting.

COLD CALLIf the pot has been bet and raised before it gets to you, and then you call, you’re cold calling.

CONNECTORA type of hand describing sequential pocket cards. A 7 of clubs and 8 of spades would be connectors. 

COMMUNITY CARDS – Cards that are dealt face up in the center of the table, available for all players to use in making a hand.

COUNTERFEIT – A card that comes on later streets that devalues your hand. Generally used to describe when the board pairs making your two pair worse. 

CUT-OFF – The position to the immediate right of the button.

DEALERThe player who shuffles the deck and deals the cards.

DEALER BUTTON – A plastic disk in live games that indicates the dealer. It passes clockwise after each hand.

DRAW – Staying in the hand in the hopes of improving with cards on later rounds of betting. Used most often in regards to making straights and flushes. 

DRAWING DEADWhen you’re on a draw, but there is not one card in the deck that will make your a winning hand. Usually is said when a player goes ALL IN, the cards get flipped up on the table, and their opponent already has a hand they can’t beat even if they make their hand. 

FLOP – The first three community cards dealt out after the first round of betting is complete.

FLUSH – A poker hand consisting of five cards of the same suit.

FOLDWhen you give up on a hand because you don’t believe you can win. Toss or place your cards face down in the middle of the table toward the dealer.  

FOUR OF A KIND – A hand containing all four cards of the same rank.

FULL HOUSE – A hand consisting of a three of a kind and a pair.

GUTSHOT – A straight draw completed from “inside” by only one possible card. A gutshot is half as likely to hit as an open-ended straight.

HANDFive cards, made up of a player’s pocket cards and the community cards. Also used to describe the entire sequence between button moves.

HEADS-UP – Playing a pot or tournament against only one other player.

IMPLIED ODDS – Taking the possibility of future calls from your opponent into consideration when you are drawing to a hand. If you hit your card, you expect that your opponent will call. 

KICKER – If you have the same hand as another player at showdown, the one with the highest kicker wins the pot. For example, if the winning hand is the same 2 pair, whoever has the highest 5th cards wins. 

LIMPAnother word for just calling. Players who enter an unraised pre-flop pot by calling are called limpers.

LIMIT – A structure of the game in which bets and raises are capped at a fixed amount. Also used to describe the table stakes.

MAIN POT – This is the primary pot formed by players matching bets.

MUCK – All the discarded cards in a hand. If a player folds, he tosses his hand “into the muck.”

NO-LIMIT – A structure of the game in which players can bet their entire stack. There is no maximum bet but the money must already be on the table. 

NUTS – The best possible hand one can have in a given situation. 

OFF-SUIT – Holding pocket cards of different suits.

OVER-PAIR – A pocket pair that is higher than any community card on the board.

OPEN-ENDED – A straight completed from the “outside” by one of two possible cards. An open-ended straight is twice as likely to hit as a “gutshot.”

ORBIT – A full rotation when each player at a table has served as the dealer for a hand. Each time the button passes you is a complete orbit.

OUT – A card that could come to improve your hand. 

OVER-CARDS – Having cards higher than the board cards or your opponent’s pocket cards 

PAIR – Two cards of the same rank.

POCKET CARDS – The 2 cards in your hand that are not part of the community cards. Also known as “hole cards” or your “hand”.

POT-COMMITTED – A situation that mathematically requires you to call due to the amount of money in the pot relative to your remaining stack of chips. 

POT-LIMIT – A structure of the game in which bets and raises are capped by the current size of the pot.

POT ODDS – The ratio of money in the pot compared to what you need to call. 

QUADS – Four of a kind.

RAINBOW – When the flop consists of 3 different suits.

RAKE – The amount of money that the house takes out of each poker hand dealt. Generally this is relative to the game stakes, number of players, and size of the pot.

RING GAME – A standard poker game in which money is wagered during each hand. Also called a cash game, used to distinguish itself from a poker tournament.

RIVER – The final of the five community cards and last round of betting.

RAISE – To increase the current bet forcing other players to put more money into the pot or to fold.

ROYAL FLUSH – An ace-high straight flush, the best possible hand in most forms of poker.

SATELLITE – A tournament with a smaller buy-in that awards seats to a higher buy-in tournament rather than cash prizes. Gives players a chance to win their way into an otherwise expensive tournament.

SEMI-BLUFF – A bluff with a hand that has the potential to improve should the bluff itself be ineffective.

SET – Having a pocket pair that hits on the board, making a three of a kind.

SHORT STACK – Having less chips than the rest of the players at the table or in a tournament.

SHOWDOWNIf 2 or more players are still in the hand after the final round of betting, players turn their hands face-up on the table. Whoever has the best 5 card poker hand wins.

SIDE POT – If a player doesn’t have enough to match the bet, they can only win what they have. If at least 2 other players are in the hand, any additional betting is part of a side pot which only they can win. 

SIT-AND-GO – A poker tournament that starts whenever enough players have registered. 

SLOW PLAY – When you decide not to bet your strong hand in order to disguise it and entice your opponents to stick around longer, make bets, or call your future bets.

SMALL BLIND – The position to the immediate left of the dealer button and to the right of the big blind. The small blind is usually half of the big blind.

SPLIT POT – When two or more players make the same hand the pot is divided between them equally.

STRADDLE – An optional pre-deal blind bet, typically made by the player to the left of the big blind. The straddle amount is twice the big blind, and earns the “option” from the big blind. This is permitted in some cash games, but not in tournaments.

STREETUsed to describe the round of betting, either the flop, turn, or river. 

STRING BETThis rule is in place to prevent players from making a bet, gauging their opponent’s reaction, and then deciding to bet more. If you’re making a bet, do it in one motion and/or verbally announce your bet size.

STRAIGHT – A hand consisting of 5 cards in sequence. 

STRAIGHT FLUSHA hand consisting of 5 cards in sequence and the same suit.

TELL – A physical action or betting pattern that reveals the strength of a player’s hand. 

TILT – When a players gets frustrated or impatient they start playing reckless and making bad decisions. This is generally as the result of taking a bad beat, or getting mad at something said by another player. 

TIME – Occasionally big and difficult decisions come up and a player will request more time to think. Sometimes other players will call time on someone who is taking too long to make decisions and slowing the flow of the game.

TOP PAIR – A pair with the highest card on the board. 

TOURNAMENT – A poker event with 1 or more tables, and players begin with the same amount of chips. They play until they have either lost it all, or are the last player remaining holding all the chips. The prize pool normally goes to the top 10% of the finishers with 1st place being the highest payout. 

TRIPS – Slang for three of a kind.

TURN – The fourth community card. 

UNDER THE GUN – The player sitting in this seat is first-to-act. It’s the position to the immediate left of the big blind.