The following is a basic glossary of frequently used poker
Poker Room Guide - Glossary of Basic Poker Terms
The placing of money into the pot. A table with a lot of
action is one at which there are a lot of bets, raises,
and re-raises - in other words, betting action. In most
cardrooms, verbal comments like "I raise" are
binding, and are therefore said to constitute action.
Advertising usually means showing down a mediocre hand,
to give the impression that you play overly loose or that
you play a generally weak game. The idea is that other players
will then give you more action when you make a legitimate
hand. Since people are bad at revising first impressions,
this potentially beneficial effect can be long-lasting.
A style of play characterized by frequent raising and re-raising.
This is not the same thing as loose play. Many good players
are selective about the cards they will play, but aggressive
once they get involved in a hand. An aggressive table is
one dominated by aggressive players.
When a player puts the last of their chips into a pot, that
player is said to be all-in. When playing table stakes (as
in most places), an all-in player is not eligible to win
any money bet above their final bet (the side pot). However,
the all-in player will be eligible for the main pot, and
therefore cannot be forced from the hand.
A small forced bet that everyone at the table is required
to pay before each hand. In games with an ante, these bets
constitute the initial pot. When used as a verb, it means
to post this bet.
Different people seem to feel differently about what counts
as a bad beat. One thing is certain: you have to lose the
hand. What makes the beat bad? Maybe one or all of the following:
you lose in a situation where you're a very big favorite;
you lose with a hand you couldn't possibly have been expected
to fold; you lose so improbably you feel compelled to tell
the story multiple times; you lose to a player who couldn't
have beat you without misplaying the hand (but who was astoundingly
lucky); you lose in a way that seemed inconceivable until
you saw it happen; or more than two experienced players
at your table say, "ouch."
In limit games in which the size of the maximum bet increases
in later rounds, a big bet is the largest bet size. A small
bet is the smallest bet size. So in a 5-10 hold'em game,
small bets are $5 and big bets are $10.
A blind bet, or blind, is a forced bet that must be posted
before you see any cards. Blinds are an alternative to antes
for getting money in the pot initially. Blinds are more
often used in flop games like hold'em and omaha than in
stud and draw games. Typically in hold'em the two players
to the left of the dealer button are forced to place blind
bets. In limit play, the small blind (to the dealer's left)
is typically half the size of a small bet, and the big blind
(to the small blind's left) is a full small bet. Betting
then starts with the player to the left of the big blind
(who is considered under the gun), who must at least call
the big blind to stay in. When you sit down at a new table,
it's good to wait until it's your turn to blind before playing
a hand. See also live blind, structure, and straddle.
A bet with a weak hand (typically a busted hand), usually
intended to get other players to fold. A bluffing player
usually has little or no chance of winning a showdown, but
may suspect that other players will fold if they have not
made strong hands either.
The community cards in a flop game (like hold'em) or the
up cards in a stud game (like seven card stud).
Another name for a full house.
A pair of aces in the hole.
A button is a marker, usually a plastic disc, used to mark
a particular position at the table. Usually "the button"
refers specifically to the dealer button, used to mark the
dealer position, or the player playing in that position.
In games with a professional house-supplied dealer (who
is not playing), this marks the player who acts in the dealer's
position (who is dealt the last card and who is last to
act in games where the order is fixed). This player is said
to be "on the button."
To buy a pot is to make a bet large enough that other players
would be extremely unlikely to call.
The amount of money with which you enter a game is your
To call is to match the current bet.
If there has been no betting before you in a betting round,
you may check, which is like calling a bet of $0, or passing
your turn. If all the players at a table check in turn in
the same round, it is said to be checked around, resulting
in a free card.
A check-raise is just what it sounds like -- a raise after
you have already checked within a betting round. Check-raises
can be used to trap a player who (for example) would have
folded to a single bet, but who will open if it is checked
Face-up cards that are shared by all the players in a hand.
Flop games have five community cards.
A nickname for Kings, more often heard in the plural.
After the cards are shuffled but before they are dealt,
usually the deck is split in the middle and the halves reversed.
This is known as cutting the cards.
To deal is to give out the cards during a hand. The person
who does this is called the dealer.
Twos are sometimes called deuces.
Your mathematical share of a pot, based on the amount in
the pot and your chances of winning it.
A bad player. A terrible player. A player who will tend
to give away lots of money. Fish-ness can also be relative.
Common poker wisdom holds that if you can't find the fish
at your table, you're it.
Five Card Draw
Probably the most well known poker game, although it's not
widely played in public cardrooms anymore. Each player receives
five cards. There is a round of betting, after which each
player may draw a certain number of cards (house rules often
stipulate how many may be drawn and under what circumstances).
Then there is a second round of betting, and (if necessary)
A number of games, such as hold'em and omaha, are played
with five community cards. The first three of these cards
are dealt all at once, and are called the flop. Games with
a flop can be called flop games.
To abandon your hand, usually because someone else has made
a larger bet than you are willing to call. Usually, one
folds by mucking one's cards.
Play between only two players.
Your first two down cards in seven card stud.
The cardroom (management, owners, etc.) is the house.
Kansas City, or Kansas City lowball, is a low only game
played for a deuce to seven low.
The highest unpaired card in your hand that doesn't participate
in a straight or flush - i.e., the card that does not contribute
to the strength of your hand except by itself.
Limit poker is any game in which there is a fixed limit
on how much you can bet or raise in any round.
A lock is a hand guaranteed to win at least part of the
Playing loose simply means playing more hands and holding
on to them longer. In essence, loose with your cash.
An extremely strong hand, one that is almost certain to
win the pot.
The pile of discarded cards in front of the dealer, or the
act of putting cards in this pile (and therefore taking
them out of play).
As you might guess, any game in which there is no limit
on the sizes of bets and raises.
The nuts is the best possible hand.
Not of the same suit, especially in reference to hole cards.
Sometimes abbreviated to just "off."
Omaha is a flop game similar to hold'em, but with two key
differences. First, each player is dealt four cards instead
of just two. Second, a hand must be made using exactly two
pocket cards (out of those four) and three from the table.
That is, if four suited cards hit the table, you still need
two more to make a flush. And if you start with four aces,
then you have a pair of aces, with little chance to improve.
The high-low variant of omaha, with an 8 or better qualifier
for low, is especially popular.
Passive is a style of play that is characterized by reluctance
to bet and raise. This does not always mean tight. A typical
loose-passive player will call with almost anything, but
raise only with very powerful hands (see calling station).
The two cards dealt to you face down in hold'em, or the
first two face down in seven card stud are your pocket cards,
or hole cards. Hold'em players tend to call them pocket
cards, stud players tend to call them hole cards.
Two pocket cards of the same rank.
Position refers to your place at the table, especially with
respect to the order of betting within a particular betting
round. The first few players to act are said to be in early
position, the next few in middle position, and the last
few in late position.
To post a bet is to place your chips in the pot (or, commonly,
out in front of you, so that your bet can be counted).
All the money in the middle of the poker table that goes
to the winner of the hand is the pot.
Any game in which the maximum bet or raise is the size of
A proposition player, or "prop," is a player who
is paid by a cardroom to play poker, usually in order to
keep games going when they get shorthanded, or to get games
started. Props are paid a salary, but they gamble with their
Four of a kind.
After someone has opened betting in a round, to increase
the amount of the bet is to raise.
The money removed from each pot by the house.
To bet in such a way as to indicate that you have a certain
hand. For instance, when you check-raise after the third
suited card hits the board in hold'em, you are representing
a flush, even if you don't actually have one.
Any raise after the first raise in a round. Player A bets,
player B raises, player C (or A) re-raises. See also cap
A bunch of people playing poker for money at a table in
a cardroom. The term ring game is used to differentiate
such games from tournaments.
The last of five community cards in flop games (e.g. hold'em
and omaha). Sometimes called fifth street. Sometimes "river"
is used to refer to the last card in non-flop games, such
as seven card stud.
Or "pocket rockets" - a pair of aces in the hole.
In seven card stud, three of a kind on the first three cards
are called rolled up X's, where X is the rank of the cards.
The hand and the player can both be said to be rolled up.
Seven Card Stud
Of the poker games most commonly played in public cardrooms,
seven card stud is probably the most well known. In seven
card stud (sometimes "seven stud" or just "stud"),
each player is dealt seven cards of their own: two down,
then four up, and a final card down. There is a round of
betting after the first up card and after each subsequent
A game is said to be shorthanded when it falls below a certain
number of players. Most poker tables accomodate nine or
ten players. Five players is clearly shorthanded, nine players
is clearly not. Since many people are uncomfortable playing
shorthanded, some cardrooms make special provisions for
shorthanded tables - reducing the blinds or the rake, or
providing shills or props. Since the number of players at
a table has a significant impact on strategy, learning to
play well shorthanded is an important skill. This is especially
true in tournaments, where shorthanded play is much more
common (if you last long enough).
Betting limits in which there is a fixed minimum and maximum
bet for each betting round, and any amount in between these
limits may be bet. See structure.
The amount of money you have in front of you on the poker
table (i.e., stack of chips).
The cards that come out one at a time in a card game are
sometimes referred to as different numbered streets. The
door card in seven card stud is third street, and subsequent
cards are numbered consecutively. In hold'em and other flop
games, players sometimes refer to the turn and river as
fourth and fifth street.
Usually short for seven card stud. Also refers to stud games
in general, including five card stud, in which each player
is dealt a number of non-shared cards and must use only
those cards. May be contrasted with flop games and draw
Of the same suit.
A tell is any habit or behavior that gives other players
more information about your hand than they would have simply
from your play. For instance, you might unconsciously play
with your chips every time you bluff. Or you might notice
that another player blinks a lot whenever he has a strong
hand. Mike Caro's "The Body Language of Poker"
describes a large number of tells that can often be seen
in inexperienced (and experienced) players.
Texas Hold'em (or just "hold'em") is a poker game
in which each player gets two pocket cards, while five community
cards are dealt face-up on the table. The strength of a
player's hand is the best hand that can be made with these
seven cards. There is a round of betting after the pocket
cards are dealt, after the first three community cards (the
flop), after the fourth, or turn card, and after the final,
or river card.
Playing tight simply means playing fewer hands and folding
them earlier. In essence, tight with your cash. A tight
table is a table dominated by tight players. Tightness is
frequently described as a good thing, and especially at
low levels of play can be a big advantage over players who
will always pay you off. Tightness should not be confused
with passivity. Many good players recommend a tight aggressive
Good poker seems to require good discipline. However, even
good players are often tempted to do things they know are
bad ideas when they get frustrated, angry, or upset for
any reason. They go "on tilt." Sort of like a
pinball machine, except with pinball it only costs you a
quarter. Typical tilt play is much too loose and often very
aggressive, beacause a player on tilt wants very badly to
win a pot, and isn't rational enough to wait for cards that
are worth playing or situations that are worth attacking.
If there are three cards of different ranks on the flop
in hold'em (or any flop game), and you pair the highest
one, you have top pair.
The fourth of five community cards in flop games (e.g. hold'em
and omaha). Sometimes called fourth street.
Under the gun
The first player to act after the blind bets is said to
be under the gun.
A style of play characterized by a readiness to fold and
a reluctance to raise. Weak is also used to generally describe
a poor player or a table that's easy to beat.
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