The excitement poker brings to players is the main reason this game is so hugely popular around the world. Dozens of poker variants, like Texas Hold ‘em and Omaha, attract new players constantly, whether they are playing on their phones, on a computer, or under the bright casino lights. Understanding what the players are saying, however, is far from simple.
Unlike games of pure chance, such as slots and bingo, poker requires you to know its rules, but also understand poker terms to participate properly. And to win at poker, you need much more than basic poker knowledge.
Learning the lingo is a good first step on your way to becoming a decent poker player. To help with that, we created a glossary of sorts: Below, you’ll find a list of the words and phrases you’re likely to hear at a poker table, with a short explanation for each expression. Continue reading our article to prepare for your next game.
The Most Common Poker Terms
If you don’t get familiar with poker terminology, you’ll catch yourself in the middle of your online poker game, staring at your screen, not knowing what to do next. Poker slang is famously unique, with dozens of words used to describe the specific situations and rules that apply in a given game.
The good news is, you’ve probably heard many of these phrases already. Some are used in everyday or business language, such as “poker face,” “raising the stakes,” or “calling someone’s bluff.” However, poker language consists of many more expressions used only in the context of a game. Here’s a list of the most frequent poker idioms:
If a player says “all in,” it means that they are putting all their chips in the pot as their stake.
A forced bet placed by all players at the table before the cards are dealt. Antes are usually seen in Stud and Draw games.
When a player completes their hand with the two face-up cards (the turn and the river), that’s called a backdoor, particularly in Texas Hold ‘em. This poker term also implies that a player was hoping for a different hand, but stumbled upon a winning hand with the faceup cards.
If a player with a strong hand loses to a player who won by pure chance, that’s considered a bad beat, so called because it’s a matter of bad luck for the player with the stronger hand.
The position that’s two seats to the dealer’s left is the big blind spot. The player in this position is obliged to make a minimum bet. The blinds were invented for Texas Hold ‘em and Omaha poker, since those two variants don’t have antes.
Speaking of Texas Hold ‘em terminology, big slick is a term you should be familiar with: It means a hand with an ace and a king.
It’s a card that cannot change anything in a poker hand. Usually, a blank is a low-value card that cannot complete anyone’s draw.
As its name implies, a blocker is a card that blocks certain hands in poker games. Blockers make certain hands for other players less likely or even impossible.
It denotes the chips of the highest value in chips slang. A blue chip is usually worth $10, but its value can vary from game to game.
Even if your poker vocabulary is poor, you probably know what this term means. It’s used to describe the situation when a player bets without a strong hand. A good bluff means that other players believe you have a good hand, so they fold a better hand than yours. On the other hand, they call your bluff, in which case you lose.
A boat or a full boat is another name for a full house. It’s a hand with three cards of the same rank combined with two cards of another rank.
In poker terminology, it’s an action in poker games when a player matches the bet made by the player who bet before them. For example, if a player made a bet of $5, saying “call” means that you will also stake $5. “I see your bet” means the same thing as a call.
A term used to describe a player who almost exclusively calls bets, never raising them.
Calling a bluff
You’ll hear someone call your bluff if they think your bet is too high for the hand they think you have.
Calling the clock
It’s poker slang used in tournaments when a player has waited too long to play. If another player calls the clock, the stalling player has 60 seconds to act.
Once you decide to finish a poker game, you need to exchange your chips for real money. That’s the cash-out.
If you say check, it means that you don’t want to bet that round.
This bit of card game terminology is reserved for online poker. It’s a minimum bet raise, called that because a player clicks on the ‘raise’ button without specifying an amount.
A card pack stacked in a specific way by a cheating player.
Cards placed in the middle of the table and used by all players.
If a player makes a bet before knowing their hand, that’s called a dark bet or a bet in the dark.
A door card is a term used in Texas Hold ‘em and Omaha poker, and refers to the first visible card on the flop. A door card is a player’s first visible card (upcard) on the first betting round in stud poker. Poker jargon has another word for a door card – a window card.
If you are drawing dead, it means that you’ll lose regardless of the card you get. For example, if you hold two pairs and draw hoping to get a full house, you are drawing dead if your opponent already has four queens.
It’s a term close in meaning to drawing dead, but the player drawing still has a small chance to win.
As the name suggests, an exposed card is a card that’s been seen by the players, either accidentally or on purpose. It can be a player’s card or a card from the deck.
The poker dictionary defines the fifth street as the last card dealt to each player in stud games, or the river – the last card dealt to the board – in community card poker.
A fish or a donkey is a derogatory term used to describe a weak poker player. Less experienced players are sometimes called fish. The term is also used for players who are not beginners but still didn’t learn how to play poker, so they keep playing with inferior hands.
Another term you must have heard by now, and the first of the basic poker terms, is a flush. A flush is a hand that contains five non-sequential cards of the same suit. It’s the fourth-best hand a player can get, right below a full house. If there are two players only and both have flushes, the winner is the player with the highest cards.
Four of a kind
A hand that contains four cards of the same rank and one card of some other rank is known as a four of a kind or quads. On the poker rank list, it’s below a straight flush and above a full house.
Originally known as a full hand, a full house is another phrase you’ll hear in a poker talk. A full house is a hand containing three cards of one rank and two cards of another. For example, a full house is three fours and two nines. A full house ranks below four of a kind. It’s also known as a full boat or a boat.
If you are participating in a full-ring game, it means that there are more than six players at the table. There are also shorthanded games with up to six players.
A grinder is a poker player who plays poker for a living and continuously makes small amounts of money. The Grinder is also the poker nickname of Michael Mizrachi, a famous poker player.
This is a regular combination of poker words you’ll hear in tournaments. It means synchronising the play between tables, so that all tables finish the hand they are playing at more-or-less the same time.
A hero call is made when you have a weak hand, but you think your opponent is bluffing about his hand. A hero call is made in the final round of a game.
Hole cards are used in all popular poker variants. They are dealt face down, and players must keep them secret from each other. In Omaha poker, four hole cards are dealt. According to Texas Hold ‘em poker terms, players are dealt two facedown or hole cards. They are combined with community cards to make a hand.
It’s the acronym for a game that consists of the following poker games: Hold’em, Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud, and Seven-Card Stud High-Low. Players rotate between rounds of the aforementioned games, typically in tournaments with big prizes.
It’s what you expect to get if you win based on the previous plays, but it’s just you guessing, not the exact amount. You use implied odds to estimate if calling a bet is worth it.
On a site with generous poker bonuses, a jackpot can be a kind of prize you win, but jackpot – as part of the poker terms and phrases – is also the term used for the pot someone wins with a bad beat.
A kicker card is a card that doesn’t technically contribute to your hand, but it can determine which hand wins if there’s a tie. For example, if you and your opponent have the same pair, the one with the stronger kicker wins.
It’s an abbreviation for loose-aggressive. It’s used for playing with multiple hands aggressively. This poker style is preferred in games with few players and high limits.
A term used for any game without betting limits; in poker lingo, the words mean the same thing, referring to a poker game where players can raise or bet any amount they want.
Nuts in poker, or a “nut hand” is the best possible hand you can get.
Opening the pot
If you are a player who opens the pot, it just means that you are the first one who makes a bet.
An out is any card that improves your hand drastically. Outs are unseen cards, and if the right one is drawn, you have a chance to win.
In this poker strategy, your bet is larger than the current pot. Overbetting is popular among experienced players who can tell when the right time to overbet is.
Poker slang terms define an overpair as a pair in your hands that’s of higher rank than all the community cards.
If you get two aces in Texas Hold ‘em, you have pocket rockets – the best starting hand in the game.
Quads is another term for a four-of-a-kind hand. Quads are the third-best winning hand, right below a straight flush.
A rag refers to a weak card, which is any card that doesn’t contribute to your hand. A rag hand is a weak hand.
The percentage taken by the casino that organises the poker game.
This is a reward type, where a percentage of the rake is paid back to a player.
The word river in poker terms denotes the final community card dealt in Texas Hold ‘em and Omaha poker.
A royal flush is the strongest hand in poker played without wild cards. It’s a straight flush consisting of an ace, king, queen, jack, and ten of a suit.
A type of poker tournament that awards winners with tickets for another tournament with a bigger prize. Satellite tournaments allow players with modest funds to participate in bigger and expensive tournaments.
Shootouts are tournaments where every table continues to play until only one player stays at the table. Then, all table winners sit at a new table and play to get one final winner.
Sit and go
In a poker glossary, this would be the term used for tournaments that start immediately after the number of players at a table reaches a specific threshold. In most cases, a sit and go tournament has six, eight, or ten players. Sit and go tournaments often have knockout rules in place, meaning that losing a round eliminates you from the game.
A situation where a player can’t play reasonably anymore, often resulting in bad decisions or excessive losses.
Under the gun
In Texas Hold ‘em terms, a player under the gun in poker is the one who bets first after the blinds.
What is the rarest hand in poker?
The rarest poker hand is a royal flush. A royal flush is a hand that consists of five consecutive cards of the same suit: Ace, king, queen, jack, and ten.
Is poker difficult to learn?
Generally speaking, basic poker rules are not hard to learn, but games against experienced players require better skills and knowledge. You’ll need to understand common poker phrases and tactics, too, before sitting at the table with seasoned players.
What is the most popular version of poker?
Poker is one of the world’s most popular card games. American poker players favour a version of poker called Texas Hold’em. The game is played with two cards dealt to each player and five community cards dealt to the board.
What is a hero call in poker?
A hero call is when a player calls their opponent’s bluff in the last round, even if the “hero” has a weak hand. Only players who are fully confident about reading their opponent should make a hero call.
What are some poker terms?
Poker is a game of skill, meaning that you’ll need to take some time to learn poker rules and the most commonly used gambling terminology, like fold, rise, quads, etc. Read our helpful guide above to learn the most frequently used vocabulary and phrases to help you find your way around different types of poker games.