A-Z of Poker Terms

The world of poker hosts its own language. Learn the ins and outs of poker lingo with our Poker Academy dictionary. The terms relate to both live and online poker, so you can hone your table talk too!

A

Action: This is when it is a player's turn to go. It's their action. Also used to describe if there has been a lot of betting in the hands played. 'There's been a lot of action.' 

Action Card: A card that appears on the board which generates interest by multiple players.  

Add-On: Usually offered as part of a rebuy tournament, after the rebuy period has ended. The add-on amount is usually the same as the rebuy amount but offers more chips.

Aggressive/Aggression: Used to describe a player's particular playing style. They choose to bet and raise more than check or call.

Ahead: Being ahead or 'in front' is when you are beating another opponents hole cards. 

Air: When a player has 'air' it means they were bluffing or had nothing. Their cards did not connect with the board. 

American Airlines: A slang term used to describe pocket aces. 

All-In: This is when a player chooses to bet all of the chips they have in front of them, either by calling all-in or betting all-in.

Angleshooting: A legal play, but considered unethical. Making mistakes purposefully to induce error from your opponents.

Ante: An amount alongside the blinds that every player must input into the pot when introduced. An ante is used as another way of getting money into the pot pre-flop to generate more action.

B

Backdoor: Hitting cards on both the turn and the river to complete your hand. Also called 'runner runner' as both cards are needed to make the winning hand.

Bad Beat: Getting 'sucked out on' as it's also known is when a player, who is the significant favourite to win a hand, is beaten by a worse holding. It is usually when a person wins when the mathematical expectancy is very low. E.g. AA is beaten by 33 - when another player admits to folding a 3.

Bet: The chips a player wagers dependant on the strength of his hand. 

Big Slick: Slang term for AK. 

Blind: A mandatory bet that is put in by two players at the table. The 'big' blind is double the amount of the 'small' blind. The amount of the big blind is the amount it is to call. In Sit & Go's and Tournaments the blinds increase every round. In Cash poker the blinds never increase.

Blank: A card on the turn or river that is considered irrelevant in the change to the action, also known as a 'brick.' E.g. On a A-Q-10 flop, a 2 on the turn would be a blank. 

Bleeding: To lose your chips a little bit at a time. 'I'm bleeding chips!' 

Blind Action: Inputting chips into the pot without looking at your cards. 

Blocker: Holding cards that act as your opponent's outs. E.g. When there are 3 hearts on the board, betting solely with the ace of hearts as that means your opponent can't have the nut flush.

Bluff: Betting aggressively with a small or no holding, designed to make your opponents fold. 'Show the bluff!'

Broadway: A straight 10 through to A. Also used to describe cards within that hand. E.g. KQ are broadway cards. 

Board: The five community cards that are dealt out for all players to use.

Bottom Pair: The lowest matching card you have on the board.

Bounty: An amount of money on a player's head that can be won if you eliminate them. That money is separate from the prizepool. A % goes into the player's account, the rest goes onto your head to carry on defending.

Bubble: The last place a player can finish in a game before they reach the money. 'He bust on the money bubble.' 

Bullet: The slang term for an ace. 

Burn Card: The top card from the deck is taken out of play. Known as 'burn and turn' the dealer burns the top card and turns over the community cards for players to see. 

Bust Out: To be eliminated from the event.

Busted Draw: When a certain card you need to make a hand doesn't come on the turn or river, it is called a busted draw.

Button: The disc used to identify which player at the table is the dealer. The button also known as a 'dolly' is passed around the table clockwise. 

Buy-In: The minimum amount of money a player must pay to enter a game. 

C

Call: To match the minimum bet amount and enter a hand.

Calling Station: A term used to describe a player who rarely raises, instead choosing to call multiple streets with weaker holdings. Not bluffable.

Cap: When there is a limit on something in the game. E.g. A cap on the number of entrants.

Card Rack: A player who gets a lot of good hands.

Case Card: The only remaining card in the deck. When a player folds a 3 and another player has pocket 3's and hits a set on the flop - the flopped 3 is the case 3.

Cash Poker: Playing in a game whereby the chips you are betting with are real currency. Unlike a Tournament or Sit & Go where you buy-in for a set amount of chips, in Cash poker you can buy-in as many times as you like. The blinds do not increase in a Cash game either. To play Cash on Sky Poker click here.

Catch: When a card comes that improves your hand. 'Nice catch.'

Continuation Bet: Abbreviated to 'C-Bet' is when a player who was the aggressor pre-flop continues to bet post flop.

Chase: To call bets with a drawing hand in the hopes of it improving.

Check: When you put in the big blind as a mandatory bet, if no raising action happens before it's your turn, you can check your option. This means that you are happy with not raising and want to see the flop for the minimum amount. If someone raises you cannot check, to continue in the hand you must put in additional chips to make up the raise.

Chop Pot: To split the pot equally with other players, usually when hands are the same or the board plays.

Clock: When a player calls a clock, they are doing so as they feel a player is taking too long to act. The floor will be called over and the player is granted one minute to act before their cards are automatically declared dead. 

Cold Deck: Someone who isn't getting any playable cards. A 'cooler' is an unlucky run of cards resulting in a bad beat.

Cowboys: A slang term for pocket kings.

Cracked: Cracking a hand refers to a player beating another players holding. E.g. 'I cracked aces with 78.'

Cut Off: The position to the right of the dealer. 

D

Dealer: The dealer, either metaphorically or physically, is the player deals the cards to others at the table. They act last after the first round of betting. All action takes place from the left of the dealer in a clockwise direction.

Deep Stack: A player sitting with a lot of chips. A Deepstack Tournament is one where players get a bigger starting stack. Blinds are usually longer enabling for more game play.

Deuce: Slang term for a 2.

Dolly: See button.

Dolly Parton: The cards 9-5.

Dominated Hand: A card that is out-kicked by your opponent. E.g. You have KQ and your opponent has AQ - he has you dominated.

Draw: Holding cards that have the potential to make a better hand on future streets. E.g. Having four hearts on the flop means you would have a flush draw.

Dry Board: This is when the community cards are seemingly unconnected to your opponent's range. The cards don't connect with each other, therefore are seemingly less scary than a wet board. For example J-6-2 rainbow would be a dry board. T-J-Q all spades would be a wet board.

E

Early Position: The first few positions to the left of the dealer, one of the first to act in the hand.

End Game: The later stages of a tournament where there are fewer players left, stacks are shallower and blinds are bigger. 

Equity: Your expected value in the pot.

Expected Value: Linking to the math part of the game, EV is used to describe the long term average outcome of a given scenario - or 'profitability in the long run.' Shortened to +EV and -EV, as it can be negative too!

Exposed Card: A card turn over by accident. The dealer must show and announce the card to the whole table so one player doesn't have an advantage over any other.

F

Face Card: Any jack, queen or king.

Family Pot: A hand whereby all players at the table take part.

Feeler Bet: Putting out a small bet to see if any other players are actually interested in the pot.

Fifth Street: The river.

Final Table: In a tournament involving multiple tables, a final table is when one table of players remain after all others are eliminated.

First Ace: A method of choosing which player at the table is the dealer. Each player is dealt a card face up continuously until the first person gets an ace.

Fixed Limit Poker: Poker in which all bets are made in fixed increments, the size of the big blind only.

Flat Call: Another term for call, also known as smooth call.

Flip: Taking the idea from a coin flip, it's when two cards of reasonably same equity 'race' to win the pot.

Flush: 5 cards of the same suit.

Flushing: Drawing to a flush.

Fold: Discarding your cards and taking no further part in the current hand.

Four Colour Deck: When each suit is given a different colour, helping players not to misread cards.

Four of a Kind: Four cards all the same, also called quads.

Fourth Street: The turn - the fourth community card dealt.

Free Card: When all player's check, a free card is dealt as no players bet any money to see it.

Freeroll: A tournament that doesn't require any buy-in, players can enter for free. Sometimes requirements include players needing to earn X amount of poker points to play.

Freezeout: A tournament in poker whereby there are no rebuys or re-entries, once a player is eliminated they can buy no further chips - they are out of the game.

Full House: Also called a 'full boat.' Three cards the same, paired with 2 cards the same.

G

Gift: When you manage to take someone's chips very easily. 'What a gift!'

Grinder: Someone who only wins gradually but is consistent.

Gutshot: One card for a straight that's inside. E.g. The board is 45Q and you have 78, you need a 6, which is a gutshot.

GG: An abbreviation that players type into the chat box meaning 'good game.'

H

Heads Up: When it's two players against each other.

High Card: The highest card when nobody has a pair.

High Roller: A player who plays for big stakes.

High Stakes: When players are in the game for a lot of money.

Hit: To catch a card you need to hit. 'Nice hit.'

Hole Cards: The cards you are dealt that no-one else sees. 'In the hole...'

Hollywood: To overact and pretend your cards are really bad to trick your opponent. 'The best Oscar for Hollywooding goes to!'

Hot Deck: When a player is catching lots of good hands, hitting lots of cards.

House Rules: The rules by which the house runs its game.

Hustler: Pretending you don't understand the game when you clearly do - what a hustler does!

I

Implied Odds: What you potentially could win, taking into consideration the pot, bet size and your opponents remaining chips. Not forgetting yours too!

Instafold/Instacall: A term coined to describe when a player acts quickly. 

In the Air: When cards are dealt and the game begins. 'Cards in the air at 7pm'

In the Money: Making it far enough in a tournament to reach the money payouts.

J

Jam: Slang term for going all in.

Junk: A bad hand.

K

Kicker: In hold'em it is the highest card that accompanies their paired card to determine who wins. E.g. Two players both hit a K on the flop but one has AK which beats the other player with K10.

L

Late Position: The last few players who act last in a hand. Players in late position have the advantage of seeing earlier action.

Lay Down: Another term for folding. 

Light: A phrase used to describe when a player is playing with a weaker holding. 'He's raising light in position.'

Limp: To enter a pot by simply calling.

Limpers Tax: To raise a pot whereby there have been lots of flat calls. Making the limpers pay extra to see a flop with their hand.

Live: Being live is when you still have outs and can hit a card that will win you the hand.

Lock: Having a lock on the hand is when you are 100% certain to win the hand and cannot lose.

Loose Player: A player who enters pots liberally and likes a lot of action. Will usually raise a lot and defend blinds.

M

Made Hand: To have a pair in the hole, a made hand which when racing doesn't need any improvement.

Middle Pair: When you flop the middle pair on the board. E.g. Q84 - and you have the 8.

Middle Position: Somewhere between what is classed as early and late position.

Milked: Being milked is when you are calling against a tight player that will usually have you beat anyway. 'I'm being milked here!'

Monster: A monster hand is one that is very strong - usually the nuts.

Muck: Slang term for folding, or the pile of discarded cards.

Multitable: To play multiple games of poker at different tables, used to describe online play. 

Multiway: A pot with more than two players.

N

Needle: To sarcastically torment a player verbally.

NH: An abbreviation that players type in the chat box meaning 'nice hand.'

Nit: A player considered to be very tight and only plays premium holdings. For more information on player types click here.

Nuts: Having 'the nuts' is a hand that cannot be beaten. E.g. A nut flush would be the ace high flush. 

O

Offsuit: Holding two unsuited cards.

Omaha: A variant of Poker. The most popular is four-card Omaha, although five and six card is also frequently played. Players must use two of their hole cards and three on the board to make their hand. Omaha is usually played as Pot-Limit, although NL can be played.

Omaha Hi-Lo: Also known as Omaha 8's or better, it another variation on Omaha whereby players must have a low or high hand that qualifies to win the pot.

Open: To open is to be the first person to raise. It is effectively opening the action in the hand. 

Open Ended Straight Draw: A run of four cards that are connected to make a straight. Such as 4-5-6-7 or 9-T-J-Q, a card can come at either side to make a straight. Also known as an open-ender.

Open Seat: A seat at the poker table which is vacant. When a player leaves the poker table the dealer will often shout 'Seat Open!' 

Option: When the action comes round to the big blind and no aggressive action has taken place, he then has the option to check or make a bet.

Orbit: When the blinds do a full rotation around the table. 'I'm playing 1 more orbit then I'm leaving.'

Out of Turn: When a player acts when it is not on them yet. If a player is considered to be doing this a lot, they may be given a penalty as it affects action at the table.

Outs: Cards that can come to improve your hand, usually said when a player is behind. 'I have 3 aces as outs.'

Out of Position: Not having the advantage of being last to act in a hand.

Overbet: To bet more than what is in the pot at that particular time. Usually renowned as quite a polarising move depending on the strength of a person's hand.

Overcall: Calling after one or more person has already called. Kirsty raises and Pete calls. If Sam then calls, he is overcalling.

Overcards: Holding two cards in the hole that are higher than ones on the board. For example you have K-Q and the board is J-8-4.

Overpair: Holding a pair in the hole that is bigger than any cards that are on the board. For example you have T-T and the board is 9-6-2.

P

Pair: To hold two cards that are the same in the hole, or matching one card on the board with a card you hold.

Pass: To fold and muck your cards.

Pick Off: To call someone and catch them bluffing.

Play the Board: When you are playing the board, it is when the two cards in your hand have become irrelevant because the best hand is on the board. 

Pocket: The two cards that a player is dealt.

Pocket Pair: Being dealt a pair in the hole.

Poker Face: A poker player is meant to adopt a blank expression so that they don't give anything away.

Poker Gods: A humorous term coined by players, supposedly the Poker God's are the ones who watch over what hands you are dealt. 

Position: A player's position is relative to where other players sit and where the button is in a hand. Early, mid and late position is the most common breakdown of player's seats at the table. Other phrases such as 'hi-jack' and 'cut-off' have been coined to determine specific seats at the table. Having position is considered a good thing in poker, as you always want your opponent to make his decision first, thus you can act accordingly.

Post: To put in the big or small blind, or an ante. Anything that is mandatory before a player can enter the hand.

Postflop: The action that takes place after the first three community cards come down. 

Pot: The accumulation of chips that are in play in a hand.

Pot Committed: When a player invests too many chips and the size of the pot is too great in relation of their stack for them to fold. 

Pot Limit: A form of Poker whereby players can only bet the amount that is in the pot on their turn.

Pot Odds: The amount of chips a player needs to put into the pot, relative to the amount that they can win from it.

Preflop: Action that takes place before the first three cards, the flop, comes down.

Premium Hand: A hand held by a player that is of great strength.

Push: To push all-in.

Q

Quads: Four cards all of the same value, also known as 'four of a kind.'

R

Race: When two players are all-in and the mathematical chances of them both winning is almost even. E.g. AK vs JJ

Rag Ace: An ace that has a low card accompanying it. Can often get players into trouble when an ace flops and someone else has a higher kicker. 

Rail: Players who come to watch and support someone who is playing.

Rainbow: When a flop comes down and all three cards are of a different suit.

Raise: To increase the amount that players have to call to be in the hand. When a player re-raises it is called a 3-bet. If the 3-bet is raised it is called a 4-bet, and so on.

Raise Blind: Raising without looking at your cards.

Rake: A percentage taken by the house for hosting the game. In Cash Poker, rake is taken depending on the size of the pot each and every hand. In Tournaments and Sit & Go's the rake is added onto the buy-in and is not part of the prizepool.

Rebuy: In a rebuy tournament players have the option of paying the buy-in fee to play again. There is usually a specified period of time that this is allowed for, after this time rebuys are stopped and the tournament becomes a freezeout.

Reg: Shortened version of the word regular or register. 'Is there still time to late reg,' or 'she's a reg.'

Reraise: Also known as '3-bet' this is when a player raises a player that has already raised.

River: The last card of the five community cards to be dealt. Also known as fifth street. 

Rock: An extremely tight player who only plays premium holdings. For more information on player types see here.

Royal Flush: The best hand a player can make in Poker. It is T-J-Q-K-A all of the same suit. The odds of getting one are about 650,000 to one!

Runner-Runner: A hand made by hitting both the turn and the river when you previously hand a hand weaker than your opponents.

S

Satellite: A Tournament or Sit & Go whereby the prize is entry into a bigger buy-in tournament.

SB: An abbreviation for small blind.

Scare Card: A card that comes that fills a lot of potential hands. Such as a flush or straight card.

Semi-Bluff: Betting with a hand that probably isn't the best at that time, but has potential, through outs, to become the winning hand on future streets.

Set: A set is when a player has a pair in their hand, and a third card that matches comes on the board. For example you are holding 7-7 and the board comes A-7-2. Although technically different from trips, the strength of the hand is still the same.

Shark: A term coined to describe a good poker player. 

Shootout: Where players on each table play down to one winner. The winner then progresses and plays all the other winners down to one.

Short Stacked: When the stack a player has isn't very large in relation to the size of the blinds. 

Short Handed: A game is considered to be short-handed when it has 6 players or less. 

Shove: To go all-in. 

Showdown: When players are to show their cards to claim the pot. Is usually done after betting has finished after the river or when two players are all in.

Side Pot: When a player is all in, but there are other players left in the hand with chips to act. His/her money goes into the main pot, and action between the other players will continue 'on the side' into the 'side pot.'

Sit & Go: A poker tournament with no scheduled starting time. It begins when all seats at the table are full. To play a Sit & Go on Sky Poker click here.

Slow-Play: To not play too aggressively with a premium holding, so not to scare out your opponents. You are, in essence, deceiving them into thinking you have a weaker hand than you do.

Slow Roll: An action considered bad etiquette whereby a player, who knows he has the best hand, waits for his opponent to reveal his cards before turning them over. Delaying to show your cards usually means you think you are losing, therefore by slow rolling someone, you are giving them a false perception that they are winning.

Small Blind: A mandatory bet that is posted by the player to the left of the dealer. It is half the amount of the big blind.

Splashing the Pot: When a player recklessly throws chips into the middle and they go into the main pot. This is considered bad form as the dealer does not know the amount that you have bet.

Split Pot: When two or more players have the same hand value, the chips in the middle are divided up equally between all the players in the hand.

Squeeze: To raise after multiple players have called into the pot. If there is a lot of 'dead money' in the middle a player might squeeze to try and take the money in the middle.

Stack: The chips that a player has in front of them. 

Stacked: If a player is stacked, he/she is eliminated from the game.

Stop and Go: When a player is short stacked and instead of pushing all-in straight away when facing a bet, they flat call and push all in on the flop instead. It relates to the slow action pre-flop then the sudden rise in aggression by pushing on the flop. For this to work a player must be first to act when the flop comes down.

Straddle: In Cash Poker when a player first is to act or 'under the gun' they can put in twice the amount of the big blind as a signal that they would like to straddle. This must be done before any cards have been dealt and gives the player the last option, the option to check. For every person to play at the table, they must come in for the same amount as the straddle, if no raise is made the straddler has the option to check.

Straight: Five cards, all in consecutive order, such as 4-5-6-7-8.

Straight Flush: Five cards that are all of the same suit, also in consecutive order.

Street: Refers to the round of betting when cards come down.  

String Bet: When a player puts chips into the pot without using one fluid motion. Unless a player verbally declares what he/she intends to put into the pot, the bet is invalid. 

Suck Out: To beat a player by getting lucky and hitting your desired card.

Suited: Two cards in the hole that are the same suit.

Suited Connectors: Two cards in the hole that are consecutive in value that are the same suit. E.g. 89 of spades.

Sweat: To sweat with a player is to watch the hand from their perspective.

T

Tell: A mannerism that gives away the strength of your hand. Other players will try and detect this to capitalise from it.

Texture: This describes how coordinated the cards on the board are. 

Three Bet: Named due to the fact that it is putting in a third bet. This is essentially a re-raise.

Tight: Playing tight is playing conservatively and not getting involved in too many pots. For more information about player types click here.

Tilt: When a player is emotionally frustrated, usually after losing from a bad beat, causing them to play badly. 

Time: When a player requests time, they need more time to contemplate the action they wish to take. They are, in essence, requesting nobody to call a clock on them. (See clock)

Timed Tournament: A tournament that has a fixed time limit. Players have this time to accumulate as many chips as possible as the prize pool is divided up at the end by player's chip counts. To see what Timed Tournaments we have click here.

Top Pair: To match the highest card on the board, with one in your hand.

Top Two: Hitting two pairs on the board that are the highest out there. 

Tournament: A scheduled event that starts at a set time and has a set buy-in amount. A tournament consists of multiple tables of players all playing for a share of the prizepool. A certain amount of the field will get paid, with higher places receiving more of the prizepool. Blinds continually increase and a tournament carries on until one person has all of the chips in play.

Trap: Checking to a player with a strong hand, and subsequently getting them bet. You have trapped their chips in the pot, and you can now raise and take them.

Trips: When you have three of the same cards, but two of them are on the board and one is in your hand. Similar to a set, known as three of a kind.

Turbo: This is a Tournament or Sit & Go whereby the blinds go up much more quickly than normal. To play a Turbo Sit & Go on Sky Poker click here.

Turn Card: The fourth card to come down on the board, also known as fourth street.

U

Under Pair: Holding a pair in the hole that is smaller than all the other cards on the board. For example you have 2-2 and the board is 4-7-8-J-Q.

Under the Gun: The first player to act on the first round of betting. This player is located to the left of the big blind. Abbreviated to UTG. 

V

Value Bet: Betting for value, as opposed to bluffing or betting for protection. A value bet is usually slightly smaller than the average bet as you are sure you have the best hand and are trying to entice your opponent to call.

Variance: Poker has an element of chance as well as skill. Variance is the difference between the expected outcome of a situation versus the actual outcome of a situation. It refers to the outcome of what should happen long term, as opposed to what is happening short term. For example if you flip a coin four times, probability says that it should be heads twice, and tails twice. However, variance could make it so that all four times it comes out heads. Look at that scenario over a longer time period, so flipping the coin 100 times, and it should even itself out to a more matched result.

Verbal Declaration: Speaking out loud the action you intend to take. In live poker, any verbal action is binding. If you say fold, even without moving your cards - your hand is dead.

VPIP: Abbreviation for 'Voluntary Puts in Pot' which describes the percentage of hands a player puts money into the pot, minus the mandatory posting of blinds. It is used to measure how aggressive a player is.

W

Wash: When a dealer spreads the deck face down and mixes it around before dealing the cards out.

Weak Ace: See rag ace. 

Wet Board: A board in which the community cards are heavily connecting with each other. There could also be a lot of drawing outs too. A wet board would be 9-8-T of hearts. 

Wheel: Another term for the straight A-2-3-4-5.

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