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Poker Glossary

Whether you’re “all-in” or still considering jumping into the world of poker, you will need to be fluent in the language of the game to have success – online, or in person.

Finding enjoyment in playing poker certainly is helped by success, but the process is more fun when you know what you’re talking about.

Here, we offer some of the more useful terms for you to consume. Among the words and phrases, we also mix in a little strategy to ensure you sound like you know what you’re talking about for your next game.

You’ll find many of these terms have crossover appeal, too, and can be used in everyday conversation. Study up!

Ace up the Sleeve

The act of cheating by concealing an ace inside one’s sleeve and planning to use it later. Also used to define any kind of cheating.

According to Hoyle

A phrase named for Edmond Hoyle, who authored numerous books about card games. Playing basic games, without variations, wild cards etc., is playing “according to Hoyle.”

Action

The betting options a player is offered when it’s their turn (check, fold, raise, call, etc.).

All-in

Betting all the chips a player has left. A loss would result in the player going bust.

Ante

A forced bet into the pot before dealing. These are used primarily late in tournament play to force action.

Bluff

A strategy to win with a poor hand, or without needing to show your cards. The idea is to force your opponent to give up his hand (fold).

Boat

Three cards of the same value along with two cards of the same value (three of a kind and a pair). Also a “full house.”

Buy-in

Fee to play in a game of poker.

Call

Verbally declare your intention to just match the bet made by a player acting before you.

Calling the Clock

Players may invoke this on a player who is taking too long to play. The player then has 60 seconds to act or his hand is declared dead.

Cash Game

This is a poker format where players are free to buy in and leave at any time. Also known as a “ring game.”

Cash Out

Leave the table and turn in your chips for cash.

Check

Telling fellow players you are passing the move to the next player in line without betting yourself. This option is only available when there are no unmatched bets on the table.

Community Cards

These are the cards in the middle of the table and all players may use them to support their hands.

Dead Man’s Hand

Two pair – Aces and Eights. Passed down through generations, it’s rumored to have been the hand “Wild Bill” Hickok was holding when he was murdered in Deadwood, S.D., on Aug. 2, 1876. The fifth card is not known for certain.

Dead Money

Any currency in the pot from players no longer in the hand, or by players who have not yet folded but own a poor hand.

Downcards

Cards dealt face down, known only to the players they’ve been dealt to.

Fish

An inexperienced or ignorant player who is seen as one who can easily be beaten by experienced players.

Flop

The first three community cards dealt face-up in the center of the table, all at once, during games including Texas Hold ’em or Omaha. The “flop” also is defined as the second round of betting.

Flush

Five cards of the same suite. If more than one player has the flush, the one with the single highest card wins

Grinder

An individual who plays poker as an occupation, “grinding” out consistent income by employing minimal risk and accruing modest gains.

High-Low Split

Games that are designated to pay off two players. Half the pot goes to the highest ranking hand and the other half goes to the lowest ranking hand.

Hold ’em

A game in which players receive two down cards and five community cards. Also known as Texas Hold ’em.

Hole Cards

Player’s hidden cards not shared with anyone else until the showdown.

House

The establishment, in most cases a casino, or person running the current poker game.

Juice

Revenue collected by the house for holding the event. In cash games, the juice (or “rake”) is paid for every pot based on the money in the pot.

Keep Them Honest

To execute a call at the end of a hand to prevent someone from bluffing.

Live One

Similar to a fish, it references a player expected to lose.

No-Limit

A form of betting structure under which one can bet or raise any amount at any given time.

Omaha

A poker game during which a player is dealt four down cards with five community cards. To make a hand, the player uses two cards from his/her hand and three from the board.

Open

To “Open” is to make the first raise in a hand.

Overlay

Additional money from the house, generally needed when a tournament can’t deliver the payout it had guaranteed. For example, in a tournament with a $100+$20 buy-in ($100 of each entry goes to the prize pool and $20 is for tourney fees) advertising a $10,000 guarantee, at least 100 players need to enter for the pool to reach $10,000. If only 80 players participate, that means only $8,000 in the prize pool. The poker room must supply the other $2,000 to meet the guarantee. The event will have had an “overlay of $2,000.”

Paint

Face cards, or picture cards (Jacks, Queens, and Kings).

Pocket cards

Same as the hole cards – cards dealt to every individual player and not revealed to anyone else.

Poker face

Player’s demeanor – overall appearance including the face – that reveals no information.

Pot

The running, total amount of bets and calls during the playing of the hand.

Rail

The specific area around the table for the spectators. It’s not always formally marked.

Read

The vision and understanding of an opponent’s hand. Players will sometimes have a “tell” that gives away information.

River

The community card that is the last one dealt in flop games such as Hold ’em and Omaha.

Rounder

An experienced player seeking higher level poker games. The term was used as the name for the popular poker movie “Rounders.”

Royal flush

The best hand in poker. It’s comprised of a straight flush: all cards, same suit, from 10 to an Ace.

Showdown

The last act during a poker hand. Following the final betting round when more than one player remains in the hand, cards are turned over and a winner is identified.

Slow-Roll

Deliberately failing to show a strong (likely winning) hand at showdown in order to force others to show their hands first. Whether intentional or not, it’s poor etiquette.

Staking

When someone pays for another’s entry with the agreement of receiving a percentage of his winnings. This practice has become increasingly common in online poker competition.

Straight Flush

Five consecutive same-suited cards, i.e. 6 (spades), 7 (spades), 8 (spades), 9 (spades), 10 (spades).

Stud

Poker games that are played without community cards in which players are dealt a combination of upcards (dealt face-up) and downcards (those dealt face-down).

Tilt

When a player participates in an affected mental state – usually anger or fear. A player will often make an ill advised bet when they are “on tilt” or “tilted”.

Turn

The third betting round in games such as Hold ’em and Omaha.

Up the Ante

A common cultural expression as well as poker-specific. It refers to raising the stakes. Also used to described increasing the antes on each blind level of a tournament.

Value Bet

When a player, believing he/she owns the best hand, makes a bet specifically to gain more value from opponent(s).

Whale

Usually someone with plenty of money who is identified as an extremely poor poker player.

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