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.”
The betting options a player is offered when it’s their turn (check, fold, raise, call, etc.).
Betting all the chips a player has left. A loss would result in the player going bust.
A forced bet into the pot before dealing. These are used primarily late in tournament play to force action.
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).
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.”
Fee to play in a game of poker.
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.
This is a poker format where players are free to buy in and leave at any time. Also known as a “ring game.”
Leave the table and turn in your chips for cash.
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.
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.
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.
Cards dealt face down, known only to the players they’ve been dealt to.
An inexperienced or ignorant player who is seen as one who can easily be beaten by experienced players.
Five cards of the same suite. If more than one player has the flush, the one with the single highest card wins
An individual who plays poker as an occupation, “grinding” out consistent income by employing minimal risk and accruing modest gains.
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.
A game in which players receive two down cards and five community cards. Also known as Texas Hold ’em.
Player’s hidden cards not shared with anyone else until the showdown.
The establishment, in most cases a casino, or person running the current poker game.
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.
Similar to a fish, it references a player expected to lose.
A form of betting structure under which one can bet or raise any amount at any given time.
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.
To “Open” is to make the first raise in a hand.
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.”
Face cards, or picture cards (Jacks, Queens, and Kings).
Same as the hole cards – cards dealt to every individual player and not revealed to anyone else.
Player’s demeanor – overall appearance including the face – that reveals no information.
The running, total amount of bets and calls during the playing of the hand.
The specific area around the table for the spectators. It’s not always formally marked.
The vision and understanding of an opponent’s hand. Players will sometimes have a “tell” that gives away information.
The community card that is the last one dealt in flop games such as Hold ’em and Omaha.
An experienced player seeking higher level poker games. The term was used as the name for the popular poker movie “Rounders.”
The best hand in poker. It’s comprised of a straight flush: all cards, same suit, from 10 to an Ace.
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.
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.
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.
Five consecutive same-suited cards, i.e. 6 (spades), 7 (spades), 8 (spades), 9 (spades), 10 (spades).
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).
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”.
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.
When a player, believing he/she owns the best hand, makes a bet specifically to gain more value from opponent(s).
Usually someone with plenty of money who is identified as an extremely poor poker player.