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Poker Terms Explained

By Charles S
Published in Poker School
May 07, 2020
24 min read

How To Play Poker: Common Poker Terms Explained

If you’ve overheard conversations about poker you’d realise that there’s a lot of jargon in there that might be confusing. For example, a regular poker player could describe a hand by saying

“Jon had pocket rockets and the flop showed an Ace and two rags, rainbow, giving him top set. There was a fish at the table that goes runner, runner and cracks Jon’s set with a flush draw.”

You may already be well versed with some of the poker terms but for the players just starting out, this guide will help you get on track so that you can understand what it means and also be able to converse in poker speak at your next game.

If you’re completely new to the game of Texas Hold’em Poker and need to learn the very basics, check out our Beginners Guide: How to Play Poker and Poker Hand Rankings Explained

Poker Terms List

A

Ace High – A made hand without at least a pair where the high card is an Ace.

Action – Can refer to any of the available options such as bet, raise, call, check, fold etc.

Add-On – An amount that can be added to our stack of tournament chips for a set fee during a designated break.

A-Game – Refers to playing poker with an optimal mindset or mental state. Also referred to as playing poker “in the zone”.

Alias – Refers to a player’s online screen name. Players who predominantly play online are often known by their alias/screename.

All-in – Refers to the act of putting all of one’s chips in the middle.

Angle – “Angle shooting” refers to manipulation of the rules to gain an unfair advantage.

Ante – A forced mandatory payment made by all players at the table before any cards are dealt. Tournaments often make use of antes in the later stages.

Backdoor – Refers to a draw that needs to catch two consecutive cards in order to complete.

Backraise – Refers to a re-raise made after just calling earlier on the same street.

Bad Beat – Refers to losing a hand of poker after getting unlucky. Often the money goes in as a favourite and our opponent “sucks out”.

Bankroll – Refers to the total amount of funds a player has at his disposal for the purpose of playing poker.

Barrel – Refers to making a bet after already being the last aggressor on the previous street.

Belly Buster – A colloquial term for a gutshot. Otherwise known as “inside straight draw”.

Bet – To “bet” means to make the first wager on the current betting round.

Big Bet – Refers to the larger of the two designated bet-sizings in fixed limit games. The big bet sizing is usually employed on the later rounds of betting once the pot is typically larger.

Big Blind – Refers to the mandatory investment made by the player two to the left of the dealer button before any cards are dealt.

Blank – A card which does not influence the action in any meaningful way. (Usually a low card where no draws complete).

Blind Bet – To perform an action blind means to do it without looking at our cards.

Blocker – A “blocker” is a card that has a card removal effect on villain’s range. For example, if we hold a King in our hand, it’s less likely that villain has a King in his hand.

Blocker Bet – A small bet made in the hopes of preventing our opponent making an even larger bet if checked to.

Bluff – A bet made with a weak hand in the hopes of getting our opponent to fold a better hand.

Bluff catch – To call with a hand that can only win if our opponent is bluffing.

Board – Refers either to community cards in variants such as Hold’em and Omaha, or “upcards” in Stud variants of poker.

Boat – Colloquial term for a full house in poker.

Bot – A non-human player at the tables. While illegal on most sites they still find a way of making it to the tables.

Bounty – A prize that can be collected after knocking a specific player out of a tournament. A bounty is often put on the head of professional players, especially those that are sponsored pros at the site in question.

Bring-in – A forced payment made by the player with the worst upcard on the third street in tud. Said player can either pay the bring-in or “complete” to the small bet amount if he likes his cards.

Brick – A term for a card that doesn’t complete any possible draws. Especially a low offsuit card.

Broadway – Any card out of Ten, Jack, Queen, King and Ace can be referred to as a “broadway”. The Ace-high straight is also referred to as “broadway”.

BRM – Any acronym standing for “bankroll management” – the strategies which govern when to move up and down in limits.

Bubble – The stage of a tournament directly before any player has made the prizepool.

Bum Hunting - Bum hunting is a term that for the most part refers to the process of opening heads up cash tables for players seeking out weaker players but refusing to play against players they don’t feel they have an edge over.

Burn – In live poker games it is common for the dealer to “burn” cards to help minimize the possibility of cheating. Rather than deal from the top of the deck, the top card is discarded (or “burned”) and the second card is dealt.

Busted – The term “busted” refers to a draw (such as a straight-draw or flush-draw) that missed its card and did not complete.

Button – Refers to the position at the table where the dealer button (small plastic disc) is placed. The button is considered the best position at the table since it always gets to act last postflop.

Buy-in – The amount required to join a game of poker. In cash games this can vary (within specified limits) while the buy-in amount is fixed for tournaments.

Call – To “call” means to match the existing wager on the current betting round.

Calling Station – Refers to a bad poker player who calls far too frequently.

Cap – A cap game is one where there is a limit placed on the maximum amount of chips that can be wagered postflop.

Case – Refers to the last card of a certain rank in the deck. For example, if there are already three Aces in play, the final Ace in the deck is referred to as “the case Ace” if it is dealt.

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

C-Game – Refers to playing poker with a poor mental state.

Check – To “check” means to make no wager. The action instead passes to the player on our left. Note that checking is only a valid option if no wager has been made on the current betting round.

Check-Raise – To make a raise where our previous action on the current street was to check.

Chinese Poker – A variant of poker where cards are arranged into 3 rows and compared against our opponent’s rows to see who wins points.

Chip Dumping – The act of using online poker as a means to facilitate illegal money transfers.

Coinflip – The act of getting the chips in with roughly 50% pot equity.

Cold-Call – A call made on the first betting round where said call is the player’s first action on that betting round.

Collusion – The term “collusion” refers to a type of cheating where 2 or more players secretly work together to win chips off other unsuspecting players.

Combination – Refers to a specific combination of cards.

Combo Draw – Refers to a drawing hand with multiple draw components. Most often this will be a straight draw which is also a flush draw.

Community Cards – Community cards are placed in the center of the table; all players may use them in constructing their 5-card hand. Not all poker variants use community cards. The most common community card variants are Omaha and Hold’em.

Complete – Can refer to calling in the small blind when facing an open limp in Omaha or Hold’em. It can also refer to raising to the small bet sizing when playing the bring-in in Stud games.

Connector – Refers to a hand that contains cards of consecutive rank.

Continuation Bet – A bet from a player on the flop who raised pre-flop is known as a continuation bet or simply a c-bet.

Cooler – A “cooler” is a situation where our hand is clearly too strong to fold but ends up being beaten by an even stronger hand.

Counterfeit – A situation where a previously strong hand loses a huge chunk of its value after further cards are dealt.

Cowboys – A nickname given to pocket Kings, the second best starting hand in Hold’em.

Crack – Carries the connotation of outdrawing a strong hand. “My pocket Aces got cracked!”

Cripple – To make such a strong hand that there is no way our opponent can ever outdraw us. “We flopped big and crippled the deck”.

Cutoff – The position to the direct right of the button. It’s considered a reasonable position at the table but nowhere near as profitable as the button.

Dark Bet – A bet made without waiting to see which additional cards are dealt on the current street.

Dealer – The person who deals the cards; it might be a player or a casino employee. The term “dealer” can also be used to describe the player who occupies the button position at the table during the current hand.

Dirty Stack - A chip stack that has not been correctly organized (considered bad etiquette or even cheating in some cases). Denominations of chips should be grouped together in piles with the larger denominations at the front of the chip stack.

Dog – Short for “underdog”. The term implies that a certain hand/player is statistically less likely to win.

Domination – Domination is where a weak draw or made hand is likely to be running against an even bigger draw/hand when there is a lot of action.

Donk – To “donk bet” means to make a bet out of position on the current street after closing the action by calling on the previous street. The term can also be used to describe an exceptionally weak player at the table. (Note that the term can be considered derogatory in this context).

Double Up – To double the size of our chip stack after winning an all in.

Downswing – A series of results totaling an overall loss, such as over the course of multiple sessions or a particular time period.

Draw – Refers to a situation where players are waiting on cards to complete their hand. For example, if we have four diamonds (and are waiting on that fifth diamond to make the flush) we have a “flush draw”. The term Draw also refers to a selection of poker variants where competitors replace cards in their hand with cards from the deck on each betting round.

Drawing Dead – A situation where none of our outs will give us the best hand. I.e. we have no shot to win.

Dry – Refers to a board texture where there are very few (if any) possible draws.

Ducks - A common nickname for pocket Twos in the Hold’em variant of poker.

Effective Stacks – Refers to the smaller of two stacks in play. The larger stack can’t wager more chips than the shorter stack has in play. The size of the shorter stack is hence referred to as the “effective stack”.

Equity – Describes the likelihood of a certain hand winning at showdown assuming it doesn’t fold.

Equity Calculator – A tool used to calculate the equity of hands/ranges against other hands/ranges.

Expectation – A term referring to the amount of you expect to gain on average if you make a certain play.

Expected Value – The “expected value” of a certain play indicates how profitable we expect a certain play to be in the long run. This can be calculated using expected value calculations.

Family Pot – Refers to a pot where most of the players do not fold on the initial betting round. For example, in a 6-handed Hold’em lineup, perhaps 5 or 6 players see a flop.

Fastplay – To come out betting and raising when holding a strong made hand.

Favourite – Indicates that a certain hand or player is statistically likely to win.

Fish – A common term used to describe a weak player at the table. Sometimes considered derogatory so discretion is advised.

Fish Hooks – A nickname given to pocket Jacks, a strong starting hand in Hold’em.

Five-Bet – The fifth bet in a betting sequence.

Flat – A term used interchangeably with “call” in poker.

Float – A call made with a speculative holding, having the intention of bluffing on a later street. In modern times this term has been re-appropriated to describe a “bet vs missed c-bet while in position”.

Flop – The second betting round in community cards such as Omaha and Hold’em. The term “flop” also refers to three community cards that are dealt face up on the table during said betting round.

Flush – A hand made with five cards of the same suit.

Fold – To “fold” means to discard our holding in a scenario where we don’t wish to match the wager made on the current street.

Four-Bet – The fourth bet in a betting sequence. See this glossary entry for an example.

Free Card – A card seen without having to invest additional chips. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on the scenario.

Freeroll – A tournament with no buy-in required. Also refers to a situation where a hand can either chop or win but can rarely (or never) lose.

Full House – A five card hand made with a combination of three of a kind and one pair.

Gap – Refers to a gap between cards of consecutive rank. Examples are given in this glossary entry.

Grinding – Refers to playing poker for long hours and slowly building up profit.

GTO - Stands for Game Theory Optimal, the optimal way to play a hand or street according to Game Theory; which is the study of mathematical models of strategic interaction between rational decision-makers.

Guarantee - Refers to a guaranteed prize pool for a tournament as established by the poker room (live or online) hosting the event.

Gutshot – Refers to an “inside straight draw”. For example, we hold 5,6,8,9 and need to hit a 7 in order to complete our straight.

Hanger – A term used to describe a protruding bottom card when base dealing.

Hand-for-hand – A stage in tournaments where every table completes its current hand before the entire tournament moves on to the next hand.

Heads Up – Refers to a poker hand where only two players are involved. This could refer to either the initial deal, or the later betting rounds after every other player folds.

Hero Call – A call made with a speculative hand in the hopes that our opponent is bluffing.

High Hand – A poker hand where we don’t hold a pair or stronger. The strength of our hand is defined by its highest card (Aces are high in most variants).

Hijack – Refers to the player who is sitting two seats right of the “button” and one seat to the right of the “cutoff”.

Hit – We “hit” when a card falls that gives us a decent hand. “We held a flush draw on the turn but hit on the river”.

Hold’em – The most popular poker variant, sometimes referred to as the “Cadillac of Poker”.

Hole Cards – Refers to the cards that are dealt face down to the player and kept secret. In Hold’em players are dealt two hole cards while in Omaha they are dealt four.

House – A colloquial term referring to the entity that is running the current poker game. I.e. the casino in most cases.

ICM – Stands for “Independent Chip Modelling” and refers to a mathematical technique of assigning real monetary values to tournament chips.

Implied Odds – A pot odds calculation factoring in the additional chips we stand to win on later streets if we make our hand.

Inside Straight Draw – Also known as a “gutshot”. For example, we hold 5,6,8,9 and need to hit a 7 in order to complete our straight.

Insurance – A side wager made with another player at the table. If hero’s hand does not hold up, he’ll receive an insurance payout from the other player.

Jackpot – Some casinos and poker rooms offer a “bad beat jackpot” when an extremely strong hand gets cracked.

Jam – Colloquial term meaning to shove all-in.

Kicker – Cards that don’t directly formulate a hand but still contribute to the overall strength of a hand since they are used as side cards. In scenarios where two players have the same hand, the best kickers will win.

LAG – Stands for “Loose Aggressive” and describes a player who plays many starting hands in an aggressive manner.

Last Longer - A side bet wagered between tournament participants to see who lasts longer. The last player to bust out of the tournament wins the bet.

Laydown – To make a fold. Sometimes implies reluctance to ditch the hand. “We thought for a long time but eventually made the laydown”.

Levelling – Refers to thinking on different levels when playing a hand of poker.

Leverage – Refers to chips that have an influence on correct strategy despite the fact that they are not currently in play.

Limit – Generally used to describe a game with a fixed-limit betting structure. All bets and raises occur in fixed increments.

Limp – Describes the action of just calling when there is no raise before us on the first betting round.

Lowball – Refers to a poker variant which makes use of a “low” hand ranking system. The easiest way to conceptualize this is with the phrase “worst hand wins” although it’s slightly more complex than this in reality.

Low Hand – In lowball variants of poker the objective is to make the best “low hand”. Check out this glossary entry for a guide on how different low hand rankings work across several poker variants.

Maniac – Refers to a player type whose style can be characterized with the words “loose and crazy”.

Mental Game – Refers to the discipline of looking to better one’s mental outlook when playing poker at the tables.

Misclick – To accidentally perform the wrong action when playing in an online setting. Chiefly used to describe clicking in the wrong location (or accidentally clicking) with a mouse.

Monotone – Describes a board texture (or hand structure in some cases) where all the cards are of the same suit.

Monster – Colloquial term for a very strong poker hand.

Muck – To return a losing hand to the dealer at showdown without showing it to the table. Mucking is usually allowed when we are the caller on the final street, but not if we took the last aggressive action before showdown.

Nit – Describes an extremely risk averse player who hardly plays any of his starting hands. A nit simply hopes to wait for premium holdings and get a big payout.

Nosebleed – A term used to designate ultra high stakes cash game action, typically $5K and above.

No-Limit – The term “no limit” refers to a betting structure where players are allowed to bet or raise any amount at any given time.

Nut-low – The lowball version of “the nuts”. It describes the best possible low hand in a lowball (or split pot) variant of poker.

Nut Flush Draw – A draw to the Ace high flush. This will also typically be the stone cold nuts if it hits.

Nut Flush – The Ace high flush. Often the stone cold nuts in games such as PLO and NLHE.

Nuts – The best possible hand. The nuts can never lose, it can only chop.

Offsuit – Typically used to describe a starting hand where there is no co-ordination between the suits. Suited hands are nearly always better than offsuit hands.

Omaha – A popular poker variant utilizing community cards. Each player is dealt four hole-cards on the preflop betting round.

One-Gap – A term used to describe two cards which are not in direct consecutive order but instead contain a gap of one. For example, 79s in Hold’em can be described as a “one-gapper”.

Open-ended Straight Draw – A straight draw where a player is waiting for one of two cards on the outside of his structure. For example, we hold 5678 and make a straight if we pick up any 9 or 4.

Open-raise – To make the first raise on the first betting round.

OOP – An acronym standing for “out of position”. Players who must act first, or early in a hand, are considered out of position. The best possible position is on the button, or in late position at the cut-off or hijack seat.

Out – A card that will likely give us the best hand if it falls.

Overbet – To make a bet sizing larger than the current size of the pot.

Overcall – To make a call when another player has already made a call before us on the current street. I.e. to call behind.

Overcard – A card which is either higher than the board or higher than our current holding. For example, we hold a pair of Tens on the flop in Hold’em and the turn card is a King. The King is an overcard to our pair.

Overlay – Additional money injected by the poker room into a tournament prize pool. This is performed when a guarantee tournament can’t deliver the promised payout based on player buyins alone i.e. there is a shortfall.

Pair – We make a pair when we hold two cards of identical rank.

Play the Board – Can refer to a situation where we formulate our hand entirely using community cards. Can also refer to a scenario where we make plays without a legitimate hand based purely on the board texture (in community card games) or the appearance of our upcards (in Stud games).

Paint – A term used to designate any cards between (and including) Jack and Ace. Also frequently referred to as “broadways” or “face cards”.

Pocket Rockets – A nickname given to pocket Aces in Hold’em. This is the best possible starting hand.

Pocket Pair – Refers to a starting hand where we have a pair in the hole.

Position – Can refer to the specific position at the table we are occupying. It can also be used to refer to whether we are “in position” or “out of position”.

Post – The term “post” is typically used in conjunction with mandatory blind payments whether that be the small-blind, big-blind or antes. “Before each hand, every player at the table posts the antes.”

Postflop – In community card variants such as Hold’em or Omaha, the term “postflop” describes everything from the second betting round (the flop) onwards.

Pot Odds – The ratio of the amount of money in the pot to the amount of money it will cost to call the current bet. If the pot holds $10 and it will cost you $2 to call, then a call of $2 to win $10 pot represents pot off of 5-to-1.

Qualify – In split pot games, a low hand must “qualify” before it is counted as a legitimate low hand. In most variants this means holding 5 cards 8 or lower.

Rabbit Hunt – Seeing the remaining community cards after folding. This has no impact on the game but allows players to see if they would have hit their hand or not.

Ragged – A poker term used to describe a board texture when it appears that no one could possibly have a good hand. For example, if the flop came down 6-4-2, it would be a low ragged flop.

Rap – A term used interchangeably with “tap”, potentially used to describe the act of tapping the table twice as the visual signal for checking in a live game.

Rainbow – Used to describe a board texture (or sometimes starting hand) where every card is of a different suit.

Raise – To “raise” means to increase the size of the wager on the current street.

Rake – A small amount taken from the pot each hand as payment for running the poker game.

Range – The term “range” is used to describe a distribution of possible holdings that a player might hold.

Range Advantage – This term is used when one player has a better range than his opponent. There are different variables that contributed to range advantage.

Rank – The term “rank” simply refers to a card’s value/number. I.e. Jack, Four, Ace etc etc.

Ratholing – Describes the action of leaving a ring game and then rebuying in for a smaller amount of chips.

Read – Sometimes used interchangeably with the term “tell”. It indicates that we have a good vision over the type of holdings our opponent is likely to show up with. “Normally I would have folded, but I had a read that villain likes to bluff, so I made the call”.

Rebuy – To purchase additional chips. Predominantly applies to cash games although rebuy tournaments do exist.

Redraw – A possible draw has completed on the board texture but we are drawing to an even bigger hand.

Represent – When we don’t have a certain holding but we look to represent that we do through our actions. The term can also be used to analyze the meaning behind villain’s actions. Villain bet large on all three streets: he is definitely representing something big.

Reverse Implied Odds – An adjusted pot odds calculation taking into account chips we might lose on the later streets after we complete our draw.

Re-raise – To re-raise means to raise after there has already been a raise on the current street.

Ring Game – This term is used interchangeably with “Cash Game”. Since not all poker games are actually played with real money, the term “ring game” might be considered more applicable in some contexts.

River – Refers to the final betting round in Hold’em, Omaha and Stud variants.

River Rat – A player who gets lucky and sucks out on the river. Especially applies to players who are clearly calling too wide on the earlier streets.

Rock – Refers to a player type who only enters the pot with an extremely tight range. This term might be sometimes used interchangeably with the word “nit” although some assign the two words completely different meanings.

Royal Flush – The best possible hand in poker. We hold the Ten, Jack, Queen, King and Ace, all of the same suit.

Run – A term used to describe the fall of cards over a period of time. “Running good” and “running bad” are terms commonly used to describe a lucky and an unlucky streak respectively.

Rundown – The term “rundown” is generally used to describe connected starting hands in Omaha variants. For example, the starting hand T987 is referred to as a “Ten-high rundown”.

Run it Twice – After all remaining players are all-in, the final board cards are dealt twice – half the pot being awarded to the winner of each runout. This is a useful tool for reducing variance.

Runner Runner – Making a strong made hand after catching consecutive running cards. For example, we hold three hearts on the flop and catch running hearts on both the turn and river to make our flush.

Sandbagging – A term used interchangeably with “slowplaying” or “trapping”. It means to play a strong hand deceptively by using passive lines such as checking and calling.

Satellite – A tournament event that awards winners a ticket to an even bigger tournament.

Scare Card – A card that might scare our opponent and cause him to fold more frequently.

Semi-Bluff – A bluff made with a drawing hand. For example, we make a bluff while holding a flush draw. Even if we don’t manage to pick up the pot, there is a possibility that we’ll make our flush on the next street.

Set – Three of a kind made specifically with a pocket pair in the hole.

Short Handed – Describes a poker table with six players or less. Heads up poker is a form of short handed poker for example.

Short Stack – A player without many chips in his stack. Certainly refers to stack sizes less than 100bb, and frequently refers to stack sizes less than 50bb.

Shove – Colloquial term for betting all-in.

Showdown – Refers to revealing the strength of our hand to determine the winner. This happens after all the betting rounds are complete.

Sick – A term used to either mean “extremely cool” or “extremely unlucky”. The exact meaning depends on the context.

Side Pot – A second pot formed when one player is already all-in but there are still players left in the hand with additional chips to play for.

Sit and Go – A type of poker tournament which starts as soon as a designated number of entrants is reached.

Sizing – Refers simply to the size of our bet. Bet sizing is an important aspect of high level play.

Slow play – To play a strong made hand passively and deceptively. The hope is that our opponent will either launch big bluffs or pay us off on a later street after he believes we are genuinely weak.

Slowroll – To take a long time to call when we are closing the action and have the effective nuts.

Small Bet – Used in poker games with fixed limit structure. Denotes the smaller of two designated bet sizings (the small bet and the big bet).

Small Blind – The mandatory payment made in community card games and draw games by the player directly to the left of the button. The small blind payment is typically half of the big blind payment and occurs before any cards are dealt.

Splash the Pot – To put our chips into the middle of the table in a disorderly fashion. It’s considered good etiquette to keep our chips in neat piles when making big bets.

Split – A split pot variant of poker is where half of the pot is awarded to one type of hand while the other half is awarded to another type of hand. The most common example is hi/lo split variants; half the pot is awarded to a high hand, the other half is awarded to the best low hand.

Split Pot - A split pot is one that is awarded to multiple players. This could be in the eventuality that a hand ties, or when playing a split pot variant of poker.

Squeeze – A raise made against multiple players where there has already been a bet and a call on the current street. Especially used to describe 3betting against multiple opponents on the preflop betting round in Omaha and Hold’em.

Stab – To make a bet, especially in a scenario where our opponent has just shown weakness. An example of such weakness might be skipping a continuation bet opportunity.

Stack to Pot Ratio – This is a ratio that describes the relationship between what is in the pot compared to how many chips are remaining in the effective stacks.

Stand Pat – This is a legal option in draw games. To “stand pat” means to decline the option to draw additional cards and stay with the current hand.

Steam – To be tilted. A player can be described as “steaming” if he is extremely angry, perhaps as a result of a bad run of cards.

Stealing – Stealing refers to an attempt to win the pot outright on the first betting round, especially as the first raiser. For example, in Hold’em, any open-raise from the small blind, button or cutoff is considered a “steal attempt”.

Steel Wheel - Refers to the Ace to Five straight flush. This is an especially strong hand in PLO8 since it can win both the high and the low pot.

Straddle – A straddle is a blind raise made before the cards are dealt which is usually double the size of the big blind.

Straight – A five card hand consisting of all 5 cards in consecutive rank order i.e. 5,6,7,8,9.

Straight Flush – A five card hand consisting of all 5 cards in consecutive rank order and also of the same suit.

Street Poker – An unwritten agreement between players to play insupportable loose poker.

String Bet – String bet refers to splitting a wagering decision into multiple parts. For example “I call your bet…..and raise you by another 50”. In a modern casino, the player would be obligated to just call, since this was what he originally announced.

Structure – The term “structure” can refer to a range of different variables pertaining to the format of a certain poker game.

Stud – A poker variant without community cards where players are dealt a combination of upcards (visible to the table) and downcards (secret).

Suited – The term “suited” typically describes a starting hand where two or more of the cards share the same suit.

Table Stakes – A ruling which prevents players from being forced to wager more chips than they brought to the table in the first place.

TAG – Short for “Tight Aggressive”. Describes an aggressive player who enters the pot with a relatively tight and strong range of holdings.

Tank – An abbreviation of “time bank”. Refers to the act of thinking about a decision at the tables.

Tell – Often used interchangeably with “read”. A tell is an unconscious indication from our opponent that he has a certain type of holding.

Texture – Usually refers to the board texture in community card games such as Hold’em and Omaha but could ultimately be used to describe any group of cards such as boards in Stud.

Three-Bet – Refers to the third bet in a sequence of bets.

Three of a Kind – We make this hand when we hold three cards of identical rank along with two kickers.

Three Pair – A term that is used mostly in Omaha variants. Only two of the pairs count, but the third pair provides additional outs to make a boat.

Tie – When two hands are of equivalent strength and hence split/chop the pot.

Tilt – Refers to playing poker with an affected mental state – especially anger, but also fear, lack of motivation etc etc.

Time Bank – The optional extra time available to online poker players during a hand.

Tournament – A poker format with a fixed buyin. Players continue playing until they run out of chips. The last man standing is typically the tournament winner.

Tracking Software – Software that tracks poker results along with a range of other features.

Trap – To play a strong made hand passively in the hope that our opponent launches a big bluff.

Trey – Commonly used term to describe a card of rank “Three”.

Trips – Colloquial term for three of a kind when not made with a pocket pair in the hole.

Turn – The third betting round in variants such as Hold’em and Omaha.

Two-bet – The second bet in a betting sequence.

Two Pair – A hand made by holding two sets of pairs along with one kicker.

Two-tone – Describes a board texture or group of cards consisting of two distinct suits.

Under the Gun – A term used to describe the player who is first to act on the first betting round.

Underbet – A bet sizing less than 50% of the pot. See this glossary entry for advice on when a small bet sizing makes sense.

Underdog – Sometimes abbreviated to the word “dog”. Describes a hand or player which is statistically unlikely to win.

Upcard – A card dealt to the player in Stud face up, meaning it is visible to the entire table.

Upswing – A prolonged period of winning (especially when the winrate is higher than anticipated). I.e. running good.

Up the Ante – A common expression meaning to “up the stakes”. Also can be used to described the increase antes on each blind level of a poker tournament.

Value Bet – A bet with a made hand hoping to get paid off by a worse holding.

Variance – A term used to describe the ups and downs of a poker players career. Variance is much larger than many players realise.

Variant – A particular brand of poker: there are many. For example, Hold’em, Omaha, Stud, 5-card Draw etc etc.

Vulnerable – A hand is vulnerable if it is susceptible to being outdrawn.

Whale – An extremely wealthy but bad poker player. Especially used to describe bad poker players at higher stakes games.

Wet – Describes a board texture with excellent coordination, allowing for a large number of possible draws.

Wheel – The Ace to Five straight. This is an especially strong hand in PLO8 since it has a shot at winning both the high and the low pot.

Wired – Refers to a pair on third street where both of the cards are downcards.

Wrap – Refers to a large straight draw in Omaha variants. Unlike in Hold’em, some of the big straight draws in Omaha can have as many as 20 outs.

Wrap Around Straight – A straight where the Ace falls somewhere in the middle of the five cards. Not a legal hand in the majority of poker variants.

WSOP – An acronym for perhaps the most prestigious poker event of all time The World Series of Poker. Held every year in Las Vegas.

Putting Poker Speak To Use

So now you’ve gone through the poker terms, you’ll be able to show your fellow players that you’re fluent with the poker speak. Impress any seasoned player at the tables, whether you are playing Texas Holdem Poker, Omaha Poker, online poker or live poker. Most important of all, it will allow you to enjoy the game more.


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