Glossary

3-bet/4-bet/5-bet

A 3-bet is the act of raising a [raise] – the “third bet”. A 4-bet, therefore, is a raise of a 3-bet. You can guess what a 5-bet is; essentially it’s all much easier than saying “a re-re-re-re-raise”.

Action

(1) The opportunity to take your turn – a player at a table who is watching TV instead of the game will have to be told “the action is on you”.

(2) Bets and raises and 3-bets, oh my! If a game or hand features a lot of aggressive betting and raising, it’s said to have a lot of action or be “an action game”. These are naturally the most fun games.

Add-on

The last, optional buy-in permitted in a rebuy tournament. Generally, you can buy the add-on regardless of your chip stack. Most players elect to, because that’s what makes rebuy tournaments so fun.

Ante

A bet contributed by each player before the cards are dealt in a hand; they are standard in [Stud] games. Most [Hold’em] games don’t have an ante, save for the later stages of a tournament or certain cash games. In such games, antes inflate the size of the pot and encourage bets and raises.

All-In

A player is considered all-in if he has wagered all of his chips. Most cool poker hands will feature a player saying “I’m all-in” at one point or another – you can’t play a big pot without big bets.

Backdoor

A backdoor [draw] is one that requires cards on both the turn and the river to complete. For example, As-7s on a flop of Ks-2d-2c would be considered a backdoor flush draw. It can sometimes be a nice and sneaky way to win the pot.

Bad Beat

When a hand that is not favoured to win beats a much better hand. Typically, a bad beat implies that the winner of the pot misplayed his hand in some way; bad beat stories therefore often come with a full complement of expletives and creative language. You’ll hear about – and encounter – your fair share of them over the years.

Bet

The first chips placed in the pot during any betting round. Before the flop, the [big blind] is considered a bet, which is why you [call] or [raise] rather than bet preflop (or fold, but that’s no fun).

Betting Round

The wagers that take place after new cards have been dealt. A betting round is considered complete when only one player remains or all players have wagered an equal amount.

Big Blind

The larger of the two forced bets made before cards are dealt in [Hold’em] games. Big blind is also used to refer to the player in that position: “the big blind is a really aggressive player and I’m sick of it.” The smaller blind is called – wait for it – the [small blind].

Blank

A [community card] that doesn’t appear to affect the holding of any player in the pot. For example, if the flop is Ac-Tc-Js and the turn card is the 6d, that would be one of the blankiest blanks that could blank.

Blinds

The forced bets made before the deal in [Hold’em] and [Draw] games to give everyone something to play for.

Blockers

When your opponent is less likely to have a particular hand because you hold the cards he needs, you have blockers. For example, if you hold Q-Q on a [board] of Kc-Td-9h-Jh, it is much more difficult for your opponent to have a straight since you have half the queens in the deck. Blockers are very important in [Hold’em] and [Omaha] games.

Bluff

[Betting] or [raising] with what you believe to be the worst hand, aiming to make better hands [fold]. Definitely one of the coolest things about poker.

Board

The flop, turn and river in [Hold’em] games, or a player’s face-up cards in [Stud] games – “the board completed flush and straight draws but I called his all-in anyway because that’s how I roll.”

Bottom Pair

When a card in your hand pairs with the lowest card on the [board] in [Hold’em] games. If you have Ad-6d on a flop of Kd-9c-6h, you have bottom pair.

Burn

To discard the top card from the deck, face down, before dealing the flop, turn or river. In live games, the “burn cards” are to secure against players using marked cards to know what the [community cards] are ahead of time.

Button

A small, white disk that indicates the (nominal) dealer position. It is also used as a term to refer to the player in that position, e.g. “the button re-raised me.”

Call

To wager an amount of money equal to the most recent [bet] or [raise]. The term "see" (as in "I'll see that bet") is considered colloquial.

Calling Station

A player who doesn’t bet or raise much, but will usually call with a wide range of hands. In other words, the perfect player to have in your game if you want to make some beer money.

Cap

In [Limit games], to cap the betting means to put in the last raise permitted during a betting round. This is usually the third or fourth raise – if someone says “the betting was capped on the turn” it means that the players involved bet, raised, re-raised and re-re-raised.

Capped

(1)    Describing the situation in which someone has put in the third or fourth bet in a round and no further raises are permitted.

(2)    Describing the situation in which a player is very unlikely to have hands beyond a certain strength (a capped range).

Case

The last remaining card of a certain value in the deck – for example, if you and your opponent play a big pot on a J-8-3 flop with your 8-8 against his J-J, you need to hit the case 8 to win. And you will. We believe in you.

Cash Game

A regular poker game in which the players wager with actual cash values. Also known as a ring game. Compare with [Tournament].

Cashier

The Cashier is the interface for depositing and withdrawing money to Full Tilt as well as managing your ticket and points balances.

Check

To decide not to make a bet and instead allow the next player to act, with the potential option of [raising] or [folding] later in the [betting round].

Check-Raise

To check, allowing a player acting after you to [bet], and then [raising]. In the olden days some people considered this tactic “unfair”. We consider these people whiney little babies and will happily check-raise them all day, every day.

Checked Around/Checked Through

The situation in which no one bets in a particular betting round, completing the round and moving on to the next, e.g. “how on earth did all four players check through the turn in the last hand of Casino Royale?”

Coinflip

A scenario in which two hands each have a roughly 50% chance of winning. Typically this refers to an all-in situation in which one player holds two overcards and the other a smaller pocket pair – a classic coinflip.

Cold Call

To call more than one bet, which can often show strength and is cause for suspicion. If the first player to act raises before the flop, and then another player re-raises, any player acting after that must call two bets "cold". This is different from calling a single bet and then calling a subsequent raise.

Community Cards

The cards that are presented face-up in the middle of the poker table and shared among players in [Hold’em] games. See [board].

Connector

A [Hold’em] starting hand in which both cards are of adjacent rank – 8h-7h, for example, is known as a “suited connector”.

Counterfeit

To have a valuable hand made less strong because of clashing community cards. For example, if you hold 8d-8s on a flop of 9s-Jd-Kc, the turn and river running out 9h-Ks would counterfeit your two pair and force you to [play the board].

Crack

To beat a stronger starting hand with a weaker one. You hear this most often applied to pocket aces: "that’s the third time tonight I've had pocket aces cracked."

Cutoff

Describes the position and player to the right of the button.

Deal

(1) To distribute the cards to the players.

(2) An arrangement made between remaining players in a tournament to divide the prize money on a basis besides the designated payout structure.

Dealer

The player in the [button] position, or the player/person who is actually dealing the cards in a game.

Dog

Shortened form of [underdog].

Dominated Hand

A hand that will often lose, especially if they share a card – for example, K-J is dominated by A-K as the ace [kicker] will beat the jack if both hands make a pair of kings.

Double Gutshot

A [gutshot straight draw] that can be filled with one of two cards, each in the middle of the straight. For example, Qd-Jd on a flop of As-Th-8d is a double gutshot, requiring a K or a 9 to make a straight. Also known as a “double gutter”.

Draw

A hand that is not yet a complete poker hand, but could become so if the right cards come, e.g. four cards of a suit is known as a flush draw. Also used as a verb – “I’m drawing to a straight.” Not to be confused with [Draw Poker].

Draw Poker

A variant of poker in which players are dealt five cards face-down, wager on those cards, then replace (draw) one or more cards (or none, see [Stand Pat]) and continue to bet.

Drawing Dead

Playing a [draw] that, even if made, will not win the pot. If you are drawing to a flush, but your opponent already holds a full house, you are “drawing dead”. Needless to say, this isn’t an ideal situation to be in. Terms with “dead” in the name rarely are.

Early Position

The first few players to the left of the dealer and/or blinds, who must act first, are considered early position. Position is very important in poker, and the later your position the better your chances of winning. Compare with [late position].

Equity

(1)    Your chances of winning the pot. For example, with a flush [draw] against an [overpair], you have around a 35% chance of winning – or 35% equity.

(2)    Your “rightful” share of the pot. For example, if in the above scenario you are playing a $100 pot with your flush draw, you have $35 equity in the pot – this is how much you can expect to win in the long run.

Expectation

(1)    The amount you expect to win, on average, if you make a certain play. For example, if you wager $100 on the flip of a coin at 2:1 odds, you expect to win $200 50% of the time and lose $100 50% of the time, giving you a positive expectation of $100.

(2)    The amount you expect to make at the poker table in a specific time period. Suppose in 100 hours of play, you win $527. Then your expectation is $5.27 per hour. Of course, you won't make that exact amount each hour (and some hours you will lose), but on average you expect to have an hourly rate of $5.27.

Family Pot

A pot in which all (or almost all) of the players are involved, usually referring to most of the table seeing the flop in [Hold’em] games.

Favorite

A poker hand which is the most likely to win the pot.

Flop

(1)    The first three [community cards] in [Hold’em] games.

(2)    (v) To have those community cards affect a particular player – “I raised big with A-K but I flopped terribly so I had to fold” or “I called a raise with Ah-6h and I flopped a flush on 8h-Kh-2h.”

Fold

To forfeit your cards and the pot, taking no further part in the hand.

Free Card

A card you are dealt without having to call a bet because of play earlier in the hand (or because of your reputation with your opponents). For example, if your opponent checks, you may elect to check as well and therefore see the next card without making a bet.

Freeroll

(1)    A tournament that has no entry fee but pays out prizes.

(2)    When one player has a chance to win the whole pot, but their opponent can only tie. If you are all-in with As-Qs on a flop of Qc-6s-2s and your opponent holds Ad-Qd, you can win by making a flush; any other card results in a split pot. In this scenario, your opponent is getting freerolled – it’s a good spot for you to be in. Not so much for them.

Gapper

A [Hold’em] hand with one or more gaps in rank between the two cards. For example, Js-9s would be a suited one-gapper; 7d-4d would be a suited two-gapper.

Gutshot Straight Draw

A straight [draw] that requires a card in the middle to complete – like a shot to the gut. If you hold 9c-8c on a flop of 6d-5s-Ad, you have a gutshot draw to a 7. Compare with [open-ended straight draw].

Hand

(1) The cards in possession of one given player – for example, in [Hold’em], your two [hole cards] would constitute your hand.  

(2) One deal – “that guy has been so aggressive and lucky; he’s won the last five hands.”

Hand History

A log or virtual replay of one or more previously played hands.

Heads-up

A pot or game that is being contested by only two players – “the third guy folded, so we were heads-up on the turn.”

Hi/Lo

A split pot game, usually [Stud] or [Omaha], in which half the pot is awarded to the best five-card hand as normal, but the other half is awarded to the worst hand, i.e. that with the lowest-ranking cards. Also known as eight-or-better.

Hit

To improve your hand, as in "the flop hit me.” If you have Ah-Kd, and the flop comes Ks-Ad-Kc, it hit you like a redheaded stepchild. A player who has “been hit with the deck” has been dealt an inordinate share of good hands.

Hold’em

A poker variant in which a player has their own cards ([hole cards]) as well as a set of [community cards] that all players use. These are combined to make the best five-card hand. Texas Hold’em and Omaha are the most popular Hold’em games. Usually, “Hold’em” refers simply to Texas Hold’em.

Hole Cards

Cards dealt face-down to a player - most commonly used when describing the two cards in [Hold’em] and the four cards in [Omaha].

Implied Odds

[Pot odds] that do not exist at the moment, but may be included in your calculations because of bets you expect to win if you hit your hand.

In The Money

Referring to the stage of a tournament where all remaining players are guaranteed a prize.

Inside Straight Draw

See [Gutshot Straight Draw].

Kicker

An unpaired card, used to determine the better of two otherwise-equal hands. For example, if you have Ad-Qs on a flop of Ac-Td-4s and your opponent holds Ah-Kh, your opponent has the better hand because of the king kicker. You have been outkicked, but don’t worry – you can hit a queen on the river.

Late Position

Positions to the right of the dealer that make their decisions after the first few players have acted. Late position is advantageous, because players get to see what the other players have done before they have to act. Compare with [early position].

Level

(1)    The period of time in a tournament during which the betting stays at the same limit or the blinds remain the same.

(2)    The level of thought process a player is on – a player thinking about his hand, his opponent’s hand, and his opponent’s perception of his own hand is considered a high-level thinker; an opponent who thinks only about his own hand is a low-level thinker.

(3)    (v) To overthink a situation and make a bad play – “he bet really big and I thought it could be a bluff, or a big hand that wants to look like a bluff, or a bluff that wants to look like a big hand that wants to look like a bluff… anyway I levelled myself into calling and I lost.”

Limit

The size of the betting increments in a [limit game] – for example, a $10/$20 Limit [Hold’em] game has early betting increments of $10 and later betting increments of $20.

Limit game

A form of poker in which all bets are in increments of the betting limit. For example, in a $10/$20 game, players may only bet or raise in $10 increments in the first [betting rounds] and in $20 increments in the last betting rounds.

Limp

To simply call the [big blind] rather than raising before the flop in [Hold’em] games.

Maniac

A player who does a lot of hyper-aggressive raising, betting, and bluffing. A true maniac is not a good player, but is simply doing a lot of gambling. However, a player who occasionally acts like a maniac and confuses his opponents is quite dangerous. Be like the second one. It’s cool.

Muck

(1)    (n) The pile of folded cards in front of the dealer.

(2)    (v) To fold. "He didn't have any [outs] so he mucked his hand."

No Limit

A form of poker in which a player may bet or raise any amount from the minimum bet up to their entire stack of chips. No Limit [Hold’em] is known as “the Cadillac of poker”. Presumably because Cadillacs are really fun and involve a lot of big pots.

Nuts

The best possible hand one can hold. On a [board] of Kc-As-Ks-2d-Ts, Qs-Js (a royal flush) is the nuts. An ace-high flush will also be referred to as “the nut flush” as no other flush can beat it.

Offsuit

A [Hold’em] starting hand with two cards of different suits. Compare with [suited].

Omaha

A variant of Hold'em in which each player starts with four hole cards. Each player forms a five-card hand by using only two (no more, no less, but they can be any two) hole cards together with only three (no more, no less, but they can be any three) of the five community cards.

Open-Ended Straight Draw

A straight [draw] that requires a high card or low card (at either “end”) to complete – for example, 8c-7c on a flop of 6d-5h-As is an open-ended straight draw, making a straight with a 9 or a 4. Compare with [Gutshot Straight Draw].

Out

A card you need to complete your hand or win the pot. If you have a flush [draw], then you usually have nine outs to a flush.

Outrun

To beat, usually in a close scenario or [coinflip] – “Susie outran my A-K with her Queens.”

Overcall

To call a bet after one or more others players have already called.

Overcard

A card higher than any card on the [board].

Overpair

A pair higher than any card on the [board].

Pay Off

To call a bet when the bettor is representing a hand that you can't beat, but the pot is sufficiently large to justify a call anyway. “He played it exactly like a flush, but I was getting great [pot odds] so I paid him off.”

Play the Board

When your [hole cards] do not make a hand that is better than the [board] in [Hold’em] games. For example, if you hold 3c-3h and the board runs out 5c-5d-As-Ad-Kh, then you must play the board at [showdown].

Pocket Pair

A [Hold’em] starting hand with two cards of the same rank.

Post

To put in a [blind] bet, generally required when you first sit down in a game.

Pot Limit

A version of poker in which a player may bet or raise any amount from the minimum bet up to the size of the current pot.

Pot Odds

The amount of money in the pot compared to the amount you must put in the pot to continue playing. For example, if a player bets $100 into a pot of $200, you need to call $100 to win their bet plus the pot ($300). This means the pot odds are 3:1.

Price

The [pot odds] you are getting for a draw or call. Example: "The pot was laying me a high enough price, so I called with my [gutshot straight draw]."

Protect

(1)    To keep a chip or token on your cards and prevent them from being accidentally taken by the dealer.

(2)    To make a bet with a strong or semi-strong hand in order to stop weaker hands receiving a [free card], as in “to bet for protection”.

Quads

Four of a kind.

Quartered

A situation in which players win only one-fourth of the pot. Usually this is due to splitting the low half of a pot in a [Hi/Lo] game. It is entirely possible also to get “sixthed”, which means exactly what you’d imagine. Try not to get quartered; you lose money.

Ragged

A flop or [board] that doesn’t appear to be connected – for example, a flop such as Kc-7d-2s is very ragged. On the other hand, a flop like 9h-7h-6h is very not-ragged.

Rainbow

A flop that contains three different suits, or a complete five-card [board] that has no more than two of any suit. In short, a board on which no flush (or flush draw) is possible.

Raise

To increase the amount of the current [bet], usually by at least the amount of the previous bet.

Rake

An amount of money taken out of every pot by the dealer, which is the income for the cardroom or casino hosting the game. This can also refer to the [tournament fee].

Rank

The numerical value of a card.

Rebuy

To buy more chips, in either a rebuy tournament or in a cash game when you have lost your stack.

Rebuy Period

The period of time during a rebuy tournament in which players can buy more chips.

Represent

To play as if you hold a certain hand. For instance, if you raised before the flop, and then raised again when the flop came ace high, you would be representing an ace or better.

Re-raise

To raise a raise. See also [3-bet].

River

The fifth and final community card in [Hold’em] games. Also known as "fifth street." You will often hear this card mentioned after an expletive or two during a [bad beat] story.

Rock

A player who almost always folds and only plays a hand that is likely to be the best. If a true rock re-raises before the flop, watch out – he has aces almost always. They’re boring to play with, but easy to beat.

Runner-Runner

A hand that was made only by catching perfect cards on both the turn and river – “he moved all-in with a pair of twos against my flush, but he made runner-runner quads and won the pot. I hate him.”

Scare Card

A card that is likely to change the value of a player’s hand and may prevent others from wagering further chips. If the flop is 6h-4h-2c and the turn is the Ah, it is a scare card because it is an [overcard] and completes a flush draw. Spooky stuff.

Scoop

To win the entire pot in a Hi/Lo game, either by having a hand that wins both the high and low pots (for example, an ace-to-five straight) or by winning a pot in which no low hand is possible.

Second Pair

A pair with the second highest card on the flop. If you have As-Ts, and the flop comes Kd-Tc-6s , you have flopped second pair, or middle pair. Compare with [top pair].

Semi-Bluff

A [bluff], wherein you hope to make a better hand fold, but with a hand that has [outs] to win. For example, you might elect to raise Ah-Th on a flop of Jh-6c-2h, hoping a pair will fold but knowing that a heart or perhaps an ace will give you the best hand.

Set

Three of a kind made with a pocket pair. Compare with [trips].

Short Stack

A number of chips that is not very many compared to the other players at the table. If you have $10 in front of you, and everybody else at the table has over $100, you are playing a short stack.

Showdown

The point at which all players remaining in the hand turn their cards over and determine who has the best hand after the final round of betting. Of course, if a final bet or raise is not called, there is no showdown, which is a big relief when you were pulling a massive bluff.

Side Pot

A pot created when a player does not have sufficient chips to match a bet. For example, if a player bets $1,500 and is called, but then a third player with only $500 calls, the main pot (that all three can win) is $1,500 ($500+$500+$500) and a $2,000 side pot is created that only the two larger stacks can win.

Slowplay

To play a strong hand weakly to deceive your opponents (and win enough money to repay the loan shark and the judge and defeat the Russian mobster in his underground card club).

Slowroll

When a player, knowing they almost certainly (or definitely do) have the strongest hand, pretends to think about their decision when facing an all-in and closing the action (i.e. they have no reason to do anything but call and show their hand). There is a special circle of hell for people who slowroll…

Small Blind

The smaller of two blind bets typically used in a [Hold’em] game. The small blind is almost always half the value of the [big blind].

Smooth Call

This simply means the same as calling, but often implies [slowplaying] a strong hand. “I flopped the nut flush, but I just smooth called because I’m very sneaky.”

Split Pot

A pot that is shared by two or more players because they have the same hand.

Stand Pat

To decline the option of taking a new card in [Draw Poker], implying that you already have a strong made hand – also known as a “pat hand” for reasons that should be obvious after reading this definition.

Straddle

An optional “third blind” in which the player to the left of the [big blind] doubles the bet before receiving cards to increase the size of the pot and encourage action. This is often a “live straddle” and the player can act again before the flop.

String Bet

A bet (more typically a raise) in which a player doesn't get all the chips required for the raise into the pot in one motion. Unless he verbally declared the raise, he can be forced to withdraw it and just call. This happens in practically every poker movie when a player says “I see your bet, and I raise you.”

Stud

A poker variant in which players are dealt a combination of face-down and face-up cards with which they can make the best five-card hand. Until [Hold’em] gained popularity, [Stud] was the most widely-played poker game.

Suited

A [Hold’em] starting hand in which the two cards are the same suit. Compare with [offsuit].

Table Stakes

A rule in a poker game meaning that a player may not go into their pocket for additional money during a hand; they may only invest the amount of money in front of them into the current pot. If he runs out of chips during the hand, a [side pot] is created in which he has no interest. This is the standard for almost every poker game.

Tell

A clue or hint, often a physical action, that a player unknowingly gives about the strength of his hand. May originally be from "telegraph" or the obvious use that he "tells" you what he's going to do before he does it.

Tilt

To play poorly because of emotion (usually anger) putting you off your game.

Top Pair

A pair with the highest card on the [board]. If you have Ah-Qh, and the flop comes Qd-Tc-6s , you have flopped top pair. Compare with [second pair] and [bottom pair].

Top Set

A [set] made with the highest card on the [board].

Tournament

A poker format in which a certain number of players pay for chips, and play until one player has won all the chips in the game. Compare with [Ring Game].

Tournament Fee

The portion of a tournament buy-in that is withheld by the casino or cardroom to cover costs. See also [rake].

Trips

Three of a kind. Classically, three of a kind using one hole card and two cards on the [board] is trips, while three of a kind made with a pocket pair is a [set]. However, most people use “trips” to refer to both styles of hand.

Turn

The fourth community card in [Hold’em] games. Also known as "fourth street."

Under the Gun

The position of the player who acts first on a betting round, typically to the left of the big blind.

Underdog

A person or hand not mathematically favored to win a pot. Compare with [favorite].

Value

(1)    A “bet for value” is a bet with a strong hand in the aim of getting worse hands to call.

(2)    A game may be described as “good value” if there are a lot of bad players at the table.

Variance

A reference to the natural ups and downs of poker, or any other game where luck plays a strong or dominant role. Also a really handy excuse for poor players to explain why they’re losing – “it’s just variance!”