Betting all the chips the player has in front of him.
A forced bet, usually of all players at the table, that must be contributed to
the pot prior to the deal or posting of blinds. Once a staple of draw poker games, antes are
now most often used in the later stages of tournament play, e.g. a 500 chip small blind, a
1,000 chip big blind, and a 100 chip ante.
A term used to denote a draw that requires two (in flop games) or more rounds
(in draw games) to complete. For example, a player holding Ah6h seeing the flop with just
one heart could backdoor into the nut flush if two more hearts came on the turn and the
A situation when a superior hand loses to an inferior one is termed bad beat.
One such example is when both players have pocket pairs (say 5s and 10s) and get all the
chips in the middle before the flop, and pocket 5s come out on top by hitting a set or
Playing different types of hands from different positions so that your play
doesn’t become too uniform. The goal of balancing is to surprise your rivals and make it
hard for them to put you on a hand. It also means to play the same types of hands in a
different way to achieve the same goal.
Handling your poker funds in a manner that gives you the best chance to win in
the long run. The primary goal of bankroll management is to battle the variance and survive
through inevitable periods of bad luck.
A forced bet in flop games, used to create pot and drive action. In Texas
Hold’em, big blind is posted by the player sitting two places to the left of the dealer. If
it weren’t for the blinds, players would have no incentive to play anything but premium
A card that is highly unlikely to change anything about the hand in progress.
For example, if the flop was 10s Js 7d, we would call 3h on the turn a blank, especially if
there was any action on the flop, because it is extremely unlikely to improve any of the
hands still involved in the pot.
When a player holds one of his opponent’s perceived outs, he is said to hold a
blocker. If you suspected your rival was drawing to a flush on a two-diamond flop, you are
reducing his chances to hit if you have a diamond in your hand.
A bet made with a hope of winning the pot without having to show your cards. A
pure bluff means that a player holds cards that have no realistic chance of winning at the
showdown so the only way to take the pot is by forcing your opponent to give up his hand
Also known as a full house: three cards of the same value combined with two
cards of the same value (three of a kind and a pair)
A special reward placed on a player which is awarded to anyone who busts the
said player. Certain tournaments feature bounty format, where a portion of the prize pool is
set aside for bounties and you get instantly credited with a bounty every time you bust a
Brick & Mortar
A term used to describe real, old-fashioned casinos and poker rooms, as
opposed to their online counterparts.
A forced bet in stud games. Depending on the type of the game, either highest
or the lowest upcard has to post the bring in.
All face cards and all 10s, i.e. the cards involved in making the Broadway
The last player to be eliminated from a poker tournament before reaching the
money payouts is deemed the bubble. In big tournaments, like the World Series Of Poker Main
Event, bubble player(s) will sometimes receive a consolation prize.
In flop games, a card that is removed from top of the deck before dealing the
next street. During early days of poker it was used to prevent cheating by pre-arranging the
deck and it stuck as a part of the rules.
Verbally declare your intention to just match the bet made by a player acting
Calling The Clock
Sometimes in poker tournaments (and less often in cash games), if a player
takes an inordinate amount of time to act, other players may call the clock on him. Once the
clock is called, the player is given 60 seconds to act and if he fails to make his decision,
his hand is declared dead.
Poker terms are also sometimes used in common conversation. To let the cards
speak means to show the hands to determine who wins. Shown cards supersede any verbal
declarations or claims.
Declare verbally or by physical gesture that you want to pass the action to
the next player in line without betting yourself.
A strategy that is against the rules and spirit of poker, where one player
deliberately loses his or her chips to another player at the table to boost their stack.
Since chip dumping doesn’t make much sense in cash games, it is mostly used in tournaments
and sit and go’s.
A procedure in a poker tournament by which smaller denomination chips are
removed from the play after they are no longer needed at the tables.
This term coming from online poker means to make the absolutely minimum raise
after another player has bet.
Earlier, the term cold deck was used to describe a rigged deck of playing
cards arranged in such a way to make it impossible for a player who is not in on the ruse to
win. In modern poker, it stands to describe a run of bad cards and bad luck.
A cheating strategy whereby two or more players playing at the same table
share the information about their hole cards and use other deceptive tactics to take chips
or money from other unaware players.
A situation where two hands have approximately the same odds of winning, for
example AK against pocket 10s.
Cards used by all players involved in a hand, like flop, turn, and river in
Cards of consecutive rank or close in ranking, like 67 or 68.
A bet made on the flop by the original pre-flop raiser in an attempt to win
the pot without any further resistance. Sometimes a continuation bet is a bluff while
sometimes it is made with a hand that has good odds of being the best at the moment, in
which case it serves to protect the hand and further build the pot.
A type of situation where both players hold hands so strong that neither of
them can realistically get away. One typical example of a cooler is pocket Aces against
pocket Kings, a situation where a player holding Kings is highly likely to lose the maximum
unless he gets very lucky.
Calling a bet with a hand that has very slim chances of being the best.
Sometimes players do this hoping to catch an unlikely bluff or because the odds they are
getting are too tempting to pass.
A position at the table to the immediate right of the dealer.
A hand that can no longer participate in the pot. A hand can be declared dead
for various reasons: exposing your cards in a tournament, touching the muck, or not acting
within the allotted time after the clock has been called are some of the most common.
Money or chips invested in a pot by players who are no longer actively
participating in the hand. It can also refer to chips invested by players who have not yet
folded but clearly have a weak hand. For example, if six players try to limp in preflop, you
could make a big raise from the big blind in order to make everyone fold and pick up the
This practice is only encountered in cash games, where two or more players,
after moving all in, agree to run a whole board, turn and river, or just river twice. It is
often done by professional players to reduce the variance.
Although more present in-home games, there are some official tournaments and
casino cash games that feature this variation. As the dealer button moves around the table,
the player sitting in the dealer’s position gets to choose the game for that particular
A bet made by the player who is to act first and who just called the
opponent’s bet on the previous street. The term comes from the fact that this type of bet is
usually made by inexperienced players who are not sure how to proceed in the hand, as more
experienced players usually check to the player who seized initiative. However, it does have
strategic value in certain situations.
In flop games, like Texas Hold’em and Omaha, the first visible card on the
flop (also sometimes called a window card). In stud-type games, this is the first visible
Cards dealt face down, known only to the players they’ve been dealt to.
Having no possible outs to win the hand. An example of this situation where a
player is drawing dead is when he has a bottom end of a straight against the player holding
top end of the same straight. If the board came 4 5 6, the player with 2 3 could only hope
for a chop. After turn comes any card other than 7 or 8, the player with the bottom end of
the straight is drawing absolutely dead as he has no possible outs that can help him win or
chop the pot.
As opposed to drawing dead, a player drawing thin has a few out that can save
him, like in a set over set situation. The player with the lower set could still find that
one card in the deck to make quads, but his odds are very bad.
A term used to describe board texture in flop games. Dry board is the type of
board where there are not many possible draws that players could be chasing, like 2c 6s Jh.
With no straight or draw options out there, this would be an extremely dry board.
Expected Value (EV)
Used to describe expected long-term profit in certain games, tournaments, etc.
It is a complex variable entailing many factors, but when poker players talk about EV, they
usually try to explain their earning potential. If a game is termed +EV, it means that it
has a positive earning expectation.
A card from the deck or player’s hand that’s been accidentally turned face up.
When it comes to exposed cards, the rule is that if one player saw it, all other players
must be shown as well, so that no one can profit from the extra information that others are
A pot in which the majority of players at the table gets involved and reaches
the flop (or the next street for other types of games).
In community card games, this is the last card dealt, also known as the river.
In stud games, the fifth card dealt to players.
A bad poker player, also sometimes termed a donkey. A fish is someone who is
either inexperienced or simply doesn’t care to play the game the way it is supposed to be
played, making him an easy prey for more experienced players at the table.
Calling a bet with a weak hand with sole intention of bluffing at a later
point during the hand.
The first three community cards dealt in games like Texas Hold’em or Omaha.
A hand containing five cards of the same suite. In the event two (or more)
players have the flush, the one containing the single highest card wins.
A part of calculation that one needs to consider when betting or raising. It
considers how often the other player is expected to fold in the given situation and is then
added to other numbers (how often do you expect to win at showdown, implied odds, etc.)
Four Of A Kind
Four cards of the same rank (like KKKK). Also known as quads.
In community card games, the card dealt after the flop, better known as turn.
In stud games, the fourth card dealt to players.
A hand containing three cards of the same value combined with two cards of the
same value (three of a kind and a pair). Also known as a boat.
Full Ring (game)
A game with nine or ten players at the table, as opposed to short-handed games
(usually six and sometimes less players).
A person who makes living playing poker full time, often participating in
small buy-in games where he makes small but consistent profit. Also, the nickname for one of
the most famous modern players Michael ‘The Grinder’ Mizrachi.
Also known as the inside straight draw, it is a draw that can only be filled
by four as opposed to eight cards. For example, if you are holding 67 on 3 4 K board, you
have a gutshot draw, as only four 5s will complete your straight.
Hand For Hand
Used to describe a stage of the tournament just before the bubble, when all
tables must first finish one hand before proceeding to the next one. This is done so that
players with short stacks could not deliberately stall the game until someone busts at
Making a call with a relatively weak hand which doesn’t stand a chance to win
against any legitimate hands, trying to pick the opponent’s bluff.
The position at a table immediately right to the cut-off or two to the right
of the dealer.
Player’s hidden cards are only known to himself and not shared with anyone
else until the showdown.
An abbreviation for poker game consisting of five different rotating games:
Hold’em, Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud, and Seven Card Stud High-Low.
Perceived potential chips or money the player expects to extract from his
opponent if he completes his draw. You can find more information about implied odds in this
A raise made in an attempt to isolate a weak or out of position opponent and
push everyone else out of the pot.
Another term for rake – the money collected by the house (casino or other
establishment) in exchange for organizing the games. In tournaments, the juice is paid
together with the participation fee while in cash games it is paid for every individual pot
based on the amount of money in the pot.
A side card in the player’s hand that doesn’t make the hand itself but can
serve as a tie-breaker. For example, if two players have two pair, Aces and Sevens, a kicker
is consulted to determine who wins. Player with the higher value of the kicker card will win
the pot. The standard poker hand rankings are used (Aces are highest, deuces are lowest).
An abbreviation standing for loose-aggressive, used to describe a playing
style that involves playing a big number of hands, with a lot of betting, raising and
Get involved in the pot by just calling for the amount of big blind in flop
games or another minimum bet.
The term is very similar to the terms fish or donkey. A player who is an
underdog in the current game and who is expected to lose unless he gets very lucky.
A very loose and aggressive player who plays even more hands than an average
LAG. A maniac usually gets involved in nearly every pot and tries to always stay in control
in a hand by making big bets and raises to establish his dominance.
A poker deal that is not valid for one reason or another and must be repeated.
One typical example of the misdeal is when one of players at a table doesn’t receive both of
his hole cards and it goes unnoticed. Once the error is observed, it cannot be rectified by
giving this player another card because order of the cards has changed, so the entire hand
must be dealt again.
Multi-table Tournament (MTT)
A tournament consisting of more than nine players seated across a number of
tables. As players are eliminated, tables are merged until there is just one remaining,
usually dubbed the final table.
“Muck” can have several meanings. One is simply “to fold,” meaning the player
is no longer interested in participating in the hand. Also, this term is used to describe
the pile containing all folded (discarded) cards. Finally, “to muck” can also mean to throw
your hand without showing it, either after winning or losing the pot.
A somewhat derogatory term used to describe a player who is playing way too
tight, waiting only for the absolutely best starting hands to get involved, and even then,
playing them timidly.
The absolutely best possible hand one can have given the current board
structure. The term is also sometimes used to describe a virtual nut – the hand that is not
absolutely the best there is, but no one is likely to have it beat. For example, Aces full
on the A 2 2 K 7 board is pretty much the nuts.
The best possible low hand in low poker games. Also, sometimes jokingly used
to describe the worst possible one can have in high games, for example being dealt 2 3 off
in Texas Hold’em.
One Chip Rule
In most casinos, throwing one big denomination chip in the pot is considered
to be just a call even if you wanted to raise. In order to make a legal raise with just one
big chip, you must verbally declare your intention.
Open (the pot)
To be the first one to make the raise.
When the first player enters a pot without raising, i.e. just calling the
Refers to a straight draw that can be completed from both sides, e.g. a player
with 78 on the board reading 5 6 K can complete his straight with either a 4 or a 9.
Outs are cards that will improve a player’s hand. For example, a player
waiting for an open-ended straight draw to come in will have eight “outs” to fill his hand.
An unusually large bet. A bet that is bigger than the current pot is always
considered an overbet.
A card on the board bigger than a player’s pocket pair. For example, if the
player holds pocket 9s, any card higher than a 9 is an overcard.
A pocket pair higher in rank than any of the community cards on the board.
A term used to describe picture cards (Jacks, Queens, and Kings).
Two cards having the same rank, like two 9s or two Kings.
Passive Style / Player
A type of play characterised by a lot of calling and letting opponents do
betting for you. Passive players rarely raise for value or protection and are satisfied to
reach the showdown by calling down and hoping their hands hold.
Playing The Board
When a player's hole cards can’t make any better combination than what’s
already on the board, he is said to be playing the board.
Same as the hole cards – cards dealt to every individual player and not
revealed to anyone else.
When a player receives two cards of the same ranking as his hole cards, he has
a pocket pair.
Used to describe the face and the overall player’s demeanour that reveals no
information about the strength of his hand.
The total amount of bets and calls at any given moment in the hand.
When a player invests a lot of chips in the pot, he might be correct to make a
call drawing thin because he is pot-committed. This is usually the case when there is a lot
of money in the pot and a player doesn’t have many chips left in his stack.
The odds on your play that the pot is offering you. For example, if you need
to pay $20 to win $100, you are getting 5:1 pot odds.
To move all your chips in the middle, i.e. to move all in.
Four of the kind: four cards of the same ranking.
Once a hand is over, checking the deck to see what cards were going to be
dealt on the turn or river. Usually done to see if a player would complete his draw if he
stayed in the hand.
Cards of low value are unlikely to connect well and make the winning hand.
A space around the poker table reserved for the spectators. Sometimes the rail
is physically marked while in most cases it is formed naturally by interested parties.
The board contains no same suits, i.e., with all different suits, like 4s 9h
The amount of money taken by the house for organizing the games.
Secretly removing chips from one’s stack during a poker cash game. It is
frowned upon because no chips should leave the table until a player decides to quit and cash
A game of poker played for real money, not chips. The term is used to
distinguish cash games from tournaments. Ring game = cash game.
The final community card in the flop games like Hold’em and Omaha. Also
sometimes known as the fifth street.
An experienced poker player who moves around looking for juicy poker games.
The term was used as the name for possibly the most popular poker movie ever made, The
The best possible straight flush, containing all cards between a 10 and an Ace
of the same suite.
A type of tournament which pays the winners with a ticket for participation in
another (usually higher buy-in) tournament.
As opposed to bluff, semi-bluff is also made in an attempt to pick the pot by
pure aggression, but in the event, this doesn’t work, the semi-bluffing player still has
outs he can hit to make him what should be the best hand.
An experienced, knowledgeable player who is a favourite to win money or end up
placing high in a tournament.
A type of poker tournament where players play until they beat their entire
table before moving on to the next one. Top one or two players are seated with winners from
other tables and the pattern continues until only one table remains.
The final phase of a hand where hands are shown and the winner is determined
based on the hand strength.
Deliberately delaying showing down a very strong hand in an attempt to tilt
your opponent. Although not explicitly against the rules, this practice is frowned upon by
regular players and considered a poor form.
Another unfair strategy in which one player deliberately plays his strong
hands slow against another player to make sure he doesn’t lose too many chips.
Paying for a player’s buy-in into a tournament or cash game in exchange for a
percentage of his winnings. This practice is very popular online, even with the best
A blind bet posted by the player immediately to the left of the big blind, in
the amount of twice the big blind, allowing the player to act last before the flop. It is
only allowed in cash games and while some rooms only allow one straddle per round, other
rooms may allow every player up to the dealer to post the straddle, always doubling the
Five consecutive cards of the same suite, for example 4s 5s 6s 7s 8s.
Cards of the same suite, of consecutive ranking or close in ranking. Check out
this article for more information on suited connectors.
A psychological state in which the player is no longer capable of making
rational decisions and acts based on emotions instead. It can be caused by a bad beat, other
players’ behaviour, or even reasons unrelated to poker altogether.
Under The Gun
The position at the table that acts first before the turn, i.e. the first
player to the left of the big blind.
A bet made by a player holding what he believes to be the best hand in an
attempt to extract some more value from his rivals.
When the player seated in the big blind faces no aggression as everyone folds
to him and he picks up blinds and antes, he is said to have received a “walk.”
When your pocket cards are of the same rank.
A card that can be played as any value.