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Bill Haywood's

Holdem Poker Dictionary

Learn poker by learning the terminology.  This is the clearest-written poker dictionary on the web.  It uses extensive cross-links and real-world examples to teach not just words, but the game of poker.  It not only defines terms, it explains the strategic situations they come up in.  Check out the definition of reverse implied odds.


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Poker dictionary, Texas holdem glossary, poker terms, poker terminology.

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Poker dictionary specializing in Texas holdem terms. The most complete Texas holdem glossary on the web. Poker terms defined and their strategic significance explained. 

Internet poker abbreviations

3/6, 5/10, 10/20 etc.  Prescribed bet sizes in a limit game.  For example, in a 2/4 game, players bet or raise in increments of $2 in the early betting rounds, $4 in the later.  See also big bet, small bet.

A ace.

Adj.  Adjective.  Word category used in the main hold'em dictionary.  A word that modifies or qualifies a noun.  Fast car.

Adv.  Adverb.  Describes a verb.  Running quickly.

AKA  Also known as....

BB Big blind or big bet, depending on context.

B&M  Brick and mortar.

BR  Bankroll.

C  Club, e.g. 2c (two of clubs).

CK  Check.

CO  Cutoff seat.

D  Diamond, e.g. Jd (jack of diamonds).

EG  For example.  Usually written e.g.  From the Latin, exempli gratia

EP  Early position.

EV  Expected value.

FL Fixed limit, aka limit poker.

H  Heart, e.g. Ah (ace of hearts).

HE  Hold'em.

IE  That is to say..., a way of saying....  Usually written i.e.  From the Latin id est.

HTH  Head-to-head, aka heads up.

HU heads up.

J  Jack.

K  King.

LAG Loose aggressive.

LP  Late position.

MP  Middle position.

MUBS Monster under the bed syndrome.

N  Noun.  Word designation used in main hold'em dictionary.  A thing.  Rock.

NP  Noun phrase.  Contains a noun and modifier(s).  Soft rock.

NL  No limit poker.

NLHE No limit holdem.

O Offsuit. In poker shorthand, 9J is written 9Jo.  (Which suits are often unimportant to the writer.)  Sometimes, offsuit is assumed and left off, in which case JK is jack-king offsuit, while JKs denotes suited.

OTB On the button.

p  Pocket pair; "p99" signifies a pocket pair of nines.

PP Pocket pair.

PL  Pot limit poker.

Prop  Proposition player.

PTL  Player to the left.

PTR  Player to the right.

Q  Queen.

ROI  Return on investment.

RoR Risk of ruin.

S  Suited cards, or a spade.  JTs = jack-ten of same suit.  Contrast O for offsuit, as in JTo.

SB  Small Blind.  Also, depending on context, small bet.

SD  Standard deviation.

SNG Sit-n-go tournament.

T  Ten.

TAG Tight aggressive.

UG or UTG  Under the gun.

V  Verb.  An action or condition.  Talk.  Happy. 

VP  Verb phrase.  Verb with modifier(s), functioning syntactically as a verb.  Running lightning fast.

VP  Video poker, an electronic game similar to a slot machine.

VPIP Voluntarily Put in Pot. A statistic that measures how many hands someone plays. It excludes checking in the big blind in an unraised pot — that's not voluntarily entering a hand.

WSOP World Series Of Poker, famous event held annually at Binion's Horseshoe in Las Vegas.

WTSD Went to Show Down. How often a player shows down at the river after seeing flop.

X  Unnamed, irrelevant card used in poker writing.  Jan held TJ, the board was QKx.  In this hand, Jan holds four to a straight (TJQK), with an extraneous card x. 

Poker definitions "A"

Ace of trump



Advantage player


All in


Ace of trump np. In poker, the ace of a suit that has a flush draw on the board.

Action n.  Bets, money flying around.

Add-on n., v.  A purchase of additional tournament chips allowed in some contests.  Similar to rebuys, add-ons are for a set amount, but are available to players who have not been eliminated, usually at a predetermined moment in the tournament. Usage: Quinn always adds-on, even to a large stack.

Advantage player n.  A gambler who does not gamble.  Someone who only bets if there is a positive expectation.  The most common forms of advantage play include skilled poker, blackjack card counting, and expert handicapping.

Advertise v.  Doing something to be noticed, often to mislead.  Beth flashed her 7,2, hoping they'd think she was a dumb blonde.

All in adj.  When a player's final chips are in the pot.  The hand is not folded, but if the pot continues to grow, the all-in player's winnings are limited proportionally using a side potSee also table stakes.

Ante n.  Money that players must put in the pot before the deal.  It seeds the action by providing something to fight over.  In hold'em, antes are called blinds and are paid by only a couple players each hand.

Poker Glossary "B"

Back into


Bad beat

Bad beat jackpot



Basement pair

Belly buster

Best of it


Bet into

Bet out

Bet the pot

Bet for value

Big bet

Big bet poker

Big blind

Big slick



Blinded out


Blinds are good

Blocking bet



Board play


Bonus hunter

Bottom pair


Brick and mortar


Broadway cards




Bunching effect

Buried pair

Burn card

Burn and turn



Buy the button

Buy a free card

Buy in

Buy the pot

Back into vp.  Completing an unexpected hand.  He had a flush draw, but backed into a full house.

Backdoor adj. A long shot draw requiring two additional cards (on the turn and river).  A backdoor flush. A backdoor straight or flush alone is not worth much.   See also runner-runner.

Bad beat np.  Having a great hand, playing it well, but still losing, such as a full house falling to four-of-a-kind.  Bad beats are more maddening if your opponent sucked out.

Bad beat jackpot np.  A progressively accumulating prize at a cardroom that is awarded to the victim of a bad beat.  Losing with four-of-a-kind is a common threshold for this often lucrative prize.

Bankroll n.  Also stake.  A fund set aside for gambling, the size of which determines how ambitious someone can play.  He was well bankrolled.  See Kelly Criterion.  Common recommendatons: full-table limit holdem -- 300 bb; short-handed limit holdem -- 500 bb. 

Barrel v. To fire another barrel, i.e. bet or raise again. He barreled to the river and I kept calling and won with A hi.

Basement pair np. The second or third pair on the board. The hand 98 has a basement pair on the board K84. Contrast top pair.

Belly buster n.  See inside straight.

Best of it n. phrase.  Hands or plays with a mathematical edge, as opposed to long shots.  Concept popularized by gambling author David Sklansky.  Always play tight, and you'll get the best of it.  The concept recognizes that you will not win every time, but you will in the long run if you get your money out for the best of it.

Bet v.  To wager.  Putting money in the pot and increasing opponents' price for staying in a hand.

Bet into v.  Betting against someone, especially if they are likely to have a powerful hand.  "I had the nut flush, but the 'sumbitch bet into me."

Bet out v.  Being the first in a round to put money in the pot.  "Early players folded, and Ann bet out with two queens."

Bet the pot vp.  A bet equal to the size of the pot. See pot limit.

Bet for value n., v.  Aka raise for value.  A bet designed to build the pot, one you hope will be called, especially in limit games.   Different from bets meant to deceive or scare others into folding.  You expect to have the best hand, so you make them pay.  Contrast sandbagging.

Big bet n.  In limit poker, the larger bet size in the late betting rounds, as opposed to the half-sized bets earlier.  See small bet.  Abv.: BB.

Big bet poker n.  No limit or pot limit poker, as opposed to a limit game. 

Big blind n.  A type of ante put up by the second person to the left of the dealer in hold'em.  Abv.: BB.   There are usually two blinds.   In limit poker, the big blind equals the first round bet, which players must call in order to stay in.  Contrast small blind.

Big slick n.  An ace-king hand, suited or not.  Sweet!

Black n.  $100 chips.  I don't bet black, I bet green.

Blank n.  An unimportant card that is unlikely to help anyone's hand.  Sometimes abbreviated "x."  Also brick.

Blinded out v.  Going broke paying the blinds, usually late in a tournament when the blinds get astronomical.  This is a weak way to go.  Usually, once a stack drops below a certain threshold, the player will go all in with the first half-decent hand that comes along.

Blinds n. A type of ante paid by players to the immediate left of the dealer.  Derives from having to put up a bet before seeing any cards.  The blinds start the action, providing a prize to compete for.   There are usually two, the small blind and big blind.  Since the dealer position rotates, so do the blinds, hence everyone pays.

Blinds are good adj. The blinds, in their proper amounts, are on the table, ready for the deal.

Blocking bet np. A smallish bet designed to deter large bluffs.  In no-limit, an out-of-position player may have an okay hand that may or may not be best.  She wants to reach the showdown in case her hand is good, but does not want to risk much more in case she is behind.  So to prevent the pot from being stolen by a big bluff, she bets enough to not look vulnerable.

Bluff v.  Seeming to have a better hand than you do.  Betting aggressively to get superior hands to foldSee semi-bluff, stone cold bluff.

Board n.  The  community cards dealt face up on a hold'em table.  

Board play n.  When the five community cards make the best hand at the table, so everyone ties. Example: the board shows 89TJQ, and no one has a king.  Everyone has a queen-high straight, so the pot splits evenly.  An uncommon occurrence that is easily (and expensively) overlooked.

Boat n.  A full house Also full boat.

Bonus hunter n.  Someone who assiduously pursues internet gambling deposit premiums.

Bottom pair n.  Pair composed of a player card, and the lowest card on the board.

Brick n.  Aka blank.

Brick and mortar n.  A physical place, as opposed to a computer-generated virtual one. 

Broadway n.  Ace high straight.

Broadway cards n.  The class of cards ten through ace.

Broken adj.  See busted.

Bubble n.  The point where a tournament is one seat away from everyone finishing in the money.  If the top 35 players cash, then the bubble is when 36 players are left.  Usage: he went out on the bubble.  One strategy for bubble play is to insure cashing by becoming super-cautious until it is over; another is to take advantage of everyone else tightening up and bet hard.

Bullets n.  Aces.

Buried pair n.  A pocket pair.

Bunching effect n.  The slight tendency for hands in late position to have higher cards when and if all the early players fold, due to receiving low ranks.  Consensus is that this particular effect of removal is too insignificant to worry about.

Burn card n.  Card(s) discarded face down by the dealer before dealing.  An anti-cheating practice.  If the top card on a deck is marked, no one can make use of the information because it is burned rather than dealt.

Burn and turn v.  Burning a card, followed by dealing. A standard procedure.

Busted adj.  A failed draw.  He turned over nothing but a busted straight.  Also broken draw.

Button n.  Aka dealer button.

Buy the button vp.  Raising to drive out players to your left, in order to become last to act.

Buy a free card vpBetting or raising from late position with a draw, in order to cow opponents into checking after the next card.  Done because turn bets are twice as expensive as on the flop.  If the draw completes on the turn, the player naturally raises.  If it does not, she checks, thus getting to see another card for free, and with no danger of being check-raised.  Actually, it is not free because of the flop bet, but it is half price.  This tactic takes advantage of gamblers' tendency to check to the raiser.

Buy in v., n.  Exchanging currency for chips and entering a game.  How much was your buy in?   Contrast cashout.

Buy the pot vp.  Folding the field with an intimidating raise, especially with non-overpowering cards.  Often done from late position and apparent to opponents, but no one has cards good enough to fight back with.

Definitions "C"


Call down

Calling station

Card rankings


Cards break even

Cards speak


Cash game

Cash out


Caught speeding

Change list




Check call

Check fold

Check raise

Check to the raiser




Clean outs


Coffee housing

Cold call


Color up

Come alive

Come bet

Come out

Come in for a raise

Come over the top

Community cards

Community pot


Concealed pair





Court card



Crying call

Cut the cards

Cut the deck


Call v.  Matching, but not raising, previous bets.  This allows a player to stay in the hand.  Contrast fold, raise.

Call down v.  Calling another player, often repeatedly, to guard against a bluff or otherwise weak hand.  Done when a person feels too weak to raise, but too strong to fold.  Rita called Joe down with a pair of fours.

Calling station n.  Passive player who calls constantly with weak hands, and often calls when he should raise.  The weakest style of play there is, because it not only leaks money, it fails to capitalize on strong hands.  Aka loose passive.

Card rankings n.  The thirteen different cards have hierarchical values.  From strongest two weakest: ace, king, queen, jack, ten, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.  The ace can also count as a one for the purpose of making a low straight: ace 2, 3 ,4, 5.

Cap v.  Making the final permissible bet in a limit game.  Limit games are often restricted to three raises per round.  I had two aces, so I capped it. 

Cards break even v.  Aphorism meaning that in the long run, everyone gets the same cards.  A good player may be losing and an idiot taking every pot, but eventually, the cards will even out and bring justice.  Repeat it to yourself after someone sucks out, rather than criticize and smarten them up.

Cards speak v.  Common rule that the actual cards, not verbal declarations, determine wins.

Case adj.  The last of something.  "Wow, there are three aces on the board.  Who might hold the case ace?"

Cash game n. The familiar type of game using either currency, or poker chips exchanged for currency.  You can quit anytime and walk away with whatever you have.  Not a tournament; the currency/chips are face value.  Aka ring game.

Cash out v., n.  Exiting a game and exchanging chips for currency.  "How much was your cashout?"

Catch v.  Receiving a desired card.  He caught his ace on the river.  Also spike.

Caught speeding v.  When a bluff is exposed by a call.

Change list n.  Names of individuals requesting a table change at a commercial card room.

Charge v.  Extract a price for staying in a hand.  If you have strong cards, it is important to charge players to continue.  If they are not charged, they can chase unlikely draws without penalty.  See pot odds and infinite odds.

Chase v.  Pursuing unlikely draws

Check v.  Not betting, aka pass.  Possible only if no one has bet before you.  If someone has bet out, you must either call, raise, or fold.   Note that before the flop, checking is not an option, because the blinds constitute an initial bet.

Check call v.  Declining to bet, but calling if someone else does.

Check fold v.  A check, with the intention of folding if anyone bets.

Check raise v., n.  First checking, then raising anyone who bets after you.  A powerful show of strength.  The risk is that the whole table may check.

Check to the raiser vp.  If a player shows strength by raising, the tendency next betting round is for players acting before him to check, because they do not want to get reraised. 

Checks n.  Less common term for chips.

Chop v.  Agreeing to prorate a pot and split it.  Chop the blinds.  If the whole table folds, the blinds (if the house permits) can each take back their checks without showing hands.  At the end of a tournament, the final two players might agree to chop the prize money in a ratio according to the size of their stacks.

Cinch adj.  A sure, or nearly sure win. A cinch hand.  Similar: a lock.

Clean outs np.  The cards remaining in a deck that make a winning hand, not second best.  The cards that complete an an 8-high flush could easily give someone else a better flush, so those 9 flush outs are not clean.  There are endless similar situations.  Tainted outs require better pot odds than usual.  Another way to adjust is to discount the outs — simply calculate pot odds assuming fewer outs than you technically have.  Clean outs are the opposite of tainted.

Cling v.  Hanging around in hands you shouldn't, always hoping to get lucky.

Coffee housing v.  Verbally misleading, baiting, or confusing opponents.  A conspicuous act.

Cold call v.  Calling a pot that has been raised and then reraised ahead of you.  Requires a good hand.

Collusion n.  Communication between players in order to cheat.  See whipsaw

Color up v.  Exchanging low denomination chips for high.  This reduces the pile you have to carry, keeps the table supplied with plenty of chips, and allows the house to ascertain how you did.  Commonly done when players leave a table.

Come alive v.  Suddenly betting after passively checking and calling.  Danger! Danger!

Come bet n.  A bet made on the come.

Come out n.  To enter a pot.   When it was his turn, Abdul came out raising.

Come over the top v.  To raise a raise, especially making a large reraise in big bet pokerJennie made a small raise, Chuck came over the top and put her all in.

Come in for a raise v.  To enter a hand by raising, rather than checking or calling.

Community cards n.  Aka the board.  In hold'em, the cards dealt face up and used by everyone to form hands.  Players combine community cards with their personal hole cards to create the best possible five card poker hand.  Different people can use the same board cards, they do not get used up.  In hold'em, a complete board is composed of five cards: three dealt on the flop, then one each on the turn and river.  

Community pot n.  See family pot.

Complete v.  When the small blind calls with half a bet.  The person in this position has already put in half a bet in the form of the blind, so calling requires only another half bet.  He completes the bet (assuming no raises). 

Concealed pair n.  Aka pocket pair.

Connect v.  Receiving cards that help.  Beth really connected with the flop that time.

Connectors n.  Cards close enough together to make a straight, such as T,9.  Fred held suited connectors.  Connectors can have up to three gaps: the hand 5,9 is a three-gap connector.  Multi-gap connectors are unlikely to hit.  Contrast disconnectors.

Coordinated adj.  The board is coordinated when the cards fit together to create many possibilities.  The board JQ988 is highly coordinated, potentially giving players straights, flushes, trips and full houses.

Counterfeited v.  A hand undermined.  In the following scenario, player X has AK, and player Y has QJ.  The board is AQJ, giving a pair of aces to player X and two pair to Y, who leads.  The last two cards to fall are 4,4.  The board has counterfeited player Y's hand, and he loses.  Player X has a higher two-pair!  AA 44, compared to QQ JJ.  See up.  Easy to miss -- either that your two pair has been counterfeited, or that your single pair has been strengthened.

Court card n.  Face card.

Crack v.  To get beat.  My kings keep getting cracked.

Cripple adj.  A deck is crippled if key cards are out, making action unlikely.  If you hold AA, and the board has another ace, it is less likely for anyone to have the final ace.  Fearing the scary ace on the board, no one will bet hard against your wonderful hand. 

Crying call n.  Calling when you expect to be beat, but need to stay anyway, either because of pot odds or the possibility of a bluff.

Cut the cards v.  Procedure for determining who deals.  Players draw from the deck, or cut a portion and turn it up (a la cutting the deck), and high card wins.  Also: cut the deck.

Cut the deck v.  Final step of a shuffle.  The dealer places the deck in front of the player to the right.  The player cuts the deck by taking off a top portion of the cards and setting it down.  The dealer then places what was the bottom of the stack up on top.  An anti-cheating procedure, not always practiced so formally. 

Cutoff n.  Seat to immediate right of the dealer.  The second-to-last to act in a hand, therefore very good position.

Holdem definitions "D"


Dead card

Dead hand

Dead man's hand

Dead money

Deal in

Deal out


Dealer button

Deep stack

Defensive bet







Double belly buster

Double inside straight draw

Double suited

Double through

Double up

Down cards

Down to the felt


Draw out

Draw to

Drawing dead

Drawing hand

Drawing thin


Dangler n. In Omaha holdem, a card that does not coordinate (work together with) any of the other three.

Dead card n.  A card out of play, such as discards, or one involved in a foul, such as falling off the table.

Dead hand n.  Ruled unplayable for some reason, such as touching discards.

Dead man's hand n.  Two pair, aces and eights.  From Wild Bill Hickock's abruptly ended final hand.

Dead money n. 1. The funds of a less skilled player, likely to be gobbled up by sharks.  2. Money put in the pot by players who have folded.

Deal in v.  Giving cards to a player just entering the game.  Deal me in, Gus.

Deal out v.  Stop giving cards to a player.  Deal me out, Gus, I gotta see a man about a horse.

Dealer n.  In home games, the dealer likely plays, but even if there is a professional dealer, the last player to act (who has the dealer button) is still referred to as the dealer.

Dealer button n.  Also the button.  A big round piece of plastic with a "D" on it.  In hold'em, it is advantageous to be the dealer and last to act.  If there is a professional dealer, the button passes from player to player after each hand.  It keeps track of who the "dealer" would be if it was a self-dealt game.  This way, the privilege of being last to get cards is shared fairly.

Deep stack np.  Many chips, especially in a tournament.

Defensive bet n.  Designed to appear strong, especially in big bet poker, in order to dissuade large raises.

Disconnectors n.  Cards too far apart to make a straight, such as T,5.  Contrast connectors.

Deuce n.  Two.

Dog n.  A hand unlikely to win.  From underdog.

Domination n.  When a hand is uniquely inferior to another particular hand.  AQ is dominated by AK, because an ace is useless to it (see kicker).  A king also destroys AQ.  AQ is helped only by a queen -- provided no king falls.  AK dominates AQ so thoroughly that 72o actually has a better chance of winning (34% vs. 26% heads up).   The concept of domination, popularized by authors Sklansky and Malmuth, further demonstrates the importance of careful hand selection.  If a tight opponent raises before the flop, good players will often throw away hands like AJ, AT, even AQ, because of the danger of domination, while keeping hands like JJ.  A hand is dominated even more devastatingly if its top card faces a pair of the same rank.  TT wins 87% of the time against T9 offsuit.

Donk n. v.  1. Abbreviation for donkey.  2. To make a poor, donkey-like play, even if successful.  3. To bet first after limping the previous street, especially for inexplicable reasons. Donking often reveals a poor hand.  When a blank falls, the player realizes her hand isn't going anywhere, so she donks in a desperate attempt to steal.  "She donked the turn." 

Donkey n. An unknowledgeable and thoughtless player.

Double belly buster n.  Aka double inside straight.

Double inside straight draw n.  Two inside straight draws, giving the same odds as one open ender.  If the board is 59Q, a player holding 7T completes a straight with either 6 or J.  Easy to miss.

Double suited adj.  In Omaha, when the four down cards are of just two suits, giving good flush possibilities.

Double through v.  Double up.

Double up v.  Also double through.  Doubling your chips in one hand, especially when short stacked in big bet poker.

Down cards n.  Aka hole cards.

Down to the felt adj.  Also down to the green.  Being all in. Broke.  Chips are gone, exposing the table.

Draw n., v.  Also drawing hand. A hand needing more cards to be worth anything.  If you have four spades (say two in your hand, two on the board) then you are on a draw.   Another spade must fall to complete your flush.  If you hold 6-7-8-9, then you are drawing for a 5 or 10.  Contrast pat hand.

Draw out v.  To complete a draw.  He had three queens to my four hearts, luckily, I drew out when another heart arrived.   See also suck out.

Draw to v.  For specifying the type of hand a player is trying to complete.  He was drawing to a flush.

Drawing dead v.  When a hand will lose no matter what cards come.  Example: Board 7 8K.  Hand 1: 9T.  Hand 2: A2.  Even if hand 1 finishes a straight, it loses to hand 2's already completed flush. 

Drawing hand n.  See draw.

Drawing thin v.  Holding a weak hand that has few outs (less than four) to improve.

Drop n., v.  1. Fee taken out of each pot by the house and dropped through a slot in the table.  See rake.  2. To lose money.  Gilda dropped $500 in ten minutes.

Poker terms "E"

Early position


Effect of removal

Effective odds


Expected value

Early position n. First players to act in a betting round. Very disadvantageous position.

Edge n. An advantage. Over time, even a small edge brings large winnings.

Effect of removal n. The change in the likilihood of receiving particular ranks of cards as other ranks are delt out.  A pair of sixes is less likely to become three of a kind if another player has already received one of the two remaining sixes.  See also bunching effect.   This phenomenon makes it possible to beat some versions of blackjack.  When many low cards have been delt, a card counter increases the size of her bets, knowing blackjacks are more probable.

Effective odds n. The pot odds not for this bet, but for all subsequent bets. Say you have an inside straight on the flop, which is roughly 1:11 to hit. There are 9 bets in the pot, which seems like good enough implied odds, so you call, expecting subsequent players to jack the pot up above 1:11. Sadly, no one else calls, leaving 10 units in the middle. But the bets double at the turn, so there are really just five units in the pot. Your one remaining opponent bets out, making it six big bets. Thus, to call the turn, you are getting 1:6, rather than the tempting 1:9 on the flop. Effective odds are much the same as implied odds, except that they usually refer to how expensive calls might be, rather than how lucrative. 

Expectation n. Expected value.

Expected value n. Also expectation or return. Mathematical term for how much something is worth, on average. A pair of aces wins often, and its expected value is positive. Jack-five unsuited is a horrible hand whose expectation is negative. Skilled players try to base all decisions on an estimation of expected value. They play a hand if they think EV is positive, not because they have a feeling or are bored. Due to the complexity of poker, EV is often only an educated guess, but in many situations it can be calculated precisely. See pot odds.

Poker dictionary "F"

Face card


Family pot




Fifth street

Fill up

Final table

First ace


Fit or fold

Fixed limit

Flat call



Flop game


Flush draw


Fold equity

Forced bet




Fourth street

Free card

Free roll



Full boat

Full house

Full of

Face card n.  Jack, queen, or king.  Also paint, court card, picture card.

Fall v.  Appearance of a particular card.  His heart galloped when another eight fell.

Family pot n.  Many players in a hand.

Fast adj.  Playing exceptionally aggressively.

Felt n.v.  1. The surface of a poker table, traditionally made of green felt.  2. Verb meaning "go broke."  "Jessy got felted in the first ten minutes."  When all a player's chips are gone, she is down to the felt.

Field n.  The players involved in a particular hand.  Ace pair against a large field is weaker than most people realize.

Fifth street n.  Less common term for the riverSimilar: fourth street.

Fill up v.  To complete a draw, especially a full house, but also a straight, or flushShe filled up.

Final Table n.  The last group of tournament players after everyone else is eliminated.  Tables of players are combined as entrants get eliminated, eventually getting down to a final table of 9-10 players.

First ace n.  A way to choose who deals first by giving a card face up to each player, until an ace appears.  This gives an advantage to the first person to be dealt to, but it evens out if it is a regular game.

Fish n.  Bad players.  The raison d'être of both poker and fly casting.

Fit or fold adj.  Playing straight-forward and predictable.  He was fit-or-fold, always raising his good hands and folding weak ones.  I just kept stealing until he played back at me.

Fixed limit adj.  Aka limit poker.

Flat call v.  Just calling when there might be reason to raise.  Similar: smooth call.

Floor n.  Supervisory personnel at a card room.  Traditionally floorman.

Flop n., v.  1. The first three community hold'em cards dealt face up in the middle of the table for everyone to see and use.  The flop is followed by single cards on the turn and river, interspersed by betting rounds.  2. Getting a hand on the flop.  He flopped two pair.  See hole cards, river, turn.

Flop game n.  Generic term for poker with community cards.  Texas and Omaha hold'em are the most common.

Flush n.  A completed poker hand composed of five cards of the same suit.  Beats a straight, but not a full house.  See hand rankings.   In hold'em, where players often have similar hands, the highest card in a flush becomes decisive.  Consider: player X has 78, player Y has JQ.  If they both make a heart flush, Y wins.

Flush draw n.  Having four cards of a suit, needing just one more.  Three suited cards is a backdoor flush.

Fold v.  Giving up a hand rather than put money in the pot.

Fold equity n. The value gained from getting opponents to fold, whether by bluffing or deterring them from drawing. Usage: I knew he was ahead, but the ace on the turn gave me some fold equity, so I raised. It is a crucial tool because it adds another way to win besides having the best hand: folding the field. The amount of fold equity varies tremendously by circumstance. If a villain is unlikely to muck his hand, then betting has little fold equity. Mathematical formula: fold equity = (likelihood opponent(s) folds) x (pot size).

Forced bet n.  An amount required to be paid before the deal, such as a blind or new player post.

Four-bet v.   In limit poker, increasing the pot for the fourth time in a single round.  You shouldn't have four-bet without at least trips.

Four-of-a-kind n.  Very strong hand composed of four cards of the same rank, such as 6666.  Beats everything but the straight flushes.  See hand rankings.

Foul adj.  Disqualified.  Fouled hand.  Cards can be declared dead for a variety of reasons, including touching the muck.

Fourth street n.  Less common term for the turn.  In hold'em, there's no first, second, or third street -- they constitute the flop.

Free card np.  A card received without having to put money in the pot because everyone checked.  Gus held two aces and tried for a check raise, but no one bet, giving everyone a free card.  Free cards are great to receive, dangerous to give.  See infinite odds, pot odds.

Free roll np.  1. A publicity tournament with free entry and cash prizes.  2. Tied hands that may not stay tied.  Consider:  Player 1: JQ; player 2: JQ; the board: 89T.  Both players made the same straight, but player 2 also has a flush draw.  He is guaranteed to at least split the pot, but may also win outright.  He has a free roll

Freezeout n.  An elimination tournament.  Declining usage.

Full adj.  Denotes the three-card portion of a full house.  Tens full means three tens and a pair of something lower.  The pair is usually not important so it is not mentioned, except in the rare case of two full houses.  If two players have tens full, only then does is the pair decisive.  See full of.

Full boat np.  Full house.

Full house np.  A powerful five-card poker hand comprised of three cards of one rank and two of another, i.e. a pair and three-of-a-kind together.  E.g. 333 99.  See hand rankings.

Full of v.  Denotes the pair portion of a full house, as in jacks full of kings (JJJ KK).

Hold'em glossary "G"

Game theory



Give action

Go into the tank

Good game




Gutshot straight

Game theory np.  A field of research into how the actions of one party affect the optimum strategies of others.  Considerable mathematical content.  Some poker players use, or like to think they use, game theory. 

Gaming n.  Sleazy industry euphemism for GAMBLING. 

Gap n.  Card(s) missing from a straightTJA is a two-gap straight, needing both a queen and king.  7J is a three-gapper.  See connectors.

Give action vp.  Betting in weak situations for the purpose of advertising.  Overly conservative bettors, playing only top hands, will get little action.  They'll win only small pots because everyone will fold to their rock reputation.  A player known to bluff or play bad hands will provoke action.  Mixing tight and loose play properly is essential against skilled opponents.

Go into the tank v.  To think long and hard about a tough, pivotal decision.  Derives from "think tank."

Good game np.  Many bad players.

Green n. 1. The felt covering a poker table, traditionally green.  2. $25 chips.

Grinder n.  One who prefers small but sure wins, especially over many months at low limits.  A winning but non-flamboyant player.

Gullible adj.  A term they recently put back in the dictionary.  See gullible.

Gutshot straight np.  Also gutshot draw, belly buster, or inside straight.

Poker dictionary "H"

Hand ranks

Heads up

Hidden pair

High card

High carding

High limit


High variance


Hole cards


Hand ranks np.  In regular poker, five-card hands in descending order are: royal flush, straight flush, four-of-a-kind, full house, three-of-a-kind, two pair, one pair, and high cardKickers are also important.  Article with comprehensive explanation of hand values.

Heads up adj.  Also head-to-head.  A faceoff between two players, either because everyone else folded, or it's a one-on-one game. 

Hidden pair np.  Paired down cards. Aka pocket pair, wired pair, concealed pair, pair in the hole.

High card adj.  The value of a hand without even a pair is determined by the rank of the top card.  A queen high hand: Q9742.

High carding vp.  A way of choosing a dealer or settling some other question.  Players draw and expose a card, high wins.

High limit n.  Large stakes games, roughly above 50/100.

High-low adj.  Forms of poker where both the highest and lowest hands win something.

High variance np.  See variance.

Hit v.  Get a good hand; receive helpful community cardsAhmed had two hearts, but the flop did not hit him.

Hole cards np.  In hold'em, the cards dealt face down to each player, which combine with community cards on the board to make a hand.  Aka down cards.

House n.  The management or owners of a gambling establishment.

Poker terms "I"

Idiot end

Ignorant end

Immortal nuts

Implied odds

In position

Infinite odds

Inside straight

Isolation raise

Idiot end np.  Also ignorant end.  The low portion of a straight draw.  If a player holding 78 draws to a board with 9Tx, he is drawing to the idiot end of the straight.  It is too likely someone will complete a higher straight, and usually for an expensive pot.  Note TJ drawing to QKx is not a bad draw, because ace high is the best straight. 

Ignorant end np.  Idiot end.

Immortal nuts np.  The nuts (with verbal flourish).  Also, inexplicably, the mortal nuts.

Implied odds np.  Pot odds adjusted for subsequent bets in a hand.  The pot may offer only, say, 3:1 odds on the flop, but drawing may still be worth it because opponents may pump up the pot later on.  See also reverse implied odds.

In position adj.  Acting after another.  Don't pull that move unless you are in position.

Infinite odds np.  If there is no bet to drive players out and they get a free card, then they get infinitely good odds to chase the most ridiculous draws.  Good players generally do not draw to backdoor hands because they are unlikely to hit, and in the long run, they'll pay more in calls than they'll win.  But if they can stay in the hand for free, then any draw is worth it.  The implication is that slow playing is often not worth the added deception, because opponents get a chance to draw.  Note that the more opponents still in a hand, the more likely someone will draw out on you, and therefore the more important it is to raise, not slow play.  Only by charging do you make draws unprofitable for others.

Inside straight np. Aka gutshot straight or belly buster.  A straight draw that can only be filled by one rank.  Ex. T-J-K-A is completed only by Q.  Considerably less valuable than an open ended straight. The hand A-2-3-4 is sometimes considered an inside straight because only a five completes it, though technically the five comes on the end.  See one-end straight.

Isolation raise v.  Driving others out of a hand and keeping for yourself an opponent thought vulnerable.

Hold'em glossary "J"

Jam the pot

Jam the pot vp.  Bet aggressively, especially the maximum, pressuring opponents to fold or pay.

Kelly Criterion


Kill game

Kill pot


Kelly Criterion n.  A method of sizing bets according to the health of a bankroll, in order to avoid going broke, and to maximize earnings. First published by researcher John Kelly in 1956, the Criterion is applied to all manner of gambling by knowledgeable people.  Random variation can easily bust someone who bets too big, even when playing with positive expectation. Under Kelly, you play higher or lower stakes according to how much capital you have. In limit, full-table Texas holdem, one conservative rule of thumb derived from Kelly is that your bankroll should be 300x the big bet. So if you want to play $3/$6 limit holdem games, you should have $1800 in financing. If you lose a lot, you drop down to 2/4; if winnings take you up to $3000, then you start playing 5/10 tables. With a bankroll of 300 units, it would be an exceptionally rare statistical event to go broke due to random fluctuations. It can be mathematically shown that Kelly bankrolls increase faster than others, even when playing with the same statistical edge. Note: Kelly ONLY applies to situations where you have a mathematical edge (that is, you are a net winning player). No kind of bet adjustments will save negative expectation players. The calculations can get rather involved, but for non-math heads, the 300 rule is sufficient. For short-handed limit holdem, 500 bb is one recommendation.  For heavy duty math, go to the articles section at BJ Math. The original article by John Kelly is up on the web in various places, here's one.

Kicker n.  The all-important unpaired high card in a hand used to settle ties.  If player X holds AK, and player Y holds AQ, and they both pair the ace, then X wins because she has a higher kicker (K vs. Q).  Hold'em is a game of kickers because players so often have similar hands due to the use of community cards.  If no one has a kicker higher than a board card, then it really is a tie.  Or more precisely, the kicker is the highest board card, and everyone possesses it.  The high card in a flush is referred to as a kicker because it serves the same role in ranking flushes of the same suit.  "Kickers" can be decisive in many types of hands.

Kill game n.  Rule variant where the winner of two pots in a row is required to post a blind, and the limits double.  House rules will vary.  Also kill pot.

Kill pot n.  Used in a kill game.

Knuckle v.  To check or pass.  Derived from rapping the table to signify passing.

Poker terms "L"


Last position

Late position


Limit poker


Live outs



Loose aggressive

Loose passive

Low limit

Low pair

Low variance

Large adj.  Units of $1,000.  I won two large.

Last position np.  The final person to act in a round, which can change as people fold.

Late position n.  Last players to receive cards.  Includes the dealer and one or two players to the right.

Leak n.  A consistent flaw in play.  Carolyn's leak is to never let go of top pair.

Limit poker n.  Aka fixed limit.  Betting amounts are predetermined.  Commonly, the limit doubles once, beginning with the turn betting round. 3/6 is a common limit game, where the preflop and flop bets are in $3 increments, while the turn and river are $6.  Contrast no limit

Limp v.  Entering a pot passively by calling, not raising, especially with a speculative hand.  The whole field limped in, so Patty tried to buy the pot.

Live outs n. Outs that give you a winning hand, as opposed to ones that improve it but still lose. For example, if a seven would give you a straight, but would give someone else a better straight, then sevens are not live outs.

Lock n.  No possibility of losing.  It's a lock.

Loose adj.  Playing bad cards, staying in hands too long, and/or over bettingI love loose players.

Loose aggressive adj.  Categorization of someone who not only plays junk, but keeps raising.

Loose passive adj.  See calling station.

Low limit adj.  Small stakes limit poker.  Roughly, betting limits below 10/20.

Low pair n.  1. Pairing the bottom card on the board.  2. The losing pair when cards are exposed.

Low variance np.  See variance.

Texas hold'em poker glossary "M"




Micro limit

Middle limit

Middle position

Miss the blind

Miss the flop


Monster under the bed syndrome

Mortal nuts

Move in


Must move table

Make v.  To finish a hand, to draw the card(s) you needed.  Shaddup, Ahm trying tuh make a straight here.

Maniac n.  Someone lacking self control who raises and reraises wildly, regardless of the hand.  Like a twelve-point buck, the maniac is the purpose of the hunt.

Marker n.  1. Credit extended by the house so someone can gamble.  2. A slip of paper recording the loan.

Micro limit adj.  Roughly, stakes below $1.  Popularized by internet cardrooms.

Middle limit n.  Stakes roughly from 10/20 to 50/100.

Middle position n.  Approximately seats six and seven clockwise from the dealer in a nine or ten person table.

Miss the blind vp.  Being absent when the blind reaches a player's seat.  To prevent abuse, he will usually have to post a fee to get back in the game.

Miss the flop vp.  When the first three community cards do not help a player's hand.

Monster n.  A rare and overpowering hand, especially when dealt right away rather than drawing out.

Monster under the bed syndrome n. Always fearing an opponent has a huge hand, leading to passive play and failure to exploit. Adj.: mubsy.

Mortal nuts n.  Highest possible hand for a given board.  Same as the immortal nuts.  Don't ask.

Move in v.  An all-in raise.  Pushing all one's chips into the middle.

Muck v., n.  1. To fold.  2. The pile of discards where folded and burned cards go.

Must move table n.  Used by cardrooms to control the number of players at the tables.  When a seat opens in one game, a player from the must move table takes it.

Poker terms "N"

Negative expectation

New player post

Nit, nitty

No fold'em hold'em

No limit

Nut, nuts

Negative expectation np.  Bets that lose in the long run have negative expectation.  See expected value

New player post np.  Someone entering or resuming a game must either wait for the big blind, or pay an ante, usually of the same amount.

Nit n., nitty adj. A predictably tight, risk-averse, and unimaginative player. They are commonly winning players, especially at lower stakes, but at modest rates.

No fold'em hold'em n.  An extremely loose game.

No limit adj.  Poker for the big boys.  Bets can be as large as a player's stack, though often there are minimums. Aka big bet pokerContrast limit games.

Nut, nuts n.  Best possible player's hand for a given board.  For the flop 278, the nuts would be pocket 88.    Also: second nut, third nut. The nut flush is a flush with an ace. Experienced players quickly ascertain the nuts for each board, and whether an opponent is likely to have it.

Hold'em dictionary "O"


Omaha high-low

Omaha hold'em

On the button

On the come

One-end straight

One gapper


One-way straight


Open call

Open ended straight

Open raise


Out draw



Over betting

Over call

Over card

Over playing

Over the top


Offsuit adj.  Hand with different suits, e.g. 54 (abbreviated: 54o)  Unsuited cards are notably less valuable.

Omaha high-low n.  Version of Omaha hold'em where both the highest and lowest hands win.

Omaha hold'em n.  Usually shortened to just Omaha.  Version of hold'em where each player gets four (not two) down cards, and uses two and only two to form a hand with three board cards.  Contrast Texas hold'em.

On the button vp.  Sitting at the dealer position, the best possible place.  Derives from the "dealer button" often used to mark whose turn it is to deal.

On the come adj.  To be on a drawTeresa bet on the come.

One-end straight np.  A type of straight draw that can only be filled at one end.  There are two: A234, and JQKA.   Sometimes considered an inside straight, because the drawing odds are the same.

One gapper n.  1. An inside straight draw, such as 89T_Q.  2. Single gap connectors, e.g. JK.

One-on-one adj.  Just two players, aka heads up.

One-way straight np.  Inside straight.

Open v.  Entering a pot first.

Open call n., v.  Entering the pot first, and with a call, not a raise.

Open ended straight n.  Also two way straight, or just open ender.  A straight draw that can be completed by eight different cards.  The hand 6789 needs either a five or ten.  Open draws are twice as likely to hit as inside draws.  See also runner-runner or double inside straight draw

Open raise n., v.  Entering a pot first with a raise rather than a call.

Option n.  When the big blind faces an unraised pot, preflop, he has the option of checking, or raising.

Out draw v.  Making a hand and winning, especially as the underdog.  I had kings and tens, but she out drew me.

Outs n.  Cards that improve a hand.  The hand 89 with board TTJ has twenty-three outs.  The eight 7's and queens make straights.  Nine remaining clubs make flushes.  The six remaining 8's and 9's make two pair, or a runner-runner full house.  (The remaining tens and jacks do not help because they are not of exclusive benefit.)  Calculating outs and pot odds is a basic hold'em skill. See also live outs.

Over adj.  Top pair in two pair.  I have nines over threes.  Or just nines over.  Aka up.

Over betting v.  Betting more than a hand is worth.  He over bets his low pairs.  A form of loose play.

Over call n.  A call after someone else has already called a bet.  With two oponents showing strength, it takes a stronger than usual hand to make an over call.  Bets may be bluffs, but calls almost always indicate strength..

Over card n.  A card(s) higher than another.  If both your cards are higher than any on the board, you hold two over cards.  If the board has a card higher than your two, there is an over card showing.  Pairing the board is not so valuable if there is an over card that someone else likely has.

Over playing v.  Over estimating the value of a hand by calling too far or betting too much.

Over the top adj.  See come over the top.

Overlay n.  A statistical edge.  44 has a small overlay against AK.

Poker terms "P"



Paired board


Pat hand

Pay off


Percentage bet

Percentage player



Played back

Playing zone


Pocket pair

Pocket rockets

Poker face

Pony up



Position bet

Positive expectation



Pot committed

Pot equity

Pot limit

Pot odds



Proposition player

Protection bet



Put on

Paint n. Face card.

Pair n. Two cards of the same rank, such as KK♠. Is weaker than two pair, stronger than any single high card.  See hand rankings.

Paired board n.  When the community board contains two of the same cards.

Pass v.  Aka check.

Pat hand n., adj.   A completed hand, pair or better. With two cards to come, he was already pat with a full house.  Contrast draw.

Pay off v.  1. Calling or raising to the end. Giving the winning player full value for her hand.  Terri had a great hand, but no one paid her off.  2. Calling even though a win is less likely, possibly to guard against a bluff, or because pot odds are very high, or just to see an opponents cards.  Tariq suspected a flush, but paid off just in case.

Peel v.  Calling a bet in order to see another card. From the act of taking a card off the top of a deck. Used especially when a player has a speculative hand, or is unsure where he stands. I had bottom pair and thought he might be bluffing, so I peeled to see what would happen.

Percentage bet np.  Bet made strictly because of a statistical edge, not a hunch or read of another player.

Percentage player n.  One who knows the odds in a given situation and plays strictly according to them.  One who makes decisions based on the mathematical element, not the human element.  In online games where little is known or to be observed about opponents, percentage play becomes more important.

Pips n.  These things: .

Played back v.  Displaying strength by reraising someone who just raised, usually in no-limit poker. I was on a steal, so when he played back at me, I knew I was sunk.

Playing zone n.  The group of cards people are most likely to play, roughly 9-ace.  If people are in a hand, they likely have cards from that group.  Therefore, if such cards are on the board, they likely connected with someone.

Pocket n.  A player's down, or hole cards.

Pocket pair n.  Aka wired pair, buried pair, concealed pair .  A pair in the hole, as opposed to one formed by a down card and a board card.  Good surprise value.

Pocket rockets n.  Two aces in the hole.

Poker face np.  Expressionless.

Pony up v.  Pay a blind or ante.

Pool n.  British for pot.

Position adj.  The all-important place where someone sits in relation to the dealer.  Betting proceeds clockwise from the seat to the dealer's left.  The further clockwise a player sits, the more she gets to observe what others do before having to act.  This is a tremendous advantage, and the deal rotates clockwise every hand to even it out.  (See button.)  Position is commonly designated early, middle, or late.  It can also be numbered, with the seat to the immediate left of the dealer being position one, then progressing clockwise.  Seats of particular significance have their own names: small blind, big blind, under the gun, cutoff, dealer.  Position may also be referred to as first to act, last to act.

Position bet v.  Wager taking advantage of being late to act.  Examples include stealing pots after everyone else checks, buying free cards, and raising to buy the button.

Positive expectation n.  A mathematically good bet has positive expectation.  If repeated many times, the bet will, on average, pay more than it loses.  See expected value.

Post v. Placing a required bet before the deal, such as a blind or new player post.

Pot n.  The pile of money or chips in the middle of the table.

Pot committed v.  1. In limit poker, feeling (incorrectly) psychologically trapped into calling because of heavy previous investment in the pot.  A call should be based on pot odds, not ancient history.  2. In big bet poker, having most chips in the pot, such that a loss will not leave enough to continue effectively.  In this case, it is correct to stay in the pot.

Pot equity n.  The proportion of a pot that a hand of a given strength will win, on average.  Pot equity does not represent the number of bets invested -- stronger hands have more pot equity than weaker ones.   Against three opponents, you need to win more than 25% of the time to come out ahead.  If pot equity is greater than 25%, then you defend it and want to avoid being driven out by raises.  Conversely, it often makes sense to try and push others out, so they sacrifice their pot equity.  This is a different way of thinking about pot odds.  One must not defend pot equity when the pot odds do not justify it.

Pot limit adj.  Game structure where new bets can be as large as the pot, and can thus grow very quickly.  If the pot is $4 and Sam bets $4, Jane can now bet $8.

Pot odds n.  Ratio of the size of a pot to the size of a bet, essential for determining when it is profitable to draw.   If you are nine-to-one to complete your hand, the pot needs to be in the vicinity of nine times the size of your call to continue.  There are many variables (e.g. subsequent raises, losing even when making the hand), so pot odds are imprecise, but they cannot be ignored and must be estimated as best possible.  See also implied odds.

Preflop adj.  First stage in a hand of hold'em.  All players have received cards, but there will be a round of preflop betting before the community cards are dealt.  It is the most important decision in the game -- whether to play or throw a hand away.

Prop n. See proposition player.

Proposition player n.  Someone paid by a cardroom to keep games going.  Props start new tables, keep older ones from fading, and contribute to a friendly atmosphere.  Props play poker on their own money, but receive a salary from the house.  Much the same as a shill, minus the negative connotations and hints of cheating.  Props are open about their employment, and sometimes wear name tags.

Protection bet n.  1. Betting a hand that is strong but vulnerable, such as a single pair.  A bet prevents opponents from getting infinite odds on a draw.  2. Wager made to appear strong, especially in big bet poker, and deter opponents from making even larger bets.

Punter n.  British for a bettor, a gambler.

Push n., v. 1. Going all-in.  Derives from the act of pushing a stack of chips into the center of the table.  2. A tie.  A push.  They pushed.  This older but prevalent definition of push is especially common in blackjack, but can also be heard at the poker table, making for some confusion.

Put on v.  Educated guess of another player's hand.  I put him on a flush draw.






Raise for value

Raising for a free card






removal, effect of



Reverse implied odds


Ring game

Risk of ruin






Royal flush



Rack n.  A tray for securing stacks of chips.

Rags n.  Low, crummy, uncoordinated cards.  A ragged flop is one unlikely to hit anyone.  A hand like A7 is sometimes labeled ace-rag, because the seven cannot make a straight with the ace.

Rail n.  Place for spectators, named for the rail they must stand behind.  Often used in reference to going broke.  He turned over two pair and boom, I was on the rail. 

Rainbow adj.  1. A flop of three different suits.  2. A final board with no more than two of any suit, and therefore no possibility of a completed flush.

Raise v., n.  Form of bet where you put more money in the pot than the previous bettor.  Your opponent must either fold, match (call), or reraise. 

Raise for value v.  Similar to bet for value.

Raising for a free card v.  The player in last position may raise with a draw in an attempt to see more cards cheaply.  If he raises (or is simply the first to bet) on the flop, he shows strength, and other players are more likely to check after the next card.  If likes the turn card, he bets.  If not, he checks, and gets to see the river.  He thus sees both the turn and river without putting in another bet.  An advantage of late position, it takes advantage of the tendency to check to the raiser.

Rake n.  Also the drop.  A percentage taken out of the pot by the house.  See also: time game.   The rake is a fundamental consideration in winning poker, and your most relentless opponent.  If it is too high, it does not matter how good you are, you will lose in the long run.  Brick and mortar poker rooms typically charge 10% of every pot, up to a limit of maybe $3.  The norm online is around 5%.  Since the rake is capped, higher limit players pay less rake, percentage wise.

Rakeback n. A method of attracting poker players by rebating a portion of the rake, especially at internet sites. Typically, 10-30% of the rake a player has paid is returned at the end of a month. Most rakeback comes from web affiliates who drive traffic to poker rooms. The affiliate gets a cut of the rake, and passes the rest back to the player. Sometimes poker rooms themselves give rakeback to their most valued customers. An example of a provider is Party Poker Rakeback.

Read v. n.  Studying opponents to ascertain their strength.  Can you read her?  Did you get a good read?

Rebuy adj., v., n.  Type of tournament where for a set period of time, eliminated players can purchase more tournament chips and reenter the fray.

Release v.  FoldAfter a reraise, I'd have released that hand.  The term adds emotional distance.  You are simply releasing something, not giving in to aggression, crumpling under the weight, or folding under pressure.

Removal effect n.  See effect of removal.

Represent v.  Projecting holding a certain hand.  If you open raise with an ace on the board, you represent a pair of aces.

Reraise v., n.  When Steuart raises and Emma raises again, she has reraised..

Reverse implied odds n. A measure of how a hand is hurt by the danger of being drawn out on.  A hand is weakened if there is a good chance it will be beaten by cards to come. This is the opposite of implied odds — the additional bets a draw can expect to win if completed. Certain hands have bad reverse implied odds because they are likely to win a little or lose a lot.  For example, not only will a low pair likely lose against multiple draws, it also must usually call additional bets to protect against bluffs.  However, if the rivals miss, they just fold. Opponents keep betting when ahead, but muck when behind, thus hurting the pair's expectation.  Better pot odds are therefore necessary to make such a hand profitable. Usage example: There were multiple draws and two aggressive opponents. I figured my twos were ahead, but folded because of reverse implied odds. The risk of energetic raising worsens reverse odds.

Riffle adj., v.  The noisy, familiar type of shuffle.

Ring game n.  A cash game, distinguished from a tournament or one-on-one.

Risk of ruin n.  Abv.: RoR.  A mathematical calculation of the likelihood of going broke due to chance. Even a winning player can easily bust out making large wagers with a small bankroll (for example $20 bets with a bankroll of just $100). RoR is a function of the size of bets and bankroll, volatility (standard deviation) of the game in question, and the player's expectation. It is usually expressed as a percentage, as in, "you have a 5% RoR betting at those levels." A full-table limit holdem player who wins one big bet per hour has less than 1% chance of going broke with a 300 bb bankroll.  More info: BJmath.

River n.  The fifth and final community card in hold'em, dealt face up in the middle of the table, which anyone can use as part of a hand.  See turn, flop, hole cards.

Rock n.  A predictably tight person who only plays very good hands and does not take chances.  Rocks often win anyway, but since they fold easily, it is desirable to sit to their right in order to bluff them out of pots. 

Roll n.  Winning streak.  He's on a roll.

Round n.  1. A segment of betting, in between the deal of the cards.  In hold'em, the betting rounds are: preflop, flop, turn, and river.  2. One hand.  Let's play a couple more rounds.

Rounder n.  A skilled poker player, especially a professional or semi-pro.

Royal flush n.  Also just royal.  An ace-high straight flush, the highest hand in normal poker games.  See hand rankings.

Runner-runner adj.  Using the final two cards (turn, river) to complete a hand.  He flopped a pair of aces, then made a runner-runner full house.  Similar: backdoor draw.

Rush n.  A string of wins.  Superstitious players often believe the continuation of a rush can be predicted, and believing themselves on a rush, will play more aggressively or loosely Play the rush. Although rushes do not exist as statistical events, they can occur as mental events.  Revved up by winning, players can become more active, perceptive, and able to push the rest of the table around, especially if everyone else sees the rush too.

SEE the world's best definition of "reverse implied odds."



Scare card

Scared money


Second nut

Second pair





Short handed

Short stacked

Side game

Side pot


Slow playing

Slow roll

Small bet

Small blind

Smooth call

Snap off


Splash the pot

Split pair


Spread limit




Stand up

Standard deviation


Steal the blinds


Stone cold bluff




Straight draw

Straight flush


String bet

Suck out



Sandbagging v.  See slow playing.

Satellite n.  A mini-tournament whose prize is entry into a larger, more expensive tournament.  Entry fee for the World Series of Poker is $10,000, but there are satellites for $250.

Scare card np.  A board card likely to give someone a strong hand.  I missed my straight, but a flush scare card fell on the river, so I bluffed.

Scared money np.  A player too afraid of losing to exploit good hands is playing with scared money.

Scoop v. Winning both pots in a high-low game.

Second nut n.  The next highest hand possible for a given boardSee nuts.

Second pair n.  Pairing the second highest card on the board.

See v.  Call. I see your $10 and raise you $20.

Semi-bluff n., v.  Bluffing with a drawing hand, or possibly an under pair.  It is an attempt to scare rivals into folding, but if they stay, you have a good chance of completing your hand.  Contrast stone cold bluffTight limit hold'em players rarely bluff outright, usually they have a reasonable draw.

Session n.  Common unit in poker record keeping.  Results from one session (such as an evening's play), are recorded.  Hours are also often used.

Set np.  Three of a kind, especially when composed of a pair in the hole with a third card on the board.

Short handed adj.  A game with considerably fewer than the usual nine or ten players.  Significant strategic adaptation is advised.  Contrast one-on-one.

Short stacked adj.  Having little money left, as seen by the puny stack of chips in front of you.  A big disadvantage, especially in tournaments.

Side game n.  Played in the vicinity of a tournament.  They are usually ring games composed of busted out tournament players, or simply those attracted to the crowds and opportunity.

Side pot n. If a player goes all in but opponents keep building the pot, then a second side pot is created which the all-in is not eligible to win.  The main pot contains the all-in player's entire stack, plus a matching amount from everyone still in the hand.  Further bets go into the side pot, which the other players compete for.  It is possible to have multiple side pots if more people run out of money in the same hand.  The different pots can go to different players, depending on the turn of cards.

Sit-n-go n.  A fast, single table elimination tournament on the internet.  As soon as enough people sit, it goes.  Players receive around $1,000 in chips. Play continues until all but one are eliminated.  The first three places get paid.  Entry fees range from $5.50 (or even less) to $110 or more.  In a $110 game, $100 goes into the prize pool, $10 is raked by the house.

Slow playing vp.  A strong hand pretending to be weak in order to lure opponents.  Slow players check and call, rather than bet and raise. Aka sandbagging.

Slow roll n.  Dilatory showing of a hand, either for suspense or annoyance.

Small bet np.  In limit hold'em, the small bet is the amount set for the early betting rounds (preflop and flop).  The amount doubles (becoming the big bet) in the later rounds.  In a 3/6 limit game, the small bet is $3, big bet is $6.  The number of bets in a pot is often used to calculate pot odds"There were only four small bets in the pot, so I folded." 

Small blind n.  A type of ante paid by the first person to the left of the dealer.  The small blind is typically 1/2 the amount of the first round bet.  The small blind can either fold, or call by putting in another half bet (unless there's been some raising going on).  See blinds and complete.

Smooth call v.  To call, not raise, especially when sandbagging, or when preceded by aggressive betting.  There was a raise and a reraise, but Tami smooth called them both.

Snap off v.  Beating another hand, especially a bluff.  I snapped off another one of her bluffs. 

Spike v.  To receive a card you need, especially a less-likely one.  Carmella had just a low pocket pair, but she spiked another four on the turn to make trips.  Also catch.

Splash the pot v.  Sloppily tossing chips on the table so they roll haphazardly.  Besides being rude, it can obscure whether the proper amount was paid.  An early tip off of a newbie.

Split pair np. A pair composed of one card from your hand, and another from the board.  Example: hand 78 the board: 8T3.  Contrast a pocket pair or a paired board.

Spread v.  Providing a poker game, usually at a cardroom.  They only spread hold'em here, no stud. 

Spread limit adj.  Type of game where bets must be within a range, rather than fixed limit.  Bets can be anywhere between a minimum and maximum.

Stack n.  1. All of a player's chips.  I bet my stack.  2. Group of chips neatly placed on top of one another.  Generally, stacks must stay on the table in front of a person, allowing others to see how much they have.  See table stakes.

Stake  1. n. See bankroll.  2. v. To loan a player money in return for a share of the winnings.  I staked him to enter the World Series of Poker.

Stakes adj.  The bet level of a game, either generic ("high stakes"), or specific ("3/6"). 

Stand up v.  For a pat hand to still win after all the cards are out.  Maggie had aces, but they didn't stand up.

Standard deviation n.  Statistical measure of how much something (like poker winnings) varies randomly over time.  See variance.  Commonly abbreviated SD. 

Steal v.  See buy the pot.

Steal the blinds v.  Betting aggressively to fold the blinds before the flop.  Generally done from late position, with everyone else presumably already out.  Its profitability is often underestimated.  

Steam v.  1. Trying to win back losses with bigger, rasher, bets.  2. Emotional agitation after a loss which hurts play.  Is he still steaming?

Stone cold bluff n.  A risky bluff with nothing at all.  More often, bluffers have at least something, or a draw that they represent as stronger than it is.

Stop-n-go n.  Using two separate bets to go all-in.  When running low on chips in a tournament, you bet half your stack preflop, then put in the rest no matter what.  Although an opponent may be sure to call a preflop all-in because you are short-stacked and she is deep, she still might fold later if the flop misses her.

Straddle n. v. An optional double bet before the deal, essentially a third blind. The under-the-gun player announces "straddle" and puts up two small bets (twice the big blind). She is then last to act instead of first in the preflop betting round. The minimum to call becomes two bets instead of the big blind's one. A straddle is negative EV and indicates a craving for action. The straddler is pumping the pot before learning if she has a strong hand.

Straight n.  A completed poker hand of five cards in sequence, such as T-J-Q-K-A.  The ace can also make a five-high straight, known as a wheel.  Beats three of kind, but not a flush.  See hand rankings.

Straight draw n.  A hand with the potential of becoming a straight.  Ex. 9-10-J-Q can become a straight if the right card comes.  See also inside straight, open ended straight.

Straight flush n.  A straight of one suit.  Royal flush, the strongest poker hand, is an ace-high straight flush.  See hand rankings.

Street n.  A betting round.  The turn and river in hold'em are sometimes called fourth and fifth streets.  Derived from stud poker terminology.

String bet n.  Making two trips to put chips in the center.  Illegal because a player might call first, then gauge the reaction of others before deciding to reach in again with a raise.  Bets or raises should be a single motion.  Enforcement is inconsistent, but usually if a player verbally declares a raise, she is given some slack in shoveling an unwieldy number of chips into the center.

Suck out v.  Winning with a bad hand that gets lucky.  Sidney started with just 7-2, but sucked out and beat two aces.  Those who regularly suck out are ridiculed by mediocre players, and praised by the cagey.

Suited adj.  1. Cards of the same suit, such as king-nine of clubs.  Suited hole cards are valuable because they are more likely to form a flush with the board.  2. A high card with a suited card of unimportant rank.  She held a suited king.

Hold'em poker glossary "T"

Table stakes

Table talk

Tainted outs

Tapped out


Texas hold'em

Three bet



Threshold of pain


Tight aggressive

Tight passive


Time game

To go

To me



Top kicker

Top pair



Tournament chips


Tripped up



Two bet

Two gapper

Two pair

Two-way straight

Table stakes n.  This almost universal rule allows a person to use only the chips in front of her at the beginning of a hand.  If you are short stacked but get a great hand, you cannot run get more funds, then keep raising; you can only go all inSee also cash game.

Table talk n.  Discussing specific cards while the hand is still in play.  It is frowned upon (or against the rules) to announce you just folded two jacks.  This may affect strategy of those still in, because they now know two jacks are out of play.

Tainted outs n. The opposite of clean outs.  Cards that complete your hand, but can give someone else an even better hand.  Common examples are outs that give you a straight, but someone else a flush, or give you trips, and someone else a fullhouse.  Some players simply do not include tainted cards when counting outs.

Tapped out adj.  Broke.  Tap out v.  To go broke.

Tell n.  A mannerism that reveals a player's likely cards or intentions.

Texas hold'em n.  Commonly shortened to just hold'em.  Poker game where players get two cards each and share five community cards.  Contrast Omaha hold'em.

Three bet v.  In limit poker, increasing the pot for the third time in one round.  I rarely three-bet.

Three-gapper n.  Connectors separated by three cards, such as 37.

Three-of-a-kind np.  Three cards of the same rank.  Also trips or set.  Beats a pair or two pair.  See hand rankings.

Threshold of pain np.  Hopeless point at which further loses are not more painful, steepening a player's tumble.  Concept popularized by Mike Caro.

Tight adj.  Selectively playing only the best hands or situations.  Following the money, not the thrills.  A tight player folds if there is no mathematical edge, he does not chase long shots for fun.

Tight aggressive adj.  Type of competitor who folds often, but plays hard when he does enter a hand.  Universally recognized as the most profitable approach to hold'em.

Tight passive adj.  Overly conservative person who correctly plays few hands, but is easily scared out of pots, and fails to take aggressive advantage of good cards.

Tilt v., adj.  Lose of emotional control and self-destructive betting.  Player may be angry, desperate to win back losses, on a testosterone rampage, or too shocked and muddled to do anything but plunge forward.  Watch for it, both in yourself and others.  On tilt.  Tilting. 

Time game n.  The house collects on seats by the hour, rather than raking each pot.

To go adj.  Price of a call, used after there's been enough raises to be confusing.  It's $15 to go. Contrast to you.

To me, to you adj.  The amount players already in the pot have to put in if they get raised.  If I call and get raised, then to stay in the hand I have to make up the balance.  If I put in $1, then was raised $1 and reraised another $1, then the bet to me is $2.  "Hey, put in another buck, it's $2 to you."   In contrast, a player who had not yet entered the pot would want to know the total bet, and would ask "how much is it to go?" 

Toke n.  Casino talk for tip, gratuity.

Top adj.  The higher hand.  Top set.  Top pair.

Top kicker np.  The higher kicker in a showdown.  I knew I didn't have top kicker.

Top pair n.  Pairing the highest card on the board.

Tourist n.  Non-regular player, assumed to lack savvy.

Tournament n.  Type of poker game where contestants pay an entrance fee, then eliminate each other by winning all their tournament chips.  Potentially unlimited in size. Contrast cash game. See also final table.

Tournament chips n. v. Chips used in a poker tournament.  They are of arbitrary value and cannot be exchanged for cash normally -- contestants must place in the tournament.

Trey n.  Three.

Tripped up v.   Achieve trips.  Debbie tripped up on the turn.  

Trips nThree of a kind. Derived from triplets. 

Turn n. The fourth community card in hold'em, dealt face up in the middle of the table, which anyone can use as part of a hand. Aka fourth street. See also river, flop, hole cards.

Two bet v.  In limit poker, the raise made by the second raiser.  Similar: three bet, four bet.

Two gapper n.  1. A straight draw missing two cards, e.g. 589.  2. Connectors separated by two cards, e.g. 9Q.

Two pair np. Four cards of two ranks, such as KK33.  Beats a single pair, see hand rankings.  Usage: He had two pair.  Less often expressed in plural form, he had two pairs.  

Two-way straight n.  Aka open ended straight.

Poker dictionary "U"

Under the gun

Under pair


Under the gun adj.  Seating position immediately clockwise from the big blind.  The first person to act preflop, and therefore the worst seat at the table.  Wise operators play only the very best hands from this position.  Abbreviated ug.

Under pair n.  A pocket pair lower than any card on the board.

Up adj.  Denotes the higher pair in two pair.  Jacks up means jacks and a lesser pair.  The second pair is not mentioned because its rank rarely affects the outcome.  Jacks up beats tens up, no matter what pair accompanies the tens.  Only if two players both have the same top pair will the second become decisive.  Then the word to use is over, as in jacks over eights.

Poker terms "V"


Variance n.  The mathematical measurement of swings, i.e. how much something commonly varies from the average.  You may lose $20 per session on average, but usually range between +$110 and -$90.  The importance of variance in gambling cannot be overstated.  Larger bets cause greater swings, and even highly skilled individuals can be wiped out if they wager too much for their bankroll.  (Most players who think they are winners simply experienced positive variance, and conveniently forget the downturns.)  Many good players forego bets with only slight positive expectation because of high variance.  The statistical measure of variance is standard deviation.  The Kelly Criterion is a method of calculating bet size precisely in order to reduce risk of ruin.

Poker dictionary "W"

Wait for the blind

Washing the cards




Wired pair

Wait for the blind vp.  Taking a seat but not playing until the blind reaches you, thus avoiding an extra post.

Washing the cards vp.  A shuffling procedure preceding the riffle, done usually in commercial cardrooms.  Cards are scattered face down on the table and smeared about for a while.  Also, the wash.

Weak adj.  Poor kickers. Terri plays weak aces.

Wheel n.  A five-high straight (ace-2-3-4-5).   Comes from the wheel pictured on Bicycle brand playing cards.

Whipsaw v.  Getting caught between two reraising players, requiring you to call and call to stay in.  If the opponents are secretly signaling each other, it is collusion.  A cheater with a strong hand signals a partner to keep reraising, catching others in the whipsaw.  The second cheater will eventually fold, so no one notices that his hand was suspiciously weak.  Often, rules allow participants to request seeing late folded hands. 

Wired pair n.  See pocket pair.

X  Abbrevaition for an unnamed, irrelevant card.  Jan held JT, the board was KQx.  In this hand, Jan holds four to a straight (TJQK), with an extraneous card x. 

Definitions of poker terms







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