Poker Terms & Definitions USA
Recently updated on January 21st, 2022
An important part of learning how to play poker Poker is getting to know and understand poker terms. Along with having a keen eye and loads of confidence, it’s imperative that you know how to talk the talk, so to speak. Knowing the lingo around poker will help you keep up with what’s going on as a player. After all the key to a good poker player is one that exudes confidence and you can’t do that if you don’t quite know what’s happening, what’s expected of you, and what the dealer and other players are doing. So, learning poker terms or “poker talk” improves your knowledge of the game.
By using our comprehensive guide to poker terminology, you’ll be learning all the poker terms and phrases used in the game. We’ve covered all the poker slang terms and jargon that you’ll come across when playing either online or at a land-based casino; against the computer or at a live-dealer table online.
Best USA Poker Casinos in 2023
Poker Terminology Glossary
Below we delve into all the poker terminology you’re likely to come across while playing poker.
A-D Poker Terms
- Act: when you check, bet, raise, or fold.
- Action: the turn. For example, “the action is on you”.
- Active player: a player still in competing for the pot.
- Add–on: extra chips that can be bought to add on to your chip stack. Usually, this happens at the end of the Re-buy period in a tournament.
- All–in: When a player bets all of their remaining chips.
- Ante: a small portion of the bet that’s given by each player at the table to start the pot at the beginning of a poker hand.
- Bad beat: this is when a player, who has the best of it and the odds are with them, gets beaten in the hand by a long-shot draw.
- Bankroll: the money a player brings with them to gamble.
- Behind: the player acting after another player in a betting round.
- Best of it: a player who has the odds of their side.
- Bet: money wagered and put into the pot. This can happen during a given betting round; any betting action after that is considered a raise.
- Big blind: the larger of two forced blind hands in community card games like Hold’Em or Omaha. It’s generally found two spots to the left of the dealer button.
- Big hand: a really good hand.
- Big Slick: Ace-King hole cards.
- Blank: a community board card that looks harmless or can’t help anyone.
- Bluff: This is a bet or raises that looks like it represents a good hand but in fact, the bettor has a mediocre or drawing hand.
- Board: the playing surface where the community cards that are shared by all players are. These are used by players to complete their hands. They are found in community games like Omaha and Hold’Em. (See community cards)
- Boat: a full house/full boat. This is when you have three of one card and two of another e.g. JJJ99.
- Bottom pair: a pair with the lowest card on the flop. If you have Ace-Six and the flop comes King-T-Six, you have flopped bottom pair.
- Broadway: an Ace-high straight.
- Bubble: used in tournaments, this refers to someone who’s one place away from making it to the money.
- Burn: the act of discarding the top card before each betting round.
- Busted: someone who is broke i.e. they’ve lost all their chips and are out of the tournament.
- Button: this denotes which player is taking the role of the dealer in a hand. The player in this position is dealt the last card and is the last to act in each round.
- Buy–in: the number of chips a player must buy to be able to enter a game. In tournaments, the buy-in is a set amount for a set amount of starting chips. For cash games, they set the minimum.
- Buying the pot: winning the pot with a bluff or semi-bluff that forces other players out.
- Call: adding the amount to another player bet.
- Calling station: the player that calls a lot but doesn’t raise or fold much. This is the sign of a weak passive player who you would generally like to have in your game.
- Case card: last card of a given rank left in the deck; the other three are already out.
- Chasing: the hope that an upcoming community card will hit to complete an unmade hand.
- Check: not betting when it’s your turn. The player says “I check” or taps on the table.
- Check and raise: you first check initially but then make a raise if another player bets after your initial check.
- Chop: during a tournament, the last remaining players decide to split the prize pool rather than play to the end. Or, in a hand where the end result is a tie, the pot is spilt up and distributed evenly to the tied players.
- Community Cards: these are the cards shared by all players in community games like Hold’Em and Omaha. They use these cards to complete their hands. (See board)
- Connectors: two or more cards in a sequence e.g. 10J or 89. (See suited connectors)
- Counterfeit: in the game Omaha Eight or Better when the board pairs one of your low cards.
- Cracked: to lose a hand you were favored to win.
- Crying call: a very reluctant call.
- Dealer: a player or casino employee who deals out the card to the players.
- Dead man hand: a famous hand that’s made up of black eights and black Aces.
- Depp stack: a tournament in which players start with a number of chips that’s relatively high in relation to the blind or ante.
- Dog: the underdog that’s not favored to win.
- Dominated: when a hand is beaten because of shared cards.
- Draw: a hand that needs more cards to become a winning hand.
- Drawing Dead: when there are no cards left in the deck to make a draw hand into a winning hand.
- Draw Poker: in this poker variant, each player gets a set number of cards and then replaces some of their cards with others dealt out from the remaining deck.
- Duck: a deuce/ a 2.
E – H Poker Terms
- Early position: this is when about the first third of players act in a hand.
- Facedown: cards that aren’t exposed to other players.
- Face up: exposed cards that every other player can see.
- Fast play: an aggressive style of playing with a lot of raising and betting.
- Favorite: this is the player with the most likely hand to win based off odds alone.
- Fish: a poorly-skilled or novice player that’s expected to lose money.
- Flop: refers to the first three community cards dealt face-up on the board.
- Flush: a hand that has five cards of the same suit.
- Fold: getting rid of one’s cards. Doing that forfeits the player’s right to any part of the pot.
- Four–flush: having four of the five cards needed for a flush and hoping for a fifth.
- Free card: this is a betting round where all players have checked, therefore allowing the next community card to fall without anybody adding money to the pot.
- Freeroll: a tournament where players get in for free. The expression “freerolling” is also an expression used to describe a player that’s won a lot of chips.
- Four-of-a-kind: a hand containing four cards that are the same rank – e.g. QQQQ.
- Full house: a hand with two of the same rank and three of another – e.g. 99JJJ.
- Hand: the cards a player holds. These are four cards plus a community card that equals five in total.
- Head-to-head: playing a pot or a tournament against one other player.
- Hi/Lo: this is a type of poker where the highest hand and the lowest hand each take half of the pot.
- Hole cards: the unseen cards held by a player.
I – L Poker Terms
- Implied odds: what a player thinks he’ll get in terms of payoff if their hand hits relative to how much it will cost to play.
- In front of: the player acting before another player.
- Inside straight draw: this is a draw where just one card will complete the straight – e.g. with a hand like 6-7-9-10, it needs an 8 to complete it.
- Isolate: betting or raising to get ahead a weaker player or hand.
- Joker: either refers to a wild card or a lucky card that completed a hand against the odds.
- Kicker: an unmatched card in a player’s hand that’s only used to break ties – e.g. two 5-5 and 8-8 with Queen kicker.
- Late Position: this is when about the last thirds of players act in a hand.
- Laydown: when you fold.
- Limit: the most you can bet or raise in a given time. (See limit poker)
- Limit poker: games where there are limits to the amount that can be bet or raised; the opposite of no-limit poker. (See limit)
- Limp: to call instead of raising or betting.
- Live card: a card whose rank hasn’t appeared on the board or in a hand.
- Live one: this a player likely to bet wildly and probably lose like a fish. (See fish)
- Lock: an unbeatable hand.
- Lock up my seat: when a player commits to taking a seat that’s waiting for you.
- Longshot: a drawing hand that has odds heavily against it and most probably won’t be made.
- Look up: to call somebody.
- Loose: a playing style with a lot of hands and one that often goes for longshots. (See longshot)
M – P Poker Terms
- Made hand: a solid complete hand that doesn’t need to hit a draw to be a good winning hand.
- Maniac: a wild loose player that bets up with mediocre hands just so that they can build up the pot.
- Middle position: this is when about the middle third of players act in a hand.
- Monster: a great hand that’s either a lock or can’t be beaten.
- Muck: to fold or throw a hand away into the muck. (see Fold)
- No limit: players can bet any amount of chips.
- One pair: a hand that has two cards of the same rank – e.g. QQ.
- Overcard: a higher card – e.g. K is an overcard to Q; Q is an overcard to 8.
- Pocket card: see hole cards.
- Position: your relative place to the player that acts last. In flop games like Hold’Em and Omaha, position depends on where you are relative to the button.
- Pot: the sum total of all antes, blinds, and bets at the center of the table in a given poker hand. Players compete to win this.
- Preflop: before a flop.
- Premium starting hands: holding the best starting hole cards at the table.
Q – T Poker Terms
- Raise: when you add more chips to another player’s original bet to make it more expensive for others who want to continue playing for the pot.
- Rake: the amount the house takes out of the pot as a fee for running the game.
- Re-raise: raising another player’s raise.
- Ring game: cash games that have a full table of players.
- River: the last (fifth) community card on the board.
- Royal flush: a hand that has A-K-Q-J-10 of the same suit. This is the highest-ranking hand in poker.
- Satellite tournament: a small stakes tournament where the prizes are one or more entries into a bigger more expensive event.
- Set: three of a kind that’s made up of a pocket pair and a matching community card.
- Shorthanded: this is a game that has five or fewer players.
- Showdown: the final act of a poker hand.
- Slowplay: when you play a powerful hand in a weak manner to hide its strength to lure another player into the action.
- Small blind: found just to the left of the button. It’s the smaller of the two forced blind bets preflop.
- Standard raise: this is typically three times the big blind.
- Steal the blinds: bluffing to make the blinds fold.
- Straight: when you have a sequence of five consecutive cards – e.g. 6-7-8-9-10.
- Straight flush: a series of five consecutive cards that are the same suit.
- Suck–out: hitting a longshot draw usually on the river.
- Suited connectors: these are two or more cards that are consecutive and of the same suit – e.g. 8-9 or 10 and J that are hearts. (see connectors)
- Swing: the change of a player’s overall bankroll or chip count.
- Table stakes: this refers to the money or chips that a player can only play with on the table in front of them.
- Three–of-a-kind: three cards that are of the same rank – e.g. JJJ. (see trips)
- Tournament: a poker competition where all players start with the same amount of chips and play until one player has all the chips.
- Trap: underplaying or slow playing a powerful hand to lure players into betting.
- Trips: three of a kind.
- Turn: this is the fourth community card on the board after the flop.
- Two pairs: a hand with two different pairs – e.g. JJ and QQ in the same hand.
U – Z Poker Terms
- Under the gun: the first player to act in a round of poker.
- Value bet: when you bet a hand that’s maybe not a sure thing but, over time, it wins more than it loses.
- Wheel: also known as a bicycle, this is a five-high straight – e.g. A-2-3-4-5.
- Wired: having a pair in the hole from the start.
More Poker Guides