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Poker Glossary | Poker Terms A-Z

21 November 2010, By:
Poker is full of fancy words and sometimes it's almost impossible to understand what poker players are talking about on or off the table. Or it is if you don't have a glossary of poker terms at hand at all times.
poker terms

We're here to solve that dilemma for you - at least as long as you have a wifi connection and Poker Junkie at hand.

One of the great things about indulging in the game of poker is you can immerse yourself in both its illustrious (if, at times, shady) past and its contemporary, genius-level discourse of the present (and future). Poker terms run the full gamut from the "Dead Man's Hand" of the Wild Bill Hickock era to the HUDs and EVs and Game Theory Optimals and Click It Backs of the 21st Century.

Gangsters and cowboys. Bootleggers and journeymen. Road gamblers and math geniuses. Frat boys and brilliant female groundbreakers. They've all had a hand (see what we did there?) in building, personalizing and fleshing out the rich lexicon of poker terms we get to enjoy everyday.

To do our part we've tried to corral some of the most popular (and most important) poker terms here to help you find your make some sense of things at the table. We'll try to keep the poker terms glossary up to date. If we've missed something here, give us a kick in the comments and we'll add it to the list!

Poker Terms & Definitions A-Z


ABC Poker. Straight-forward, simple poker strategy with few fancy moves or multi-level strategic thinking.

Action. A players turn to act. A game with lot of aggressive play is called an "action" game.

Add On. A specific type of poker tournament where you can buy extra chips within a certain time frame. Also: Buying extra chips in the middle of a cash game.

Aggression. A player that frequently bets or raises rather than calls or folds.

Air. Nothing, a total bluff.

Angle Shooting. An advantage play to get information from another player through deceptive means

Ante. A forced bet all players have to post prior to the hand. Most common in Stud and Draw games

All-In. A player pushes all of his remaining chips into the pot either by calling, betting or raising.


Backdoor. When a player catches a hand with help from both the turn and the river. Someone who holds As Qs on a board showing Js 9h 7h has a backdoor flush draw.

Bad beat. An unfortunate loss when the odds were strongly in your favor. These situations create bad-beat stories, something no one likes to hear.

Bankroll. An amount of money specifically set aside for playing poker.

Big blind. The large forced bet mostly used in community-card games like Hold'em and Omaha.

Big slick. Nickname for the Hold'em starting hand Ace-King.

Blank. A community card that most likely didn't help any player.

Blind. A forced bet, usually posted by the two players after the button. Mostly used in community-card games.

Blocker. A card in your hand that can prevent your opponent from hitting his or her hand.

Blocking Bet. A small bet from out of position that hopefully prevents a bigger bet from another player.

Bluff Catcher. A relatively poor hand that can only win if your opponent is bluffing.

Boat. Full House

Bottom Pair. When you have paired the lowest card on the board. Example: As 4h on a board showing Ks Js 4c.

Bring In. The opening forced bet in a 7-Card Stud hand. The player with the lowest show card has to pay the bring in.

Broadway. A straight from ten to ace.

Bubble. The places in a tournament just below the "money". If 10 players get a piece of the prize pool, and you finish 11th, you ended up "on the bubble."

Burn. The act of discarding the top card of the deck before exposing community cards.

Button. The disc that indicates which player is the dealer - or at least sits in the dealer's position.

Buy-in. A tournament-entry feeBring money to a cash-game, or add an already existing stack.


Call. Put in money equal to the latest bet or raise.

Call the Clock. Forcing another player to make a decision in a hand. Typically 30 or 60 seconds counted down by the dealer or floor. Any player can call the clock if they feel another player is taking too much time to make a decision.

Calling station. A loose and passive player type that calls a lot but rarely bets and raises.

Cap. The last permitted bet often used in fixed-limit games.

Case. When someone has only one out, that card is called the case jack, deuce, seven etc. Common when a set is up against another set in hold'em.

Cash. Making the money in a poker tournament.

Catch. To hit the card you need to make a hand.

Catch Perfect. To hit the exact cards you need on the turn and river 

Check. When you're in a hand, and no one has made a bet yet, you can check. You don't wager anything but are still in the hand and the action gets back to you if someone else makes a bet.

Check-raise. When you check, someone else bets, and you raise. This usually indicates a strong hand.

Chinese Poker. A variation of poker with 13 cards dealt and set into three separate ranking hands. See How to Play Chinese Poker and Chinese Poker Strategy 101

Chip Dumping. When two players collude to "dump off" chips to one player while playing hands together.

Chop. 1) When two equal hands split a pot. 2) When the remaining players in a tournament decide to split up the remaining prize money.

Click It Back. To make a minimum bet in response to a minimum bet.

Coin Flip. When two hands are all in and each have a roughly 50% chance of winning the pot. AK vs. JJ is a classic "coin flip" situation.

Cold call. To call more than a single bet.

Connector. A hold'em starting hand where the cards "are consecutive in rank. Example: JT

Continuation Bet. A follow-up bet on the flop from a pre-flop raiser.

Counterfeit. When a card comes on the board that takes your hand from being best to possibly inferior

Crying Call. A call made by someone who thinks he holds an inferior hand.

Cut off. The position to the right of the button.


Dead Man's Hand. The hand Wild Bill Hicock was reportedly holding at the time of his death: Two pair, Aces and eights (black, not red).

Dead money. Money owned by a bad poker player. Money in a pot contributed by a player no longer in the hand.

Deuce. A two.

Deuce-Seven. A lowball game where 2-3-4-5-7 is the best possible hand.

Dog. See "underdog"

Donk Bet. An out-of-position raise on the flop by a player who did not bet in the previous round.

Donkey (Donk). A bad poker player.

Door card. The first card off the deck on the flop.

Downswing. An extended period of time where you lose more often than you should typically expect.

Draw. A hand that needs one or more specific cards on the board. Example: you hold JT and the flop is KQ2. You have a straight draw and either 9 or A gives you the nuts.

Drawing dead. A hand that can't possibly win the pot no matter what


Effective Stack. The smallest stack in an all in scenario.

Equity. What you can expect to win over infinite permutations of playing a hand.

EV. Expected value. If the odds hold true, what you would expect to win.


Family pot. A pot where all, or close to all, players at the table participate in.

Fast play. Same as aggressive play - lots of bets and raises.

Fifth Street. The river or final community card dealt.

Fish. A poor poker player.

Float. To call a bet with the intention of making a bet to win the pot on a later street

Flop. The first three community cards in Hold'em and Omaha etc.

Freeroll. A tournament with no buy in. When two players have the same hand but one has additional outs, the second player is freerolling. Example: Player #1 As Qs, Player #2 Ah Qh, Board Kh Jh Ts 7c.

Freezeout. A poker tournament with no rebuys or add ons. One buy in only that ends when one player has all the chips.


Game Theory Optimal. A mathematical theory of poker that says there is an optimal play to make at every point in a hand.

Gap hand. A non-consecutive starting hand. Example 86 (one-gapper), 96 (two-gapper).

Grinder. A steady, consistent professional poker player.

Gutshot straight draw. A straight draw that needs a card of a specific rank to fill up.


Hand for Hand. The part in a poker tournament just before the bubble where each table deals one hand at a time.

Heads-up. A game or a pot with only two players.

Hero Call. To make a call with a relatively weak hand trying to catch another player in a bluff.

Hijack. The seat to the right of the cut-off.

H.O.R.S.E. A mixed game rotating through orbits of Texas Holdem, Omaha, Razz, Stud and Stud 8-or-Better

HUD. Heads-Up Display. A software application that will list opponent's stats right at the online poker table.


ICM. Independent Chip Model. A means of determining how much your tournament chips are worth at different stages of the tournament.

Implied odds. Odds based on possible future bets. You might call on the flop although you're not offered the sufficient pot-odds. You think that if you hit your hand, you're opponent is going to pay you off. If that's true, you might have sufficient implied odds.

In the Money. The remaining players in a poker tournament that claim a cash prize.

Inside Straight Draw. Also known as a gutshot straight draw where the card you need to complete a straight is in between your other cards.

Isolation Play. To make a raise intending to continue in a pot with just one other player.


Jam. To shove all in.


Kicker. An unpaired card in a poker hand. Say that one player has AAQQT, and another player has AAQQK, the second player wins due to a higher kicker (K).


LAG. Loose-Aggressive. To play a lot of hands and make lots of bets and raises.

Laydown. Fold.

Lead. The first bet in the pot.

Light. To bet or call with a less-then-premium hand.

Limp. To just call pre flop rather than bet or raise.

Live. A card that gives you a winning hand if it pairs. When AK is up against AQ, the queen is the second player's live card.


Made hand. A hand that doesn't need to draw any more cards to hit.

Maniac. A crazy player who plays over-aggressively with big bets and bluffs.

Micro-stakes. Online poker games with buy-ins below $0.50.

Middle Pair. Aka Second Pair. A pair of value between the highest and lowest cards showing on the board.

Misdeal. When a dealing error is made and the cards are returned to the dealer to re-deal.

Muck. The pile of discarded cards in the middle of the table or the act of folding.

Monster. A super-strong hand.

MTT. Multi-Table Tournament.


Nit. A very tight player who doesn't play many hands and only plays premium hands when they do play.

No-Limit. A betting structure in which players can bet and raise any amount at any moment (bets must be bigger than the big blind or prior action).

Nosebleeds. The highest-stakes games.

Nuts. The best possible hand. Example: As Js on a Ks Ts 8c 5h 2s board.


Off suit. A starting hand with two cards of different suit.

Open-Ended Straight Draw. A straight draw that can be completed on the high-end or low end (Eg. 7-8-9-T can be completed with either a 6 or J).

Orbit. A complete round of dealing around a single table.

Out. A card that gives you the winning hand. Example if you have a nut-flush draw on the turn, you have 9 outs to make the nuts.

Out of Position. A player that is not last to act in the hand.

Overbet. A bet larger than the size of the pot.

Overcard. A card of higher value than your pair.

Overpair. A pocket pair of higher rank than the highest community card.


Play the Board. When you only play the community cards in Hold'em. Say that the board is A A A A K, then all players play the board.

Polarized. When a player has either a great hand or a bluff.

Position. To be last to act in a hand.

Pot Committed. When the pot is so large that the odds says you have to go to the river even though you might not have the best hand at the moment.

Pot Limit. A betting structure in which you can bet as much as the current pot. When you raise a bet, you can raise the total amount of the prior bet plus the pot size after that.

Pot Odds. The amount of the money in the pot compared what you have to pay to continue with the hand. Say that the pot is $100 and someone bets $100, you have to call $100 in a pot of $200. The pot odds are therefore 1:2.

Pre-flop. The part of the hand before the community cards are dealt.

Probe Bet. A bet to try to gain information from your opponents.

Push. To go all in.


Quads. Four of a kind


Rabbit Hunt. To reveal the cards that would have come in a hand already completed.

Race. A coin flip.

Rail. Fans watching at the side of a poker table.

Rainbow. A flop where all three cards are of different suit.

Rake. The cut that the casino deducts from the pots. In online games, the rake is usually up to 5% of the pot up to $3-$5.

Range. The range of possible hands you or your opponent can have at various points in a hand.

Rebuy. When you lose all chips and buy new ones. In rebuy tournaments, the number of times you're allowed to do this might be restricted.

Reverse Tell. An effort to intentionally deceive another player by making a physical gesture that would normally be interpreted as the opposite. Eg. Acting nervous to suggest you're weak when you're really strong.

Ring Game. Cash game.

River. The fifth and last community card in Hold'em and Omaha etc.

Run it Twice. An option to draw the remaining community cards to come in a hand two times. Each runout is worth half the pot.

Runner-runner. Consecutive cards on the turn and river that give you a winning hand. When you hit a backdoor draw (see backdoor)


Satellite. A tournament without cash prizes, instead the winners are awarded seats in bigger tournaments.

Scare card. A community card that makes it more likely your opponent has made or completed a good hand.

Second pair. When you have paired the second highest card on the board.

Semi bluff. When you bet without a real hand but have outs to make something good. For instance, when you bet with JT on a QK2 board. You can win in two ways: either by bluffing the opponents out of the pot or by catching a nine or an ace.

Set. Three of a kind using a pocket pair and a pair on the board.

Showdown. When the hand is over and players expose their hole cards.

Side pot. When three or more players with different amount of chips go all in, there will be one more side pots created. Example: Player #1 has $50 and moves all in, Player #2 pushes in his last $100, and Player #3 calls both players. Now there will be one pot with $150, which all players can win, and one pot with $100, which only player #2 and #3 can win.

Slow play. Play a monster hand timidly to lure in opponents.

Small blind. The smaller of the two forced bets in hold'em, posted by the player to the left of the dealer.

Split pot. A pot divided by two players who hold identical hands.

Straddle. An optional blind in cash games, usually posted by the player to the left of the big blind. Instead of acting first pre-flop, the "straddler" is last to act.

String bet. When a player makes a bet in two or more motions. This is not allowed.

Suited. A Hold'em starting hand where the cards are of the same suit


TAG. A tight-aggresive style of play, which means you play fewer hands but play them aggressively with bets and raises.

Tell. A physical act that reviles a player's strength.

Three-Bet. The third bet which comes after a bet and then a raise.

Tilt. An emotional state where a player has lost control of his game.

Top pair. When you have paired the highest card on the board.

Trips. Three of a kind with a pair on the board and a card of the same rank in the hole.

Turn. The fourth community card in Holdem and Omaha etc.


Under the Gun. The player directly to the left of the big blind, or the first player to have the option to play after the deal.

Underdog. When the odds are against you. Say that you have a flush draw and someone has two pair, you're a 2:1 underdog.


Value Bet. A bet you make when you think you have the best hand, trying to get the most value or pick the bet size that will get an inferior hand to call.


Walk. When every player folds pre-flop and the big blind scoops the pot.

Wheel. A straight from ace to five

WPT. World Poker Tour

WSOP. World Series of Poker

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