It’s important to know the many different poker terms, whether you’re playing at a land-based casino, a tournament online, or a friendly cash game. Our comprehensive A-Z glossary of the most common and important poker phrases will help you to get started and improve your game.
Several popular terms in poker are only understood by people who play often. For instance, you may encounter terms like No Limit Poker, Big Blind, and Dead Man’s Hand. A successful poker strategy depends on knowing what each of these phrases stands for.
Our Poker Terms article will shed light on some of the most common phrases used both at land-based and real money poker sites. Furthermore, you’ll be able to use these whether you’re participating in a high-stakes poker tournament or in a casual game for little or no money.
Useful Poker Terms and Phrases
You can use this page to navigate through the poker terms in our poker glossary. Alternatively, you can use the links for each term to jump to a more detailed explanation of it.
- Action – (1) The time to act by betting, folding, raising, etc. It’s often used by dealers to tell players that it’s their turn to act by saying “Your action.” (2) The amount of money being put on the table through bets and raises.
- All-in – To go all-in means to bet all of your remaining chips by placing them in the pot.
- Ante – A predetermined, mandatory bet each player must give before each hand.
- Backdoor – A backdoor straight or flush draw describes a situation where you do not yet have a straight draw on the flop. However, you require a particular card for your hand to be a straight or flush draw. Although you can use this poker term for any type of hand, it’s most commonly used with straight and flush.
- Bad Beat – A very popular poker term that refers to a mathematically good hand that loses to an underdog’s hand.
- Bankroll – Your bankroll is a gambling term that’s used not only in poker. It refers to the amount of money you have available to wager.
- Big Blind – The big blind (bb) is a mandatory bet that the player found on the left of the small blind, and two seats left to the dealer (or button) must wager to stay in the game. These are forced bets that drive the action, otherwise all players would simply fold until they have a good hand.
- Blind – The blinds are forced bets placed on the two players sitting to the left of the dealer (or button). There are usually two blinds, which are the big blind and the small blind.
- Bluff – Pretending you’ve got a good hand to make your opponent fold.
- Busted – When you’ve run out of chips or money during a poker game.
- Buy-in – The price of joining a poker game. At the best Bitcoin poker sites, you’ll be able to buy-in in an anonymous way without sharing your personal details.
- Call – Calling means matching the bet the previous player made.
- Calling Station – This is a poker term to describe a player who calls very often but rarely (if ever) raises, no matter how good their hand is.
- Case Card – The case card is the final card of a specific rank still present in the deck.
- Check – When you check, you do not place a bet and the turn goes to the player on your left. You can then call or raise at a later time. This can only be done after the flop and if there is no wager on the table.
- Community Cards – These are the cards that are put face up in the center of the table that all players can use to complete their hand.
- Connector – Sequential hold cards, such as 10♠ and 9♥.
- Dealer – The person who deals the cards and manages the game is the dealer. It can be either a player or a professional one at a casino.
- Dead Man’s Hand – This is a two-pair poker hand made up of Aces and Eights.
- Domination – A hand is considered to be dominated when an opponent’s hand is stronger and more likely to win.
- Draw – A round you remain in, hoping your hand will improve if the appropriate cards are dealt in the flop, turn, or river.
- Early Position – The players who are in the early position are the ones who have to act first on a preflop round.
- Effective Stack – The effective stack, which is the smaller of two players’ stack sizes, indicates how much a player can lose in a heads-up pot.
- Eight or Better – Eight or Better games are variants of Omaha where the goal is to create the best low hand possible. To be eligible, the cards used can only be eight or less.
- Face Card – All Kings, Queens, and Jacks are face cards. The poker term face card applies to those cards that have a face, so an Ace is not one.
- Flop – This poker term refers to the three community cards that are dealt facing up. It is the second round of betting in games using communal cards.
- Flush – A flush is a poker hand that is made up of five cards of the same suit.
- Fold – If we’re given a hand that we feel is very unlikely to win, we fold. That is, we stop matching any other wagers.
- Gutshot – A gutshot is a poker hand that has four cards out of the five you need for a complete straight.
- Hand Ranking – This denotes the strength of your complete hand.
- Heads-Up – A poker game that has two players.
- High Card – According to most poker variants, High Card is the worst possible hand. There is just a high card in it with no matching cards whatsoever.
- Hole Cards – Cards that are dealt face-down and known only to the player.
- Implied Odds – Implied odds are calculations you take to figure out what your next action should be when you are drawing to something.
- No-Limit – A game that has no maximum limit when placing a bet or raising.
- Omaha – A popular poker variant that involves community cards. Along with these, players must use two of their four cards to create a winning hand.
- Out– A card that will make your hand more valuable.
- Pai Gow Poker – A relatively new variant of poker where up to six players play against the dealer.
- Pair – A winning hand where two cards have the same rank.
- Pot – The pot is the sum of money or chips that a player wins after a hand of poker. All bets throughout the hand are placed into the pot.
- Pot Limit – A poker game where the maximum limit when placing a bet is determined by the amount of money or chips in the pot.
- Raise – To increase the size of the current bet.
- Rake – A share of the pot, usually between 0% and 10%, that the casino takes as payment for hosting the poker game.
- River – A poker term that refers to the final community card that is dealt.
- Royal Flush – The best possible hand you could have in Hi-Lo poker games. It consists of a 10, J, Q, K, and A all in the same suit.
- Short Stack – The player at a poker game who has the least chips in his stack.
- Showdown – After all the betting rounds have finished, players show their cards to see whose hand is strongest.
- Sit-and-Go – This is a type of poker tournament where you decide how many players you’d like in the tournament. Once you decide this, you start playing once you reach that number.
- Small Blind – The first player to the left of the dealer or the button. Just like the big blind, this player must place a mandatory bet preflop.
- Split Pot – A pot that is given to two or more players.
- Tell– An unconscious change in behavior players do that their opponents interpret to understand the strength of their cards.
- Tournament – Players in tournaments battle it out against one another and keep playing until they run out of chips. Ultimately, the winner of the tournament is the one who ends up with all the chips.
- Turn – The turn is the fourth card dealt in community poker games. It is placed face up by itself.
Poker Terms Explained
In the following section, we’ll explain each poker term in more detail and give examples that you can use.
- The term “action” is used by the dealer when it is your time to play and you haven’t realized.
- The action can also refer to the betting and raises that are being done during the game. So, if for example, there’s a lot of action going on, it could possibly mean that the player has a great hand.
In poker, to go all-in means to bet all the chips you have left on a hand. In a game of No Limit Hold’em, you‘ll be able to go all-in at any point.
Antes are forced bets players must provide before any cards are dealt. This ensures that there is money in the pot. They are most common in private and casual games and not so much in casinos. They are different from the Small Blind and Big Blind, which are usually used in a casino environment. However, tournaments may resort to antes towards the end when players tend to be more safe.
Poker players talk about the backdoor when they need to hit a specific card on the turn to give them some form of draw. After which, a different card on the river is needed to complete a hand.
This hand can be anything, for instance, a backdoor flush draw, a straight draw, or even a backdoor full house. “Backdoor” is only used on the flop, when you need two particular cards to complete the hand.
A bad beat is an underdog hand that ends up winning due to sheer luck, over a mathematically good hand. Many times, this would mean that he has a gutshot, and many times even less than that. To complete this winning hand, he got running cards on the turn and river. You’ll hear this poker term many times when playing poker.
Bankroll is the amount of money you have in your “bank” that you can use to bet, in this case, on poker. Managing your bankroll is a very important skill and there are various tips that you can use to gamble responsibly. These include taking short breaks whilst you’re playing, not betting more than you afford, and setting a limit to the amount you can wager.
The big blind is a forced bet that a player in each round must wager. Before the flop, the position of the big blind changes from one player to the next at the table. It is placed by the player who is seated on the left of the small blind, who in turn, is to the left of the dealer. BBs are double the small blind.
In poker, blinds are mandatory bets that are placed before cards are dealt. The “small blind” is placed by the player to the left of the dealer button whilst the “big blind” is posted by the next player to the left.
They fuel the game’s action by giving players a reason to participate or willingly contribute money to the pot. It is essential to understand how blinds work whether you’re playing at a land-based casino, or in a friendly game. In tournaments, blinds escalate in time intervals to force players to play for larger stakes and force eliminations.
The skill of bluffing in poker involves getting your opponents to fold a stronger hand than the one you have by making them believe your hand is the better one. Many times, poker beginners believe that bluffing should occur frequently, but it’s better to be careful about when you bluff. We suggest practicing this skill when the stakes are low.
Busting is when you lose all your chips or money. It can be used in a variety of circumstances, such as when you run out of money and are unable to reload or when a player loses their whole bankroll. It can also refer to a backdoor draw that missed the card it needed and did not complete.
In poker, many tournaments require a buy-in, which is an upfront payment to enter the game. Many of the sites for real money Texas Hold’em, like BetOnline and Bovada, feature tournaments with buy-ins for both casual players as well as high rollers.
A call is when a player decides not to fold and to keep playing. To do this, he must put the same amount of chips in the pot to match those of the previous player. So, for example, if another player bets $20 and you choose to call, you must put $20 into the pot. This decision cannot be reversed. You can also simply put the $20 without saying “call” aloud.
A “calling station” is a player who calls regularly but hardly ever raises. If you suspect that one of your opponents is a calling station, we recommend one of two poker strategies. You can place a bigger stake than you would for a regular player. Additionally, we strongly advise against bluffing as otherwise you can easily run out of bankroll.
This poker term means the last available card in the deck of a particular rank. For instance, if you’re holding K♥ K♣, and the board has 2♠ J♥ K♦, the “case King” would be the last remaining K in the deck, K♠.
After the flop, if there is no bet on the table, you can choose to check. This means that you won’t be placing a wager at that time but pass it onto the next player to your left, similar to saying “pass”. According to poker rules, you can check by saying it out loud or tapping the table.
The community cards are the cards that the dealer places face-up in the pot. These cards are shared and can be used by all players to complete a hand. Whilst there are several types of poker, not all variants use community cards. They are found in Hold’em and Omaha.
Any preflop hand that contains two consecutive cards is a connector. They are a popular hand to play as they may lead to a straight. On the other hand, a suited connector is when the two consecutive cards are also of the same suit, such as a 9♥ and 8♥. These are even more valuable as they are more likely to lead to a straight, a flush, or a straight flush.
A poker dealer shuffles and deals the cards for each hand. Besides this, they manage the action, monitor the value of the pot, and verify that everyone abides by the rules. Finally, they give the pot to the winner of the hand.
Dead Man’s Hand
“Dead Man’s Hand” is poker slang that means having two pairs: Aces and Eights, especially so if they’re spades and clubs. The phrase originated from the legend of James Butler Hickok (also known as “Wild Bill”). Legend has it that he was shot during a game of five card stud. His hand was allegedly two pairs of black aces and eights.
A dominated hand would lose to a stronger hand. For instance, a pair of eights is dominated by a pair of queens.
A drawing hand is a hand that is not complete and still needs particular cards in the community cards to be a strong hand, typically a straight or a flush draw.
The players who are in “early position” are the ones who act first, usually the first two or three seats. These players tend to have a disadvantage over the ones who are in “late position”. Simple because they have less information available to make a decision.
The effective stack is the smallest of the stacks in a specific hand. Therefore, it is the maximum amount that can be wagered.
Suppose two players are playing a heads-up variant of poker. Player A’s stack is 1,000 chips whilst Player B’s has 600. The stack sizes are “400 chips effective”. Although A has more in his stack, B can only bet 600 chips because that’s all he has. For this reason, the extra 400 chips that A has don’t affect the action simply because he cannot bet them.
Eight or Better
This is a qualifier that is used frequently in high-low split games using ace-5 rating. The lower share of the pot may only be won by hands where the highest card is an eight or lower. Omaha 8 and Seven-Card Stud 8 (also known as Omaha Hi-Lo and Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo) are the two eight-or-better games that are played the most often.
BetOnline is one of our top casinos that offer poker competitions on both Omaha High and Omaha Hi-Lo (Eight or Better) as well as other variants. Find out the latest BetOnline promo codes in our detailed article.
As the name implies, a face card is a card that has a picture of a face. Therefore, the King, Queen, and Jack.
The second round of betting in games using communal cards. A flop is when the dealer deals the first three face-up community cards.
A flush is a hand in which the five cards have the same suit. In Hi-Lo variants, it is considered to be a better hand than a straight.
Folding in poker simply means that you remove yourself from the hand. Therefore, you won’t have to match the current wagers. Additionally, you forfeit the chance of claiming the current pot. Knowing when to fold is an extremely vital skill to have.
A gutshot straight draw is a situation where a player has four out of the five cards needed for a straight. It’s also known as a bellybuster or an inside straight draw, Suppose, you’ve been dealt a 9♥ and 10♦ in Hold’em. The flop comes 6♠, 7♦, and 3♥. Therefore, you need an eight in any suit in the turn or the river to complete a gutshot straight.
In poker, you need to complete valid hands, which are sets of five cards. In turn, your aim is to have a hand that is stronger compared to the hands of the other players in the game. This is how the winner of the pot is determined. Read our poker hands article to gain insight into the strength of each hand ranking.
The highest-ranking hands win in high games like Hold ’em. On the other hand, the “worst” hand wins the pot in low games like Razz. Learn how to play razz poker by reading this article.
When only two players are competing in a game of poker, this is known as heads-up. This can be in a betting round when only two players are left and competing for the pot after the rest of the players have folded. In addition, it could refer to the whole game itself as well as two players who start out a game and are waiting for others to join.
A poker hand that doesn’t have a pair and will be based on its best card. This will usually be the Ace in most poker variants.
These are the cards that are dealt face down to each player. They can also be called “pocket cards”.
Implied odds are the chances of winning a pot. This helps you justify whether to call, raise, or fold on your current drawing hand.
Just like the name implies, a no-limit Hold’em game allows players to bet or raise any amount. Therefore, players can go all-in at any point of the game’s betting phases. Whilst bets are subject to a minimum, there isn’t a maximum limit or buy-in. Bovada and BetOnline, two of the best Ethereum poker sites, offer a wide variety of No-limit poker games.
Omaha Poker is the second most popular poker variant. Before the first betting round, players are dealt four hole cards. Using only two of these and the community cards, players need to complete a winning hand. You can play Omaha Poker online at any one of our recommended and reputable casinos
An out is a card that will probably give you a winning hand if it’s dealt in the community cards. For instance, if you have 3♣5♣ and the flop is 9♣10♣2♥, you still need any remaining ♣ to complete a flush. Therefore, you have nine outs.
Pai Gow Poker
Pai Gow Poker is a poker variant where your aim is to beat the banker or dealer. To do this you must form two winning hands from the seven cards that you are given. Afterward, a showdown between you and the banker takes place to see who won. Discover how to play Pai Gow Poker here.
A pair is a hand ranking that consists of two cards of the same rank, such as two Tens.
The pot is the center of the poker table where all wagered chips are put. At the end of the betting rounds, the winner with the best hand ranking wins all the chips in the pot.
In a pot limit (PL) poker game, a player can bet or raise any amount within the minimum bet and the current size of the pot. In addition, players can raise as many times as they’d like in each betting round. So, as you can imagine, the bets in a PL game rise quite rapidly resulting in some exciting action.
When a player raises, he increases the amount of the current bet. Generally, you raise when you’ve got a strong hand or are bluffing and hoping for your opponents to fold when you raise. Raising at the right time is an important facet of your poker strategy.
The poker term “rake” describes the house’s or casino’s payment for running the game. It is usually taken as a percentage of the total pot.
The fifth and last community card that the dealer deals face up is known as the river. Once it is dealt, players have one final betting round before the showdown. It is also referred to as “fifth street”. Most significantly, the river generally makes or breaks a hand and determines how a showdown will play out.
We have a royal flush when we hold the Ten to the Ace straight in the same suit. This is considered to be the strongest hand in Hi-Lo poker tournaments and cash games. Although extremely rare, royal flushes are only possible in 7-card and 5-card stud variants. In these cases, the pot is split between the two.
A short stack is a player who has fewer chips than the other players at the table or tournament.
After the final round of betting, players show their cards to determine who the winner of the pot is. This is the player with the strongest hand ranking. If no one calls or raises to a final bet after the river, a showdown does not happen.
A Sit-and-Go poker tournament starts when a specified number of players have registered. As the name implies, you “sit” (register) for the tournament and “go” (start the games) once there are enough players to do so. Bovada and BetOnline, two of the best US offshore poker sites, offer several types of sit-and-go tournaments.
The small blind (SB) is a forced bet that the player on the left of the dealer button must place before any cards are dealt. The big blind is then placed by the next player on the left. Typically, the big blind is double the amount of the small blind.
A pot that gets divided between two or more players because their hands are equal or they’re playing a split pot variant of poker. Unlike most poker variants, split pot variants have two winners. So, for example, in Omaha Hi-Lo Split, both the player with the best high hand and the one with the best low hand win half the pot.
A tell is something that a player does unintentionally that uncovers the strength of his hand. Trembling, rechecking your cards, how relaxed or tense your lips are, and the size of your bet are all examples of tells.
Players in a poker tournament compete against each other for a prize pool. Players stop playing when they’ve run out of chips. The tournament winner is the one who lasts the longest and wins all the chips.
When entering a tournament, players buy-in a set amount and that money goes into the prize pool. In most tournaments, the leading three players win a share of the prize. Top poker sites like Bovada and BetOnline have several tournaments that you can join every week with high-value prizes. Claim a Bovada bonus worth up to $3,750 when you enter the correct Bovada bonus code.
The turn comes after the flop, when the dealer takes a card from the deck and places it face up in the middle of the table. Therefore, it is the fourth community card. Also known as “Fourth street”, it is the third time that betters can bet and stakes start increasing. Finally, once the betting on the turn finishes, the river is dealt.