Glossary of Poker Terms

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Action: The betting in a particular hand or game. A game with a lot of action is a game with a lot of betting. The player who starts the action is the player who makes the first bet.

Active player: A player still in the pot.

All-in: Having all one's money in the pot.

Ante: A bet required from all players before the start of a hand.

Baby: A small card, specifically an ace, 2, 3, 4, or 5. The term is used especially in razz and high-low split.

Back door: In seven-card stud and hold 'em, three cards to a flush or a straight after five cards have been dealt. In general, the term is used for a hand made on the end, which a player was not originally trying to make.

Bad beat: Having a hand that is a big favorite defeated as the result of a lucky draw, especially when the person drawing was playing incorrectly by being in the pot in the first place.

Bad game: A game in which your opponents are too good for you to expect to win; a game in which you're an underdog.

Bankroll: The amount of money you have available to wager.

Belly buster: A draw to an inside-straight. Also called a gut shot.

Best of it: A situation in which a wager can be expected to be profitable in the long run.

Bet: To put money in the pot before anyone else on any given round.

Bettor: The person who first puts money in the pot on any given round.

Bet for value: To bet in order to be called by a lesser hand. You are betting to make money, not to make your opponents fold.

Bicycle: Ace, 2,3,4, 5 — the best possible hand in lowball. Also called a wheel and a baby straight. The term is used in all games.

Blank: A card that is not of any value to a player's hand.

Blind: In hold 'em, draw lowball, and some other games, a forced bet that one or more players must make to start the action on the first round of betting. The blind rotates around the table with each new deal. The person whose turn it is to bet is said to be in the blind.

Bluff: A bet or raise with a hand you do not think is the best hand.

Board: The cards that are face up in a player's hand. In hold 'em, the community cards.

Bring it in: To start the betting on the first round.

Bug: A joker that can be used to make straights and flushes and can also be used to make a pair with aces, but not with any other cards.

Busted hand: A hand that does not develop into anything of value.

Button: When there is a house dealer, as in the card rooms of Las Vegas, the button is a round disc that rotates around the table to represent the dealer for the purposes of indicating which player is to be first to act. A button is necessary in hold 'em, draw lowball, and five card draw.

Buy in: The minimum amount of money required to sit down in a particular game.

Call: To put in the pot an amount of money equal to an opponent's bet or raise.

Call a raise cold: To call a double bet — that is, a bet and a raise.

Caller: A person who calls a bet or raise.

Chase: To continue in a hand trying to outdraw an opponent's hand you are quite sure is better than yours.

Card room: The area in a casino where poker (and sometimes panguingue) are played.

Check: To decline to bet when it is your turn.

Check-raise: To check and then raise after an opponent bets.

Chip: A round token in various denominations representing money. Among many professional gamblers it is also called a check.

Cinch: The best possible hand, given the cards on board, when all the cards are out.

Closed hand: A hand in which all the cards are concealed from one's opponents.

Come hand: A hand that has not yet been made, with more cards still to be dealt. Thus, a four-card flush would be a come hand.

Crying call: A call with a hand you think has a small chance of winning.

Cut the pot: To take a percentage from each pot as the profits for the person or the casino running the game.

Dead hand: A hand a player may not continue to play because of an irregularity.

Dead money: Money put in the pot by players who have already folded their hands.

Dealer's choice: Poker in which the player whose turn it is to deal may choose the game for that particular hand.

Draw: 1. To take one or more cards. 2. A form of poker in which each player receives five cards and then has the option of discarding one or more of them and receiving new cards in their place.

Drawing dead: Drawing to try to make a hand that cannot possibly win because an opponent already holds a bigger hand. A player drawing to make a flush when an opponent already has a full house is drawing dead.

Draw lowball: A form of poker in which the best low hand wins. See Appendix A.

Draw out: To improve your hand so that it beats an opponent who had a better hand than yours prior to your draw.

Door card: In stud games, the first exposed card in a player's hand.

Double belly buster: See Open-ended straight.

Early position: A position on a round of betting in which you must act before most of the other players.

Edge: An advantage over an opponent.

Effective odds: The ratio of the total amount of money you expect to win if you make your hand to the total amount of bets you will have to call to continue from the present round of betting to the end of the hand.

Equity: The value of a particular hand or combination of cards.

Even money: A wager in which you hope to win the same amount as you bet. The term is also used to describe situations in which the chances that one result will occur are the same as the chances the opposite result will occur. Hence, whether an honest coin comes up heads or tails is an even-money proposition.

Expectation: The average profit (or loss) of any bet over the long run.

Favorite: In poker, before all the cards are out, a hand that has the best chance of winning.

Fifth street: In stud poker, the fifth card to be dealt to each Player. In hold 'em the fifth and final community card on board.

Fill: To draw a card that makes a hand. For example, to fill a flush is to draw a fifth card of that suit.

Fill up: To make a full house.

Five-card draw: A form of poker in which players start with five cards and then may draw to replace them. See Appendix A.

Five-card stud: A form of poker in which each player gets one concealed card and four exposed cards. See Appendix A.

Flat call: To call a bet without raising.

Flat limit: A betting limit in a poker game that does not escalate from one round to the next.

Flop: In hold 'em the first three exposed community cards, which are dealt simultaneously. The word is also used as a verb. For example, to flop a set is to make three-of-a-kind on the flop.

Flush: Five cards of the same suit.

Fold: To drop out of a pot rather than call a bet or raise.

Forced bet: A required bet to start the action on the first round of a poker hand. In seven-card stud, for example, usually the low card on board must make a forced bet.

Four-flush: Four cards to a flush.

Four-of-a-kind: Four cards of the same rank. Four jacks is four-of-a-kind.

Fourth street: In stud games, the fourth card dealt to each player. In hold 'em, the fourth community card on board.

Free card: A card that a player gets without having to call a bet.

Freeze out: A game in which the players involved continue play until only one player has all the money.

Full house: Three cards of one rank and two of another. Three aces and two 10s is a full house.

Gardena: A city in the Los Angeles greater metropolitan area with public card rooms in which draw poker and panguingue are played.

Giving a hand away: Playing your hand in such a way that your opponents should know what you have.

Good game: A game in which there are enough players worse than you for you to be a substantial favorite.

Gut shot: A draw to an inside straight. Also called a belly buster.

Heads-up: Playing against a single opponent.

High-low split: A form of poker in which the best high hand and the best low hand in the showdown normally split the pot. See Appendix A.

Hold 'em: Also called Texas hold 'em. An increasingly popular form of poker in which players use five community cards in combination with their two hole cards to form the best five-card hand. See Appendix A.

Hole: In seven-stud games, the first two concealed cards. In five-card stud games, the first and only concealed card.

Hourly rate: The amount of money a player expects to win per hour on average.

Implied odds: The ratio of the total amount of money you expect to win if you make your hand to the bet you must now call to continue in the hand.

Inside straight: A straight which can be made only with a card of one rank, usually somewhere in the middle of the straight. When you hold 6,7,9,10, only an 8 will give you a straight. Thus, you are drawing to an inside straight, or you have an inside-straight draw.

Jacks or better to open: Draw poker in which a player needs at least a pair of jacks to start the betting.

Joker: A fifty-third card in the deck, which may be used either as a wild card or as a bug.

Kicker: A side card, usually a high one. Someone holding 9,9,A has a pair of 9s with an ace kicker.

Late position: A position on a round of betting in which you act after most of the other players have acted.

Lay the odds: To wager more money on a proposition than you hope to win.

Legitimate hand: A hand with value; a hand that is not a bluffing hand.

Limit: The amount a player may bet or raise on any round of betting.

Limit poker: A poker game where the minimum and maximum amounts a player may bet or raise on any given round of betting are fixed.

Live card: In stud games a card that has not yet been seen and is therefore presumed likely to be still in play.

Live one: A loose, weak player with a lot of money to lose. A rich sucker. There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, about a poker game in Gardena in which one player had a heart attack and died. The player to his left shouted to the floorman, "Hey, Louie, bring us a live one."

Lock: A cinch hand. A hand that cannot lose.

Long odds: The odds for an event that has a relatively small chance of occurring.

Long shot: An event that has little chance of occurring. Hence, in poker a hand that has little chance of being made.

Loose: Playing more hands than the norm.

Lowball: A variety of poker games in which the best low hand wins in the showdown. See Draw Lowball and Razz in Appendix A.

Mathematical expectation: The mathematical calculation of what a bet can be expected to win or lose on average.

Middle position: A position on a round of betting somewhere in the middle. In an eight-handed game, the fourth, fifth, and sixth players to act would be said to be in middle position.

Move all-in: To bet all the money one has on the table.

Multi-way pot: A pot in which more than two players are involved.

Negative expectation: The amount a wager may be expected to lose on average. A play with negative expectation is a play that will lose money over the long run.

No-limit poker: Poker in which players may wager any amount up to what they have in front of them on any given round.

Nuts: The best possible hand at any given point in a pot.

Odds: The chances, expressed mathematically, that an event will occur. Also, in the term pot odds, the ratio of the size of the pot to the amount of the bet you must call to continue.

Off-suit: Not of the same suit.

On the come: Playing a hand that has not yet been made. For instance, if you bet with four cards to a flush, you are betting on the come.

On tilt: Playing much worse than usual because, for one reason or another, you have become emotionally upset.

Open: To make the first bet in a poker hand. The term is used especially in draw poker.

Open-ended straight: Four cards to a straight, which can be made with cards of two different ranks. Thus, 6,7,8,9 is an open-ended straight, which can be made with either a 5 or a 10. Theoretically, 5,7,8,9,J is also open-ended in that either a 6 or a 10 will make the hand. The latter hand is also called a double belly buster.

Open-handed: A poker game like seven-card stud or razz in which some cards in each player's hand are exposed.

Open pair: An exposed pair.

Out: Cards which will improve your hand. Also, ways of improving your hand. The term is used particularly in reference to a hand that needs to improve to become the best hand.

Outdraw: See Draw Out.

Overcall: A call of a bet after another player has already called.

Overcard: In stud games, a card higher than any card your opponent has showing.

Pair: Two cards of the same rank. Two 8s is a pair.

Pass: To check. Also, to fold.

Pat hand: In draw poker games, a complete hand before the draw. A pat flush would be a five-card flush before the draw.

Pay off: To call a bet or raise when you don't think you have the best hand.

Pay station: A player who calls bets and raises much more than is correct. He's also referred to as a calling station. This type is great when you have a legitimate hand, but he's just about impossible to bluff out of a pot.

Pocket: Another term for hole. Thus, two aces in the pocket means two aces in the hole.

Position: The spot in the sequence of betting in which a player is located. A player in first position would be the first person to act; a player in last position would be the last person to act.

Positive expectation: The amount a wager may be expected to win on average. A play with positive expectation is a play that will win money over the long run.

Pot: The total amount of money wagered at any point in a hand. A hand itself is also referred to as a pot. Thus, three people in the pot means there are three active players still playing the hand.

Pot-limit poker: Poker in which players may bet or raise any amount up to the current size of the pot.

Pot odds: The ratio of the amount of money in the pot to the bet you must call to continue in the hand.

Pure nuts: The best possible hand. In lowball, A,2,3,4,5 is the pure nuts. If in hold' em the board isAV7*8*K*44 a player holding a 5,6 has the pure nuts.

Put someone on a hand: To determine as best you can the hand (or hands) an opponent is most likely to have.

Rag: See Blank.

Raise: To bet an additional amount after someone else has bet.

Raiser: A player who raises.

Rake: An amount retained by a casino from each pot, usually no more than $2 or $3.

Razz: Seven-card stud lowball. The original name of the game was razzle dazzle. See Appendix A.

Represent: To make your opponents believe you have a bigger hand than you are showing on board. Thus, if in seven-card stud you raise with an ace showing, you are representing a pair of aces. You may or may not in fact have a pair of aces.

Reraise: To raise after an opponent has raised.

Reverse implied odds: The ratio of the amount of money now in the pot to the amount of money you will have to call to continue from the present round to the end of the hand.

River: The seventh and last card, dealt face down, in seven-card stud and razz.

Rolled up: In seven-card stud, three-of-a-kind on the first three cards.

Round of betting: A sequence of betting after one or more cards have been dealt. A round of betting continues until each active player has either folded or called.

Rough: A lowball hand that is not perfect. Thus, an 8,4,3,2,A is a perfect eight. An 8,7,4,2, A is a rough eight.

Royal flush: An ace-high straight flush. A*K*Q4J*10* is a royal flush.

Sandbag: To play weakly with a strong hand. To check-raise or slowplay with the probable best hand.

Score: A big win.

Seat charge: In public card rooms, primarily those of California, an hourly fee for playing poker.

Semi-bluff: To bet with a hand which you do not think is the best hand but which has a reasonable chance of improving to the best hand.

Set: Three-of-a-kind. The term is used particularly in hold 'em.

Short odds: The odds for an event that has a good chance of occurring.

Short-stacked: Playing in a game with a relatively small number of chips remaining.

Showdown: The turning up of all active players' cards at the end of the final round of betting to see who has the best hand.

Side pot: A second pot for the other active players when one player is all-in.

Seventh street: In seven-stud games, the seventh card dealt to each player.

Sixth street: In seven-stud games, the sixth card dealt to each player.

Slowplay: To check or just call an opponent's bet with a big hand in order to win more money on later rounds of betting.

Starting requirement: The minimum initial hand a player considers he needs to continue in a pot.

Start the action: To make the first bet in a particular hand.

Steal: To cause your opponents to fold when you probably do not have the best hand. The term is used especially in reference to stealing the antes — that is, raising on the first round of betting so that everyone remaining in the pot folds.

Steal the antes: See above.

Steam: To play badly because you are emotionally upset — especially to play considerably more pots than you normally would when your hands do not justify it.

Straight: Five cards of mixed suits in sequence. 6*7*8*9*10* is a straight.

Straight flush: Five cards of the same suit in sequence. 6*7*8*9* 10* is a straight flush.

Structure: The limits set upon the ante, forced bets, and subsequent bets and raises in any given game.

Stuck: Losing money, especially a substantial amount of money, in a given session or over a period of time. We might say, "Sammy is stuck $1,500 in the game." That is, Sammy has lost $1,500.

Stud: Poker games in which some of each player's cards are exposed.

Sucker: A player who can be expected to lose money, especially one who is not as good as he thinks.

Suited: Two or more cards of the same suit.

Take the odds: To wager less money on a proposition than you hope to win.

Texas hold 'em: Another name for hold 'em.

Three-of-a-kind: Three cards of the same rank. 7*7*7* is three-of-a-kind

Third street: In stud games, the third card dealt to each player.

Three-flush: Three cards of the same suit.

Tight: Playing fewer hands than the norm.

Trips: Three-of-a-kind.

Turn: The flop in hold 'em. Also the fourth card in seven-card stud, and sometimes the fourth community card in hold 'em.

Two-flush: Two cards of the same suit.

Underdog: In poker, before all the cards are out, a hand that does not have the best chance of winning.

Under the gun: The first person to act on the first round of betting is under the gun. On later betting rounds, the player to the immediate left of the bettor is said to be under the gun.

Up: Expressions like aces up, kings up, and 6s up mean two pair with two aces, two kings, or two 6s as the highest of the two pair. Unless an opponent has a top pair of the same rank, the rank of the second pair is of no importance.

Up-card: A card that is dealt face up.

Value: What a hand is worth in terms of its chances of being the best hand.

Wager: A bet. Wheel:

See Bicycle.

Wild card: A joker or any other card mutually agreed upon by the players in the game which can be used to represent any card needed.

Wired pair: A pair in the hole.

World Series of Poker: An annual series of some fifteen poker tournaments with buy-ins ranging up to $10,000, which is held each spring at the Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas. The competition is generally recognized as the premier competition among the best poker players in the world.

Worst of it: A situation in which a wager will be unprofitable in the long run.

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