How To Play

Learn how to play poker in minutes with our guide to the basics

Glossary of Poker Terms

Below is a glossary of terms used in poker. In addition to the terms listed here, there are thousands of common and uncommon poker slang terms.



Nothing of value; worthless cards.


A style of play involving more frequent betting and raising, rather than calling and checking.


If there are more players willing to play in a live tournament than the number of available spots, players may sign up as substitutes to take their place in the event of a player's disqualification.


A forced pre-flop bet from all players.


Bad Beat
A hand lost after getting chips in as a strong favourite and then getting unlucky.

The money available to the player to play poker. Click to learn more about balance management.

Big Blind

 A forced bet two to the left of the button in community card games such as hold’em.

Big Slick

Ace-King as hole cards.


An unconnected card that fails to complete any draws or improve a hand.


The finishing position in a poker tournament one place outside the prize positions.


Slang for pocket aces. A “bullet” can also refer to an entry in a re-entry tournament.


A symbol showing the dealer position on the poker table.


The amount it costs to enter a tournament, or amount of chips needed to sit down in a cash game.


Call: To match the current highest bet (or go all in) to stay in a hand.

Case card: The last available card of any rank. 

Check: If there are no more bets in the round, pass the action to the next player without a bet.

Chop: Split the pot or prize money.

Cold deck: When one player has a strong hand, but the other has a stronger hand, so there is little chance of avoiding a confrontation ("cooler");

Collusion: Two or more players working together in a poker game. 

Community cards: The five hole cards (also called the "board") are used by all players in games such as Texas Hold'em and Omaha to make the best five-card poker hand, as well as their personal hole cards.

Cooler: See “Cold deck”. 

Forgery: When the odds of winning a hand are reduced when a new card is placed on the table, it is said to be a forgery;

Crack: To improve in order to beat a strong hand. 

Crippled: When you have lost the majority of your chips in one hand or a series of hands.

Cut-Off (CO): The position on a poker table to the right of the button.


Dark (also Blind): A player plays in the dark (or blind) when he plays without seeing his hole cards or before the community cards are dealt.


Dead Money: Chips in the bank not deposited by "live" (still active) players. Sometimes used to refer to inexperienced players who have no chance of winning.


Dealer:  The player who shuffles and deals the cards is called the button in dealer-dealer and online games;


Dirty Stack: If a player in a live game shuffles his chips so randomly that it is difficult to count them, he is said to have a "dirty stack".


Dominated: A dominant hand is one that has three or fewer results and is therefore statistically unlikely to win.


Donk lead: A player's bet in late position after confirming the late player's bet/raise on the previous street.


Donkey (donk): Poker slang for a bad player.


Double Belly Buster: Inner Straight Draw, where two rows of cards are available to complete the draw (Inner Straight Draw is the "Inner Straight").


Double Board: A version of a community card game in which two cards, a heart and a river, are dealt after the betting rounds and the pot is split equally between the winners of the two cards.


Drawing Dead: Having no outs to win a hand, with cards still to come.


Dry Pot: When a player bets all in and has more than one caller (with chips left to bet), a side bet called a dry bet is created;


Early Bird: Incentive for players to start up games (or show up at the beginning of live tournaments).


EV (Expected Value): The combined value of all the possible outcomes for a situation/hand over time. 


Fantasy Land: In an open Chinese hand, once there is an untouched (usually) QQ+ at the beginning of the hand, the player gets his entire hand (usually 14 cards) at once. This is called falling into fantasyland.


Felt: Things that cover the poker tables, the verb "dress" a player is to eliminate him from the tournament or win all his chips.


Field: Collective term for the players in a tournament.


Fill Up: To complete a full house draw.

Fish: Unflattering term for a new or unskilful player.


Fixed Limit: In fixed limit games, players can only bet and raise in the increments indicated on the table;


Float: A bet without a winning hand with the intention of winning the hand - one way or another - on a later street.

Flop: The first three community cards dealt in e.g. hold’em, dealt after the first betting round.

Flush: Five non-consecutive cards of the same suit.

Fold: To throw your hand away and take no further part in a particular pot.


Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank. Also known as “quads”.


Freezeout: A tournament that allows each player just one entry.


Full House: Three of a kind plus a pair.


GG: Shorthand for “good game.”

Grind: Play for hours at a low or medium stakes table for a regular payout or sponsor a small bet in a tournament.


Gutshot (also Inside Straight Draw): A straight draw where just one rank completes the draw


Hero Fold: A player who withdraws from a very strong hand due to reading an opponent or a situation is called a "champion withdrawal";

High Card: At the end of the game, if neither player has a pair or better, the highest card wins (ace is highest);


Hijack: The position at the table two to the right of the button.


High-Low: A type of poker in which the pot is split between the top and bottom hand winners (if the bottom hand winner wins).qualifies – click for more). 


Hit: To make a better hand, when you upgrade cards that are not in the original starting hand, such as an Ace and a King, you can hit an Ace and a King on the flop to make a pair;


Hold’em: A popular community card poker game in which players use any combination of two face-up cards and five cards from the table to form the best five-card hand;


Hole Cards: Players' own hands (face down for opponents) (two cards in Hold'em, four in Omaha, three in Stadium, etc.).



ICM (Independent Chip Model): It is used to calculate the value of a chip relative to the prize pool in tournaments and is often used for final table deals.


Implied Odds: Extension of betting odds, including the possibility to win more money on the current bet if it is even.


Insurance: The ability to minimize variance during the game by hedging against defeat when entering with a stronger hand.


Jam: To move all in.


JokerA: Jokers are two extra cards (usually clowns) that are added to a 52-card deck and are sometimes used as jokers.


Kicker: Another card(s) that completes the five-card poker hand. If the hands are tied (e.g., same pair in Hold'em), the winner is determined based on the strength of the additional card(s).


Kill Pot: In some fixed limit games, when a player wins consecutive bets or when the pot size exceeds a certain amount, a "killer" bet is placed on the next bet with a larger blind for that hand.


Knockout (KO) Tournament: A tournament in which a portion of every player’s buy-in is placed on their own head as a bounty.


LAG: Loose-aggressive player.

Last Longer: A side bet on who will go further in a tournament.

Limp (Limp in): Call the amount of the big blind pre-flop (usually in NL/PL games).


M: A calculation used to measure stack size as a function of the cost to play each round. 


MTT: Multi-table tournament.


Nit: Term used to describe a tight player.

No Limit: In no-limit games, the minimum bet is equal to the size of the big bet and the maximum bet is equal to all your bets during each betting round;


Nuts: The best possible hand currently available.


Offsuit: Unmatched in suit.


OFC: Chinese poker with an open face. A variant of poker in which players make three hands using 13 cards - two five-card hands and one three-card hand. Open-face Chinese poker Open-face Chinese poker can only be played with a face or "pineapple".  


Omaha: A community card poker game in which players are dealt four (or more) cards, and a combination of exactly two of them and three cards from the table are used to make a best five-card poker hand;


Outs: The cards left in the deck that will improve a hand to a (probable) winner.


Overpair: A pair in a hole is higher than the highest ranked card in the hole, for example a pair of queens is a plus pair to a ten.


Passive: A player who frequently checks and calls, instead of leading the action with bets and raises, is playing "passively".


Peel: Stay in to see another card (usually hoping to hit something or bluff on a later street).


Polarized: If a player's actions on a given board mean that he can only have very strong or bluffing cards in his range, he is said to be "polarized".

Pot Committed: A player is bound to a bet when he has placed so much of his stake in it that he cannot withdraw it without making a mistake.

Pot Limit: In limit games, the minimum bet is equal to the size of the big bet and the maximum raise is the "pot" (the amount already collected in the pot plus the bet amount).


Progressive Knockout (PKO): See Knockout (KO) Tournament


Quads: Four of a kind. 


Rabbit Hunt: After a hand is over, to take a look at the card(s) that would have come next from the deck. 


Rags: Low-rank or low value cards. A demonic six would be a "clunky" card, as would any disjointed, low, disjointed, and uneven deck.

Rail: In live poker, this is the area around the poker tables that spectators can watch. When you are eliminated from the game, you are sent to the rail.

Rainbow: Cards of all suits (three or four). For example, a rainbow is a rainbow if there are three suits in the hand, and an Omaha card with four cards with no duplicate suits.


Raise: Increase the bet after an initial bet from another player. 


River: The last card dealt before the final round of betting (the fifth card in games like Hold'em or the player's seventh card in Seven Card Stud).

Rock: A tight player, playing only premium hands.

ROI: Return on Investment.


Royal Flush: T-J-Q-K-A of the same suit – the highest hand possible in poker.

Rundown: In Omaha, a starting hand where the cards are in consecutive order.


Run It Twice: In cash games, players who agree to play twice in all-in situations place two bets and split the pot between the winners of both boards (the same player can win both).


Satellite: A tournament with one or more tables that includes tickets to a larger tournament as prizes (Target or Next Step Affiliate).


Set: Three of a kind made using two hole cards and one board card in community card games.


Shark: A skilled player.

Ship: To win a tournament or pot is to “ship it”. Alternatively, slang for moving all in.


Shove: To move all-in.

Showdown: The end of a hand when remaining players reveal their hole cards and the winner receives the pot.


Side pot: When a player is fully committed in a multi bet, the bet in which he has settled all bets is considered the main bet and all other bets are side bets;


Slow Play: To feign weakness/decline to bet with a strong hand.

Slow Roll: Deliberately delaying showing the hand that has the best chance of winning (usually considered a bad omen).


Small Blind: The first forced bet to the left of the dealer button.

SNG (Sit and Go): A tournament (with one or more tables) that starts when a certain number of players are registered, not at a certain time.


Soft Play: Deliberately facilitating a situation where it is possible - and expected - to get more chips. At best, this is bad behaviour, at worst a form of collusion.


Split Pot: A bet split between two or more winners. A bet in high-stakes games is split only in the event of a tie; some games are designed as split-stakes games, for example, with high or low stakes.


Squeeze play: As the bet and claim(s) increase, there is another (large) increase which puts pressure on the first bettor and claim(s).


Stack: Available player chips, both cash and tournament chips. The verb "stack" means to take all of a player's chips.


Station (Calling Station): An unfavorable term for a player (usually passive) who tends to overbet instead of raising or folding.


Steam: See Tilt.


Straddle: An optional third blind (usually double the size of the big blind) posted preflop. 


Straight: Five consecutive cards in any suit with A-2-3-4-5 the lowest and T-J-K-Q-A the highest.

Straight Flush: Five consecutive cards of the same suit.

Street: A dealt card or betting round.

Suck Out: To win with inferior cards.


TAG: Tight-aggressive player.


Tell: A trait in a player's behavior or actions that indicates the strength of his hand. Also known as "reading".


Three-Bet: The second raise in the betting round is a three-bet. For example, preflop action starts with a big blind, so the initial raise is a "bet" and the next raise is a "three-bet" (the next bet is a "four-bet", etc.).


Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank.


TightA player who plays below average (and thus has a narrower and stronger range) is said to have a "narrow" style of play.


Tilt: Emotional upset from a poker event (often a bad loss) that affects your decision making.

Timebank: Action time (online) or additional time that a player (usually online, but increasingly live) can use when faced with a particularly difficult decision;


Triple CrownA: When a player wins a WSOP, WSOP Main Event or EPT Main Event bracelet during his career, he is considered to have reached the Triple Crown.


Trips: Three of a kind. 


Turn: The fourth community card, dealt after the second betting round.

Two pair: Two pairs of cards of the same rank. The higher of the two cards is compared first, and in the event of a tie, the one whose fifth card has the highest kicker wins.


UTG (Under the Gun): The player to the left of the big blind – first to act pre-flop.


VPIP: A statistic showing how often a player Voluntarily Puts (Money) In (the) Pot Outside of the mandatory blind bets. The higher the blind, the more active (and usually aggressive) the player is.

Villain: Slang for opponent.


Whale: A high-limit gambler with deep pockets. 

Wheel: The lowest straight, running from ace to five.  

Wrap: In Omaha, this is a draw sheet in which three or more rows can form a consistent sheet (see here for an example).