Poker Terminology

Poker has its own lingo. Here is a list of poker terminology to help you better understand their meaning and to help you play poker.

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An ante is a small amount put into the pot by each player at the table before the hand commences. All the antes are added to the main pot and become part of the pot a player is playing for in that hand. Antes are more common in tournament play. The purpose of the antes, like the blinds, is to slowly increase the amount it costs to play every rotation and forms an important part of poker terminology.

For ease of use, a big blind ante is used in some tournament play. Instead of each player putting in an ante every hand, the big blind puts in the ante for the whole table. Each player gets a turn to put in the big blind ante with his or her big blind.


When a player has committed all their remaining chips to the pot, either in betting or calling, he is “all-in”. This simply means that all his chips are in the pot. A player may nominate his intention for example he may say “I am all in” which means that he bets everything that he has in his stack.

Bad Beat

A bad beat is when a player’s hand is beaten by a hand that is a huge underdog, For example if the Board is 3458 and player 1 has AA and player 2 has KK then when the final card is a King that would be considered a bad beat as player 1 was a huge favourite to win the hand.


The first person to voluntarily put money in on any street would be considered the better. He would place a bet, after the bet the next player would fold, call or raise.

Big Blind

The big blind is the forced action to get the game going. There is a small blind and a big blind and each player has to put in the blinds once every rotation.


A bluff is a bet that is designed to get other player to fold a better hand. When a player bluffs he is generally betting in a way to try and represent the best hand but actually has nothing. Bluffing is an effective way to win pots that you otherwise cannot win. It can also be expensive when you are found out and called by another player.

Burn card

When the cards are dealt, a card is always discarded before any cards are dealt. This is called the burn card.

Button (Dealer Button)

The Button indicates who is the dealer. The button moves every hand so that each player has the button and is the dealer once per rotation.


Once there has been a bet, to call is to match that bet. A player has the option to fold, call or raise an active bet.


When a player chooses not to bet when there has been no other action, this is called check. Once a player checks, he still has the option to act if any other player bets.

Community Cards

In any games where cards are dealt face up in the middle, these are called community cards because they are available to be used by all players to make their best hands.


A hand has been counterfeited when it becomes worthless. For example, in holdem, you have 33 in your hand and the board comes 992. At this point you have 2 pairs, 9s and 3s. The turn brings an unassuming 10. Now you still have 2 pairs 9s and 3s. The river card comes a 10. So the board is 9 9 2 10 10.
Your pocket 3s have now been counterfeited because you are now playing two pairs 9s and 10s with a 3 kicker. Your 3s have been counterfeited by the two higher pairs on the board.

Dominated Hand

A hand that is dominated by another hand.
For Example, KJ is dominated by KQ as the KJ only has one live card to hit to have a chance to win the hand.


A draw is when a player has 4 cards of a made hand and is still drawing to the hand he is hoping to make. For example if you had 2 hearts in your hand and there were two more hearts on the flop, you would be drawing to a flush. You need one more heart to make your hand.

Drawing Dead

This is when you have a hand that is already beat and no matter what cards come you still cannot win the hand. This called drawing dead.

Family Pot

A pot in which all (or almost all) of the players are in the hand before the flop.


The flop is the first three community cards that are dealt face up in holdem and omaha.


To fold is to give up your hand. Once you fold your cards you are no longer in the hand.

Free Card

A free card is when there is no betting and the player is not required to put in any money to see the next card. This is called getting a free card.

Free Roll

To have a free roll is when one or more players are all in with the same hand, but the player who still has a draw to a better hand is considered to be free-rolling because he can either split the pot or win if the better hand materializes.

Free roll tournament

A free roll tournament is a tournament with a zero buy in. The tournament is a free roll to win a prize or money.


This piece of poker terminology is when you have only 1 card to hit to make a straight. For example if you have 67 and the flop is 4 8 K then you would need a 5 to make a straight. This is called a gut-shot straight draw.

Heads Up

A pot in which only two players are left.
Also if there are only two players left in a tournament they would be playing heads up for the title.

Hole Cards

The cards that are dealt to a player that only he can see.

Implied Odds

When considering calling a bet, a player should consider his odds of winning versus the amount of money in the pot. If this calculation makes sense then a call is pertinent. However there are situations where there is not enough money in the pot to justify a call, but if you believe that there will be a lot of money being put into the pot on further streets then a call might be worth it. This is called calling on the basis of implied odds.


A kicker is an unpaired card that determines if your hand is higher than another players who is holding the same pair. For example. If you have AK and your opponent has AQ and the board is 2 7 9 4 A, then you both have a pair of Aces. However AK will win the hand because AK has a higher kicker than AQ. King kicker vs Queen Kicker.


The pile of cards that have been discarded is called the muck pile. Once a hand is in the muck it is dead and can no longer be played. Once a player folds he has now “mucked” his hand.

No Limit

No limit is a variation of poker where no betting limits are applied. A player may bet all his chips at any time in no-limit. Mostly no-limit is played in Texas hold-em. There are other limit games where the betting is limited.


The nuts is a way to describe the best possible hand. On any given board there is only one hand that is the best hand that is called the nuts.


A starting hand that has two cards with different suits.

Open-Ended Straight Draw (up and down)

This is a draw to a straight that is open ended. For example if the board is 6 7 A
and you have 89 in your hand, you have an open ended straight draw. You would need either a 5 or a 10 to make the straight.


A slightly more detailed part of poker terminology – when considering a call, you have to work out how many winning cards you might have left in the deck. These are called outs. For example if you have a flush draw in hearts, you know that there are 13 Hearts in the deck you have 2 in your hand and 2 on the flop so there are still 9 hearts left. This means you have 9 outs which probably would win you the hand.


An over card is a card in your hand that is higher than any cards on the board.


When you have a pair in your hand that is higher than any card on the board you have an over-pair.

Playing the board

There are situations where the cards in your hand cannot improve the hand that is already on the board. In this case you would be playing the board.
For example if you had 77 in your hand and the board ran out 10 J Q K A there would be a straight on the board and your 77 would be irrelevant. In this situation you would play the board.

Pocket Pair

In Texas Holdem, when you have a pair in your hand this is considered a pocket pair.

Post Blind

When it is your turn to put in the blinds the correct term is to post the blind.

Pot Limit

Pot limit is when you are limited in how much you can bet. The maximum you can bet is the size of the pot. This game is very different to both limit and no-limit.


This is the term often used for 4 of a kind.


Any board that contains different suits. So as long as there are not 2 of the same suit then it would be considered a rainbow board. You can also use the term to describe your hole cards in Omaha. You could say that you had AKQJ rainbow meaning all different suits.


A raise is to increase the amount of a bet.


The rake is a fee taken out of every pot in a cash game or off every buy-in in a tournament. This fee is how the card room generates an income.

Ring Game

This is a cash game. Mostly you get tournaments and ring games.


The final community card dealt is known as the river in both Holdem and Omaha.


This term describes a situation where there are two running cards dealt on the turn and river to improve a player’s hand.


A semi-bluff is when you have a weak hand that has some potential but you play the hand strong hoping to get the other players to fold. It’s a semi bluff because you have nothing, but if you get called you still have some cards that can make you the best hand.


A set is when you have a pair in your hand and one of those cards appears on the flop. This is different to just having 3 of a kind because when you have a set, nobody else can have that same 3 of a kind. Sets are also difficult to detect and you will win a lot of pots with a set.

Short Stack

When you have few chips compared to others then you are considered to have a short stack.

Side Pot

When a player is all-in but there are other players who are still betting, then a side pot is created for the remaining players. So the main pot would be for the All In Player and the side pot would be for the rest of the players that are still in the hand.

Small Blind

When posting blinds, there is a small and big blind. the small blind is usually half the size of the big blind.

Split Pot

When two players have the same hand at showdown, they will split the pot.


This is an optional that is blind and occurs before the flop. It’s typically made by the player one to the left of the big blind and is twice the size of the big blind. This is effectively a blind raise, and forces any player who wants to play to pay double the amount to enter the pot. The player that straddles also get the benefit of acting last before the flop.


In Holdem, any starting hand that has two cards are the same suit. Example,” I had Ace King Suited”.


When a player loses his cool and starts to play wildly and or recklessly he is considered to be on ‘TILT’.

Top Pair

The Highest pair possible on the flop is Top Pair . If you have A-Q, and the flop comes Q-T-6, you have flopped top pair.

Top Set

The highest possible Set. For example if you have 99 in your hand and the flop came 972 you would have the top set.

Top Two

Two pair, with your two hole cards pairing the two highest cards on the board.

Top and Bottom

Two pair, with your two hole cards pairing the highest and lowest cards on the board.


Three of a kind.


After the flop, comes the turn. It is the fourth community card dealt.

Under the Gun

The player that is first to act on any betting round is said to be Under the Gun.


The player who has the hand most unlikely to win the pot is considered the Under-Dog.