Poker takes just a few mnutes to learn but a lifetime to master. High Roller Radio has compiled a poker/gambling glossary to help you navigate the poker tables, the characters who sit at them and the terms they throw around. Yes, poker has its own language.
Action: (1) Opportunity to act. "It's your action." (2) Bets and raises. "This game features a lot of action."
Ante: A small portion of a bet contributed by each player to seed the pot at the beginning of a poker hand. Most hold'em games do not have an ante; they use "blinds" to get initial money into the pot.
All-In: To put all your chips in the middle of the pot.
Backdoor: Catching both the turn and river card to make a drawing hand. 'Runner Runner!'
Bad Beat: To have a hand that is a large underdog beat a heavily favored hand.
Bet: The first chips placed in the pot on any street. Pre-flop, the small blind would be classified as the first bet.
Big Blind: The larger of the two blinds typically used in a hold'em game. The big blind is normally a full first round bet. See also "blind" and "small blind."
Blank: A board card that doesn't seem to affect the standings in the hand.
Blind: A forced bet (or partial bet) put in by one or more players before any cards are dealt. Typically, blinds are put in by players immediately to the left of the button.
Board: All the community cards in a hold'em game - the flop, turn, and river cards together. Example: "I play the board!"
Bottom Pair: A pair with the lowest card on the flop. If you have A -6, and the flop comes K-T-6 , you have flopped bottom pair.
Burn: To discard the top card from the deck, face down. This is done between each betting round before putting out the next community card(s). It is security against any player recognizing or glimpsing the next card to be used on the board.
Button: A disk that indicates the (nominal) dealer. Also used to refer to the player on the button or the dealer.
Call: To put into the pot an amount of money equal to the most recent bet or raise. The term "see" (as in "I'll see that bet") is considered colloquial.
Calling Station: A weak-passive player who calls a lot, but doesn't raise or fold much. This is the kind of player you like to have in your game.
Cap: To put in the last raise permitted on a betting round. This is typically the third or fourth raise. Dealers in California are fond of saying "Capitola" or "Cappuccino."
Case: The last card of a certain rank in the deck. Example: "The flop came J-8-3; I've got pocket jacks, he's got pocket 8's, and then the case eight falls on the river, and he beats my full house."
Check: 1) To not bet, with the option to call or raise later in the betting round. Equivalent to betting zero dollars. (2) Another word for chip, as in poker chip.
Check Raise: To check and then raise when a player behind you bets. Occasionally you will hear people say this is not fair or ethical poker. Piffle. Almost all casinos permit check-raising, and it is an important poker tactic. It is particularly useful in low-limit hold'em where you need extra strength to narrow the field if you have the best hand.
Cold Call: To call more than one bet in a single action. For instance, suppose the first player to act after the big blind raises. Now any player acting after that must call two bets "cold." This is different from calling a single bet and then calling a subsequent raise.
Come Hand: A drawing hand (probably from the craps term).
Community Cards: Cards that are presented face-up in the middle of the poker table and shared among players in games like Hold'em and Omaha. These are also referred to as board cards or "the board".
Connector: A hold'em starting hand in which the two cards are one apart in rank. Examples: KQs, 76.
Counterfeit: To make your hand less valuable because of board cards that duplicate it. Example: you have 87 and the flop comes 9-T-J, so you have a straight. Now an 8 comes on the turn. This has counterfeited your hand and made it almost worthless.
Crack: To beat a hand - typically a big hand. You hear this most often applied to pocket aces: "Third time tonight I've had pocket aces cracked."
Cripple: As in "to cripple the deck." Meaning that you have most or all of the cards that somebody would want to have with the current board. If you have pocket kings, and the other two kings flop, you have crippled the deck.
Dealer: The player in a poker game who actually (or theoretically) is dealing the cards. Also considered the best position at the poker table.
Dog: Shortened form of "underdog."
Dominated: A hand that will almost always lose to a better hand that people usually play. AK dominates AQ.
Draw: To play a hand that needs another card to improve. For example, if you have four hearst you are drawing to a flush.
Draw Dead: You have a hand that cannot win the pot no matter what the next card is.
Equity: Your "rightful" share of a pot. If the pot contains $80, and you have a 50% chance of winning it, you have $40 equity in the pot.
Extra Blind: A blind put in by a player just entering the game, (posting), returning to the game, or otherwise changing his position at the table. A straddle is also an extra blind, effectively.
Family Pot: A pot in which all (or almost all) of the players call before the flop.
Fast Play: To play a hand fast and aggressively by betting and re-raising.
Favourite: A poker hand which is the statistical favorite to win.
Flop: The first three community cards, put out face up, altogether.
Fold: To forfeit any chance of winning the current pot in poker. To lay down your hand or throw your hand in instead of calling or raising a bet.
Free Card: A turn or river card on which you don't have to call a bet to see.
Free Roll: One player has a shot at winning an entire pot when he is currently tied with another player. Also, a tournament in which you don't have to pay to enter.
Gutshot Straight: A card that fills your gapped straight.
Game Theory: A philosophy/strategy in poker used to best capitalize on your opponents tendancies.
Heads-up: A pot or match that is being contested by only two players.
Hit: I hit the flop! Means the first three communal cards gave you a very strong hand.
Hole Cards: Cards dealt face-down to a player, the ones other players can't see.
House: The establishment running the game, usually a casino.
Implied Odds: Pot odds that do not exist at the moment, but may be included in your calculations because of bets you expect to win if you hit your hand. If you make your flush how much do you expect to win from your opponent?
Inside Straight Draw: Seeking one specific card value to make a straight. (See Gutshot straight)
Jackpot: A special bonus paid to the loser of a hand if he gets a very good hand beaten. In hold'em, the "loser" must typically get aces full or better beaten.
Kicker: An unpaired card used to determine the better of two near-equivalent hands. If you have AK and your opponent has AQ, you have him outkicked.
Live Blind: A forced bet put in by one or more players before any cards are dealt.
Luck: What all players need sometimes.
Maniac: A player who does a lot of hyper-aggressive raising, betting, and bluffing. A true maniac is a gambler, not skill player. Some players act like maniacs but are not, be wary of them.
Muck: The folded and burned cards in front of the dealer. The garbage cards that are not in play in the hand.
No Limit: A version of poker in which a player may bet any amount of chips, or all of the chips in front of him.
Nuts: The best possible hand given the board. A hand that cannot be beaten.
Offsuit: A hold'em starting hand with two cards of different suits.
One Gap: A hold'em starting hand with two cards two apart in rank. Examples: J9s, 64.
Open-Ended: Seeking one of two card values to make a straight. If you have 9-8 with a board of 2-7-6 can make a straight with either a ten (6-7-8-9-T) or with a five (5-6-7-8-9). This is also known as an up-and-down straight draw.
Out: A card that will make your hand win. Normally heard in the plural. If you have four to a flush after the flop you have 9 outs.
Overcall: To call a bet after one or more others players have already called.
OverCards: A card higher than any card on the board. If you have AQ and the flop comes J-7-3, you don't have a pair, but you have two overcards.
Overpair: A pocket pair higher than any card on the flop. If you have QQ and the flop comes J-8-3, you have an overpair.
Pay-Off: To call a bet when the bettor is representing a hand that you can't beat, but the pot is sufficiently large to justify a call anyway.
Play the Board: To show down a hand in hold'em when your cards don't make a hand any better than is shown on the board. "I play the board."
Pocket: Your unique cards that only you can see.
Pocket Pair: A hold'em starting hand with two cards of the same rank, making a pair.
Post: To put in a blind bet, generally required when you first sit down in a card game. You may also be required to post when you change tables.
Pot Limit: A version of poker in which a player may bet up to the amount of money in the pot whenever it is his turn to act. Like no-limit, this is a very different game from limit poker.
Pot Odds: The amount of money in the pot compared to the amount you must put in the pot to continue playing. For example, suppose there is $60 in the pot. Somebody bets $6, so the pot now contains $66. It costs you $6 to call, so your pot odds are 11:1.
Price: The pot odds you are getting for a draw or call.
Protect: (1) To keep your hand or a chip on your cards. This prevents them from being fouled by a discarded hand, or accidentally mucked by the dealer. (2) To invest more money in a pot so blind money that you've already put in isn't "wasted." (3) To bet large to 'protect' your hand against drawing opponents.
Quads: Four of a kind.
Ragged: A flop (or board) that doesn't appear to help anybody very much.
Rainbow: A flop that contains three different suits, thus no flush can be made on the turn.
Raise: To increase the amount of the current bet.
Rake: An amount of money taken out of each pot by the dealer, house money.
Rank: The numerical value of a card, not its suit.
Represent: To play as if you hold a certain hand. You may be repping Aces.
Ring Game: A regular poker game as opposed to a tournament. Also referred to as a 'live' game since actual money is used and not tournament chips.
River: The fifth and final community card, put out face up, by itself. Also known as "fifth street."
Rock: A player who plays very tight, not very creatively. He raises only with the best hands.
Runner: Typically said "runner-runner" to describe a hand that was made only by catching the correct cards on both the turn and the river.
Scare Card: A card that may well turn the best hand into trash. If you have T -8 and the flop comes Q-J-9 , you almost assuredly have the best hand. However, a turn card of T would be very scary because it would almost guarantee that you are now beaten.
Second Pair: A pair with the second highest card on the flop. If you have A -T, and the flop comes K-T-6 , you have flopped second pair. See "top pair.
Semi Bluff: A powerful concept first discussed by David Sklansky. It is a bet or raise that you hope will not be called, but you have some outs if it is.
Set: Three of a kind when you have two of the rank in your hand, and there is one on the board.
Short Stack: A number of chips that is not very many compared to the other players at the table. If you have $10 in front of you, and everybody else at the table has over $100, you are playing on a short stack.
Showdown: The point at which all players remaining in the hand turn their cards over and determine who has the best hand - i.e. after the fourth round of betting is completed. Of course, if a final bet or raise is not called, there is no showdown.
Side Pot: A pot created in which a player has no interest because he has run out of chips, a pot for bigger stacks than your all-in.
Slow Play: To play a strong hand weakly so more players will stay in the pot.
Small Blind: The smaller of two blind bets typically used in a hold'em game. Normally, the small blind is one-third to two-thirds of a first round bet. See also "big blind" and "blind."
Smooth Call: To call. Smooth call often implies slow playing a strong hand.
Split Pot: A pot that is shared by two or more players because they have equivalent hands.
Straddle: An optional extra blind bet, typically made by the player one to the left of the big blind, equal to twice the big blind. This is effectively a raise, and forces any player who wants to play to pay two bets. Furthermore, the straddler acts last before the flop, and may "re-raise."
String Bet: A bet (more typically a raise) in which a player doesn't get all the chips required for the raise into the pot in one motion. Unless he verbally declared the raise, he can be forced to withdraw it and just call. This prevents the unethical play of putting out enough chips to call, seeing what effect that had, and then possibly raising.
Suited: A hold'em starting hand in which the two cards are the same suit. Example: "I had to play J-3 - it was suited."
Table Stakes: A rule in a poker game meaning that a player may not go into his pocket for money during a hand.
Tell: A clue or hint that a player unknowingly gives about the strength of his hand, his next action, etc. May originally be from "telegraph" or the obvious use that he "tells" you what he's going to do before he does it.
Tilt: To play wildly or recklessly. A player is said to be "on tilt" if he is not playing his best, playing too many hands, trying wild bluffs, raising with bad hands, etc.
Top Pair: A pair with the highest card on the flop. If you have A-Q, and the flop comes Q-T-6 , you have flopped top pair. See "second pair."
Top Set: The highest possible trips. Example: you have T -T, and the flop comes T-8-9 . You have flopped top set.
Top Two: Two pair, with your two hole cards pairing the two highest cards on the board.
Trips: Three of a kind.
Turn: The fourth community card. Put out face up, by itself. Also known as "fourth street."
Under the Gun: he position of the player who acts first on a betting round. For instance, if you are one to the left of the big blind, you are under the gun before the flop.
Underdog: A person or hand not mathematically favored to win a pot. For instance, if you flop four cards to your flush, you are not quite a 2:1 underdog to make your flush by the river (that is, you will make your flush about one in three times). See also "dog."
Value: As in "bet for value." This means that you would actually like your opponents to call your bet (as opposed to a bluff). Generally it's because you have the best hand.
Variance: A measure of the up and down swings your bankroll goes through. Variance is not necessarily a measure of how well you play. However, the higher your variance, the wider swings you'll see in your bankroll.
"Poker & Gambling Glossary"
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High Roller Radio
Jack 'TreeTop' Strauss
The 1982 WSOP main event winner is a gambling legend whose exploits are known worldwide and he introduced one of the most celebrated phrases in poker history, "a chip and a chair."
In July 2005, Ian Carswell of Liverpool, England, placed a 20p each way accumulator bet covering six horses with Ladbrokes. The bet cost £25.20, but then Carswell put another £1 each way accumulator on the same horses. The gamble succeeded, paying £796,706.52 at odds of 194,000-1. Just days earlier, Ladbrokes had increased its £500,000 limit on winnings to £1m.
“A sucker don’t ever catch on. A smart man don’t ever sleep. He’s got to keep ducking the traps.”
– Johnny Moss
Phrase of the Week
- Someone who raises every hand in a game of $1/$2 No-Limit Texas Hold'em.