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Glossary of Poker Terms

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Aces Up - A poker hand consisting of two pair, one of which is aces.

Ante - The amount of money (usually symbolised by poker chips) which is invested in the pot at the beginning of a hand before any cards have been dealt.

Back-in - When a player checks a strong hand, waits for another to bet, and then raises. This is only possible in games which allow players to check and raise.

Back-to-back - When a five-card stud player holds a pair with one of his hole cards and his first up-card. A back-to-back is also known as a "wired" hand.

Bad-beat - A term used to describe a loss despite having a very good hand.

Betting-the-pot - This means betting the same amount as the current pot in pot-limit poker games.

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Bicycle - The lowest possible holding (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) in high-low poker and lowball games. This is also referred to as a wheel in some circles.

Big Blind - The larger or two forced bets, normally in Texas Hold'em. The smaller forced bet is called the Small Blind.

Blind - A forced bet in games such as Texas Hold'em that needs to be made before cards are dealt. Failure to pay a blind means that the player cannot continue to participate in the game.

Blind bet - A blind bet is one made before the hand has been seen. The player in this position is sometimes referred to as being "under the gun"

Bluff - A bet made to give the impression that you have a better hand than you really do, usually with the hope that your opponents will fold.

Board - The open or community cards in games such as Texas Hold'em amd Omaha poker.

Bonus - An additional prize paid to players having a specific, and usually rare, hand such as a Royal Flush.

Bring it in - To open a round of betting by making a forced bet (blind).

Bull - Informal term for an Ace.

Burn a card - To discard the top card of a deck before dealing.

Bust - To have a hand which cannot possibly win.

Button - The device used to mark the dealer in a game where a house dealer deals on their behalf. The button shows who the dealer is for purposes of betting at the tight time.


Buy - To receive a card in stud poker. Synonomous with "buy a card".

Call - To match a bet made previously by another player in order to stay in the game. Calling a bet is also referred to as "seeing" a bet.

Calling a hand - To match a final bet made by an opponent at the showdown in order to see their hand.

Cards speak - Where cards are shown to decide who wins the pot at the end of a hand (as opposed to players simply declaring their hand).

Case card - The last remaining card of a specific rank or suit. For example, if a player buys a Queen and three are already known to be out, that player is said to have bought the case Queen.

Check - Where no previous player has bet and the currently player does not wish to bet, he can check. This is effectively calling a bet of zero, and can also be referred to as a "pass".

Check-and-Raise - When a player checks , waits for another to bet, and then raises. This is only possible in some games.

Cowboy - Informal term for a King.

Cut - To split the deck after shuffling. The shuffled deck is placed on the table and the player to the right of the dealer takes the top half of the deck (by estimate only) and places it next to the bottom half. The dealer then places the bottom half of the deck on the top half and sqaures the deck before dealing.

Deadwood - The pile of cards that have been discarded by players during a hand.

Deuce - Informal term for a 2.

Discard pile - The pile of cards that have been discarded by players during a hand. Also referred to as "deadwood".

Draw - Cards dealt after the first round of betting in games of draw poker.

Drawing hand - A potentially good hand which needs one more card to be a probable winner. For example, a four flush is drawing hand because one more card of a particular suit would make a flush.

Drop - To fold your cards and thereby "drop" out of a particular hand.

Face card - Any jack, queen or king (because they all have a face on them).

False openers - When a player opens a round of betting in jackpots with a poor hand. Players should have jacks or better to open.

Fold one's cards - To drop out of a hand, hence the synonymous term "drop".

Flop - The first three community cards dealt in a game of Texas Hold'em after the first round of betting has ended.

Fold - To drop out of a hand and put your cards in the discard pile.

Four flush - Four cards of the same suit. This is a drawing hand requiring one more card of the same suit to be a flush.

Free ride - Where all players at the table check in a betting round, and thereby get a "free ride" to the next round.

High - The highest ranked card at the table. In games of stud poker, the player with the high card bets first.

High hand - The hand ranked highest in a particular game.

Hole card - The card or cards dealt face down to players.

Inside straight - A drawing hand where one middle ranked card is required to make a straight. For example, 3, 4, 6, 7 is an inside straight because the player needs a 5 for the straight.

Jackpots - A form of draw poker in which a pair of jacks or better is required to open the betting. See also "false opener".

Joker wild - A form of poker in which jokers are treated as wild cards and can therefore be used in place of any other card and the player's discretion.

Kicker - The highest unpaired card held by a player. The kicker is sometimes used to determine who wins a tied pot.

Limit - In limit games, this is the highest amount than can be bet or raised in a particular round of betting.

Live blind - A blind that can be raised when play reaches the player in that position.

Nuts - A poker hand that is/was impossible to beat in the circumstances, for example, "He had the nuts!"

Offsuit - Cards of different suits.

Open - The first bet in the first round of betting (thus "opening" the betting).


Open-ended straight - A drawing hand in which a player needs a card at either the bottom or top of a four card straight to make a straight. For example, if a player has 4, 5, 6, 7 then he needs a 3 or 8 to make a straight.

Openers - The cards required to open betting in jackpots, generally jacks or better. See false openers.

Pass - Synonymous with "check".


Pat hand - A winning hand (for instance, a straight or flush) that is dealt to you, usually in draw poker.

Pigging it - The act of calling both "high" and "low" in a game of high-low poker, thereby "greedily" claiming both halves of the pot, like a pig.

Pocket cards - A term sometime used in Texas Hold'em In Texas to refer to the hole cards - the two cards dealt face down to each player at the beginning of a particular game.

Pot - The total of chips (or money in some cases) bet by players in a particular hand of poker.

Pot limit - A limit game where players can bet no more than the current value of the pot.

Pot odds - The odds a player would get by betting a specific amount compared with the size of the pot on offer.

Raise - A bet bigger than any previous bet in a round of betting. The raise must be matched by all other players in order for them to stay in the hand.

Rake - The percentage of each pot that is retained by the house in order to make a profit. There is usually a maximum rake which may vary according to the game and stakes played for.

Royalties - Synonymous with "bonus" - an additional prize paid to players having a specific, and usually rare, hand such as a Royal Flush.

Scare cards - Cards visible to opponents that look intimidating.

Seeing a bet - Matching a bet made by a previous player in order to stay in the game. Also referred to as "calling".

Showdown - The last stage of a poker hand where players reveal their cards and discover who wins the pot.

Sweetening the pot - Getting a pot started by posting an ante.

Table stakes - The maximum amount of money that a player can bring to the table. A player can bet no more than he has at the table.

Tell - A physiological characteristic or habit (usually unconscious, such as a "nervous tic") which reveals how a player feels about the cards he is holding.

Under the gun - The player seated to the immediate left of the dealer and who must act first in each round of betting.

Wired - When a five-card stud player holds a pair with one of his hole cards and his first up-card. A wired hand is also known as a "back to back" hand.

Wild card - A card, usually a joker or deuce, which can be used as if it were any other card, at the discretion of the player.

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