The A to Z of Poker Terms: Understanding the Language of the Game

Poker! A game that is played with mastery alongside attitude. The two go hand-in-glove to create a successful online poker player. But how can you develop this attitude? If you’ve ever watched a movie where the players sat around a poker table, sure what caught your attention was the game and how they played it – the swagger, if you may. The integral part of this game is the poker terms and phrases; anybody at the table who doesn’t know the poker terms will be lost before the game concludes. Thus, knowing the terminologies is pretty important for someone who wants to learn about the game. This article will see poker terms explained to you.

Simply put, Poker A – Z refers to the language involved in effectively understanding and playing the game. On a poker table, players often use technical or luxurious phrases – depending on your perception. However, these phrases can be learned.

The lingos of Poker are many and could confuse a newbie. But rest assured that by reading our poker terms list, you’ll get an in-depth understanding of poker rules and how to play the game. Even though you may not know how to skate through a poker table like a pro, you’ll become the King of the table in no time by learning the basic poker terms and using them to your advantage.

Aces Up to Buy-in

  • Aces Up: This denotes a pairing of two aces among two pairs. That is, in two pairs of cards, you have two Aces as a pair. In Poker, the pair is named according to the highest value.
  • Add on: It can be added to the tournament chips of a player during a break for a fee.
  • A-Game: Refers to playing Poker at an optimal level. When someone brings his “A Game”, it means that he is in a prime mental state and of the best mentality. This player is also referred to as “in the zone’.
  • Alias: This refers to the name one is known as. Video Poker gives players a screen name. This nickname is known as the “Alias”
  • All-In: This refers to an action where all of a player’s chips are pushed to the middle of the table, signifying a desire to risk all if necessary. All-in does not necessarily mean a risk-all move, as it still depends on a few factors.
  • Ante: This is a general market for every player. It means that every player is mandated to pay by the dealer.
  • Backdoor: This is as the name goes. It is a draw where completing it depends on catching two consecutive cards.
  • Backing involves lending money to a player, entitling you to a percentage of his profits.
  • Bankroll: Bankroll is an allowance to keep playing the game. It refers to the money kept specifically to keep playing the game. Something like a Poker investment. Managing it properly is very important.
  • Bet: This refers to the person who makes the first stake in a particular round of poker.
  • Blind: This means executing an action without considering the cards on hand.
  • Blue Chip: This is the most valuable chip type in the three-colour Poker chip set. It represents a value of $10, although this varies.
  • Bluff: One of the major mechanics in Poker. It refers to a player posing to have a strong hand when it is, in fact, weak. The player does this to conceal his hand’s weakness and make the opponent play to his advantage.
  • Bounty: A price is often placed on a professional’s head. Hence, any player who knocks the professional out is entitled to a reward.
  • Broadway: “Broadway” is a term that refers to Ten, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace.
  • Burn: Burning a card means abandoning it for the next. The casino dealer, when dealing, discards the first card and plays with another. This is regarded as “burning” and minimizes cheating.
  • Buy-In: This refers to the amount it takes to join a Poker game. The buy-in amount is always fixed when it comes to tournaments. However, the buy-in in cash games varies.

Call to Drawing Dead

  • Call: This is a reply to “Bet”, or any wager. It involves equalling the value of the current betting round wager. It is one of the major actions in Poker.
  • Calling Your Bluff: Well, if there’s bluffing, then “calling your bluff” is only poetic. This occurs when a player makes the correct call believing that another player is bluffing on the value of his hand.
  • Case Card: This is the final card remaining on a single rank in the deck. If three King cards have been tendered, the last King yet to be dished out is referred to as the “case King”.
  • Cash Game: This is very popular, and refers to a game where the table chips are proportional to the actual cash value. That is, the chips are used as money
  • Chance: This is the possibility of a particular thing happening in a poker game.
  • Check: Involves declining to make any wager, and passing the onus to the next player. This is especially valid in a case where no wager has been made yet.
  • Cold-Call: This is taken as a bold move and involves matching the bet on your first action in the game.
  • Community card: The community card is integral for most Poker games. This is the set of cards from which the players can fashion their 5-card hand.
  • Continuation Bet: This refers to the bet made on the current street by the last aggressor on the previous street.
  • Dark Bet: This bet is made without the player seeing which other cards have been dealt on the current game street.
  • Dealer: This person works for the casino and is the one who deals the cards to the players. This person distributes the cards and supervises the game instead of the house.
  • Dealer’s Choice: Here, the dealer is allowed to choose what Poker variation would be played in a certain round.
  • Dead Money: This type of money remains in the pot and is only available when a player is willing to make an aggressive action in the game.
  • Deuce: Refers to a card hand with a value of just two.
  • Double Up: This is a scenario where the player doubles his chips after winning an all-in.
  • Draw: This refers to a situation where completing a hand of a card is dependent on just one card. For instance, waiting on only an ace to make it a Royal Flush means you have a royal flush draw. In some poker variants, draws also refer to a rotation and replacement of unfavourable cards held by the player.
  • Drawing Dead: It is an unfortunate situation, given that the cards on hand cannot possibly win the round

Early Position to Full House

  • Early Position: This refers to the first three seats you see at a full-ring Poker table.
  • Effective Stacks: This highlights the two stacks in Poker – larger and shorter. The shorter stack is referred to as the “effective stack”. This is because the larger stack can’t stake more than the shorter stack has in active play.
  • Equity: Is used to refer to the possibility of a certain hand of cards winning when compared to others if it doesn’t fold.
  • Equity Calculator: This juxtaposes the different hands and calculates the possibility of a certain hand winning.
  • Expected value: This projects the perceived worth of a particular play in the long run. It is calculated using the expected value calculator.
  • Face Card: This involves cards that have character faces on them. The Jack, Queen, and King are all face cards on the deck.
  • Fastplay: This is a situation where while holding a sturdy hand, the player comes out betting and raising.
  • Favourite: The favourite in a game of Poker refers to the player who is deemed most likely to win the game.
  • Fish: This is a pejorative remark used to describe the weakest or least experienced player on a Poker table. It shouldn’t necessarily be used because it may show ill will.
  • Fifth Bet: This is the fifth bet in a sequence of betting
  • Flush: A flush in Poker is a hand of five cards that are of the same suite. It possesses medium value in the grand scheme of Poker hands.
  • Fold: A fold means that the player has forfeited the opportunity to match the current wager on Poker Street.
  • Freeroll: A freeroll is a Poker game that doesn’t require a buy-in to play. It’s something close to free. What’s more, it also refers to a scenario where the player can win but can seldom lose a Poker game.
  • Full Boat: This is a nickname for a full house in Oker.
  • Full house: This hand in Poker consists of three cards sharing the same rank and two other cards of the same ran. That is, three cards share one rank, while two cards share another rank.

Heads Up to Muck

  • Heads Up: This is more like a faceoff. It involves two players trying to defeat each other at a Poker table. There are two ways this can occur; the further parts of a betting round, or straight from the get-go.
  • Hero Call: A player makes a hero call against another player. This is done when trying to call the bluff of a particular player. Some believe it is hardly ever the right call.
  • Hero Fold: This is almost always psychological. The player has a good hand and can decide to make a call, but decides to fold, believing that another player has a better hand and will beat him.
  • High hand: Ironic to the name. This is a measly type of hand. The player here holds no strong card, or even a pair, which fixes him on the losing end of things.
  • High Roller: Have you ever seen that person who just stakes so much? The high roller is a gambler who always plays the highest-stakes games. High rollers are known t stake the most money on any type of casino game.
  • Hijack: This is a position at the poker table.
  • Hit and Run: Similar to “smash and grab”, this type of player joins a game, wins the round, and leaves just early enough to keep his wins. Hence, it is regarded as a hit-and-run.
  • Hold’em: Among all the types of Poker available, this is the most popular type. Texas Holdem is its flagbearer and the most widely played Poker game globally.
  • Hole cards: These cards are distributed to the players while facing the table. It is kept secret to avoid giving away the player’s position. In Hold’em, the players are entitled to two Hole cards at the start of the game
  • House: This is the organizer of the game being played. The house can either be a land-based casino or an online network. They control the affairs of the game.
  • ICM: This is an arithmetic way of assigning monetary value to tournament chips.
  • Jackpot: Of course, there is the Royal Flush. However, some casinos still offer jackpots.
  • Joker: It is generally a 52-card deck game. But, in some variants, the Joker card is added; and used as the wild card. It is also a face card.
  • Kicker: Experts believe players should hold kickers. They don’t add to the value of a hand. However, they can be used to settle ties if it falls as such.
  • Last Longer: This is a type of tournament where the aim is to last the longest on the Poker table. It is a play till death, and whoever is the last person standing wins the game.
  • Limit Poker: this is a scenario where a bet or raise is made in fixed values.
  • Mark: This is also a reference to the weakest player on the Poker table
  • Mental game: Poker is also played mentally. A player’s mental outlook in competing with other players is regarded as a Mental game.
  • Mid-Stakes: A mid-stake is a buy-in above the minimum buy-in and below the maximum buy-in. Hence, the reason it is called mid-stakes.
  • Muck: It is the act of returning a losing hand to the dealer when it’s showdown time. It is allowed in some, but not all, instances.

No Limit to Showdown

  • No Limit: Here, the bet or raise is not capped and can be solicited anytime.
  • Nuts hand: The nuts hand is the strongest in Poker. The nuts hand doesn’t lose but can only chop.
  • Offsuit: Offsuit is the hands of cards at the start of the game. Because the card deck is scattered, the suit is disorganized. Suited hands are always better.
  • Omaha: This is a popular variant of poker. Here, four-hole cards are dealt to the players in the pre-flop stake round. It also utilizes community cards, just like Hold’em.
  • One Gap: This is a situation where two cards of the same rank are missing one number gap in the middle. For instance, an 8 spade, and a 10 have one gap of 9.
  • Open Raise: This is the first raise at the start of a Poker game.
  • OMC: This is an acronym used to refer to an elderly player at the Poker table. It stands for Old Man Coffee and is used because the player portrays some key characteristics.
  • Overbet: This is going over the current value of the pot, and staking more than has already been staked previously.
  • Overcall: As the name goes, overcall refers to a situation where a player makes a call just after another player has done so on the current street.
  • Overlay: This is added by the house as an extra to a tournament pool. It happens when the buy-ins fall short of the amount that was stipulated as the prize.
  • Pair: In Poker, holding two cards of identical value is called a pair.
  • Play the Board: It is a situation where an entire hand of cards is formed by community cards.
  • Pocket Rockets: This is the best possible hand in Hold’em Poker. The player who gets a pocket rocket simply got Aces as his opening hand.
  • Position: This is, plainly speaking, the space each player occupies on a Poker table.
  • Postflop: In Hold’em and Omaha Poker, the flop is the second betting round in the game. Any game played from the second staking round upwards is regarded as post-flop.
  • Preflop: The first round in Omaha and Hold’em Poker is known as the pre-flop.
  • Pot: The players at Poker games compete for chips. When any player stakes money, the chips are added to the pot. At the end of the game, the chips from the wagers are handed to the winner.
  • Quad: It is a substitute name for a four-of-a-kind hand.
  • Raise: It simply means making a higher wager than the current one on the poker street.
  • Rank: It refers to a card’s numerical value; 10, 9, 8, etc.
  • Royal Flush: This refers to the best possible hand one can get in a Poker game. It involves a Ten. Jack, Queen, King, and an Ace, with each of them belonging to the same suit.
  • Sandbag: To play a deceptive move passively while holding a strong hand.
  • Showdown: After completing all the betting rounds, each player shows his hand to determine the winner.

Slow Play to Under the Gun

  • Slow Play: A slow play is synonymous with sandbagging. It occurs when a player passively plays while having a strong hand. This makes the opponent underestimate his hand and gives the player an advantage. Soft play is similar to sandbagging and slowplaying, but the aim here is not deception. It is done to favour another player for some personal reasons.
  • Small Bet: In a game with a fixed wager, there are two types of bet, the small bet and the big bet.
  • Split Pot: Here, the pot is divided as a reward for two separate kinds of hands in the same game. It could occur as a variant of Poker, or to settle a tie.
  • Spread Limit: A spread refers to the range where players are allowed to bet or raise. This limit checks the players and keeps the game modest.
  • Staking: In Poker, staking refers to the process of funding a player’s bet and being entitled to a percentage of his gains.
  • Stealing: Stealing occurs when a player attempts to win the pot from the very first round of the Poker game, especially when he’s the first raiser.
  • Straight: A hand where a player holds five consecutive ranks; 3,4,5,6,7, etc.
  • Straight Flush: Here, the player holds five consecutive ranks but also of the same suit.
  • Street Poker: This is a silent agreement by poker players to play loose poker.
  • Stud: In Stud Poker, there are no community cards. The players are dealt up and downcards and the game is played that way.
  • Suited: It refers to a scenario where the player receives two cards of the same suit as a starting hand.
  • Tell: This is a subconscious admittance by a player that he holds a certain hand of cards.
  • Three-Bet: This refers to the third bet in a given sequence of bets.
  • Three-of-a-kind: This is a type of hand in Poker. Here, the player holds three cards of identical rank, and two other cards of relatively inconsequential value, otherwise known as kickers.
  • Tie: When two players have a hand of equal value, there may be a tiebreaker or the pot is split between the tied gamblers.
  • Trap: This is a term based on misleading your opponent, to cause them to bluff wrongly. Here, the player has a strong hand but plays passively.
  • Trey: Similar to “Quad”, this term is used to refer to a rank of three.
  • Trip: This is a Poker slang used to refer to a three-of-a-kind hand.
  • Two-Bet: This is the second bet in a bet sequence.
  • Underdog: A player who is not mathematically expected to win a round but still stands a meagre chance.
  • Under the Gun: The first player to act on the first betting round is referred to by this term.

Value Bet to Zilch or Zip

  • Value bet: Here, abet is made with a made hand. The aim is to accrue pay from a worse holding.
  • Variance: When discussing professional Poker players, variance is used to describe the valleys and peaks of their careers.
  • Variant: “Variant” in Poker simply refers to the fact that there are different models of Poker, with distinctions, however small or large.
  • Villain: A villain in Poker is simply your opponent(s). Whoever is trying to get the same rewards you’re chasing is a villain and vice versa.
  • Weak player: This is someone who is easily bullied by other layers on a poker table, especially, out of a post-flop hand. These players are easily manipulated by the mental game that goes on at Poker tables.
  • Whale: This is a derogatory remark used to refer to a Poker player who is terrible at it, especially when the game is high-stakes.
  • Wrap: In Omaha Poker models, a wrap is used to describe a large straight draw and may even have up to 20 outs, unlike Hold’em Poker.
  • WSOP: This is widely regarded as the Mecca of Poker. It is an acronym that represents the World Series Of Poker, which stands as the most prestigious event in the poker world. It is held annually in Las Vegas and hosts the best poker players.
  • WTSD: Basically, it is an acronym that portrays a player’s journey to showdown after passing through the flop. It stands for ‘Went to Showdown”.
  • Zilch or Zip: This type of hand is usually referred to as “nothing”. This is because none of the cards held constitutes any value and is not worth holding. It brings no payoffs, and what’s more, it is also known as a garbage hand.


Poker terms are very useful when playing at a brick-and-mortar casino or Video Poker online. For someone who wants to excel playing poker, there is no alternative to learning the terms that matter at a poker table. That way, you don’t get sandbagged or even play a wrong move.

Also, getting accustomed to these terms allows you to think faster when at a Poker table. Poker is a game that requires the player to be alert about everything happening on a table to make the most informed decisions. Thus, knowing these terms lets you make decisions faster than a newbie would.

Furthermore, learning the terms helps you understand the Poker hand rankings. This way, understanding your Poker hand, and how to navigate to the most profit becomes easier. Also, after learning the Poker lingo, you can now interpret a Poker range chart. This is one of the best means to improve your game and stack more wins.

Generally, understanding Poker terms means that you are qualified to be called a Poker player. That should sound good to you.


Posted by: Catalina Kirby
Chief Editor

With 4 years of experience in writing about online gambling, Catalina has decided to gather all her knowledge and share it with others on one platform. Her main goal is to provide detailed information so that players could gamble in a more safe way.