Poker Term Glossary

Looking for a little clarity when it comes to poker terminology?

The Basics
We’ll start things off easy with a few key terms you’ve likely heard while strapped to an armchair in front of the TV.

Ante: A small amount of money contributed by each player to seed the pot at the beginning of a poker hand.

Big Blind: The larger of the two blinds typically used in a Holdem game. The big blind is a full first-round bet.

Board: All of the community cards in a Holdem game.

Button: A white acrylic disk that indicates the (nominal) dealer. Also used to refer to the player on the button. Example: “Oh, the button raised.”

Call: To put into the pot an amount of money equal to the most recent bet or raise.

Check: There are two possible definitions here, depending on the context. (1) To not bet, with the option to call or raise later in the betting round. (2) Another word for a poker chip.

Check-Raise: To check and then raise when a player behind you bets.

Flop: The first three community cards, dealt face-up simultaneously.

Muck: The pile of folded and burned cards in front of the dealer.

Nuts: The best possible hand given the board. If the board is Ks-Jd-Ts-4s-2h, then As-Xs is the nuts.

Satellite: A tournament that does not award cash to its winners, but a seat into a subsequent “target” tournament.

Small Blind: The smaller of two blind bets typically used in a Holdem game. Normally, the small blind is one-third to two-thirds of a first-round bet.


Intermediate Jargon
You may have been familiar with the first level of lingo, but we take things up a notch in this next category of poker slang. Let’s see how well you fare this time.

ABC Player: A very predictable, novice player. ABC players often win at lower stakes and loose games, but are easily crushed by advanced opponents.

Bubble: The point at which only one player must bust out before all others win money.

Calling Station: A weak-passive player who calls a lot, but doesn’t raise or fold much.

Fish: A poor player; one who gives his money away.

Hooks: A pair of jacks.

Jam: To move all-in in a no-limit (or pot-limit) game.

Limp Raise: To make a small raise pre-flop. Usually used when you have a very strong hand and wish to provoke a reraise.

Paint: A face card or card of high value (jack, queen, king, ace).

Pot-Committed: A state where you are essentially forced to call the rest of your stack because of the size of the pot and your remaining chips.

Railbird: Someone who watches poker games. They get their name because generally live observers must stand behind a rail.

Rainbow: This describes a board that is composed entirely of different suits.

String Bet: A bet whereby 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.

Value Bet: A bet that is made where the bettor is hoping to be called to win extra money from the call. This generally refers to a bet made on the river.

Wired Pair: A pair in your starting hand.


An Alien Language
Many poker terms make sense and new players can sometimes pick them up or at least figure them out given a little experience. And then there are some poker terms or phrases that are just pure madness.

Alligator Blood: Used to describe a player who plays fearlessly when short-stacked and wins.

Bird on a Stick: The Holdem starting hand of 7-2.

Chop: An agreement between the two players with blinds to simply take their blinds back rather than playing out the hand if nobody calls or raises in front of them.

Fish and Chips: A fish that, through his own ineptitude coupled with sheer luck, somehow has all the chips.

Flat Tire: Jack and four, suited or not. As in, “If you have a flat tire, it’s what you use the jack “four.”
German Virgins: Pocket 9s. The term refers to the German word “nein” for “no.” Pocket 9s would then read, “no, no!”

Half-Hacked: When in Holdem poker, during a showdown or after a bluff, the winning player shows only one card to the opposing player and mucks the other.

Lotto Player: A player who plays any cards and stays in the pot.

Motown: A hand consisting of jack and 5s.

Newlyweds: A starting hand of king-queen.

Octopus: Pocket 8s.

Pinball Machine: Someone playing overly loose or aggressive after a bad beat.

Sandbagging: To sandbag is to check or bet weakly when holding a strong hand. (AKA slow-playing)

Steel Wheel: A straight flush, ace to the 5.

Tapping the Aquarium: To tell a poor player what he’s doing wrong, i.e., waking up a fish.

Walking Sticks: To be dealt two 7s.