Poker Terminology: Phrases & Meanings

One of the most beloved games in casinos all around the world is poker. Poker may look simple, but it’s a game that has been around for centuries and therefore offers an amazing challenge to those looking for a good time. If you’re a beginner, the wealth of information available online can be overwhelming! Today we’ll break down some common phrases used in poker lingo so you can get the gist of what’s being said when you play or go to a casino.

Knowing what’s going on is half the battle, as they say! We’ve got your back with these common terms and definitions, so read through each one carefully and consider this your crash course into how you should play poker. You might even find out that there’s some new lingo you need to add to your arsenal!

Poker Terminology (A-Z)

Ace High – This phrase refers to a hand that only contains one high card.

After – When an opponent bets or calls after you, it means they called your bet and made the last raise.

All In – All in is exactly as it sounds: when a player puts all of their available chips into the pot during a single bet or round of betting. The hand ends once every other player has folded, and no further bets are allowed. If more than one player goes all-in during a hand, this will create a side pot which would be contested by the remaining players (and possibly spectators depending on the Buy-in amount). You can read more about Side Pots here.

Ante – For those who don’t know, an ante is a small bet that must be made before the start of a hand. Antes are most commonly used in low-stakes poker games, but they can also be applied to higher buy-in tournaments.

Bad Beat – A bad beat occurs when a player loses a hand despite having a very strong chance of winning. For example, if a player hits quad aces on the river and loses their hand because an opponent has quad kings, it is considered to be a bad beat.

Blind – Blinds make up the front part of each pot in which all players must pay something into before seeing any cards (they work as “forced bets”).

Blocker – If two people both have the same card with different suits out, this creates what is called a blocker. In other words, the blocker card cannot be used to create a flush or straight as it would otherwise do.

Bug – A bug is another term for a joker, which is a wild card that can be used to complete any valid hand.

Buy-in – The buy-in is the amount of money required in order to participate in a poker game. This amount will vary depending on the stakes of the game being played.

Call – To call is to match the current bet that has been made by another player.

Check – Checking allows you to stay in hand without betting, but you are still subject to having to fold if someone else bets on the next turn.

Come Out Roll – The first roll of each round (in Hold’Em and Omaha, but not in Stud games) is known as the “come-out roll.” This sets the tone for what will be happening with community cards.

Community Cards – Community cards are shared and can be used by every player at the table to create their best possible hand.

Crying Call – Crying call refers to a situation where it is obvious that one’s opponent has hit a good card on the river, yet they still choose to call an all-in bet or raise. Many would consider this to be crying because they are convinced that there could not have been any other decent outcome besides being knocked out of the hand or allowing another player to win. As you can see, this is not a very smart move on your opponent’s part.

Crying Slowplay – This term refers to the act of waiting for what you think is (or should be) a great hand and checking or betting small, and then suddenly raising when you don’t get any action from another player. It sounds like someone we know…

Dead Man’s Hand – A Dead Man’s Hand refers to a combination of two different hands: aces and eights, which was the last hand Wild Bill Hickok was holding when he was shot in 1876 while playing poker. He died the next day from his injuries.

Double-Pair – When two pair shows up on the board along with one high card, it is considered to be double-pair.

Drawing Dead – Drawing dead is another term for making a hand out of desperation, or when it no longer has any chance of winning even if the river is kind to it.

Expectation – Most poker players have heard of Expected Value (EV), but not many understand what this means fully. This is because the concept can be difficult to grasp depending on your skill level and knowledge base. Read more about it here, or simply refer to our article, where we explain everything in detail under the “Expected Value” tab on our home page.

Fast Poker – Fast poker refers to games with little action compared to other games (i.e., lots of calling rather than raising). This type of game is common in tournaments and is also referred to as “table stakes” poker.

Fish – Fish are weak poker players that can be easily exploited by good players. They tend to lose their games more often than not, and they will usually play bad hands out of fear of folding too much. They essentially pay the rake every time someone beats them at a pot because they either don’t know how or refuse to properly adjust their strategy for each hand.

Flop – The flop is the first three community cards dealt face-up on the board during any particular round (in Hold’Em and Omaha). These cards are shared by all players at the table, which means that everyone has a chance of creating a great hand based on these first few cards alone.

Flush – A card that is of the same suit.

Fold – When it’s your turn to bet, and you decide to drop out of the hand, you’re said to be folding. This means that you no longer have any interest in playing, and you will be forced to give up your cards face down into a discards pile.

Free Card – When players get the chance to see another community card without having to make a bet, they can essentially take a ‘free’ card (in other words, one that doesn’t cost them anything). If this particular round involves betting after everyone has seen two or more cards on the flop, then it would also be considered as a “free” turn because no money was lost by the player.

Free Roll – A Free Roll refers to a poker game where no money is required for entry, thus creating an even playing field for all players involved. When you have friends or family that are new to the game, simply create a freeroll, so everyone has the opportunity to try it out before they decide if they want to play at real money tables.

Full House – This hand contains three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank (i.e., three eights and two fives).

Gutshot Straight Draw – This hand consists of eight outs with one card remaining in order to make a straight (four cards still left onboard).

Heads-Up – If only two players remain in hand, then it’s considered to be heads-up.

High Card – When no two players have any of the same cards on board, the player with the highest card by rank will win the pot (i.e., ace high beats king high).

Hit – If you miss your draw, you are said to hit (or catch) a card when one is dealt that completes your hand. It also refers to getting dealt another community or unknown card during a round.

Hole Cards – These are the cards in your possession that nobody else can see; these are dealt face down at all times and serve as your “private” cards (in some games like stud, there may be more than two). You will also use these cards while playing a hand in order to make a winning combination.

In the Money – This term has three different meanings:

1) A player finishing in the top three of a tournament after playing all possible opponents undefeated,

2) The money finishes immediately below the final table finishers (6th-9th place).

3) In online poker, it refers to when you have earned real money for your efforts! This is because there may be some tournaments where you only receive “tournament dollars” rather than an actual cash prize.

Inside Straight Draw – If you need a card that will complete either the inside straight or the open straight draw, then this is considered to be a gutshot straight draw. You would have four cards still remaining onboard and the potential to catch a 5,6,7, or 8. In Stud games, this would be considered as having four cards in your hand that are all either one suit (i.e., diamonds) which makes it harder for you to complete the straight by catching an outside card of another suit.

Jackpot Poker – This is a game with five bets per round, and it includes three mandatory bets which will go into the collective pot (blinds + bring-in), plus two optional side bets. The most famous version of Jackpot Poker can be played on PartyPoker.

Kicker – This is the highest unpaired card held by each player. It’s often used to break ties if players have comparable hands after completing their draws or betting.

Layout – The layout is the graphic design that is used to represent the different poker hands on the table.

Limit Poker – This is a variation of the game where each player can only bet a certain fixed amount, which is called the limit. There are also variations of limit poker, such as “pot-limit” and “no limit.”

Limp In – When you only call the big blind pre-flop instead of raising, it’s often referred to as limping in.

Live Card – A live card is any card that has not yet been revealed and remains in play. In flop games like Hold ’em or Omaha, there are five community cards that are all live until they’re turned over and shown to be used.

Loose Game – A game with many players in possible is considered to be a loose game because it increases the chance that you will receive good cards since there are more players involved. When one or two people sit down at a table, then this is an extremely tight game.

Meld – If the board has paired the river card(s), then this hand can qualify as having made three of a kind or quads.

Middle Pair – The player hits their set on the flop by pairing one of their hole cards with the middle-rank card out on board (i.e., player holds pocket fours and flops 4d5h4h ). This hand beats any lower pairs but loses to higher pairs containing trips (i.e., 9d9h7d ).

No Limit – This is a term used in poker games where players can bet and raise any amount of their chip stacks. It’s the opposite of “Pot Limit.” Another way to think about it is that your buy-in does not limit you on how much you can play while seated at the table.

Nut Flush Draw – In flop games with community cards, this refers to when you have four cards total, which are all within the same suit (i.e., 8th street 4c4s8s ). A straight flush or royal flush would then be considered an ultimate nut hand.

Odds – These signify the chances of making a certain hand based on what is currently known about the board and the number of active players.

Offsuit – Cards that are not of the same suit are considered to be offsuit.

One-Gapper – A one-gapper is a hold ’em starting hand where one card is one rank higher than the other (e.g., AhKd). This hand has the potential to make two pair or trips, but it’s weak since you’re still likely to showdown with just a pair.

Out – When you hit your draw, then you “hit your out,” and this means that you’ve improved your hand.

Overpair – This is when a player holds a pocket pair that is higher than any other card on the flop. For instance, if the player holds pocket jacks and the flop comes down 6d5h3s, then this is considered to be an overpair.

Pot Limit – This is a variation of poker where the maximum amount that anyone can raise is the current size of the pot. You can still bet or raise even if you haven’t contributed any money to the pot yet (i.e., if it’s your turn, but no one else has raised before you). It’s often called no-limit hold’em when played with chips that are worth their actual value (i.e., $50 chips would be working with a $50 cap) instead of fixed bets like in Texas Hold ’em.

River – The river is the fifth and final community card that’s placed face-up on the table after all players have completed their fourth street round of betting.

Rounder – This term is often used to describe a player who frequently sits down at new tables in order to take advantage of weaker competition.

Runner Runner – This describes a situation where you need two specific cards to come out on the turn and river in order to make your desired hand. For instance, if you’re holding AcQd and the board is AsKdQh8s, then you hit runner runner queens to make a set of queens.

Set – In hold ’em or Omaha, this refers to three of a kind where one card from the player’s hand is matched with two onboard cards of the same rank (i.e., 9s8s5d). A trip is a slightly stronger version of a set.

Side Card – A side card refers to any card that can be paired with your pocket cards in order to create an improved five-card poker hand for showdown purposes. For instance, if you hold AcJs and flop come down KdJh3c2c, then 3s is considered as a side card.

Small Blind – This is a forced bet in Texas Hold ’em, where the lowest-ranked player to the left of the dealer must contribute half of a normal opening bet amount.

Split Pot – In games with community cards, this happens when someone at showdown makes two different hands that both have equal merit (i.e., they tie each other). For example, if hand 1 contains AdQd and hand 2 has AcQc, then they split the pot evenly.

Suited Connectors – A suited connector is when you start your poker hand by holding two cards within the same suit (i.e., 6h7s). These are considered very weak starting hands unless they can be paired up or made into straight or flush draws.

Texas Hold ’em – The most popular variant of poker, Texas Hold ’em, is a game that uses two-hole cards and five community cards. Betting rounds take place after the flop, turn, and river are dealt.

Three-of-a-Kind – This is when a player has three cards of the same rank in their hand (e.g., 3d3c3s). This hand is stronger than a pair but weaker than a full house.

Tight – A tight player is one who doesn’t play many hands and often waits for strong starting hands before entering into any pots.

Town – In casino poker slang, this term refers to the table where all of the action is located (i.e., where the game is).

Turn – This refers to the fourth community card dealt face-up after all players have acted on the flop.

Up Card – The first card an individual player will expose in stud games.

Underpair – An underpair is any pocket pair that’s smaller than any other card onboard. For example, if you’re holding Js8d3h2h, then your hand would be considered as having an underpair since there are now two hearts showing that are bigger than your 8s.

Value Bets – When you bet for value, this means that you’re trying to get paid off by better hands when they do eventually show up. For instance, if you hold a strong hand on the flop-like top pair, then you would want to make a value bet in order to get as much money as possible from your opponents.

Weak Hand – A weak hand is any hand that doesn’t have a lot of potential for improvement. For instance, if you’re holding 5h6c7d8d9d, then your hand would be considered quite weak.

Water – This term is used as both an adjective and noun to describe a situation where there’s too much money in the pot for the number of hands that are being played. It often takes place during the late stages of tournaments when players have reached the money or are playing for the title.


There are many other poker terms that can be used, but these are some of the more common phrases and their meanings. By understanding the definitions of these words, you’ll be able to communicate better with your opponents and have a better understanding of what’s going on during a hand. So, whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned pro, make sure to brush up on your poker vocabulary!