Copyright 1995-2003 by Daniel Y. Kimberg.
Read the Introduction
If you like my poker dictionary, consider checking out my book. Serious Poker is a great way to get into the game, if I do say so myself.
In games played for low, an unpaired low hand is referred to by its highest card, often its highest two cards and sometimes more if needed. So 8432A (in ace to five lowball) is "an eight" or "an eighty-four." (There's only one way to make an 84, so you'd never need to say an 843). If you showdown an 86 and another player shows down an 86, you might need to point out that you have an 863 while they have an 864. 5432A is usually just called a wheel. See also smooth and rough.
If you don't bet your sixes, you might as well not even play.
In a game played for low, ace to five means straights and flushes don't count and the ace can be used as a low card. The best possible hand in an ace to five game is therefore A2345 (often called a wheel). See also deuce to seven and lowball.
The placing of money into the pot. A table with a lot of action is one at which there are a lot of bets, raises, and re-raises - in other words, betting action. In most cardrooms, verbal comments like "I raise" are binding, and are therefore said to constitute action.
To give action is to put money into the pot when someone else should be expected to win the hand. To receive action is to have someone else put money into the pot when you expect to win the hand. It's better to receive than to give.
Action is also used to mean someone's turn to act.
This table is too tight, let's go someplace where there's some action.
Sure, I'll give you some action.
Your action, sir.
Some tournaments allow players the opportunity at a certain point to buy additional chips, called an add-on. This is different from a re-buy, because usually anyone still in the tournament can add on, and the opportunity to add-on usually marks the end of the re-buy period.
I was in such bad chip position, I decided it wasn't worth paying for the add-on.
Advertising usually means showing down a mediocre hand, to give the impression that you play overly loose or that you play a generally weak game. The idea is that other players will then give you more action when you make a legitimate hand. Since people are bad at revising first impressions, this potentially beneficial effect can be long-lasting.
Typical advertising plays in hold'em might be to show down top pair with a weak kicker (e.g., K2), middle pair, or a gutshot draw that missed. These hands have marginal intrinsic value, but playing them early in a session might pay off later. Of course, it's best to advertise if you actually want to be called down more often, e.g., at an especially tight table. At a table full of calling stations, it might be unnecessary or even harmful.
More generally, advertising can mean anything you do at the poker table to manipulate how other players assess you.
A style of play characterized by frequent raising and re-raising. This is not the same thing as loose play. Many good players are selective about the cards they will play, but aggressive once they get involved in a hand. An aggressive table is one dominated by aggressive players.
When a player puts the last of their chips into a pot, that player is said to be all-in. A player who doesn't have enough chips to call a bet can call all-in, creating a main pot and a side pot. A player may also make an all-in bet or raise.
An all-in player can not be forced from the hand, but can only win the portions of other players bets he or she was able to match. For example, if player A bets $10, player B calls, and player C calls all-in for $5, player C can only win $5 of the two $10 bets. The remaining $10 is placed in the side pot, to be contested among players A and B.
It's a shame you had to go all-in with your straight flush, because you could've gotten two or three more bets out of those guys.
An angle is any technically legal but ethically dubious way to increase your expectation at a game. Depending on who you ask, a particular weapon in your arsenal may be a sleazy underhanded trick (a typical angle) or a vital strategic tool that no player should be without. An example might be pretending to be about to fold (or even folding out of turn and then retrieving your cards, if the rules allow it), in order to encourage a call (when you are about to raise). A player who regularly takes advantage of angles is said to be an angle shooter.
Sir, you forgot to ante.
No, that's my ante right there.
A hand made back door is one made using both of the last two cards, as in seven card stud or Texas hold'em. For example, if in hold'em you hold AhTh and the flop comes Ad4c9h, you have top pair and a backdoor flush draw. The back door draw isn't anything to get excited about, but it can tip the scales occasionally. While you're busy playing your made hand, you might accidentally make a flush in the back door.
When you make a hand other than the one you were originally drawing to, you are said to have backed into it. For example, if your first four cards in a seven card stud hand are AA44, and you end up making a flush, you backed into the flush.
Different people seem to feel differently about what counts as a bad beat. One thing is certain: you have to lose the hand. What makes the beat bad? Maybe one or all of the following: you lose in a situation where you're a very big favorite; you lose with a hand you couldn't possibly have been expected to fold; you lose so improbably you feel compelled to tell the story multiple times; you lose to a player who couldn't have beat you without misplaying the hand (but who was astoundingly lucky); you lose in a way that seemed inconceivable until you saw it happen; or more than two experienced players at your table say, "ouch."
Here's an example. Say you're playing hold'em, you hold AA, the flop comes A55, and someone holding 98, suited with one of the fives, catches two perfect cards for a straight flush, you have suffered a very painful bad beat. The guy holding 55 is in a similar position, only more so.
The phrase "bad beat" is heard often in the phrase "bad beat stories," because many poker players, especially (but not exclusively) occasional or inexperienced players, love to tell stories about how rotten their luck was. Some people don't mind listening, or even enjoy these stories. Other people (especially jaded poker veterans who are pretty sure they've heard and seen it all) would sooner sit through eight hours of root canal surgery than listen to one bad beat story. Don't take it personally.
Another phrase you'll hear is "bad beat jackpot." Some games have jackpots for particular types of bad beats.
After that bad beat I put on him, he went on tilt for about six months.
The total amount of money one is willing (and able) to put at risk. Many players keep poker bankrolls separate from their other finances. An adequate playing bankroll for a particular game (assuming positive expectation) is an amount large enough to survive the expected swings due to variance. For a negative expectation game, an adequate bankroll is one which doesn't run out before you die.
Some players also limit their risk on a per-session basis, in effect playing with a session bankroll. Whether a bankroll is for poker in general, for poker this week, or for poker today, depends on how you manage your money.
To bankroll someone is to provide some or all of the money they use to gamble. In effect, you assume part of the risk in return for part of the profit.
Before the last cards have been dealt, you either have the best hand or you don't. If you don't, you're said to be behind. See also chase.
To bet is to put money into the pot, usually by opening as later action in a round is a raise or a re-raise. As a noun, a bet can be the money added to the pot by a player on one turn, or the amount required in order to call. It can also be used to mean "turn to act," and lastly, especially when used in the plural, it can be used to mean the number of bets and raises.
Who bet? (meaning who opened)
That's his bet. (meaning that there is the money he wagered)
What's the bet? (meaning how much to call)
Your bet. (meaning your turn)
Let's make it two bets. (meaning I raise)
A bicycle wheel (also called a wheel or a bicycle) is just the following hand: A2345. Normally this is a straight to the five. In games played for low, this is sometimes the best possible low hand (see ace to five). It's also a great hand in some high-low games where it's the nut low and counts as a straight for the high pot. Note that in Kansas City Lowball, a wheel is 23457, or the nut low. See also steel wheel.
In limit games in which the size of the maximum bet increases in later rounds, a big bet is the largest bet size. A small bet is the smallest bet size. So in a 5-10 hold'em game, small bets are $5 and big bets are $10. See structure and limit.
Pot-limit and no-limit poker are sometimes referred to as big bet poker (as contrasted with limit games of any size). The "big" in a sense refers to the size of bets relative to the pot, irrespective of the amount of money involved.
See blind bet.
I had big slick eight times last night, and didn't win one pot with it.
Black is the most common color for $100 chips. If someone tells you they saw someone betting black at a blackjack table, it means they were betting at least $100 a hand. See also white, red, and and green.
Any card that doesn't look like it's going to help anyone.
A blind bet, or blind, is a forced bet that must be posted before you see any cards. Blinds are an alternative to antes for getting money in the pot initially. Blinds are more often used in flop games like hold'em and omaha than in stud and draw games. Typically in hold'em the two players to the left of the dealer button are forced to place blind bets. In limit play, the small blind (to the dealer's left) is typically half the size of a small bet, and the big blind (to the small blind's left) is a full small bet. Betting then starts with the player to the left of the big blind (who is considered under the gun), who must at least call the big blind to stay in. When you sit down at a new table, it's good to wait until it's your turn to blind before playing a hand. See also live blind, structure, and straddle.
"Big blind" and "small blind" are also used to refer to the players who posted these bets.
I didn't get a playable hand for over three hours, but I lost $135 in blinds.
A bet with a weak hand (typically a busted hand), usually intended to get other players to fold. A bluffing player usually has little or no chance of winning a showdown, but may suspect that other players will fold if they have not made strong hands either. In limit play, bluffing is more often a good idea against weak, tight players, who may fold even if they think they have a chance of winning. Bluffing is a bad idea against players who call too often, because it's unlikely to scare them out of the pot. Bluffing is also a much more significant factor in pot-limit and no-limit play, where the bluffer can make calling an expensive proposition. See also semi-bluff, represent, speeding, table cop, and advertising.
Another name for a full house. I've also heard "full boat," but I think it sounds idiotic so I'm not giving it a separate entry.
I figured bottom pair was enough since we were heads up.
Some tournaments offer small amounts of cash - bounties - to anyone who knocks out another player in the tournament. This is typically in low buy-in tournaments, and the size of the bounty is usually fairly small (since as many bounties as the number of entrants might be awarded).
A blank, or (especially in low or high-low games) a card that counterfeits one's hand. "Brick" is more often heard in seven card stud, while "blank" is more appropriate to hold'em, probably because a brick is a personal thing, while a blank is a community thing.
To bring in the betting is to make the first bet on the first round of a hand (not including blind bets and antes). A player who does this is said to "bring it in." In seven card stud, often the lowest card on the board is forced to bring it in. The bet so placed is called the bring-in.
An ace high straight.
In order to reduce the chances of players getting advance information about cards to come, in many games the top card on the deck is discarded at certain pre-determined points in the dealing process (e.g., in hold'em, before the flop, turn, and river). These cards are the burn cards. In general, any time a card is discarded from the top of the deck it's called a burn card.
To run out of money, especially in a tournament.
A button is a marker, usually a plastic disc, used to mark a particular position at the table. Usually "the button" refers specifically to the dealer button, used to mark the dealer position, or the player playing in that position. In games with a professional house-supplied dealer (who is not playing), this marks the player who acts in the dealer's position (who is dealt the last card and who is last to act in games where the order is fixed). This player is said to be "on the button." Other buttons include the ever-popular big blind button, used to indicate a player who was absent when it would have been their turn to post a blind bet (and who will be forced to post before they can return to the game).
(For some reason, in Maryland the dealer button sits to the left of where it should be, so when you're on the button you post the first blind and act first in subsequent rounds. As far as I know Maryland is the only blatant exception.)
I wouldn't have called with that hand, except that I was on the button.
To buy the button in flop games is to raise before the flop in order to induce the players with better position than yourself to fold. If everyone closer to the button folds, you've bought the button. Obviously this works better the closer to the button you start out.
The amount of money with which you enter a game is your buy-in. In a ring game, this is (hopefully) the amount you get in chips. Most ring games have a minimum buy-in that's typically less than you'll realistically need. In a tournament, your buy-in is the amount it costs you to get your initial bunch of tourney chips. As a verb, to buy in is to make your initial purchase of chips.
I wanted to play in the bigger game, but the buy-in was too high.
To call is to match the current bet. If there has been a bet of $10 and a raise of $10 then it costs $20 to call. Calling is the cheapest (and the most passive) way to remain in a hand. See also cold call, flat call, and it.
A player who calls much too often is called a calling station. Such a player will pay you off when you make hands, and will often fail to press their advantage when they have relatively strong hands (see passive). On the other hand, calling stations will hit more backdoor and other unlikely draws than other players, making it occasionally frustrating to play against them, especially in large numbers.
Most of the players at the table were tough, but it was worth playing there because of the two calling stations.
In limit games, the cap is the limit on the number of raises in a round of betting. In many places it's 3, for 4 bets total, but you can get into very irritating arguments about the maximum number of raises that's appropriate. A cap on the betting makes it more difficult for players to collude. Some dealers have cutesy expressions they like to use when a pot is capped (e.g., "capuccino"). To make the final allowed raise is to cap the betting, or to "cap it."
Cardrooms are the rooms in which poker is played, or the organizations that run those rooms. Most casinos that offer poker have a separate room, or at least a roped-off area, designated as the cardroom. In some places where poker is legal, you will also find separate cardrooms (not part of a larger casino) dedicated mostly to poker. Key things to look for in a cardroom include tables, floorpeople, the brush, chips, etc.
Cards speak is simply the rule that the value of your hand is determined solely by your cards. You don't have to declare your hand properly in order to claim the part of the pot you deserve. The alternative to this is mainly declare games, usually played in home games for low stakes.
The fourth card of a particular rank.
When the cards are treating you well, you are said to be catching cards. The word often carries a mild connotation of improbable luck. Someone who says "nice catch" may mean anything from "okay, take the pot, you clueless moron," to "guess you outdrew me, no problem."
When you're behind, you can either choose not to contend the pot (i.e., check and fold as appropriate), try to steal it, or stick around, hoping you'll improve enough to win. To stay in a pot, with the sole hope of making a particular hand (e.g., chasing a flush). Usually chasing implies poor pot odds.
If there has been no betting before you in a betting round, you may check, which is like calling a bet of $0, or passing your turn. If all the players at a table check in turn in the same round, it is said to be checked around, resulting in a free card.
Poker chips are also sometimes called checks. This is mostly European (esp. British) usage.
A check-raise is just what it sounds like -- a raise after you have already checked within a betting round. Check-raises can be used to trap a player who (for example) would have folded to a single bet, but who will open if it is checked to them.
While check-raising is legal virtually everywhere serious poker is played, there are apparently a few public cardrooms which prohibit it at the lowest limits. Home poker games, which may be more or less serious, vary more widely.
I noticed he liked to position bet a lot, so whenever I had a good hand I check-raised him.
Poker chips are small round discs used instead of money at the poker table. The ones used at casinos are typically made of clay, while home poker games often substitute cheaper plastic chips. Using chips instead of cash has a number of advantages, mostly just that they're easier to count and manipulate. Color designations for chips are arbitrary, but many casinos use white for $1 chips, red for $5 chips, green for $25 chips, and black for $100 chips. If someone asks for a rack of white, they'd like $100 in $1 chips.
In tournaments, as the limits go up, lower demonination chips are taken out of circulation (see color up). Often, odd chips, rather than simply being rounded up or down for each player, are randomly given to one player at each table. Typically, each player is dealt a card for each odd chip, and the player with the highest card dealt is given all the odd chips (which are then colored up).
To return the blinds to the players who posted them and move on to the next hand. This may happen in hold'em when nobody calls the blind. By agreeing to chop rather than play the hand, the two blinds sometimes avoid paying the rake, since many cardrooms only collect on those hands when there is a flop. At a table which ordinarily sees more action, players will often agree to chop so as to get on to a "real" hand more quickly.
To talk about a hand one is involved in, usually with the intent of misleading or manipulating other players, is coffeehousing. It's usually considered just barely on one side of ethical. Which side that is depends on who you ask. See also table talk.
Cold calling is calling more than one bet at once. If one player bets, another player raises, and a third player calls the two bets, this is a cold call. This is contrasted with the situation in which a player calls one bet before the raise, and then calls the raise.
I knew he had at least trips when he called two bets cold.
To exchange one's chips for ones of higher value, usually in order to reduce the number of chips one has on the table. In tournaments, players are forced to color up periodically as the tourney money becomes divided among fewer and fewer players and the sizes of the forced bets go up (it makes no sense to play with $25 chips when the blinds are $10000). See also chip race.
Face-up cards that are shared by all the players in a hand. Flop games have five community cards.
In flop games, when your great hand is subsequently made less powerful because of board cards that duplicate the strength of your hand, your hand is said to be counterfeited. For example, if you hold J9 and the flop is T87, you hold the nuts. If the turn is a 9, suddenly anyone with a J has a straight, and QJ has a better straight. If the river is a J, you're counterfeited even further - you're playing the board and anyone with a Q beats you. Counterfeiting is especially common in high-low split omaha. If you hold A2JQ and the flop is 678, you have the nut low. However, if the turn card is an A or a 2, your nut low has been counterfeited. It's no longer the nut low, and is probably not even a winner.
A nickname for Kings, more often heard in the plural.
I had cowboys six times last night and didn't win a pot with them.
When a powerful hand (especially powerful pocket cards) is beat, it's said to be cracked.
I've had rockets cracked twelve consecutive times.
After the cards are shuffled but before they are dealt, usually the deck is split in the middle and the halves reversed. This is known as cutting the cards. In cardroom games with house dealers, this is done by the dealer. In home games, it's usually done by the player next to the dealer.
A dead card is a card that is no longer available to help you. In seven card stud, for example, a pair of kings in the hole is less strong if the two remaining kings are two other players' door cards, and therefore dead.
To deal is to give out the cards during a hand. The person who does this is called the dealer. At most public cardrooms, a dealer is hired for this purpose (and for generally running the game). At most private games, players take turns dealing.
To be dealt in is to be given cards during a hand. To be dealt out or dealt around is not to be given cards.
A format in which the dealer is allowed to select the particular poker game that will be dealt. Sometimes this means before each hand, although a more sensible system (since in many games the dealer has a positional advantage) is one in which players take turns choosing the game for an entire round.
Declare games are games in which you must declare the value of your hand in order to claim the pot. A typical example is a high-low split game in which you must declare before showdown whether you are claiming the high, low, or both pots (typically if you declare both you must win both in order to claim either). Declare games are played almost exclusively in home games. In most if not all cardrooms, cards speak.
Twos are sometimes called deuces. So 22277 can be called deuces full of sevens.
In a game played for low, deuce to seven usually means that the best low hand is simply the worst poker hand. If you haven't figured it out already, that hand is 75432, with no flush. Deuce to seven lowball is also called Kansas City, or Kansas City lowball. See also ace to five.
A starting hand that will almost always beat another starting hand is said to dominate that hand. For example, in hold'em, AK dominates K2. Most of the time K2 makes a playable hand, AK will make a better hand. However, a 2 might still spoil the party.
The first card dealt face up to each player in seven card stud is the door card.
A double belly buster is a hand with two inside straight draws. For example, 79TJK can become a straight with an 8 or a Q. It's roughly equivalent to an open-ended straight draw, except that the double belly-buster is more deceptive, and people often fail to notice that they have one (especially in cases such as when the 7 in the above example shows up on a later street, and the player is focused on the gutshot they already had).
The word draw has slightly different meanings in different contexts, although generally it has something to do with receiving more cards, with the hope of improving your hand.
Draw games are games where at some point during the hand you are allowed to discard some or all of your cards, to be replaced from the deck. Drawing two is thus exchanging two of your cards. "The draw" is the point during the game at which players may do this. By default, when someone asks you if you want to play some draw, they usually mean five card draw.
In other poker games, drawing simply means staying in the game with the hope of improving your hand when more cards come (as opposed to with the intention of seeing if your hand is best). A draw means a way to improve. For example, if you have four suited cards, you have a flush draw. When you stay in a hand with the hope of improving, you are said to be "on a draw." You are also said to be "drawing to" the hand you hope to make. For example, in lowball, if you hold K7642 and draw one, you are drawing to a (ragged) 7 (i.e., a 7 low).
I had to stay in the hand, I had a great draw.
I was sure he was on a draw, so when the