Poker Terms and Terminology

They say English is the universal language of poker, but this great game has a language all its own. Anytime you hear or read some poker lingo that you don’t quite understand, make sure to consult our glossary of poker terms here at Bovada. The following list includes the most common terms used in poker, everything from the basics to some of the more colorful poker slang terms you’ll come across. By keeping on top of these online poker terms, you’ll have the vocabulary you need to communicate more effectively about the game, which will help you play online poker at the highest level possible.




1. The opportunity for a player to act when it is their turn during the course of a hand.
2. The ongoing play during a hand, particularly when there is heavy betting and raising. A player who bets or raises frequently may be referred to as an action player.
3. A stake in the outcome of a player’s performance. If you back a player financially, you have part of that player’s action.

Active player
A player who is still involved in a live hand.

A compulsory contribution of chips made by each player before a hand is dealt. Antes are most commonly found in stud games, but may also be used in tournaments as the blinds increase.

1. A bet that puts all a player’s remaining chips at risk.
2. The condition of having all one’s chips at risk; he’s all-in.



A draw that requires two more cards to complete after the flop has been dealt.

Bad beat
A situation where a player loses a hand they were heavily favored to win, after their opponent catches one of a small number of outs to make a better hand.

1. The amount of money that a player has to play poker with.
2. The act of providing a player money for poker, typically as an investment.

1. To add money or poker chips to a pot. Specifically, this refers to a situation when the action has yet to be opened, but can also be used in general terms for raising and calling.
2. A player’s turn to act; e.g. “It’s your bet.”
3. The money or chips a player adds to a pot.

Betting round
A series of bets involving every player remaining in the hand. Flop games include four betting rounds: pre-flop, the flop, the turn, and the river.

Big blind
1. A mandatory live bet that is posted before the start of each hand in a flop or draw game. This bet is typically twice the size of the small blind.
2. The player at the table who must post this mandatory bet.

A card that isn’t likely to benefit any player or impact the hand in a meaningful way, like a Deuce of Spades on the turn after a rainbow Ace-King-Jack flop.

1. A mandatory live bet that is posted before the start of each hand in a flop game. Most games feature two of these bets: the small blind and the big blind.
2. The player(s) at the table who must post this mandatory bet.

A bet made with a weak hand that is only expected to win by forcing the other players to fold.

Bottom pair
The lowest pair available given the community cards that have been dealt.

An Ace-high straight (Ace-King-Queen-Jack-Ten).

1. A pair of pocket Aces in Texas Hold’em.
2. Poker chips.

An older term for a raise.

To discard the top card of the deck before each hand, and before any subsequent cards are dealt in later betting rounds. This is done to protect the integrity of the deal, in case any player has seen the top card before it is dealt.

Burn cards
The cards that are discarded when a hand is dealt; these cards are placed in the muck, or discard pile.

1. To lose all of your money or chips.
2. A draw that does not complete; e.g. “a busted flush draw.”

1. A white plastic disk that moves clockwise around the table in flop games, signifying the dealer in a hand-dealt game. In games with a dedicated dealer, the button represents the player who receives their hole cards last.
2. The player who receives their hole cards last in flop games.
3. The position at the table where said player is seated.

To place a large bet or raise, hoping to win the pot or become the player in position by getting others to fold; e.g. “buying the pot” or “buying the button”.

The amount of money that is required to play in a cash game or tournament.



To match the amount of a bet, as opposed to folding or raising.

Calling station
A player who calls more frequently than most others do.

1. The final raise allowed during a betting round, typically in a Fixed-Limit game.
2. The maximum buy-in allowed to play in a cash game.
3. The maximum amount of money players may bet during any one hand.

The last card of a given rank remaining in the deck, after the other three cards have been dealt.

To receive a card that is considered good for the player.

1. A betting decision where the player doesn’t fold, but also doesn’t add any chips or money to the pot.
2. A poker chip used in cash games that has actual monetary value, as signified by the denomination printed on its face.

The act of checking when out of position, then raising after someone else puts in a bet/raise.

Small disks that are used at the poker table in place of money. Different colors of chips are used for different denominations; these chips and denominations represent actual money in cash games (see: checks), but not tournaments.

Cold call
The act of calling during a betting round, after a bet and a raise have already been made.

A drawing hand that must complete to win; e.g. “I bet on the come with four cards to a straight flush.”

A card that is one rank higher or lower than another card.

Counterfeited hand
A hand that loses after getting dealt a card that nullifies the player’s advantage; e.g. “I had Nine-Eight on a King-Ten-Nine flop, then another King and another Ten were dealt and I got counterfeited.”

A pair of pocket Kings in Texas Hold’em.

To beat a very strong hand by completing a draw.

The act of separating the deck into two or more piles after it has been shuffled, to help maintain the integrity of the deal.



Short for underdog.

Dominated hand
A hand that is a heavy statistical underdog to another player's hand.

Door card
The first card dealt face-up in a stud game, after the hole cards are dealt.

Drawing dead
A situation where a player has no chance to win the pot at showdown.

1. Another term for fold.
2. A form of commission charged by casinos to players at cash tables, based on how much time they spend playing.



The share of the pot that a player can expect to win, on average, given the current situation.

1. The amount of money that a player can expect to win, on average, by making a specific play given the current situation.
2. The amount of money that a player can expect to win, on average, at a specific game during a specific time period.



Family pot
A hand where everyone at the table is involved in the pot.

Fast play
The act of playing a hand aggressively with bets and raises, as opposed to checks and calls (see: slow play)

A pair of pocket Jacks in Texas Hold’em.

1. A type of poker game that uses blinds rather than a bring-in, and features community cards, such as Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Omaha Hi/Lo.
2. The first three community cards that are dealt in such a game.
3. The betting round in which the first three community cards are dealt.

To withdraw from the hand and relinquish any claim to the pot, as well as any bets that the player has already made.

A hand which is ruled unplayable due to a breach in rules or procedure.

Free card
A card that a player receives without first having to call a bet or raise.

Free roll
1. A tournament that is free for any player to enter.
2. A situation where two or more players have the same hand value, but one player also has a draw to a stronger hand.

Full house
A hand consisting of three cards of the same rank and two cards of another rank.



An inside straight draw.



1. A complete series of betting rounds leading to the pot being awarded to the winner(s).
2. The cards a player is holding, including any community cards they might use.

Heads up
A game or hand involving exactly two players.

High hand
The strongest hand out of those competing for a pot, except in lowball games, where the high hand is the weakest hand.

Another term for catch.

The casino, card room or other organization hosting the game.



Ignorant end
A straight draw where the player will make the worst straight possible if they complete, aka the dumb end.

Implied odds
The pot odds that a player has at one point in a hand, given an assumed series of actions later in the hand.

Inside straight draw
A draw to a straight that can only be completed by a single rank of card, as opposed to an open-ended straight draw.



A prize that is sometimes awarded to a player or players for the occurrence of a specific event during a game, like winning a hand with a royal flush, or having a very strong hand beaten by an even bigger hand at showdown.

The act of going all-in.



Any unpaired card that is used to break a tie situation among hands.



1. A description for any cards in the deck that have yet to be dealt or exposed.
2. A description for a player who brings action to the table, or a game featuring a lot of action.
3. A description for a hand that is still in play.

Loose play
A style of poker featuring more action than normal.

An unbeatable hand that is guaranteed to win the pot.



Made hand
A hand that already contains at least a pair, as opposed to a drawing hand.

A player who will raise and re-raise aggressively with little regard to the quality of their hand.

1. The pile of discarded and burned cards collected in front of the dealer.
2. The act of folding by placing one’s cards face-down in the discard pile.



A betting structure that allows players to go all-in when it’s their turn.

The best possible hand any player can have, given any visible cards.



A card that is not of the same suit as another given card.

A flop game similar to Texas Hold’em, with players receiving four cards instead of two.

Two cards that are separated by a single rank.

Any single card that can improve a player’s hand.

To defeat an opponent by completing a draw.

To call a bet after one or more other players have already called.

A card of a higher rank than any visible cards during a hand.

A pair of a higher rank than any visible cards during a hand.



Another term for face card.

A style of poker featuring checking and calling, as opposed to aggressive play with bets and raises.

Pay off
To call a bet and lose the hand.

Play the board
To use all five community cards on the river to make your hand.

Pocket cards
The cards that are dealt face-down to a player at the start of a hand.

1. To put in a blind at the start of a hand.
2. To put in a forced bet, usually equal to the size of the big blind, when first sitting down at a cash game.

The chips that have been put into play during a hand and are eligible to be won.

Pot limit
A betting structure where the maximum bet or raise any player can make is the current size of the pot.

Pot odds
The ratio between the size of the pot and the cost of continuing in a hand.

1. To shield one's cards so that they are not accidentally exposed or otherwise compromised.
2. To bet or raise with a strong, but vulnerable made hand, when facing a threat from one or more drawing hands.



Another term for four of a kind.



A low card, usually between Deuce and Five, although a Six may also be considered a rag.

A description for a board with few high or co-ordinated cards, either paired or by rank/suit.

A board where all the cards are of different suits.

To add a larger amount of money, usually at least twice as much, to the pot than the previous bettor did.

A percentage of the pot which is removed by the dealer before being awarded to the winner, and kept by the house as a commission. This is typically done only with hands that have reached the flop.

1. The denomination of a playing card.
2. The specific strength of a hand, e.g. two pair.

To play a hand, intentionally or otherwise, in such a way that suggests what cards you may be holding.

To raise after a previous player has raised.

Ring game
A cash game, as opposed to a tournament.

The last dealt card or betting round in a hand.

A conservative player who plays very few hands.

A draw that completes using the final two cards dealt in the hand.



Scare card
A card that appears to help a player, like an Ace on the flop in a 3-bet pot.

Second pair
The second-highest pair available given the community cards that have been dealt.

To represent a big hand as if it were a less powerful hand, hoping to induce action.

A bet or raise with a hand that may not be the best at the moment, but can draw and make the winning hand should the opponent continue.

A specific version of three of a kind, where you have a pocket pair and a third card of the same rank hits the board.

Seven-Card Stud
A stud game where each player is dealt seven cards, and asked to make their best 5-card hand. The first betting round sees two cards dealt face-down, then the door card; this is followed by up to three more betting rounds if necessary, each preceded by a single face-down card, then a seventh and final betting round after the seventh card is dealt face-up.

Short stack
1. The stack with the fewest number of chips at a tournament or tournament table.
2. A relatively small stack at a cash game that allows a lower buy-in; e.g. 40 big blinds when everyone else has bought in for 100bb.
3. A player with such a stack.

The final sequence of a hand, if required, after all the action has been completed. The players left in the pot turn their hole cards over, any remaining cards are dealt, and the winner is declared.

Side pot
A secondary pot created after one or more players are all-in during a hand, and at least two other live players still have chips.

Slow play
The act of playing a hand (usually a strong hand) passively with checks and calls, as opposed to fast play.

Small blind
1. A mandatory live bet that is posted before the start of each hand in a flop game. This bet is typically half the size of the big blind.
2. The player at the table who must post this mandatory bet.

Split pot
1. A pot that is divided equally among two or more winning hands that each have the same value. Also known as a chopped pot.
2. A pot that is divided between the high hand and the low hand in a game like Omaha Hi/Lo.

Split two pair
A hand in which a player’s two hole cards are each paired by cards on the board.

An extra blind voluntarily posted in a cash game, where allowed, in order to stimulate the action. A straddle is typically twice the size of the big blind, although unlimited straddles are sometimes allowed; other players may re-straddle for twice the previous straddle.

String bet
A bet or raise in which a player places their chips into the pot in two or more separate physical motions, without previously declaring that they are betting or raising. This is not allowed; if enforced correctly, the dealer will declare the bet a call.

A catch-all term used to describe the collective elements of a game, such as the buy-in, the size of the blinds, the number of players at a table, the length of the blind levels in a tournament, et al.

Suited card
A card that is of the same suit as another card.



Table stakes
A rule in a poker game where a player may only bet with the chips in front of them, and not produce more money or chips in the middle of a hand.

A verbal or physical action, made knowingly or otherwise, that may give information about the strength of one’s hand.

Texas Holdem
A flop game where players are dealt two hole cards, then up to five community cards in order to make the best 5-card hand possible.

Any physical or mental condition that leads to sub-optimal play.

A tip that is given to the dealer by the winner of a pot.

Top pair
The highest pair available given the community cards that have been dealt.

A specific version of three of a kind, using one of your hole cards and two other cards.

1. The fourth community card that is dealt in a flop game.
2. The betting round in which the fourth community card is dealt.



Under the gun
1. The position at the table where the player must act first pre-flop.
2. The player seated at said position.

1. A player who is not favored against the competition.
2. A hand that is statistically weaker than the other hands involved in a pot.



Value bet
A bet that is placed with a made hand, generally hoping to induce a call or raise.

The difference in the potential outcomes of a hand or series of hands, based purely on the randomness of the cards rather than the decisions made by the players.