Poker Glossary

Every subculture uses its own slang, and the poker world is no exception, so knowing the lingo can be half the battle for beginners.

Sitting at a poker table for the first time can be like crossing into a foreign land. Players seem to be speaking in tongues as they banter back and forth, exchanging curiously coded terminology to describe the game.

This page will serve as your poker interpreter, providing a handy glossary of words and phrases commonly used at the table:

All-In – An all-in bet is any wager using a player’s entire stack; to move all-in is to make such a wager

Ante – A small forced bet, separate from the blinds, used in tournament play to compel action

Backdoor – Any draw completed using both the turn and river; for example 7-9 on 2-3-8-10-J hits a backdoor straight

Bad Beat – Loss suffered despite holding best hand or best odds to win

Big Blind – Second, and larger, forced bet to begin hand

Blank – Card that doesn’t appear to change anything; for example 2 on turn after K-Q-J flop

Bluff – Bet made with an inferior hand in the hope of forcing a fold

Burn – A card dealt face down before the flop, turn, and river

Button – Circular disk used to mark the dealer position

Call – Meeting the current bet

Check – Declining to bet

Connector – Any starting hand featuring consecutive ranks, for example 6-7 or Q-K

Cracked – Used when a strong starting hand loses; “my aces were cracked”

Dominated – Used when starting hand “outkicks” another; for example A-K dominates A-Q

Draw – An incomplete hand that can be made if the right card comes; 7-8-9-10 is a straight draw, needing a 6 or J to complete

Drawing Dead – The state of having no cards in the deck that can improve one hand over another; a straight is drawing dead to an opponent’s flush

Family Pot – Used when everybody at the table puts up a preflop bet to see the flop

Fold – Exiting hand by declining to call current bet

Gutshot – Type of straight draw, when only one card can complete; AKA “inside” straight draw (6-7-9-10)

Heads-Up – Play between two opponents

Hole Cards – Two-card starting hand

Kicker – Second card used to break ties between matching pairs and three of a kind; A-K outkicks A-J on A-A-5-3-2

Limit – Betting structure defined by predetermined wager sizes

Muck – Pile of discards (folded and/or burned cards) kept by dealer

No-Limit – Betting structure allowing wagers of unlimited size

Nuts – Best possible hand at that moment; an unbeatable hand; e.g. A-K on 10-J-Q-3-2

Offsuit – Starting hand in unmatched suits

Open-Ended – Straight draw with two cards to complete; for example 4-5 on 3-6-K flop, with 2 or 7 to complete

Postflop – Any betting round after the flop is dealt

Pocket Pair – Starting hand of identical ranks, for example 7-7

Preflop – Betting round before the flop

Set – Three of a kind using a pocket pair and third card on board

Small Blind – First, and smaller, forced bet to begin hand

Suited – Starting hand in same suit

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