Poker glossary

Action

(1) The opportunity to actively participate in a game. If a player doesn't notice that it's his turn, the dealer can prompt him to play with the words: "Your action". (2) Bets and raises: "If a third spade appears on the board and there is a lot of action afterwards, you can assume that someone has a flush."

All-In

 A player bets all the chips available to them on the table.

Ante

A small, forced bet that each player must post, before seeing their cards, to form a pot. In most Hold'em variants there isn't an ante; instead the pot is formed with "blinds". 

Backdoor

 The completion of a straight or a flush with two cards (on the turn and the river). An example: You have A-7 and the flop brings K-6-4. You would need two more cards to get a straight. If they appear on the turn and the river, then this is called a "backdoor straight" - a straight through the backdoor. See also "runner". 

Bad Beat

"Terrible luck" in poker: This expression is used whenever a very strong hand is beaten by a much weaker hand. "Bad Beat" also means that the final winner actually had no place in the pot and only won thanks to extreme card luck. We don't give an example here - you'll hear enough about bad beats during the course of your poker career...  

Bet

The first chips that are paid into the pot during any "street" of a poker hand. Before the flop, the small blind is referred to as the "first bet".  

Big Blind

The larger of the two forced bets that must be played in a Texas Hold'em game. See also "blind".  

Blank

A valueless community card on the turn or river that doesn't help any player improve his hand. An example: If the flop is A-J-T, a 2 would be a classic "blank" without any effect.  

Blind

A forced bet that must be provided by one or more players before dealing out the first cards of a hand. Usually, these are bets - in Texas Hold'em the "small blind" and "big blind" - paid into the pot by the two players left of the "dealer button".

Board

All community cards that come to the table during a hand - i.e. the flop, turn and river cards. An example: "There wasn't a single heart on the board".  

Bottom pair. A pair that is formed with a starting card and the lowest card of the flop. An example: If you are holding A-6 and the flop brings K-T-6, then you have "flopped the bottom pair".

Burn

At live poker tables the card dealer "burns" the top card - i.e. he takes it from the pile of cards, unseen, and lays it aside before dealing out the cards. This is always done before the flop, the turn and the river come to the table and is to prevent a player gaining an unfair advantage by seeing the top card.  

Button

Short for "dealer button" - a disc (usually imprinted with a "D") on the poker table that indicates the nominal "dealer". With each round played, the button moves clockwise around the table to indicate who the "dealer" is - and accordingly who has to post the blinds. The term is also used to describe the player in the dealer position: "Oh, the button has raised."  

Buy

This term describes (1) a raise with the intention of persuading all opponents to fold ("buy the pot") or (2) a raise with the aim of persuading all opponents between himself and the blinds to fold ("buy the button"). When talking about "buying the pot", it is also implied that a player is bluffing, whereas a buyer who tries to buy the button usually has an above-average good hand.    

Buy-in

In a tournament this is the amount paid to participate. In a cash game it is the amount that the player brings to the table.  

Call

"Call" means to match a preceding bet or raise. (Other expressions include "to see" or "to meet a bet".)

Calling Station

A somewhat depreciative expression for a player who hardly ever posts or raises but often "calls" or likes to play speculative hands like "inside straights", even if the statistical chances of success actually prohibit this decision. Weak and passive players are also referred to as "calling stations".

Cap

The maximum, last raise allowed in Limit Poker (usually the third). Dealers in California like to say "Capitola" or "Cappuccino", which means: No more raises. Cash game A regular poker table where every round is played for chips that have a fixed value - unlike tournaments, where you pay a one-off "buy-in".

Case

The last card of a particular value or suit that can still be in the deck. An example: "The flop brings J-8-3, I have a pair of jacks and a pair of eights. And the river brings, of all cards, the case eight, and therefore it hits my full house.

Centre Pot

The Centre Pot or "Main Pot" is the main pot of a poker hand. If multiple players with different chip counts go all-in, a "side pot" must be formed in addition to the main pot.

Check

 When nothing has been posted in a round of betting and you (first player only) don't want to post, you can "check", i.e. pass to the next player.

Check Raise

When a player with a good hand intentionally "checks" to raise the bet of another player. This tactic is primarily a valuable tool for low limits, to reduce the number of players remaining in the pot if you have the best hand at that time.

Cold Call

When a bet and an additional raise are posted, the expression "cold call" means that a player calls without posting his own raise. In a cold call, the player posts the bet and the raise.

Come Hand

A hand that needs to be improved ("on the come"). Community cards. These are the cards that come to the table face-up and are used by all players at the same time in Texas Hold'em and Omaha. They are also referred to as the "board".

Complete Hand

A poker hand for which all five cards are required. Straight, flush, full house or straight flush.

Connector

"Two-card-straight". Two consecutive cards, e.g. 9-10 or Q-J.

Counterfeit

Devaluation of your own cards by the community cards. An example: You get 6-6 as starting cards, and the flop brings 10-10-9. So you currently have 2 pairs. If a 9 now appears on the turn (or river), the two pairs on the table make your pair worthless - your hand is "counterfeited".

Crack

Beating a hand - usually a very strong hand. This expression is frequently used when someone loses with a pair of aces. "That's the third time today that my aces have been cracked."

Cripple

The expression "cripple the deck" means that a player finds all the cards that give him an optimal hand among the community cards...and thus simultaneously "cripples" the board for everyone else. An example: If you have a pair of kings as starting cards and the other two kings appear in the flop, you have "crippled" the board.

Cut-Off

The position (or the player) directly right of the dealer.

Dealer

 The player who really (or theoretically) deals out the cards. If a professional dealer (in a casino or poker room) or an automatic dealer (in online poker) deals out the cards, then it is necessary to identify the theoretical dealer so that it is clear who the "blinds" (the two players left of the dealer) are. This theoretical dealer is identified by a small disc, which is called the "dealer button" or "button" and moves clockwise to the next player after each round.

Dog

Short form of "underdog", the outsider according to mathematical probability.

Dominated Hand

A hand that will almost always lose to one of the better hands that are usually played. For example, K-3 is "dominated" by K-Q: Unless an extremely unlikely flop appears (e.g. 3-3-X, K-3-X), this starting hand will always lose against K-Q.

Draw Dead

 No matter what card comes to the table - your hand will not be enough to win. An example: When you are hoping for a flush, but another player has already achieved a full house, then you lose regardless of whether you get a flush or not. This is, of course, a precarious situation because you don't know that you are "drawing dead".

Drawing Hand

 A hand that does not have the potential to win on its own, but which can be improved by an appropriate "draw" on the turn or river.

Equity

The "justifiable" share of the pot a player can expect. If a pot contains €80 and your own statistical chances of winning the pot are 50%, you have a "pot equity" of €40. This expression is of little significance because you either win €80 or nothing, but it gives you a good idea of what you can - statistically - "expect" to win.

Expectation

(1) The amount that you can expect on average if you go out on a particular hand. An example: You pay €10 into a €50 pot, with the prospect of a hand that you will get in 25% of all cases and that you know will always win. Three out of four times you don't hit your "draw" and therefore lose 3 x 10 euros, so a total of €30. The fourth time you get your hand and win €50. This means that your total gains over four hands are €50 - €30 = €20, so an average of €5 per hand. So a call for €10 in a hand like this has a positive "expectation" of €5. (2) The amount that is expected to be won at the poker table in a certain period of time: If you have made €527 in 100 hours of play, you have an expectation of €5.27/hour. Of course, you won't earn this exact amount per hour (and in some hours you will also lose), but this is how expected gains can be statistically calculated.

Extra Blind

An extra blind that must be posted by a player who is new to the table, comes back to the table or otherwise changes his seat position (see also "blind").

Family Pot

(also referred to as "Multi-Way Pot"). A pot that all players - or almost all - participate in before the flop.

Fast

Playing a hand aggressively and posting or raising at every opportunity. "I played that hand fast". Most of the time, players play like this to protect a "made hand" against a "drawing hand".

Favourite

The hand with the best statistical changes of winning.

Floorman

A casino employee who manages the entire gaming area. The floorman or "floor" allocates free seats to players, opens new tables, makes decisions about unclear situations at the table, etc.

Flop

The first three community cards, which are revealed at the same time.

Fold

When you don't want to match another player's bet so you give up your cards.

Foul

A hand that is unplayable for one reason or another (e.g. because a player has one card too many). A player with such a hand is not entitled to the pot or any part of it: "After the flop, it turned out that he had received three starting cards, so the floorman declared his hand foul."

Free Card

When all players check after revealing a card, i.e. nobody posts anything, the next card comes to table without anyone having to post a bet. So you get to see this card for free - hence "free card".

Free Roll

(1) If the last two active players have hands of equal value, but only one of the two can improve his hand by another card, that player has a "free roll". An example: If you have the ace of clubs and the queen of clubs, your opponent has ace of spades and the queen of spades and there are two clubs in the flop but no spades, in the worst case you split the pot but you can still win if another club appears on the turn or river. (2) A "freeroll" is a poker tournament with prizes but without a "buy-in".

Gutshot Straight

(also referred to as "Inside Straight"). A straight that is missing the middle card. An example: You have 9-8 and 7-5-2 appears in the flop. If the turn brings the 6, then you have completed a "gutshot straight".

Heads Up

When only two players are (still) playing for a pot. "On the turn they were heads-up."

Hit

When a card comes to the table that improves your hand, then you say: "The flop hit me".

Hole Cards

(Bunker cards, hand cards, starting cards) The face-down cards that you receive at the beginning of each hand. In Texas Hold'em you receive two, in Omaha four "hole cards".

House

The organiser of a poker party.

Implied Odds

Implied odds are "pot odds" that don't exist in that moment but that you include in your calculation. In other words: You calculate the possible sequential bets that you would win if you got your winning hand. An example: You already have four spades after the flop. Your chance of a flush is 4:1 against you. Even if the pot odds are currently only 3:1, you could now include the bets that are most likely on the turn or river in your calculation as "in the pot". However, this method of calculating chances is speculative and requires a lot of experience. (see also "pot odds").

Inside Straight Draw

(see also "Inside Straight" or "Gutshot Straight") A straight that is missing one of the middle cards. An example: You already have 6-7-9-10 and would need an 8 to complete your "inside straight draw".

Jackpot

A special bonus or "consolation prize" for a very good hand that is unfortunately beaten. In Hold'em, in order to qualify for a "Bad Beat Jackpot", the loser must usually have a full house with aces in his hand. In extreme cases, a jackpot can increase so much that some players go all-in to get a "bad beat" just because of this jackpot.

Kicker

A side card that determines the winner if two (or more) players have almost the same hand in the showdown. An example: A player holds A-K, his opponent A-Q. If an ace appears on the board, both have a pair of aces, but the player with the higher "kicker" (in this case, the king) wins.

Live Blind

A blind bet that must be posted by one or more players before dealing out the cards. The addition of "live" means that players who have posted a live blind may raise when it is their next turn provided that their blind has only been called prior to this.

Made Hand

A hand that is already complete and requires no more cards.

Maniac

A player who constantly and aggressively raises or bluffs. A real "maniac" isn't a good player, but someone who is constantly challenging his luck. But beware: Players who occasionally act like a maniac and confound their opponents in doing so, can be quite dangerous.

Muck

The pile of folded and discarded cards next to the dealer. An example: "His hand touched the muck so the dealer had to declare his hand foul, even if the guy wanted to get his cards back." The word is also used as a verb and means "to discard your cards".

No-Limit

A betting variant in poker in which a player can raise, once it is their turn, by any amount from the chips that are in front of him at that time. No Limit Poker is very complex and is considered the "real" poker by many players.

Nuts

The appropriate starting cards for the best possible hand, which can be formed together with the community cards. An example: If the community cards are K-J-T-4-2, A-Q would be the "nuts". The expression is sometimes also used in conjunction with the best possible hand in a particular category: So in the example above, someone with the starting cards A-Q would have the "nut straight".

Offsuit

Cards of a different suit.

One-Gap

Texas Hold’em: Starting cards between which there is only one gap, e.g. J-9 or 6-4.

Open-Ended Straight Draw

Anyone who already has a straight of four cards, which can be completed at the top or bottom end (e.g. 3-4-5-6), has an "Open-Ended Straight Draw".

Out

Cards that can improve your hand. This expression is usually used in the plural: "A spade would have brought me a flush, so I had nine outs."

Overcall

Calling a bet after this bet has already been called by one or more players.

Overcard

In Texas Hold'em this means a starting card that is higher than the highest community card. For example, if you have A-Q in your hand and the flop brings J-7-3, then you haven't hit a pair, but two overcards.

Overpair. In Texas Hold'em this means a starting card that is higher than the highest community card. For example, if you have A-Q in your hand and the flop brings J-7-3, then you haven't hit a pair, but two overcards.

Overpair 

 In Texas Hold'em this means a pair as starting cards that is higher than the cards in the flop. For example, if you have Q-Q in your hand and the flop brings J-8-3, then you have an "overpair".

Pay Off

Calling the last bet in the last round without a great chance of winning, because the pot is large enough to justify this call. An example: "He played as though he had his flush but I had the best three of a kind so I paid him off."

Play the Board

You only use the cards on the table to make your hand because they are better than your own "hole cards". An example: You have 4-4 and the "board" shows 6-6-9-9-A - so your four pair is irrelevant. But beware: If you "play the board", at best you will split the pot with the other players (see also "counterfeit").

Pocket

Another name for "hole cards" (pocket cards, starting cards): "I had ace-king in the pocket."

Pocket Pair

A pair as starting cards, e.g. "pocket kings" (K-K) or "pocket sevens" (7-7).

Post

This word is usually used in the context of forced bets such as "blinds" or "antes".

Pot-Limit

A betting variant, in which the player whose turn it is can raise up to the current maximum amount (the pot). Similar to No Limit Poker, Pot Limit Poker is very different to Limit Poker.

Pot Odds

The "pot odds" quantify the ratio of the bet to be posted to the current total in the pot. An example: There are 60 chips in the pot. A player posts 6 chips, so the current total in the pot is now 66 chips. It's your turn and you now have to pay six chips to call - which results in "pot odds" of 66:6 or 11:1. If you have a chance of 1 to 12 on the best possible hand, the "pot odds" justify a "call". These "pot odds" form the basis of the calculation for "draw" chances. An example: You still need one card for a "nut flush" and only one more card will be dealt. Thus, you have a 1:4 chance of getting your flush. If you were to post 8 chips to see the last card, there would need to be at least 32 chips in the pot to justify that call.

Price

The "pot odds" that you get for a draw or call: "The price for the pot was right, so I stayed in with my gutshot straight draw."

Protect

(1) In live poker, you usually place a chip on your hole cards or let your hand rest on them, so that they are not confused with another player's cards or accidentally collected by the dealer. (2) Post or raise so that some players fold. This reduces the chance that players with a "drawing hand" remain in the game and, with luck, get the right card.

Quads

Four of a kind, or "poker" (four cards of the same card value).

Ragged

Cards that, at first glance, don't benefit any players. A flop like J-6-2 is referred to as "ragged".

Rainbow

A "rainbow flop" consists of three cards of different suits, so a flush on the turn is impossible. The expression is also used for a board with five cards that offers a maximum of two cards of one suit, also making a flush impossible.

Raise

The increase of a bet made by another player.

Rake

The amount that is taken out of the pot for the organiser of a poker game.

Rank. The numerical value of a card (as opposed to "suit"): "Jack", "Seven".

Represent

Pretending to have a good hand: If you raise the bet before the flop and then raise it again after the flop has brought an ace, then you "represent" a pair of aces.

Ring Game

A regular poker table where every round is played for chips that have a fixed value - unlike tournaments where you pay a one-off "buy-in".

River

The fifth and final community card, which is face-up on the table. There are many metaphors for the river card, such as: "I was drowned in the river" - which simply means that the last card gave someone else a better hand and you lost a pot that you believed to be a sure win.

Rock

A player who plays extremely soundly and not very creatively. He is strong, but the strength of his hands is also very predictable. If he raises on the river, you can safely fold your cards - unless, of course, you are holding the "nuts".

Runner

A card that is suitable for a flush or straight, which appears on the turn or river. "Runner-Runner" is said to describe a hand that is only formed with the turn and the river card. An example: "He hit a runner-runner flush and beat my three of a kind." See also "backdoor".

Scare Card

A community card or face-up card that has the potential to significantly improve an opponent's hand. An example: You have T-8 and Q-J-9 appears in the flop, which means that you probably have the best hand at that moment in time. T as the next card would then be a real "scare card" because your hand is now as good as beaten - because a single king in your opponent's hand beats your straight. Second Pair, also called "Middle Pair". A pair that is formed with one of your starting cards and the second-highest card in the flop. An example: You have A-T and the flop brings K-T-6. Thus, you have flopped the "second pair". Sell or "to sell a hand". Playing a very strong hand with moderate bets so that opponents call instead of folding - and thus pay more money into the pot.

Semi-Bluff

An extremely effective concept that was originally defined by David Sklansky. A semi-bluff includes a bet (or a raise) that you hope will cause the other players to fold. However, if someone calls, you still have some "outs". A semi-bluff can be worthwhile if neither a "value bet" nor a full bluff would be correct, but a combination of the two leads to good chances of winning. An example: You have K-Q and the flop brings T-5-J. If you now post a bet, that would be a typical semi-bluff. You probably don't have the best hand at that moment and would like to see if all your opponents fold. If, however, someone should call, theoretically there are still enough cards in the pile that can improve your hand to the best hand.

Set

A three of a kind made up of a "pocket pair" and a community card.

Short Stack

The player at the table who has the smallest stack of chips.

Showdown

Revealing the cards at the end of a round. All players who are still in play at that time turn over their cards (starting with the player who posted or raised last) to determine the winner. However, if someone posts a bet or raises in the last betting round, and no other opponent at the table calls, there is no "showdown".

Side Pot

A "side pot" is formed whenever a player goes all-in with his chips but can't match the last bet or the last raise. He then only plays for the "main pot", whereas the others fight for both the main pot and the side pot.

Slow Play 

A player plays very modestly in the first round of betting, even though he has a strong hand - to keep as many players as possible in the pot.

Slowroll

A slowroll is when a player initially pretends to be beaten in the showdown, and then after a while relishes in turning over the better hand. Needless to say, a slowroll doesn't make you any friends...

Small Blind

The smaller of the two forced bets that are typical of Texas Hold'em. See also "blinds" and "big blind". In general, the small blind is one to two thirds of a bet in the first round of betting.

Smooth Call

A "smooth call" is simply a "call" with a hand with which you could actually raise. The intention is to keep players in the pot: "I flopped the nut flush but only made a smooth call after the guy in front of me posted a bet - I didn't want to chase anyone out of the hand."

Split Pot

A pot that is split between two or more players who all have a hand of equal value in the showdown.

Split Two Pair

When each of the starting cards forms a pair with a community card. An example: You have 7-9 in your hand and the flop brings 7-9-K.

Spread-limit

A betting structure in which a player can bet any amount in each betting round - as long as it is within a specified betting range. A typical spread-limit structure would be e.g. 2-6, where each player can post a minimum of 2 and maximum of 6 chips in each round of betting.

Straddle

An additional forced bet, that is usually double the "big blind" and posted by the player to the left of the big blind. The straddle is basically a raise, and forces any player who wants to participate in the hand to post at least two bets. In addition, the "straddler" is the last player before the flop - and he can raise again.

String Bet

A bet (usually a raise) where a player posts the chips for his previously declared raise in the pot in two or more phases. If he didn't previously announce what he intended to do (whether he calls or raises), this raise can be revoked by the dealer and the player will only be permitted to call. This ban on "string bets" prevents the bad habits of some players, to start with, only post enough chips into the middle to check, while observing the effect achieved and then, if possible, raise by posting more chips.

Suited

Cards of the same suit. This expression is often used when the starting cards in Texas Hold'em are the same suit. An example: "I had J-3 suited, I had to call."

Table Stakes

This poker rule states that a player may only use the chips that are in front of him during a hand - "the chip stack on the table". Should he run out of chips during the hand, a "side pot" is formed and played in addition to the main pot, without him having a share in it. In casinos, poker is always played using the "Table Stakes" rule. In conjunction with this rule, players cannot simply take some of their chips from the table, i.e. putting a share of their chips in their pocket during a hand: Either you stop playing, take your chips and go, or you keep playing and leave your chips on the table until the hand is over and you can go.

Tell

An unconscious movement, gesture or behaviour, through which a player unintentionally divulges the strength of his hand or his next action in certain situations. Tilt "To go on tilt" means "playing crazily". This poker expression describes a player who loses his emotional balance due to a run of bad luck, and starts playing wildly or recklessly and "throws his chips around" so to speak.

Time

The time that a player can take to think about his move when it's his turn. At a casino, you can ask for more time by saying "Time, please". If a player doesn't do this and takes too much time, the player after him may have already posted a bet or raised. In this case, the dealer can declare his hand a "dead hand" and take it from him.

Tip

A tip that the dealer receives from the winner of a pot. It is customary to "tip" the dealer after winning a pot. This shows recognition for his professional work and thanks him for the win.

Top Pair

A pair made up of a starting card and the highest card in the flop. An example: If you are have A-6 and the flop brings A-T-8, then you have "flopped the top pair".

Top Set

When you can make a three of a kind with your "pocket pair" and the highest card from the flop. An example: You have T-T and 4-T-8 appears in the flop - therefore you have "flopped the top set".

Top Two

When each of the starting cards forms a pair with a community card. An example: You have K-9 in your hand and the flop brings 7-9-K. Also referred to as "Split Two Pair".

Top and Bottom

The highest and the lowest pair - when the two starting cards each form a pair with the highest and lowest community card. An example: You have K-7 and the flop brings 7-9-K.

Trips Drilling

Also referred to as "Set" or "Three of a kind".

Turn

The fourth of five community cards, which is face-up on the table. Also the third round of betting.

Under The Gun

"Under Fire" (also abbreviated as "UTG"). When you sit just to the left of the "Big Blind" and, as the first player, have to decide what to do. The worst position at a poker table.

Underdog

A person or a hand that mathematically only has a small chance of winning. An example: When you get four cards for a flush in the flop, mathematically you are 2:1 an "underdog", which affects your chances of a flush on the river (i.e. you would hit your flush every third time). See also "Dog".

Value

The expression "Bet for Value" describes a bet in a particular situation, in which, in the long run, a win is more likely than a loss according to the probability calculation - in the hope that the opponents call (as opposed to bluffing).

Variance

The amount of ups and downs your account balance goes through during your poker career - but this doesn't necessarily imply the quality of your game. However: The higher the variance, the greater the ups and downs of the bankroll.  

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