Poker glossary

From all-in to kicker and wheel – this is your comprehensive glossary to every piece of poker jargon

Any betting or the opportunity to bet. So, in a poker context, you might say ‘the action at the final table was intense’, or ‘is it my action?’ (meaning ‘is it my turn to act?’). If you’re always betting and raising, you might get known as an ‘action player’.

Betting all your chips on a single hand puts you all-in. This entitles you to see all the community cards and take part in the showdown. If you have the winning hand, you can win up to the amount you went all-in for from each player.

Bad beat
To be a big favourite in a hand and then to lose to an opponent who was statistically an underdog.

These are compulsory bets introduced to ensure there’s some money to fight for in every pot. The player to the immediate left of the dealer posts the small blind, and the player to their left posts the big blind (usually double the small blind). The sizes of the blinds are dictated by the stakes of the table or what stage of a tournament you’re at.

Board T
he community cards in hold’em are collectively known as the board.

This is the marker that looks like a hockey puck and indicates which player is the virtual dealer and therefore where the action and deal starts, as well as who puts in the blinds. The button moves round one player each hand and often has ‘Dealer’ written on it.

The amount of chips with which you sit down in a game, or the cost of entering a tournament.

When a player matches a bet that’s already been made.

The last permitted raise in a limit betting round.

If there’s no bet on the table and you don’t want to place a bet, that action is termed a check. You may only check when there are no prior bets made on that round (including the blinds).

A form of cheating where two or more players attempt to gain an unfair advantage by sharing information such as their hole cards during a game.

Community cards
The face-up cards in the middle of the table that are shared by all players are termed community cards in hold’em and Omaha.

Down cards
See ‘hole cards’.

Drawing dead
This is when there are still cards to come, but none of them can help you win the hand.

Fifth street
The term for the fifth board card in hold’em.

In hold’em, this is the set of three face-up community cards that are dealt after the first round of betting.

Five cards of the same suit. In hold’em, you can make one using two, one or none of your hole cards, but in Omaha you must use two.

When you throw in your cards and take no further part in the current hand. Of course, you can’t reclaim any chips you’ve put into the pot.

Fourth street
The fourth community card in hold’em and Omaha.

This term applies to poker tournaments where there’s no entry fee but where the house guarantees a prize pool to the winners.

Full house
A five-card hand in which you have a combination of three of a kind and a pair.

Heads up
When only two players are in contention for the pot, they’re heads-up. Also look out for heads-up tournaments, where it’s one-on-one all the way.

High card
The card with the highest rank in your hand – if you fail to make any hand, you play this. So if you have A-K and the board comes 2-6-8-5-10 you have Ace high. If two players have the same high card or hand, then look to the second card, which is known as the kicker.

A variation of poker where the pot in each game is split between the best and the worst hands. The worst hand usually comprises the five lowest cards, so in Omaha hi/lo on VC Poker, the nut low is A-2-3-4-5.

Hole cards
The private cards a player is dealt.

The term for the card used to break ties between similar hands. So if two players go all-in with A-K and A-Q in hold’em, the A-K will win unless the A-Q improves or there’s a split pot.

Main pot
The principal pot of money. If one or more players go all-in, a side pot is created for each all-in player.

As a noun, this refers to the pile of folded and discarded cards. As a verb, used at showdown time, it means the act of returning a losing hand to the dealer face down.

Multi-table tournament
A type of tournament where players at more than one table compete, starting with equal numbers of chips, until one player has won all of the chips. Prize payouts are a function of the number of entrants and are posted on the tournament’s page. Multi-table tournaments have a posted start time and require that you register in advance.

A betting structure in which each bet is only limited by the number of chips a player has on the table.

A game in which each player receives four face-down cards and shares five community cards. The winning hand must use exactly two down cards and three community cards.

Omaha hi/lo This game allows players to compete for a pot split between the highest and the lowest hands using two down cards and three community cards. A player may use different sets of cards to make up the best high and the best low hands.

Play chips
The chips used for play money games. These have no monetary value, so don’t try to withdraw them.

Playing the board
When a player uses all the community cards in hold’em as their best hand.

Pocket pair
A pair in the hole, such as 2-2 or A-A. Pot The total chips available to win in any given hand.

Pot limit
A variation on betting where each player may bet up to the current amount in the pot after the amount it costs them to call is put in.

The amount of money in chips taken by the house as the service fee.

The act of betting more than that was wagered by a prior bettor.

To get more chips during a game (but not during a hand you’re in. That wouldn’t be fair). This applies to real money and tournament play.

The fifth and final community card. This card is also known as fifth street.

Royal flush
The best possible high hand. This is a straight flush from 10 through to Ace of the same suit.

The same as ‘call’. Often used in conjunction with the term ‘raise’, as in ‘I’ll see your $5 and raise you $5’. Use it nowadays and risk sounding outdated.

This takes place after the final bet where all players show their hands or muck and the best one takes the pot.

Side pot
The pot created when a player goes all-in. The side pot is the pot available to all those players who’re not all-in at that point.

Single-table tournament
The same as a multi-table tournament, except it starts when all of the seats are filled (usually two, six or nine). In a nine-handed game, the prize money is split between the top three on a 50%, 30%, 20% ratio.

A five-card hand in rank order where suit doesn’t matter – for example, 8-9-10-J-Q of different suits.

Straight flush
Five cards of the same suit in rank order.

There are four of these in a 52-card deck – hearts , clubs , diamonds and spades . No suit is better than any other in hold’em or Omaha.

Table stakes
This is the way modern poker games are played, whereby you can only lose what you have on the table, and are allowed to go all-in if a bet exceeds what you have in play.

Texas hold’em
The most popular form of poker game played today (and the one you’ve probably seen played on TV), where each player receives two hole cards followed by five community cards.

Another name for three of a kind.

The nickname for the fourth community card in hold’em and Omaha.

A nickname for the best low handand the lowest straight: A-2-3-4-5

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