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Poker Glossary

A few key terms and concepts of Hold 'Em poker

Of the poker glossaries I could find online, most were too comprehensive or graphically ugly, so I made my own. Hopefully this will serve as a sufficient primer to the game.

How It Works:

The point of Texas Hold 'Em is to make the best possible five-card hand out of two hole cards (cards dealt face down to you) and five community cards (cards dealt face up on the table and available to all players). (See "What Beats What") In most games, two players are required to contribute "blinds," which are compulsory bets in order to keep the action going. The "small blind" is the player directly to the left of the dealer, and the "big blind" is left of the small blind, paying a larger amount (usually twice as much). This ensures that nobody will see a flop without at least betting the same amount as the big blind. Each player is dealt two hole cards and betting begins with the player to the left of the big blind. Players may call (bet the same as the previous bet), raise (bet more), or fold (throw in their cards and exit the current hand). Once all the players have called the current bet (or folded), the "flop" is dealt, the first three community cards, face up. Betting proceeds again, with the added option to "check" (bet nothing) if no one has bet before you. Then, the "turn" is dealt, the fourth community card, and players bet again. Finally, the "river" – the fifth community card – is revealed, and players bet once more. Then the remaining players turn up their cards and the best five card hand wins. (Obviously, if everyone folds to one player at any point, dealing does not continue and that player is not required to show his/her cards.)

What Beats What:

Royal Flush (the best possible hand): a straight flush to the ace, for example:
Aheart Kheart Qheart Jheart Theart

Straight Flush: a straight with all the same suit
8club 7club 6club 5club 4club

Four of a Kind: four cards with the same value
Qdiamond Qspade Qheart Qclub 7diamond

Full House: three of a kind plus two of a kind
Jdiamond Jclub Jspade Kheart Kspade
(also an awful TV show featuring the Olsen twins)

Flush: five cards of the same suit
Adiamond Qdiamond Jdiamond 6diamond 2diamond

Straight: five cards of consecutive values
Tdiamond 9spade 8heart 7heart 6diamond

Three of a Kind: three cards of the same value
Tdiamond Tspade Tclub 6heart 2diamond

Two Pair: two pairs of two of a kind
Jheart Jclub 7diamond 7heart Aclub

Two of a Kind: two cards of the same value
Kheart Kdiamond 8club 6diamond 5club
(also an awesome TV show featuring the Olsen twins)

High Card (worst possible hand): a high card
Adiamond Jdiamond Tspade 4heart 2diamond
(this is known as "Ace high," the best possible high card hand; it beats "King high", etc., but loses to anything else on the list, even a low pair)


action - betting activity

all in - betting all of one's chips

belushi - this is a personal invention; I use it to refer to K9 hole cards

big slick - AK hole cards

blind - a compulsory bet before dealing begins, which keeps the action going at the table; the player to the left of the dealer is the "small blind," and the player to his left is the "big blind," and must bet more (usually twice as much)

board - the community cards, dealt face-up and shared by all players

boat/full boat - see "full house"

button - the dealer position, usually indicated by a marker or "button"; in casino games the dealer will not participate in the action, but the button will move around the table in order to distribute the blinds and the late action evenly across all players (in this case the dealer distributes cards as though he were in the position of the dealer button)

burn - discarding the top card on the deck before dealing; the dealer does this before turning up community cards after each round of betting, ostensibly to avoid the appearance of impropriety

call - bet the minimum amount to stay in the hand

chase - to remain in a hand, hoping for later community cards to improve your situation

check - to bet nothing; if no one has bet before you, you can check

check raise - to check and later raise another player's bet or raise; whenever I try this, everyone just checks around and they get a free card out of it

chip stack - the amount of chips you have

coin flip - when two hands have nearly equal probability to win based on the current community cards

community cards - the cards dealt face-up in Hold 'Em and used by all players to make their best possible hand

connectors - hole cards which can make a straight when combined with others (e.g., QJ or J8; J3 do not "connect" because more than three other values come between them)

cowboys - pocket Kings

double through - doubling your chip stack by winning an all in bet

draw - an incomplete hand with more cards to come (e.g, 7654 would be a "straight draw")

drawing dead - when your opponent's hand beats yours no matter what community cards come next

felt - the surface of the poker table, usually covered in green felt (someone is said to be "on the felt" if their chip stack is particularly low; I prefer my personal twist on this one, "asymptotically approaching the felt")

flop - the first three community cards, dealt together

"fourth street" - see "turn"

fold - throw in your hole cards; you can no longer win any money from the current hand

"fifth street" - see "river"

full house - 3 of a kind and 2 of a kind (e.g., KKK88 is "Kings full of eights")

gut-shot - an inside straight (see "inside straight")

heads up - one-on-one action between two players

hole cards - the cards dealt face down to each player

hooks - pocket Jacks

husbands - (this is another one I made up myself) another name for "cowboys" (pocket Kings)

inside straight - an incomplete straight which only one value can complete (e.g, 8754; you need a 6)

kicker - a card which decides the winner if both players hold identical hands (e.g., JJTTA beats JJTT5 because the Ace is a better kicker)

lay down - fold

limp in - to call as cheaply as possible

loose - action that features lots of betting

low stack - having the smallest amount of chips of any player at the table

muck - fold; also refers to the pile of dead cards (folded cards and burn cards)

nuts - the best possible hand

on the felt - a player with a dwindling chip stack (see "felt")

open-ended straight - an incomplete straight which can be completed on either end (e.g., 8765; you can use a 9 or a 4)

over pair - a pair of hole cards that is larger than any card on the board

outs - cards which, if they show up on the board, can make your hand a winning hand

pocket - hole cards, dealt face down to each player (a player dealt AA is said to have "pocket aces")

position - a player's location in the betting sequence, early position acts right after the deal, late position gets to see other players' bets before choosing to act

possible - a hand that can be made with the cards on the board, depending on a player's hole cards; I'm fond of calling out "possible King high" after a flop like KT8

pot - the money that has been bet on the current hand

pot odds - amount of money in the pot divided by the amount of money you must bet in order to call (read a more detailed description) (even more detail here – thanks, Arksie)

putting a player all in - if you have more chips than another player, you can bet all in which forces him to bet all in if he wants to call you; he can only double up if he wins, but you can win all his chips

rabbit hunt - to reveal the remaining community cards after a hand has been won (i.e., if all players have folded to another player); allows players to see what might have happened if they'd remained in the hand

raise - betting more than the amount required to call, forcing other players to call you or fold

read - evaluating a player's style or attempting to guess what cards he has

river - the fifth community card, dealt last, also known as "fifth street"

set - see "trip"

short stack - running low on chips (see "low stack", "on the felt")

stack - see "chip stack"

suck out - to win a hand by hitting a very weak draw

suited - hole cards of the same suit (e.g., Qheart 4heart)

tight - action that features less betting; usually only two or three players in a hand; players are only betting when they have great hole cards

trip - three of a kind (e.g. "trip Queens"), also known as a "set"

turn - the fourth community card, also known as "fourth street"

under the gun - the first player to act after the deal, the player to the left of the big blind