Your Essential Guide to Poker Terms, Bet Slang Meaning, Card Game Terms and Lingo

Poker Terms - Betting Slang

If you’ve spent any time watching poker on TV, browsing online forums, or reading up on the game, it’s easy to be mystified. That’s because poker players have their own dialect. In fact, when you consider all the poker terminology, terms, and slang, you might think you were studying a foreign language altogether.

Although learning a new language can be intimidating, there’s no need to worry about trying to make sense of all the poker puns, pot slang, and common poker terms on your own. Fortunately, you don’t have to download a clunky translator app, enroll in an expensive college course, or sign up for a premium Duolingo subscription to master poker lingo and all the nuances. Instead, we’ll walk you through the intricacies of key poker terms, so you can better understand the game. Before long you’ll be speaking like a bona fide poker pro.

Don’t forget that poker is supposed to be fun, so you won’t find any tests or quizzes here. Just read our simple to understand reference and bookmark it for easy access as you play. By keeping this guide handy, you’ll become the master of poker slang without even realizing it.

It’s okay to jump right in. Your firm grasp of gambling lingo and other card game terms and phrases awaits.

Brushing up on the basics

Before you get intimately acquainted with advanced poker terminology, you’ll need a firm handle on the fundamentals.

While you will find the basics below, now is a great time to consult our game guides, especially if you aren’t entirely familiar with the rules of Texas Hold’em and other popular poker variants.

Antes and blinds in poker

Before you play your first hand, you need to be able to answer the question “What is ante in poker?” Fortunately, it’s a simple concept. A poker ante is a mandatory amount of money that all players must put into the pot before the start of the hand.

Since antes are paid by everyone, all players will have a stake in the pot and an incentive to play the hand before any cards are dealt. Even when you aren’t playing poker, you might hear the term ante up, meaning step up. Of course, in the case of poker it means throwing your money into the pot.

Not all poker variants make use of an ante. Poker games like Texas Hold’em use a system of blinds instead. When you take a seat at a Texas Hold’em table, the player to the left of the dealer will need to pay a small blind before the hand starts, while the player seated to the left of the small blind will need to pay a big blind. The big blind is twice as large as the small blind and these terms can refer to the bets themselves or the players who occupy the positions at the table. Of course, the dealer, big blind, and small blind rotate with each hand.

What’s great about blinds is that position matters. You’ll have an advantage if you aren’t one of the blinds, since you’ll be able to see your cards before having to spend any money. When playing no limit poker, a $0.25/$0.50 game would have a $0.25 small blind and $0.50 big blind. In limit poker the small blind is typically half of the minimum bet, for example $0.20 in a $0.40/$0.80 limit game.

Poker Terms - What is an Ante

Getting to know the poker flop

Whether you play Omaha or Texas Hold’em, the three community cards that are dealt face up following the first round of betting make up the flop. All three cards are dealt simultaneously and can be used by active players as part of their hands.

The Turn and River

The turn is the fourth community card in flop games like Texas Hold’em and Omaha. The turn is also known as fourth street. Players use both poker terms to refer to the card dealt and the related betting round.

The poker river refers to the fifth and final community card, as well as the betting round that goes along with it. The river card in stud games is the last card each player gets.

You might come across the bet slang float the turn, which describes a player who calls with a bad hand at the turn because they plan on bluffing at the river.

And what does call mean in poker? Call in poker is matching a bet in the current round to remain in the hand. You can compare this to the poker check, which is the act of not betting while still remaining in the hand. Once a player bets in the round, he or she can no longer check.

Poker Terms - Betting in the Dark

A look at bet slang meaning

While the term bet is self-explanatory—it means to wager by placing your cash or chips in the pot—not all lingo is that obvious. Did you know betting in the dark means to bet the blind, betting down the felt means wagering all your chips, and betting the farm means to make a massive bet?

Most people know that all in poker involves betting all your remaining chips, but does the term color up poker ring a bell? It’s the process of exchanging smaller denomination chips for larger ones. If you’ve ever visited a casino, you know that each chip value has a corresponding color. It’s just like banknotes in most countries outside of the USA.

As far as betting in poker goes, a raise is a wager that ups the size of a current bet. When a player raises, opponents will need to place additional chips into the pot if they want to remain in the hand. That includes the original bettor.

Calls and cold call poker

You already know that a call is the action of matching another player’s bet during the current betting round so you can remain in the hand. The answer to the question what is cold call in poker should be obvious. It’s means calling when you don’t already have an investment in the pot through a bet or blind.

How to straddle in poker

What is a straddle in poker terms? It’s an optional raise before the cards are dealt that’s equal to twice the big blind. A straddle bet is made by the player who is under the gun.

And what is under the gun in poker? It’s simply the player seated to the left of the big blind. The benefit of straddling is that it gives the straddler the last action in the first betting round.

Cash pot meaning

When betting in poker, you should be aware that the pot is the sum of all the wagers players make during a single hand or game, depending on the variant played. When you win a hand at a cash game table, you’ll win the cash in the pot.

Yet if you play in a poker tournament, you’ll still win the pot by winning the hand. The difference is the amount those poker pot chips are ultimately worth depends on the payout structure of the tourney and your place when it is all said and done.

Poker Terms - String - Bets - Table Stakes

What you should know about string bets, 3 bets, and table stakes

What is a string bet? String bets are bets or raises where you do not put all your chips into the pot in a single motion. These bets can confuse or exploit other players and are generally considered illegal. Given the safeguards that exist in poker software, it’s technically impossible to place a string bet in online poker.

What is 3 bet in poker? Simply put, it’s raising a raise, which is the third bet. In case there’s any confusion, the first bet would be the actual bet and the second bet is the raise, making the re-raise the third bet.

What does table stakes mean? It’s merely a rule that prevents players from wagering cash that they didn’t have at the table before the start of that particular hand. If you’re familiar with the cliché movie scene where a player throws in the deed to his house, keys to his classic car, or an IOU into the pot, you can see the value in table stakes.

With table stakes, you’ll always know the maximum damage when the hand begins, but you won’t be able to buy your way back into the hand if you run out of chips.

Exploring the world of bomb pots

If you’ve ever wondered what is a bomb pot in poker, you can probably guess that they’re explosive. A bomb pot is a hand that forces all players to pay extra blinds before any cards are dealt, giving every player a stake in the pot before the flop. And since there is no betting until the flop, everyone gets to see it. After the flop, the game plays out as it normally would.

Overall, bomb pots deliver bigger pots and way more action, regardless of the stakes. Bomb pots are growing in popularity, especially online. You can find them at all Winning Poker Network sites and other leading cardrooms.

Putting poker slang into action

Remember, it’s entirely possible to succeed at poker without mastering every bet slang meaning, especially if you play online. As long as you understand the rules and strategy, you’re golden. Still, if you want to elevate your game or just get the most out of your poker experience, it’s worth taking the time to learn to speak the language of the world’s greatest card game.

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with basic poker lingo, you can practice by using it in your live game. Of course, most top online poker sites let you chat while you play, so you can test out card game terms the next time you hit the tables.

Even if you’ve only skimmed this guide, chances are you’ve absorbed at least a few relevant poker slang terms. And as you play, you might be surprised just how rapidly your knowledge of the game and grasp of poker terms grow.

If you want to learn even more poker terminology, check out our complete glossary. It’s a comprehensive poker slang dictionary packed with all the terms you’ll need to know now and well into the future. Whether you are a total novice or a pro who needs to brush up on new and old poker sayings, we have you covered.

Poker Terms - Nuts Meaning in Poker

Poker Terms Frequently Asked Questions

What is a fish in poker?

A poker fish is an inexperienced player. The term is often considered to be an insult, so refrain from calling every weak player a fish, unless you want to make some enemies. More acceptable terms include fun or recreational poker player. Fish can also serve as a technical term to describe a player you believe is weak. It’s important to identify fish.  Poker players who are successful know how to spot fish and adopt the right strategies to defeat them.

What does nuts mean in poker?

The nuts or a nut hand is the strongest possible hand you can have in your particular situation. For example, if the cards on the board are 4H, 2D, 7H, 6H, 3S, then 5H and 8H would be the nuts since they yield a heart straight flush.

Like many card game terms, the nut poker’s origin is a matter of dispute, but one popular etymology is that in the old west, players would place their wagon wheel nuts on the table to signify that they wouldn’t be able to flee if they lost the hand without paying up.

What does the terms ICM in poker mean?

ICM stands for Independent Chip Model. It’s effectively a mathematical model that uses the size of your stack to predict the probability of finishing in each tournament position. In other words, it can tell you the odds of finishing first, second, third, fourth, or some other position. By multiplying your probability by the prize for a given position, ICM can tell you your equity as well.

What is a Broadway hand in poker?

If you’ve ever played Monopoly or visited Manhattan, you know that Broadway is some seriously prime real estate. In poker, Broadway is worth setting your sights on. The term Broadway refers to any of the five best ranked cards, namely Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and ten.

You may also encounter the poker term Broadway straight, which is an AKQJ10 straight. Keep in mind that four of a kinds, royal flushes, full houses, flushes, and straight flushes will all beat an unsuited Broadway straight.

What does juice mean in poker?

Poker juice is slang for the rake, which is the small fee poker rooms charge for hosting a game. In tournaments, the rake is most often a fixed fee that you’ll need to pay when registering. The rake in cash games is generally a fixed percentage of the pot. Juice can also refer to influence by a powerful player.

What does it mean to shove in poker?

Shoving in poker involves going all-in. The name stems from the act of physically shoving your stacks of chips or piles of cash into the middle of the table. While shoving is considered to be the ultimate power move, you need to shove strategically to avoid quickly exhausting your chips.

What are cowboys in poker lingo?

Cowboys are kings. Pocket cowboys, or a pair of kings, is the second-best starting hand in Texas Hold’em, as they’re only eclipsed by a pair of aces. Other poker lingo for a pair of kings includes King Kong, Elvis Presley, and Krispy Kreme.

Should you ever limp in poker?

Limping in poker refers to the act of betting the absolute minimum required to remain in the hand. Although limping is often a weak play or passive move that involves players being unwillingly dragged into a hand, it does have its time and place. For example, if you have a quality hand from the small blind, you can limp against an aggressive big blind player.

If you suspect they will raise, you’ll have a chance to call and see the flop or even re-raise. Generally speaking, it’s safe to limp provided you are willing to call any raise, although you might come across as a beginner.

What is big stack poker?

The big stack is the player with the most chips at the table. This lingo is usually reserved for a chip leader who has an overwhelming lead.

What is free rolling poker?

Free rolling poker is gambling lingo for a situation with no more downside risk. It’s similar to what you’ll experience if you play in a freeroll tournament, which is a tourney that costs nothing to play despite awarding small cash prizes or tickets into larger paid events.

What is poker action?

Poker action is simply playing the game. A bet, raise, check, or fold counts as action. The term action can also be used to describe anyone who raises and bets in an aggressive fashion, which would make that person an action player.

What is boat poker?

A boat in poker is a nickname for a full house, which consists of a three-of-a-kind and pair. For example, three jacks and two aces.