Poker terms & slang

Understanding the language of poker is the way to have a better time while playing the game and discussing hands with your opponents. As with most popular pastimes, poker is a game full of terms. When you sit at the table for the first time, terms in poker may sound like a foreign language. Don’t worry, however, we’ll explain the poker terminology so that you aren’t confused by all the terms that are used. Here is your comprehensive guide to understanding all necessary poker terms and phrases, as well as poker slang terms. Ready to be able to talk like a pro?

Terms in poker from A to Z

Below, you will find all poker terms explained in alphabetic order.

Basic poker terms: A

  • A-game: playing poker with an optimal mindset or mental state.
  • Action: to bet a raise, as well as one’s turn to act during a hand.
  • Alias: a player’s online screen name.
  • All-in: a bet that places all of your chips into the pot.
  • Ante: a bet made before the cards are dealt on each hand.

All poker terms: B

  • Backdoor: when you hit your needed cards on the turn and the river to make your hand.
  • Backing: lending money to a player and receiving a percentage of their poker profits in return.
  • Bad beat: when you had a substantial statistical lead over an opponent and you lost your hand to the opponent, anyway.
  • Bankroll: the total amount of funds you have at your disposal to play poker.
  • Bicycle: a nickname for a low straight (A-2-3-4-5).
  • Big blind: the number of chips the second player to the left of the dealer has to bet.
  • Blue chips: they are usually worth $10, and they are the highest value chip in a classic three-color poker chipset.
  • Board: the community cards that all players use in combination with their pocket cards to form the best hand.
  • Buy-in: the cost you need to pay to enter a tournament. It may also mean the minimum amount needed to sit down in a cash game at a specific table.

Common poker terms: C

  • Call: to contribute the minimum amount of money to the pot to keep playing a hand.
  • Cash in: when you exchange your chips for cash and leave the table.
  • Check: to pass on betting. If you don’t want to bet, you just ‘check’ – it means that there is no action.
  • Color up: to trade chips with a low value for a smaller number of higher denomination chips to make the stack easier to handle.
  • Community cards: all the cards that are dealt face up in the center of the table. These cards are available for all players to use in making a hand.
  • Counterfeit: a duplicate card on the board that significantly devalues your hand.
  • Cowboys: a nickname for when you are dealt two kings.
    Poker betting terms: D.
  • Dead man’s hand: two pair, Aces, and eight.
  • Dead money: unclaimed or extra chips in the pot that could potentially be won by the first player who is willing to take aggressive action.
  • Dealer: a person who shuffles the deck and deals the cards.
  • Dealer button: the button that indicates the dealer.
  • Draw out: when you receive a card that transforms your hand from a losing hand to a winning hand.
  • Ducks: a nickname for the pocket twos in poker.

Poker terminology: F

  • Flat: used interchangeably with ‘call’.
  • Flop: the first 3 community cards that are dealt out after the first round of betting is complete.
  • Flush: a poker that includes five cards of the same suit.
  • Four of a kind: four cards in the same rank.
  • Full house: three cards of a kind and a different pair.

Poker terminology: G

  • Grinding: playing poker for long hours and slowly building up profit.
  • Gutshot: an ‘inside straight draw’.

Terms in poker: H

  • Hand: 5 cards made of your pocket cards and community cards.
  • High card: a hand that has five different cards that don’t form any kind of match.
  • Hijack: a position at the poker table.
  • High roller: a poker player who only competes for high stakes.
  • Hit: You hit when a card falls that give you a decent hand.
  • Hit and run: when you win big shortly after you join a cash game and then leave immediately afterward.
  • Hole cards: two cards dealt face down to each player which only the player can see.

Poker terms: K

  • Kicker: cards that don’t formulate a hand but contribute to the overall strength of a hand.

Poker hands for beginners: L

  • Late position: a position on a round of betting where you must act after most of the players have acted.
  • Limit: a game structure where bets and raises are capped at a fixed amount.

Poker terms and meanings: M

  • Maniac: a player whose style is loose and crazy.
  • Mark: the weak player at the table.
  • Muck: to discard your hand and not show them to your opponents.

Poker terms: N

  • Nuts: the best possible hand you can have at a given moment.

Common poker hands: O

  • Omaha: one of poker’s variants. Players receive four hole cards and must use exactly 2 of them, together with 3 of the 5 board cards, to make a hand.
  • Out: a card that will improve your hand.
  • Over-cards: when you have higher cards than the board cards or your opponent’s pocket.

Basic poker terms: P

  • Pair: two cards of the same rank.
  • Pocket cards: a situation when you have two cards in your hand and these cards are not part of the community cards.
  • Pocket rockets: when you are dealt two Aces.
  • Pot: the place in the center of the poker table where you place the wagered chips.

All poker terms: R

  • Rabbit hunt: the situation when you see the remaining community cards after folding.
  • River: the final of the 5 community cards.
  • Raise: when you wager more than the minimum that is required to call. This forces your opponents to put in more money.
  • Rock: a player who chooses to play with only the best hands and bets only when they are sure that they are the best.
  • Royal flush: an ace-high straight flush. A royal flush is the best possible hand in poker.
  • Rush: a sequence of successful plays.

Poker terms and meanings: S

  • Satellite: a qualifying event for a big poker tournament.
  • Semi-bluff: a bluff with a hand that has the potential to improve if the bluff itself is ineffective.
  • Set: when you have a pocket pair that hits on the board, making three of a kind.
  • Short stack: when your number of chips is lower than the average.
  • Steam: to be tilted.
  • Straight: 5 cards in sequence but not in suit.
  • Straight flush: 5 cards in sequence and the same suit.

Terms in poker: T

  • Tilt: when you take a bad beat or series of bad beats, you are said to be ‘on tilt’. This means you play with reckless abandon.
  • Time: when you request more time to think.
  • Top pair: a pair that has the highest card on the board.

Poker terms flop: W

  • Whale: a player of enormous wealth for whom big losses are not important.

Some more poker slang terms

Now you know the basic poker terminology. Time to add some interesting slang terms so that you are fully prepared to sit at the table!

  • 3Bet: when you make a raise against the first raiser in a hand.
  • 6max: any poker game where the maximum number of players at the table is limited to six.
  • Airball: when you have managed to miss your perceived outs in a hand.
  • Ajax: a starting hand with one ace and one jack.
  • American Airlines: another name for pocket aces.
  • Bounty: a prize in a poker tournament.
  • Buck: another name for the dealer button.
  • Chameleon: a player that changes and varies their style of play.
  • Idiot-end: the low end of a straight.
  • Kill button: a designation given to a player who has to post an over-blind that increases the betting limit.
  • Kojack: the starting hand of King-Jack.
  • Perfect perfect: a situation in which a player has to catch the exact two specific runner-runner cards to beat the opponent’s hand.
  • Sandbagging: when a player makes a call with a very good hand to disguise its strength to keep the opponent betting.
  • Shark – an expert poker player.


Well, that’s just a start as there are many other poker terms you will learn while playing. Don’t forget that poker language is a leaving document and new slang always gets invented! Anyway, knowing the above-explained terms is a good place to start. You can also check our article about poker hands ranking.


What is an ‘A-game’ in poker terms?

An ‘A-game’ refers to playing poker with the best mindset or mental state. It means that a player is making optimal decisions and utilizing their skills to the fullest.

What does ‘ante’ mean in poker?

‘Ante’ is a mandatory bet made before the cards are dealt in each hand. It’s a form of forced bet that all players must contribute, essentially starting the pot.

*What is ‘backing’ in poker?

Backing refers to financially supporting a poker player by lending them money to play. In return, the backer usually receives a percentage of their profits. This arrangement is particularly common in high-stakes games and poker tournaments.

What is a ‘flop’ in poker?

A ‘flop’ refers to the first three community cards that are dealt face-up on the board after the first round of betting is complete. These cards can be used by all players to make their poker hand in conjunction with their hole cards.

What does it mean to ‘go all-in’ in poker?

To ‘go all-in’ means to bet all of your remaining chips on your hand. This action is usually taken when a player believes they have the best hand, or to apply pressure on their opponents.

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