Poker Terminology: Words Every Beginner Must Learn and Understand
No one is an expert in the beginning. A newbie in every endeavor, game, or sport will have to be ready to go through a learning curve, especially as far as the jargon and vernacular are concerned.
There’s nothing worse than pretending to understand what is being said when you actually don’t; and where poker terms are concerned, your “poker face” is for protecting your game and not for pretending you get the words being thrown about.
We get you: nobody wants to look stupid and ignorant. Besides, this could greatly affect your game and spell the difference between winning and losing big. So here’s a list of playing card terms or poker terms and definitions you need to understand as a first step to understanding the game (including Texas Holdem jargon and terminology).
Basic Terms in Poker
- One’s turn to act during a hand, an initial bet or raise
- Used to describe a game in which there’s a lot of betting and raising
A small bet all players are required to make before a hand is dealt
The amount which will be won by the victor
An amount put in the pot by two players to the left of the dealer common in Texas Hold‘em
Note: A blind is played by two players. An ante is played by all at the table.
- Small Blind
Played by the first player to the left of the dealer
- Big Blind
Double the value of the small blind played by the player to the left of the small blind player
A poker event involving one or more tables of players. Each begins with a fixed amount of tournament chips.
The top finisher of the tournament who doesn’t get any winnings
Basic Terms in Betting
When a player contributes the minimum amount to the pot required to continue playing their hand
You’re not betting for that round, but you can only do this if no bets have been placed for that round
Contribute the minimum amount plus wagering more
Give up by placing your cards down on the table, losing all you have bet so far
Tip: Fold only when you feel your hand is too weak to compete
When a player checks on the first opportunity to bet and then raises succeeding bets in the same round
A bet that places all of a player’s chips into the pot
Betting on a weak hand to intimidate other players into folding
Basic Terms in Dealing
The person dealing the cards
The position of the dealer marked with a plastic disk
- Burn Card
Discarding the top card before each betting round to make sure the game is played fairly
- Community Cards
Cards dealt face-up on the table that all players use in making a hand
The table that all players use in making a hand
First three community cards dealt after first round of betting is done
- Turn or Fourth Street
Fourth community card dealt face-up, by itself
Last of the five community cards
Basic Terms in Hands
- Poker Hands
The five cards you will play with
- High-card Winner
Nobody got a substantial hand and the pot goes to the person with the highest card value in their hand
Any two matching cards
- Two Pair
Quite self-explanatory; examples are having a pair of kings and pair of aces in one hand
- Three of a Kind aka Trips
A hand consisting of cards having the same face value but in different suits
Five cards in sequence (5-6-7-8-9)
Five cards of the same suit but not in sequence
- Full House
When you have three of a kind and a (different) pair
- Four of a Kind aka Quads
When you’re dealt four cards of the same rank
- Straight Flush
Five sequenced cards of the same suit (5, 6, 7, 8, 9 of clubs)
Tip: If you get this hand, go all-in!
- Royal Flush
An ace-high straight flush, the best possible hand in standard poker
- Trivia: The odds of getting this hand are 649,740 to 1
Basic Terms in Player Behavior
An indication that tells other players how strong or weak your hand is
A bluff that can be improved should the first bluff be ineffective
Nope, this is not the former wrestler turned actor. This is a player who is considered “tight.” He won’t bluff and folds hand after hand without playing for a pot.
- Slow Play
When you play your hand less aggressively than necessary
A request so a player has more time to think
A call other players make when a player on time is taking too long and disrupts the game
- Bad Beat
When a player who initially has the upper hand (pun intended) loses it after a flop, turn, or river
Learning, understanding, and mastering these terms will aid you in not getting lost while playing poker. Of course, language is a “living document” and new slang always get invented (the beauty of language!). Just accept that learning is a never-ending process.
But knowing all these words by heart is a good place to start.