Glossary of Poker Terms

This is a glossary of common poker terms. Suggest additions or changes in the comments below.


  • $1/$2, $5/$10, $10/$20 A way of notating the size of the blinds in the stakes being played. $10/$20 means a $10 small blind, and a $20 big blind. In this book, it generally refers to no-limit stakes, so a normal buyin for a $10/$20 game is 100 big blinds, or $2000.
  • 3-bet To reraise; a raise over a raise. (The initial bet on any street is a 1-bet, the raise a 2-bet, but those terms are not used. Preflop, the big blind is considered the initial bet, so the first raise is a 2-bet.)
  • 4-bet To reraise a reraise; to raise a 3-bet.


  • Air Cards that completely missed the board; a nothing hand.


  • Backdoor To hit a hand using the turn and river cards, and only one or no flop cards. Generally considered to be a sneaky (or lucky) hand to hit. Synonymous with “runner runner.”
  • Bad Beat To initially have a stronger hand than your opponent, but have your opponent get lucky and improve his hand, causing you to lose.
  • Balance Having different kinds of hands (such as strong and weak) in your range to “balance” it out.
  • Baller Slang for someone with a lot of money, or someone very successful. Derives from footballer or basketballer.
  • Bankroll The amount of money you have allocated for playing poker. Also known as your “roll.”
  • Barrel To bet continually postflop.
  • Bb (big blind) The minimum possible bet in a no-limit or pot-limit game. Also refers to the player at the table who’s in the position of having to pay the big blind preflop (considered the worst position at the table).
  • Betting Pattern The sequence of bets that a player makes during a hand, or habits that a player has in how he bets certain hands. A player with a transparent betting pattern will implicitly reveal how strong he is during a hand.
  • Bink To get lucky and hit something.
  • Blank A card that doesn’t change the board significantly. Usually a low card, but not always.
  • Bluffcatcher A hand that is strong enough to beat a bluff, but is not itself a strong hand. If the preflop raiser bet every street on A♣K9 T2♠, and you called him down with KQ, that would be a bluffcatcher.
  • Board The totality of the community cards. We say the board “changes” if the addition of a new community card dramatically affects hand values.
  • Board Texture The way the arrangement of community cards interact with each other. A board like 9♣42♠ would be a considered to have a “dry” texture, because the cards don’t really interact with each other, and there are few draws or strong hands that connect with it. On the other hand, a board like J♠ 9♠ 8would have a very “drawy” texture.
  • Bumhunter Someone who only waits around for very fishy players, and refuses to play anyone else. Generally a pejorative in poker culture.
  • Button The person with the dealer chip. This is the last player before the blinds, and the player with the best position.
  • Buyin The amount of money one brings initially to the table. It’s also used as a measure of big blinds—one buyin is considered 100 big blinds, since that’s the standard buyin for a no-limit game. (You can technically buy in for many different amounts though. In most games, there is a cap on how much you can buy in for, which varies depending on the structure and size of the game.)


  • C-bet (continuation bet) To follow up a preflop raise with a bet on the flop, regardless of how the board connects with one’s hand. It’s called a continuation bet because it’s essentially a “continuation” of earlier aggression, exploiting the power of taking initiative.
  • Calling Station Someone who calls a lot. Generally a pejorative.
  • Call Down To keep calling someone’s bets.
  • Call Time In online poker, to go into one’s time bank for extra time to think about a decision.
  • Check Back To check after you’ve been checked to.
  • Check Down To check all the way to showdown.
  • Checkraise To first check, and then raise over a bet.
  • Cold 4-Bet To make your first raise be a 4-bet over someone’s 3-bet. Basically, if some other player raises, and someone else reraises him, and you reraise that person as your very first bet, that’s called a cold 4-bet.
  • Connect For a hand to interact positively with the board in some way. Your hand connects with the board usually if you’ve made a pair or a draw.


  • Deepstacked Playing with generally 200 big blinds or more at a table.
  • Donk Donk can be either a noun or a verb: as a noun, it’s slang for a donkey, or a bad player. As a verb, to donk can mean to lead out into the preflop raiser before he gets a chance to bet, or in a phrase such as “donk around,” it can mean to act stupidly.
  • Donkey A bad or stupid player. Pejorative.
  • Downswing An extended losing streak.
  • Draw A draw (or drawing hand) is a hand that is not yet complete, and needs another card in order to become a strong hand. Four cards of one suit (drawing to a flush) and four consecutive cards (drawing to a straight) are the most common.
  • Drawy A drawy board is one on which drawing hands are likely, or with which many good starting hands will connect with draws. J♠ 9♠ 8is an example of a board with a very drawy texture.
  • Dry A dry board is a disconnected, unsuited board, with which most starting hands won’t connect or make draws. A board like 9♣42♠ is an example of a dry board.


  • Early Street The earlier betting rounds in a poker hand. This typically refers to preflop and the flop.
  • Equity Your hand’s percentage likelihood of winning the pot. For example, if you have AA against QQ all-in preflop, you have about 80% equity.
  • EV Expected value; this refers to how much money you should win or lose on average for a given decision. EV is a statistical concept—in a sense, it’s what you “should be making” for any given play.
  • Exploitation Taking advantage of weaknesses in an opponent’s game. For example, if someone is bluffing too much, you can exploit them by calling more bluffcatchers; if someone is bluffing too little, you can exploit them by never bluffcatching.


  • Flatcall To call.
  • Flatting Also means to call. Short for flatcalling.
  • Float To call a bet with air, usually intending to take away the pot on a later street by betting or raising. Tricky players will float often.
  • Flop The flop consists of the first three community cards. “The flop” can refer to either the community cards, or to the round of betting which occurs once the first three community cards are dealt.
  • Flopping a Hand To immediately make a strong hand using the first three community cards—the flop.
  • Fold To throw away your hand against a bet.
  • FPS Fancy Play Syndrome. Poker slang for being too elaborate or fanciful in one’s play, where a simpler decision would’ve been better.
  • Frontbet To bet into the preflop raiser.


  • Game Flow The pattern of decisions and emotions that occur over time between two people. Game flow is very intuitive and highly complex, and so can often not be communicated adequately unless one sees all of the hands that contribute to it.
  • Grinding To play poker, usually in a slow and steady fashion.
  • Gutshot A straight draw that can be completed with only one card. For example, having 9♣T on 26♠7♣, where only an 8 can make a straight.


  • Heads-up One-on-one.
  • Hero A term used for a protagonist in a poker hand, largely for the purpose of anonymity. Usually refers to the person recounting the hand. His chief opponent is usually termed the “villain.”
  • Hero-call To call with a bluffcatcher, usually for a lot of money.
  • High card A high card generally refers to a T, J, Q, K, or A. “High card” is also the name for the weakest possible hand—for example, if you have K♣T on JQ♣45♠2♣, this hand would be called “high card king” or “king high.”
  • Hitting a Hand To make one’s hand.
  • Hole Cards The (two) cards you are dealt.
  • HUD Heads Up Display. Refers to a program that displays stats or information real-time over your poker tables.


  • Implied odds Your pot odds, but adjusted for expected future bets. To rely on implied odds generally means you’re inferring that when you make a strong hand, you’ll get paid off.


  • Kicker Your side card; a kicker is not used to make your hand, but is used in tie-breakers between hands of the same type. For example, if you have A♣T on A5♣492, you have a pair of aces with a ten kicker. If your opponent had A♠7♠, you would win the pot.


  • Lead To bet out into the raiser (or previous aggressor).


  • Made Hand A completed hand.
  • Martingaling A strategy of continually doubling your bets every time you lose. For example, you might play a $20 match and lose, then play a $40 match and lose, then an $80 match and lose, until eventually you manage to get even. Most associated with tilting.
  • Metagame The higher level of strategy in poker, which is played above the momentary strategy constrained by individual hands. Metagame is generally only meaningful if you are playing many hands with another person.
  • Minbet To bet the minimum possible amount—in a no-limit Hold’em game, one big blind.
  • Minraise To raise the minimum possible amount—in a no-limit Hold’em game, at least twice the initial bet.
  • Monster Hand A very strong hand. Can refer to two pair or better.
  • Muck To fold your hand and not show your cards.


  • Nitreg A tight, boring regular.
  • Nitty Tight and boring.
  • NL Abbreviation for no-limit.
  • NLHE Abbreviation for No Limit Hold’em.
  • No-limit Means there is no maximum on the amount of money that can be bet on any street.
  • Nuts The best possible hand on a given board.


  • o Short for off-suit in hand notation, such as AKo referring to A♣K.
  • OESD Open-Ended Straight Draw. Refers to a straight draw that can be completed with two cards. An example of an open-ended straight draw would be 9♣T on 87♣3, which can make a straight with either a J or a 6.
  • Offsuit Cards of different suits.
  • Outs Cards that will make a drawing hand into a made hand. If a card will “complete” a draw, then it’s an out.
  • Overbet To bet more than the size of the pot.
  • Overcard A card that is higher than any card on the board.
  • Overpair A pair that is higher than any card on the board. Having an overpair implies that you have been dealt a pocket pair preflop.


  • Playing Fast To play a hand fast means to play it aggressively and straightforwardly, usually betting every street. It’s the opposite of slowplaying.
  • PLO Pot-Limit Omaha, a game like Hold’em except it is played with four hole cards instead of two.
  • Preflop The first round of betting, which occurs before the flop is dealt.
  • Pocket [hand] Having a pair dealt to you preflop. For example, 9♣9 would be known as “pocket nines.”
  • Postflop The rounds of betting that occur after the flop—that is, the turn and river, which are generally considered the most tricky streets.
  • Pot (verb) To bet the size of the pot.
  • Pot-limit A variant of poker in which you can only bet up to the size of the pot, and no bigger.
  • Pot odds The ratio of the current size of the pot to the cost of calling a bet. By comparing your pot odds to the probability of winning the hand, you can calculate the EV of a call.


  • r Stands for “rainbow” in poker notation, such as in J94r.
  • Rag A low card, usually a 7 or less. Often used in conjunction with the bigger card, as in “ace-rag” to refer to an ace with a smallish side card.
  • Rainbow A board that has all different suits; implies that no flush draws are immediately possible. Called a rainbow because it contains every color.
  • Range The set of all possible hands that someone can have in a situation. We might say someone has a “wide” range, meaning he likely will have lots of different kinds of hands there, or that he has a “narrow” or “tight” range, meaning he’ll be playing very few hands in that way.
  • Regular Someone who regularly plays certain stakes or in a certain game.
  • Rep Slang for “represent.”
  • Represent To represent a hand is to bet in a way that is consistent with having that hand. Often implies that one does not actually possess the hand one is representing.
  • Reverse Implied Odds A situation in which when you make a big hand, you are only likely to lose more money, because your opponent will already have a better one. The antithesis of implied odds.
  • River The last community card. Also refers to the final round of betting, which occurs after the last community card is dealt.
  • Rivered To “river” something means simply that a certain card was dealt or a hand was made on the river. You might river an ace, or river your straight. To “get rivered” generally means to get sucked out on the river by your opponent.
  • Roll Slang for bankroll. Refers to the amount of money a player has allocated for poker.
  • Run-out The run-out simply refers to how the board turned out. Often specifically means what cards were dealt after the money went all-in.
  • Runner Runner When the turn card and river card both contribute to make a strong hand. For example, 9♣T on K37♣86♣ would be a runner-runner straight (also known as a backdoor straight).


  • s Short for “suited” in hand notation, such as 78s.
  • Second Nuts The second best possible hand on a board.
  • Semibluff To bluff with a hand that has some equity in the pot, with cards left to be dealt. Usually refers to betting aggressively while you have a draw.
  • Set Being dealt a pocket pair and making three of a kind, using both of your hole cards. Considered an extremely strong hand.
  • Setmine Setmining is the simple strategy of calling many pocket pairs preflop to raises, hoping to hit sets and get paid off. Setmining is generally considered a very tight and simplistic strategy.
  • Shove To go all-in.
  • Show Down (verb) To show the hands at the end of the final round of poker and award the pot to the winner.
  • Slowplay To initially play a hand passively or slowly, hoping to deceive your opponent into thinking you’re weak when in fact you are strong.
  • Snapcall To call instantly.
  • Soulread To predict someone’s gameplay perfectly; to “read their soul.”
  • Speed Read A read on someone’s tells with regards to how long they take with different kinds of hands.
  • Splash Around To play liberally and make lots of risky or foolish plays.
  • Spot A situation.
  • Street A betting round.
  • Suckout To initially have a worse hand than one’s opponent, but then improve to be better than theirs.
  • Suited Being of the same suit (diamonds, hearts, clubs, or spades).
  • Sweat To watch someone else play poker, sometimes while advising them.


  • Tank To think for a long time.
  • Tankfold To think for a long time and then fold.
  • Tilt To let your emotions affect your play or decision-making.
  • Tiltmonkey Someone who tilts wildly or stupidly.
  • Top Pair The highest possible pair that connects with the board.
  • Trips Three of a kind. Generally refers only to when a pair is on the board and the third card is a hole card.
  • Turn The fourth community card. Also refers to the round of betting that occurs after the fourth community card is dealt. A hand or card can be “turned,” which simply means it appears or is made once the fourth community card is dealt.


  • Upswing An uptick in one’s money or buyins.


  • Value Value generally refers to the betting strategy of betting to increase the pot size and entice others to call, because you have a strong hand. When you have a big hand, you need to “maximize value,” which basically means making as much money as possible.
  • Value Hand A hand that is strong enough to bet for value.
  • Valuebet A bet for value. Usually means you have the best hand. The polar opposite of a bluff.
  • Variance The natural fluctuations in winnings as a result of randomness and luck.
  • Villain A term used for your opponent in a recounted hand. Its purpose is to anonymize the actual opponent.


  • Winrate The rate at which one is winning.
  • Wired [hand] Another word for a pocket pair. For example, 8♣8would be wired eights.
December 15 2013
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Managing Partner at Dragonfly Capital. Effective Altruist. Airbnb, (acquired by Coinbase) alum. Instructor @ Bradfield. Writer. Former poker pro. Donate 33% of my income to charity.

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