playing poker


Active player: A player still in contention for a pot.

Aggressive:  Pertaining to a style of play characterized by much betting, raising, and re raising.  This is not the same as loose play.  Some of the best players are very selective about the cards they play, but when they do get into a pot, play those cards aggressively.

All in: Out of chips, due to having put one’s remaining chips into the current pot, while other active players still have more chips and have the option of further betting.

Ante: One or more chips put into each pot by each player before the cards are dealt.  An ante is not part of a player’s next bet, as opposed to a blind, which usually is.

Bad beat: The situation in which a strong hand is beaten by a longshot or improbable hand.

Bad beat story:  A story told by someone who lost a pot, often a big one, in a bad beat.  Usually no one but the teller is interested in hearing the story.

Bet for value:  Bet a hand with the intention of getting called by one or more lesser hands, as opposed to getting the others to fold.  This usually implies betting a hand that has only a slight edge, and one that a conservative player would likely check with./  also called value bet.

Bet on the come:  Make a bet on a drawing hand, that is, when holding four cards to a flush or straight.

Big blind:  The player two positions to the left of the button puts chips into the pot equal to size of the limit of the game.  Those chips (and the player who puts the chips in) are called the big blind.

Blank:  A card, usually turn or river, that doesn’t help your hand.  This term also refers to a  card that doesn’t appear to help anyone.  For example, if the board is K-Q-J-9 of mixed suits,0a 2 on the river would be considered a blank.

Blind:  A bet put in by a player before he gets his cards.  A blind is part of that player’s bet if he comes into the pot, as opposed to an ante, which just “belongs to the pot.”  See also small blind and big blind.

Blind thief:  Someone who steals the blind, that is, opens a pot without having good cards, hoping the blinds will just throw their cards away and the opener can win the chips represented by the blind or blinds without having to actually play the hand.

Button:  The disk or other marker that indicates the dealer position in a game dealt by a house dealer.  Also know as dealer button.

Calls someone down:  Check, and call all bets to the river.

Calling station:  A player who calls on the least pretext, often with hands that rarely win against legitimate bets.   A calling station is someone is someone who feels he just has to “keep you honest.”

Cap: The maximum number of raises in a round of betting.

Chances:  The likelihood of a particular event, usually expressed in the form of some kind of fraction or in the form of one number out of or in another.  Compare with odds, in which the outcome is expressed as one number to another number.

Chase:  Try to catch a better hand with a worse holding.

Check:  Make no bet, but still hold your cards.  You can check, and then call  a later bet, fold when the action gets back to you, or raise.

Check-raise: check, often with a good hand, and then, when someone bets and it returns to you, raise.

Community cards:  the upcards dealt to the center of the table that are part of each player’s hand.

Complete hand:  Five cards that constitute a straight or better.  Also called pat hand.

Counterfeited:  Having a probable winner turned into a probable loser by the appearance on the board of another card of the same rank or suit as one of your.

Curiosity call:  A call from someone who is positive he is beat but just wants to know what you had, often accompanied by a statement such as, “I knew you had me beat, but I just had to see it,” or, “I knew you had me beat, but the pot was too big to fold.”

Dead money:  Previous bets abandoned in the pot such that the players who made those bets, having folded, cannot win the pot.  Dead money includes folded blinds.

Dealer button:  See button.

Discards:  The players’ thrown-away cards, sometimes together with the undealt cards that remain in the deck.  Sometimes called muck.

Dominated:  The situation in hold’em of one hand being significantly ahead of the other, often because of having the same card in common plus a higher  card.  For example, K-Q offsuit is dominated by A-K offsuit.  Also, any pair is dominated by any higher pair.

Double gut-shut:  A five-card combination with two “holes,” such that any of eight cards can make it into a straight.

Downcard:  An unexposed part of a player’s hand, delivered face down by the dealer.

Draw:  An unmade hand.

Drawing dead:  Trying to make a hand that will lose if made.  An example is drawing to a flush when an opponent already has a made full house.

Drawing hand:  Four cards to a straight or flush with cards to come, as opposed to complete hand.

Draw out:  Beat someone’s hand by drawing.

Early position:  The first few positions to the left of the dealer, or to the left of the blinds.

Extra outs:  Cards that improve a hand in more ways that the self-evident outs.

Family pot:  A pot with a lot of players, sometimes as many as all tat the table. 

Flop:  The three community cards  turned face up after the first round of betting.

Free card: The situation in which there is no bet on a particular round, so players get extra cards without having had to risk additional money.

Gut-shot:  The card that makes an inside straight , or, more commonly, the making of straight by catching a card inside.