Poker Lingo 101 – Common Terms and Phrases

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Poker is an exciting game that requires a lot of skill and patience. Of course, it also involves a fair amount of luck. Poker is a game that has a language of its own. Anyone who has played or watched poker has likely heard words and phrases that may have left them scratching their heads. Are you up to date with the latest poker lingo?


Common Poker Terms

Let’s look at some common and not-so-common poker terms and tell you what they mean:

Aces Full

Aces full is a term used to describe a full house made up of three aces and any pair.


If you have no ranking hand (no pairs or higher) and your highest card is an ace, the hand is “ace high.”

Aces Up

A hand that contains two pairs with one of the pair being aces.


“Action” is a term used when it’s someone’s turn to check, raise, call, or fold.

Active Player

Any player who is still in a hand is considered an “active player.”


An add-on is the purchase of extra chips during a tournament.


A player is “All In” when they bet all of their chips at once.

American Airlines

Poker lingo used to describe pocket aces.


The ante is the money each player places in the pot before the start of a hand.

Bad Beat

When a strong hand is beaten by a lucky draw. Usually the river card.

Belly Buster

A hand that needs a middle card to complete a straight.


Putting chips into the pot. Raises and calls are both bets.

Bet the Pot

Betting the pot happens when your bet amount is equal to the amount in the pot.


A bicycle is an ace-five straight.

Big Blind

Big blind is a mandatory starting bet placed by the player who is in the second position before the hand is dealt.

Big Slick

Poker lingo used to describe a starting hand of Ace-King.


A blind is a mandatory bet placed before the cards are dealt. The player to the left of the dealer posts a “small blind” while the player in the second seat to the dealer’s left places the “big blind.”

Blind Raise

A blind raise is a bet that’s placed before the player sees his/her cards.


Betting or raising with a weak hand to make opponents believe you have a strong hand.


Cards that are dealt face-up on the table.

Bottom Pair

When a player makes a pair using the lowest card on the board.


Broadway is a 10-Ace straight.


A term used in stud, a bring-in is a bet forced upon the player showing the lowest card. In Razz, the bring-in is forced upon the player showing the highest card.

Bring It In

Bringing it in means a player is making the first bet of the opening round.


Poker lingo used to describe pocket aces.


A minimum sum of money required to join a poker game. It is most commonly used to describe the entry fee into a tournament although it also applies to ring games.


A call happens when you match the bet amount when the action is on you.

Call Cold

Also known as a “cold call”, this occurs when a player calls a raise after there has been an initial bet.


A cap is a set maximum number of raises that can be made during a betting round.


A venue for playing poker. It can be a room in a casino or a virtual room online.

Case Chips

The last few chips remaining in a player’s stack.

Cash Out

Leaving the game and converting your chips into cash.


When there has been no action in front of you and you decide not to bet.


A check-raise happens during a betting round when you initially check, then re-raise when the action comes around to you again.


“Chop” usually means either splitting a pot or agreeing to split a tournament prize.

Community Cards

The community cards are the face-up cards in the middle of the table that can be used by all players to make their hands.


A slang term used to describe pocket kings.

Dead Man’s Hand

A hand that consists of a pair of aces and a pair of eights is called “Dead Man’s Hand.” This is alleged to be the hand that Wild Bill Hickok was holding when he was shot and killed.

Door Card

A term used in stud, the “door card” is the first face-up card in a player’s hand.

Down Card

Down cards are any cards dealt facing down.

Draw Lowball

A type of five-card draw poker game in which the lowest hand wins.

Draw Poker

A five-card poker game in which players may discard and replace a set number of cards. High hand wins.


A slang term for fold.


Ducks, also called deuces, is slang for a pair of twos.

Early Position

A player who must act before most of the other players is in early position.

Flat Call

Similar to a “smooth call”, a flat call is made when a player calls a bet when they may have been expected to raise.


The first three community cards dealt face up in the middle of the table.

Flop Games

Poker games such as Hold ‘em and Omaha that use face-up community cards in the middle of the table.


A poker hand in which all cards in a hand consist of one suit.

Flush Draw

When you have four suited cards and you need to draw the fifth to make a flush.


Throw away your cards when the action is on you.

Forced Bet

A mandatory bet such as an ante or blind that must be placed before a hand is dealt.

Four of a Kind

A hand containing four cards of matching numbers or face values.

Full House

A hand consisting of three of a kind and a pair.

Gut Shot

Needing a draw s card to make an inside straight.


A player’s five best cards.

Hold ‘em

A poker variant in which players can use their two hole cards and the five community cards to make their best hand.

Jackpot Poker

A type of poker game in which a player wins a jackpot prize if they suffer a bad beat.


A type of poker that requires a player to have no less than a pair of jacks to open the betting.

Key Card

A card that gives you a big hand.

Key Hand

A single hand that makes or breaks a player in a game or tournament.

Kick It

A slang term for raise.


A slang term for check.


A pair of queens.

Lay Down Your Hand



A player who gets into a pot by calling instead of raising.

Limp In

Enter a round by calling the action instead of raising.

Live Blind (aka Option)

A player may make a blind or dark bet before the cards are dealt. The player then has the opportunity to raise that bet if nobody else does.

Live Hand

Any hand that has a chance to win.

Live One

An inexperienced player who stays in a lot of hands.


Calling the last bet before the showdown.


Describes a player who plays a lot of hands. “Loose” may also describe a game that sees a lot of betting action form most players at the table.


A type of poker game in which the lowest hand is the winner.

Main Pot

The pot at the center of the table.


A slang term for shuffle.


Throw away your hand. It’s also a term used for the pile of discarded cards.


Unsuited cards.


A poker variant in which players get four hole cards and five community cards. Players must use two hole cards and three community cards to make their hands.


Place the first bet.

Open Card

Any card dealt face-up.

Open Pair

Any pair that is dealt face-up.

Paints/Picture Cards

Jacks, queens, and kings.




To place a bet.

Put Down



A tray of chips holding five stacks of 20 chips.


Knocking on the poker table to indicate a check.

Ring Game

Also known as a cash game, it is any ongoing cash poker game except for a tournament.


The final face-up community card in Hold ‘em and Omaha.

Royal Flush

A 10 to Ace straight in the same suit.


Win the whole pot.


Call a bet.

Side Pot

A side pot is created when one or more active players are all-in and other players want to continue betting. A single hand can feature several side pots.


Refers to a player’s pile of chips.


Any five consecutive cards such as 4,5,6,7,8 or 9,10,J,Q,K.

Straight Flush

A straight in which all cards are the same suit.

Stud Games

A poker game in which players get a combination of face-up and face-down cards.

Wild Card

A designated card that can be used as any card value.


WSOP is an abbreviation for the World Series of Poker which is an annual poker tournament held in Las Vegas.

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