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Poker Terms and Definitions

Action – The amount of money you bet in a game. If you bet $200, you had $200 of action.

Add-On – A tournament rule where a player can add more chips to their stack for a certain amount of money. Tournaments usually have rules which end adding on at a certain time. Often used in unison with rebuys.

All-In – When one player raises the bet so high it forces their opponent to risk their entire chip stack, if they remain in the hand (Call). Unlike in movies, Texas hold’em players can never risk more than their chip stack.

Bankroll – The amount of money you set aside for gambling. Choosing a proper bankroll is a key part of any gambling strategy. (See our page about poker bankroll requirements here.)

Bluff – To make an aggressive play with a hand which is probably overmatched. Bluffing carries risk, but when done properly, it can disconcert an opponent. Some players don’t mind losing an early bluff, as it either shows they’re aggressive or baits players into calling against strong hands later.

Buy-in – The amount to enter a tournament or join play at a table.

Call – To match the bet an opponent made.

Face Card – A card dealt face up.

Final Table – The last stage table of a tournament, often with the final 9 players in the event.

Finishing in the Money – Finishing high enough in the standings that you win money. If the Top 100 players receive money and you placed 89th, you finished in the money. Most tournaments have much smaller pools of player who finish in the money.

Five-Card Stud – Game in which five cards are dealt and the player gets no extra cards. High card can win and bluffing is a major factor.

Fold – To concede defeat in a hand. Some of the best poker moves are knowing when to fold.

Freeroll – Free entry into a tournament. Online casinos offer freerolls to new and continuing players. Some freerolls lead to satellite events which led to bigger tournaments, like the Wold Series of Poker.

Gut Shot Straight – When you hold 4 to a straight, but the 5th number needed isn’t in the middle of the sequence, not the end. These hands have less chance of winning than an open-ended straight. A 4-5-7-8 would be gut shot, because you have to receive a 6 to fill the straight.

In Position – Being the last player to act, giving you a chance to see what the other players’ do. This is an advantageous position.

High Roller – A player who bets the max limit or makes high bets at the casino. Most operators offer incentives in the form of bonuses, comps, and a better house edge to high roller. With some distinction, also known as premium players (lower stakes) or sharks (the biggest stakes).

Hole Card – A card dealt face down.

H.O.R.S.E. – Considered by some to be the best test of a poker player’s ability, this combined five games: holdem, Omaha hi-lo, razz, seven-card stud, and seven-card stud split-eight or better. The initials of the five games (including “E” for “eight”) make up the H.O.R.S.E. acronym.

Lowball – A game where the point is to get the lowest hand, not the highest one. Razz and the low part of Omaha hi-lo are lowball games.

Offsuit – When your two hole cards do not have the same suit (clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades).

Omaha – Played with four dealt cards per player and five community cards. The player must build the best 5-card hand with exactly 2 cards from their hand and 3 cards from the communal layout.

Omaha Hi-Lo – Variant of Omaha where the player with the high hand wins 1/2 of the pot, while the player with the lowest hand wins the other half. Omaha high-low 8 requires no card in one’s low hand to be higher than an eight.

Open Ended Straight – When you hold 4 to a straight and the four cards you hold are in a sequence. A 4-5-6-7 would be an open ended straight, because either a 3 or an 8 would fill the straight.

Pot Odds – The ratio of the cost of calling to the size of the pot. Calculating pot odds lets a player determine the potential risk versus potential reward, to determine good plays.

Premium Player – A high roller on the low end of the scale, often betting $10,000 or less per hand.

Raise – Not only matching the bet of an opponent, but exceeding it. Raising forces the opponent to call, raise, or fold.

Razz – Game which plays much like 7-card stud, except the point is to get the lowest hand at the table.

Reading – The ability of a player to sniff out an opponent’s bluff. Reading an opponent comes from a combination of prior knowledge, gut instinct, and interpreting body language.

Rebuy – A second (or third) buy-in. Some tournaments allow for “rebuys”, which are a second entry fee for those who busted out and want to join the game again. Some tournaments don’t allow rebuys.

Satellite Tournament – An even which leads to a bigger event with higher stakes. Often, a satellite event leads to the WSOP Main Event.

Seven-Card Stud – Game in which the player builds the best five card hand and each player receives 7 cards. At the deal, each player receives three cards: 2 face up and 1 face down. Four rounds of betting occur, the first 3 after one face down card is dealt. The final round has a face-up card.

Sit’N Go – A one-table tournament which takes an hour or less to complete. Sit’n’goes are found at most online casinos, offering players who can’t play all night a chance to participate. Also called a turbo tournament.

Staredown – When a player is raised, a staredown is an attempt to read a player.

Stud Poker – Variant of the game where players cannot draw extra cards. Five-card stud and seven-card stud are key variants.

Texas Hold’em – A game where each player is dealt 2 hole cards (face down), then share 5 community cards. With these cards, one must build the best 5-card hand. Holdem is the most popular game at online sites, on television, and in the tournament circuit. Texas holdem was brought to Las Vegas by Texans like Amarillo Slim and Doyle Brunson in the 1960’s. It became the game for the Main Event of the World Series of Poker, making it the most popular variant.

The Flop – When the first three community cards are placed on the table. Betting begins prior to the flop, while a second round occurs after the flop.

The Turn – When the fourth community card is revealed. Another round of betting occurs after this wager.

The River – The fifth community card on your site. The final round of betting occurs after the river card is shown.

Tilt – When a player’s emotions get in the way of good play. Sometimes called “going on tilt”, like a pinball machine would.

Turbo Tournament – Quick online poker tournament. Another name for a sit-&-go event.

Whale – High rollers whose bet exceeds $100,000 per hand. This might be a professional player who knows all the right moves or a wealthy gambler wanting to throw some money around.

See also: 

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