Poker is a more complex game that it may at first appear. When you come to play and discuss the game with others you will soon realise that poker has a language all of it’s own. Here in the Poker Glossary we set out the meaning of many of these terms. Gaining a full understanding of Texas Holdem is I would suggest an essential pre-requisite to playing.
Poker, and particularly the No-Limit form of Texas Holdem is a skill game that requires an understanding of the terms below and the correct application within your game. I hope you will take the time to read the contents of the Poker Help section of this website to gain a understanding of the day to day utilisation of each of these terms in a live environment. If you find a term that is not included, please feel to email the details via our Feedback form.
The outcome of a game where the best card shown is an Ace.
Showdown cards referring to the possession of Two Pair, one of which is Aces.
Action is a rather vague term referring to a couple of sections of play. One use of the term refers to it being your turn to act the action is on you. More commonly the term is used to describe exciting poker play where many chips are in play for a particular game.
A feature of Tournament play where the contestants are given the opportunity to purchase further chips over and above their original stake.
You are said to be All-in when you put all of your remaining chips in to the pot. Often considered to be one of the most powerful plays that you can make because having just put all of your chips into the pot you are sending a signal of supreme confidence in your ability to win.
Relatively rare in games of Texas Holdem, Ante’s are typically only seen in the later stages of major tournaments. In common use in other types of poker game, an Ante is a contribution from each player prior to seeing your cards. It is used to create or further build a pot. It’s purpose, like the Blinds is to force players to engage rather than wait for the best starting hands. These are forced bets made in addition to the Blinds.
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The term refers to holding cards of low value, most often below 6.
A really enjoyable situation as a poker player this is where you have just made a very large hand but actually intended to hit some other hand. For example you were playing for 3 of a Kind but instead hit a Straight on the River. You would be said to have hit a Backdoor Straight.
Simply put this is the amount of money that you brought to the game. It could also be considered to be the maximum you are prepared to wager. The size of your Bankroll has great influence on the way you are likely to play certain hands. If someone goes All-in for $10 and you have $100 then the call is merely 10% of your Bankroll, (or chip stack). If you’re Bankroll is only $12 then you are far less likely to call the bet.
The act of wagering chips in support of your cards held (your Hand)
One of the two forced bets in a Texas Holdem game. The Big Blind is the largest of the two bets and its purpose is explained below under the entry for Blinds and also here in the Blinds section.
A card that is of no help to the player.
A forced bet, the purpose of which is to stimulate Action, and to prevent players from sitting on the sidelines waiting for the best starting hands. In Texas Holdem the Blinds follow the dealer and dictate the way any particular game is played out, a concept known as Table Position. As a prospective player it is essential that you fully understand the use of both the Blinds and Table position. To help you with this I have written dedicated sections on each topic under the Blinds and Table Position sections of poker help.
A significant element of the game of Texas Holdem, and one of the hardest to master. Bluffing is unique to Poker as a card game in that you can win with the worst hand. Bluffing is the act of betting in such a way as to suggest a strong hand, and yet you have a weak hand, or no hand at all. A Bluff is successful when your opponent folds his hand to your lesser cards due to the way you played the hand. The big risk of course is that you may be called with your bluff in which case you will almost certainly lose a showdown. To master Bluffing as a Texas Holdem Strategy then you must have a full understanding of Table Position.
This term refers to the five Community cards that are laid face up on the table for all players to share. Sometimes you may find that the best five of seven cards you could play are the Community Cards. Where this is the case you would be said to be “playing the board”.
The absolute best starting hand in Texas Holdem Poker. The term refers to holding a pair of aces as your two hole cards. The odds against your receiving this the most powerful of starting hands are 220/1.
Burn a Card
This term refers to the disposal of cards to protect the identity of the card beneath it. In poker all players are seeking any advantage they can get. It is an informational game. The dealer act of Burning or throwing away a card prior to dealing the flop, turn and river cards is a security measure to ensure fair play for all.
The Button is a term used for the small plastic disk that represents the dealers seat. Each hand requires that the cards a dealt and blinds are positioned one place clockwise from the previous hand. This ensures fair play and the rotational payment of Blinds. The Button keeps track of the position of the play end enables a table dealer to know who is first to act for any particular hand. The position of the Button (a small plastic disk) relative to yourself as a player and therefore your betting strategy is an essential part of Texas Holdem. The concept few understand but all successful players know is called Table Position.
A successful bluff is one where you are said to have Bought the Pot. To attempt a buy is to hold a marginal hand that may be a winner in it’s own right or may become the winner, but at the point of betting it was considered a weak hand relative to the possibilities out there.
The financial cost of entry to any particular game. The term is used most often in relation to Tournament play where you pay a fixed sum to enter the tournament.
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Calling is simply the act of a player looking to stay in the hand where someone prior to the caller has raised. The choice for the player due to act is to raise, call, or fold. A call is therefore simply matching the prior raise to see the next card (or the showdown).
The webmaster! A player who always seems to call but rarely raises a bet.
A limit to the number of times a bet can be raised and then re-raised. This aspect of Texas Holdem comes up most regularly in the Limit form of the game. Usually the bet can be raised 3 times.
Capping a Raise
Follows on from the previous point, this is the third raise in most games (usually only relevant in Limit poker).
Somewhat self explanatory, this is the venue for a particular poker match. Cardrooms can be land based or internet based online poker rooms.
Where you are drawing to a hand and you obtain (usually against the odds) the hand you were drawing towards. When a fellow player says “Nice Catch” they are upset at the outcome of the hand.
A useful feature of an online poker room. Chat enables you to converse with other players via typing what you would like to say into the chat box. In the online poker space this is seen as a privilege not a right so do not abuse it. I find that chat is a great way to put players on-tilt with a well placed comment at an appropriate time. Use chat as a tool.
A term that you will hear rather a lot of when playing the game. To check is to pass the opportunity to act on to the next player because you want to a) hide a strong hand, b) look to catch free cards, or c) don’t know what you are doing. The most common is a) or b), but the act of checking suggests weakness. Be wary of checkers who raised prior to the flop.
A feature of online poker that allows you to select your play before it is your turn to act. The purpose from an online poker room’s standpoint is to increase the speed of play (and therefore rake to them). Using these buttons in advance of your turn is not a strategy we would advise.
Check and Raise
A solid Texas Holdem Strategy play. It is the action of a player who checks when it’s his turn but then if others bet he raises over the top of the raiser. This is a major tell of strength (can also be used as a solid bluffing strategy).
The act of calling without looking to see what cards you hold. I cannot think of a situation where this would be a good strategy.
In Texas Holdem you are dealt 2 cards face down and 5 cards come out face up for communal use. Community Cards are also called the Board.
All five cards define this hand – examples would include a straight flush, full house, flush or straight.
Comp Program – or Comps
The Comp programme is one more associated with land based poker rooms where hotel rooms and meals are Comped in exchange for playing in a particular establishment. In the same way, online poker rooms offer comps and rewards by giving out cash incentives in the form of bonuses to new players.
Starting hand where the hole card numbers run (Examples: K,Qs, 7,6).
The act of calling a hand where you are almost certain that you are behind.
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This is a term used to describe the money you leave when you fold a hand. If for example you had bet on your hole cards and bet further on the flop, folding to bets on the Turn then the sum that you forfeited up to that point can be considered as dead money (i.e you gave it away because there was no showdown).
The commencement of a hand through the act of the dealer distributing the hole cards.
A circumstance where two or more players remain in the pot and one has a massive statistical advantage. Examples would include QQ versus 44, or AK versus A9
A situation where you need more cards to complete a hand. You are said to be drawing if you have no hand but hope to make a significant hand by staying in the game to draw cards.
A most unfortunate circumstance for the Holdem player attempting to make this hand. This is where a player is drawing to a card or cards which even if landed will lose against anothers made hand.
Drop (to Fold)
The same as Folding, if you drop you are conceding the hand.
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One aspect of the all important Texas Holdem Strategy known as Table Position. This is an important concept and I would urge you to read and others from the Poker Help section of this site.
A rather pointless calculation which demonstrates statistically how much you can expect from a particular pot. For example if you have $80 in a pot and there are two players remaining then you could be said to have 50% equity. It’s pointless because you will either win or lose at the showdown.
(1) Expectation of gain should you make a certain play type.(2) Expectation of gain for a specific period of time spent at the poker tables.
A game error where a card is accidentally turned face up when it should have remained face down. These situations by definition can only happen in land based games, and when they occur it is up the dealer to make a ruling.
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A pot is said to be family when all, or substantively all of the players remaining in the game call to see a flop. It is therefore a multi-player pot.
A type of play suited to particular situations. For example if you flop a set but there remains the danger of a straight draw or a flush draw you would bet hard (known as fast play) to push your opponents out of the equation before the catch cards.
The fifth card dealt. Following this card is the fourth round of betting in Texas Holdem. We also call the river the last community card dealt.
An inexperienced player or a player who tends to lose more often than average.
Refers to the Limit variant of Texas Holdem where bets are limited to a set size which is most often double the size of the Big Blind.
The phrase Flop refers to the first three Community Cards placed face up on the Board. The flop is therefore a mid-part of a hand, following the betting round concerning the hole cards and prior to the production of the Turn Card.
A quality hand in Texas Holdem which can often be quite well disguised. Flush is the term used to describe 5 cards that are of the same suit (not running, as a running Flush would be known as a Straight Flush). Please see my section on Hand Rankings for further detail.
You believe that you cannot win and therefore discard your cards to the mucked pile without any further betting.
A situation that arises where you are able to see the turn or river card without cost due your table reputation. You are drawing to a hand and your opponents are reluctant to engage with you because of your previous play up to this point.
Please see the description of a Full House in the Hand Rankings section of the site.
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A hand containing unrelated cards that is not worth playing unless you plan to bluff at the pot.
The colour associated with $25 chips in land based poker rooms.
A straight made by drawing to a single card that fits in between the cards you are already holding. For example: If you have 10s-9s, the flop comes 8c-2c-6d, and the turn is the 7h, the gutshot straight was made on the turn.
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A generic term relating to the time period covering all of the play past the point of the dealer shuffle, a hand could otherwise be described as a round from dealing to showdown. A hand is also the term used to describe the actual five card combination you can make out of the seven available. An explanation of the ranking of individual hands can be found in the Poker Hands section.
One on one play where two players are involved in the game.
The best hand in any round of poker.
The subject of this entire website! Game variants include Limit Holdem, No-Limit Holdem and Pot Limit Texas Holdem Poker.
The infrastructure of the game, comprises the dealers, tables, or online software that enables poker play. Land based and Online Poker rooms charge a fee for playing in their respective establishments. This fee is called the rake.
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Ignorant End of a Straight
An unfortunate situation to find yourself in during a No-Limit Texas Holdem Game, the ignorant or runt end of a straight is where two players have made a straight buy you hold the lower cards. For example you make a straight 56789 but your opponent has 678910.
These are the odds relative to the pot that you’ll return if you hit your hand. When you calculate implied odds it means that you have no actual winning hand at the point of calculation but you are drawing to a hand. The impled odds of getting the hand are the odds of making the winner taking into account the size of the pot and likely win relative to the bet you need to make to jurify a continued draw. So you have 4 to a Flush with the Turn Card and River Card still to come. Chances of making the Flush will be circa 1 in 3. If the pot holds $10 and it’ll cost you $1 to make the next call then you have correct implied odds to continue with the draw. (e.g Turn Card will cost $1 – a 1 in 6 chance of making the Flush on the Turn, against a return of $11 if you do means you have the implied odds to make the call.)
Situation where you are drawing to or have made a Straight where the card you needed (or received) was a middle card that completed the Straight. An Inside Straight is harder to draw than an Open Ended Straight which is discussed below.
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A teaser to make people play but statistically ridiculously unlikely to ever occur to you or I. Offered by both land based and online poker rooms the Jackpot is a massive sum of money that builds as a consolation prize for someone who has been beaten by another player despite holding a massive hand. Usually the minimum to trigger a Jackpot is to be beaten while holding KKKKA or in other words someone else has a Straight Flush. For a description of the ranking of hands please see the Hand Rankings section.
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It is essential that you understand the meaning of the term Kicker in Texas Holdem. To assist with your understanding we have dedicated a separate section called Kickers.
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Another vitally important section with it’s own dedicated page. Please see Table Position for an explanation.
A variant of Texas Holdem that is more mathematical in nature. Limit Texas Holdem is a game where your options are simply bet the big blind, call or fold – you do not have the ability to raise by more than the limit although you do have the opportunity to re-raise (again subject to the size of the Big Blind). The game is therefore very different to play than its cousins the No-Limit and Pot-Limit variants of Holdem Poker.
A player who is still in competition for a particular pot is said to have a live hand.
This term refers to a style of play that is distinct to a player. It means that the player is giving the appearance of playing many types of hands including low quality starting hands. The opposite of a Tight Player sometimes referred to as a Maniac.
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This is the first pot formed (regardless of its size relative to other pots coming later in the same hand) and it comprises all of the players who bet on their hole cards. Secondary pots are created when one player goes All-in and is thereby unable to compete for more chips than they held. In this case second and even third pots can be created which represent the bets between remaining players who continue to contest among themselves.
Please see a poker article I wrote on the subject of player styles including Maniacs.
Another word or term meaning to Call.
Uneasy situation where following a flop you have made a pair with the middle card out on the flop. So the Flop comes Ace, Queen, Two and you hold Queen Six.
Position play is a vital part of Texas Holdem that you must understand fully to play well. Please see my section from the Poker Help box that describes the various stages of Table Position.
Please see “Fold” above.
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A version of poker in which a player may at any time bet the full value of chips he possesses by going All-in. No Limit is therefore the most exciting variant of Texas Holdem to watch and is different in nature to both Limit and Pot Limit play. The three versions of the game draw very different types of people, and it is rare to find someone who masters all three.
The best possible hand given the board. You will occasionally hear the term applied to the best possible hand of a certain category, even though it isn’t the overall nuts.
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Term referring to the starting cards held. In this case the hole cards are of different suits.
Starting cards in a Texas Holdem where the hole cards a separated by a gap. For example 86 suited hearts.
A very important term in the game, each out is a single opportunity for you to win a particular hand should you draw a particular hand. The more experienced a player gets the more they think in terms of outs as they use the available outs in any given situation to assess the implied or actual pot odds of winning each hand.
A player who submits the first bet over and above the Blinds is said to have Opened the betting.
Open-Ended Straight Draw
This is a situation that arises when you have 4 cards to making a Straight and those four cards consecutively run. This means that the chances of making your Straight are fairly high in that you can draw a card to either side (high or low) of the run you hold.
Usually a cause for concern the Overcard is a situation where you have caught a piece of the action (made a Pair or similar) but there remains a higher card out on the Board which is higher than the Pair you have made. When betting you must bear in mind the possibility that your opponent or opponents may have matched the overcard.
You have an overpair when you are dealt a pair as hole cards and that pair is higher than any of the cards that have so far come out as part of the Community Cards. An example would be to hold a pair of Kings with the Flop coming 269. In this situation you have an Overpair, and it is usually a strong position to be in.
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Simply put this is two matching cards such as two Jacks.
Situation where your opponent has a made hand that cannot be beaten no matter what you draw. The pot in this situation is, however, so large that it makes sense to call.
Play the Board
A situation where your best five cards are the community cards. Note the best situation you can have here is a Split Pot.
Pocket / Pocket Cards
Your first two down cards. Holdem players tend to call them pocket cards; stud players tend to call them hole cards.
One of the most important parts of Texas Holdem and rarely understood by beginners. Position refers to your place on the table relative to the blinds and the dealer puck. I have an entire section of this website devoted to it in the poker help box called Table Position. Please refer to that as it is an important concept to understand.
Opportunitic and rather clever play where you bet based on your Table Position rather than the cards you hold. Position Bets are most likely to occur when you are playing late position and all others have folded around to you.
A requirement to put in a blind due to missing a turn. If for example you left the table momentarily at the time you were due to play the small blind and then returned to the table prior to the next big blind, you would be required to post the small out of position (in addition to whoever is posting the small).
The term Pot simply refers to the sum of money available in the centre of the table to win with any given hand. There may be more than one pot in which case the first is called the Main Pot and the others are called Side Pots.
Interesting but least popular variant of the Texas Holdem Game. Pot Limit poker is the middle ground between No-Limit and Limit. In a Pot Limit game you are restricted to raises no larger than the size of the existing pot. This means that in any betting round, the betting starts lightly (as the only bets in the pot are the Big and Small Blinds. Pot Limit therefore has many more people seeing the Flop than No-Limit.
Calculation which determines your course of play mathematically weighing the statistical chance of winning against the cost of proceeding further. For example if the pot has $50 and a player bets $5 then you have a choice of calling the $5 at 11 to 1 (a return of $55 for $5 additional stake). If the the odds of making your hand are better than 11 to 1 then you have the pot odds to make the call.
The betting and other pot increasing activity that happens prior to the Flop coming out.
Prop Player or Prop
Sometimes seen in support of a new room launch, this is a player that is paid by the hour to attend a poker room and play at a table. They play with their own money but the salary for making gameplay is helpful to their overall table return.
A good strategy move in situations where you believe you have the lead but that lead is at risk of being lost if further cards are drawn. An example would be a set but with 2 cards on the board of the same suit threatening a flush. You would protect your hand by betting heavily to prevent card catchers from seeing the turn and river.
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Where either the flop or the board doesn’t look like it will help anyone.
A flop or board where there is no flush possibility. It is likely that all suits are represented in the community cards but no more than two of the cards are of the same suit.
Often confused with the term bet. A raise situation is where someone has already bet and you come in over the top of that.
A charge the house levies for hosting the game. In the online world rake is taken as a small percentage out of each pot. In land based environments the rake is higher because costs are higher and the pace of the poker game is slower.
Cards rank based on how high they are, thus two kings have the same rank. In Texas Holdem Poker suits do not have value. For further details of the ranking of cards please see my separate section on the ranking of Poker Hands.
Re-buy In tournament play you are often given the option to buy more chips (your original stack again) if you are put out early. Typically the rebuy period lasts half an hour or an hour.
Where the flop comes and you have a draw, perhaps a straight draw, but after the turn you may have more than one draw such as a straight or a flush.
A situation where you are bluffing that you have a certain hand, but in reality you do not hold the hand in question. An example would be a Flop that comes King, King, Six would be difficult to call if you held a pair of Aces and your opponent went All-in. Your opponent would be said to be representing Trip Kings if he did not hold a King in these circumstances.
Always an entertaining play a re-raise occurs when someone has bet, another player has raised and you now re-riase over the top of the previous two.
A cash game and not a tournament. The difference between the two is that a tournament is playing with chips towards a cash prize, where as a ring game is playing simply with cash.
The last community card dealt to the board. Sometimes referred to as Fifth Street in Texas Holdem.
The definition of a Tight Player Rocks are common in online play and therefore fairly easy to defeat. They sit around only playing the best cards. When they come in for a hand get out of their way.
The name given to each circle of betting. The is a round after the hole cards, then one after the community comes out, and finally two rounds after each of the turn and river cards.
See a href=”Hand_Rankings.htm”>Hand Rankings for a definition of this the highest possible hand in Texas Holdem.
The catching of cards that as a result of the catching makes a higher hand than any of your opponents. You caught a runner.
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This is a card that is concerning to someone who up until that card came out probably had the best hand. An example would be someone sitting with say 2,3 of hearts with a flop 59J all hearts also. At this point with a made flush is it unlikely that anyone else has a higher flush, but another heart on the turn would be a scare card because there’s almost certainly others who now have higher flush cards. Even if there are not, you would still be reluctant to be your low flush hence the term scare card.
Where you pair the second highest card on the board. So if you hold 7 10 and the flop comes K 10 4 then you have second pair.
Situation where you have no hand, make a bet where you’d be happy for others to fold, but if they do not you have a number of outs.
One of the best hidden hands you can have. This is where you hold a pair as your hole cards and make three of a kind using the board. Other players will be unlikely to see that you have three of a kind because two of those cards are hidden from their view.
The unfortunate position that you will find yourself in from time to time where you are playing with the smallest amount of chips. Short stacked players can be dangerous because they must gamble in order to survive and in many cases must do so just to stay ahead of the blinds.
The showdown occurs at the end of each hand should any players still be in contention for the pot. To make a showdown, 2 or more players must still be in contention, and the cards are upturned to reveal a winner.
The dealers job to randomise the cards prior to dealing.
A pot that only a limited number of players are contesting. This occurs when one player is allin, and other players bet more than that amount. For example player 1 has 10 chips, player 2, 20 chips and player 3 has 100 chips. If player 1 is allin and that bet is called by 2 but player 3 raises by 10 then player 2 would also be allin if called. The maximum player 1 can win is 30 being the main pot. Player 2 and player 3 are the only ones contesting the side pot which is worth 20.
To slow play your cards is to consciously not bet with a good hand in order to draw other players into a trap. The hope is that other players will bet or bluff at the pot.
Entering a game in progress.
I dedicate a separate section on the site to Split Pots.
The face down cards you are dealt in a Texas Holdem Poker game. There are always 2 cards only, otherwise referred to as your hole cards, and only you see these.
To raise from early position without looking at your cards. It’s not a very sensible thing to do.
A powerful hand where 5 of your 7 cards run in order. For example 5,6,7,8,9. Straights do not need to be suited cards. If two people have straights the winner is the one with the highest card.
Second highest hand in the game. See Hand Rankings for details.
An illegal move where a player attempts to put more chips in the pot in more than one movement. As a Texas Holdem player you have the option to state your raise verbally and then put the requisite number of chips in the pot or you may make a single chip deposit representing the value of the raise. You are not allowed to put some chips in and then decide to put more in as part of this same turn.
The organisation of the game, from rules, betting, limits, game variation to buy-ins. The whole game setup would be called the Structure.
A term denoting the suit of the cards you have been dealt. Hole cards are said to be suited if they are both of the same suit. Suited cards give you more outs as you have greater chance of making a Flush with two suited hole cards.
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Poker Rule that says that you are only able to bet what you have brought to the table. You cannot for example write out IOU’s or make other promises for value. You either have the chips in front of you before the cards are dealt or you do not.
A fascinating subject and one that is connected to the term poker face. A tell is something that you do that is giving away the strength of your hand, or even the hand itself. I have written an interesting article on the subject which can be found here on the subject of Poker Tells.
Often shortened to just Holdem, is widely considered the grandfather of poker. A flop game, in Texas Holdem each player gets two pocket cards, while five community cards are dealt face-up on the table. The strength of a player’s hand is the best five-card hand that can be made with these seven cards. There are four rounds of betting: after the pocket cards are dealt, after the first three community cards (the flop), after the fourth, or turn card, and after the final, or river card.
Three of a Kind
This is simply three cards of the same number that match. It’s a reasonably strong hand and can easily be hidden if two of the matching cards are hole cards. The latter situation is referred to as a Set.
Irrational play based on an emotive desire to win at all cost. People have a tendency to go on-Tilt where they were beaten by an unlikely out such as a lucky draw. The emotion is anger which in turn clouds judgement which causes the player to bet without thinking. As a disciplined player you must prevent yourself from going on tilt because it is a place where you will lose the most.
A small amount of money taken out of the pot to pay the dealer.
You are said to have top pair if your pair the highest card on the board. This is, of course, no guarantee that you’ve won the hand but it is usually a strong position to hold at any given moment.
Enjoyable and inexpensive form of Texas Holdem play. In a Poker Tournament all players buy-in for a set sum and the winner of the tournament is the one who at the end of the game ends up with all of the chips. The distribution of Prize money is agreed at the outset of the tournament. Also referred to as a Poker Tourney.
Three of a kind where two of the three cards are found as part of the Community Cards. The other hand which is identical is a set where again you have three matching cards but here two of the matching three cards are held in the hole.
Term used to describe the fourth Community Cards to be revealed.
Player holding two sets of matching cards. For example KKQQ6.
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Under the gun
Term from the all important concept that is Table Position. To be under the gun means that you are the first person to bet. This gives you a great disadvantage in that you do not know what others hold because you are first to act and your opponents get to see how you play your cards first.
The same in poker as in any other competition, the underdog is the one that is least fancied to win.
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Term referring to the relative position you hold versus your opponents. A value bet is a one where you probably have the best hand and you make it attractive enough for your opponents to call your bet thus keeping them in the game. It’s a meaningful bet but not one large enough to put people off.
Variance is a measure of the swings and roundabouts of lady luck. In any game with an element of chance (small element of chance because poker is a skill game) there will be some swing towards positive variance (lucky) and negative variance (bad luck). As a prospective player you will experience both at some time or other.
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The placing of a bet.
Wait for the Blind
Smart play by those that have the patience to do this. When you enter a game for the first time you will usually be joining out of turn and you will be given the option of joining the action immediately or waiting until it is naturally your turn to pay the Big Blind. The smart way to join a game is to wait for the Big Blind and use the time observe your opponents Playing Style.
Colour of $1chips in most poker rooms.
Self explanatory I’m sure.