Poker is an extremely complex card game with many, many variations. I will explain the basic rules of the game here and spell out the different variations that I am familiar with in separate writeups.

Poker is a betting game. Players need to wager something on each hand (whether it be real money, pennies, poker chips or pretzels) or the game gets boring rather quickly. Betting plays a huge role in the strategy of the game; even if you are down on your luck you can still win by betting correctly, reading other player's bets correctly, and looking at other player's reactions (reading their 'poker faces').

The object of most variations of poker is to construct the best possible hand for yourself. Hands are almost always made up of 5 cards, although a player may have more than 5 cards available to him or her. Both rank and suit can be significant to a hand. The best hand is the straight flush; the worst hand is a hand where no other combinations are made, and there is only the high card.

Possible Hands
  1. Straight Flush: Five cards of the same suit arranged in a continuous order of rank. Example: 5♠ 6♠ 7♠ 8♠ 9♠. A ten-to-ace straight flush is called a royal flush.
  2. Four of a kind: Four cards of the same rank, plus any other card. Example: K♣ K♦ K♥ K♠ 4♥.
  3. Full House: Three cards of the same rank, plus two cards of a different rank. Example: A♣ A♦ A♥ 8♣ 8♠.
  4. Flush: Five cards of the same suit. Example: K♦ J♦ 9♦ 5♦ 2♦.
  5. Straight: Five cards in continuous order of rank. Example: Q♣ J♣ 10♣ 9♣ 8♣.
  6. Three of a kind: Three cards of the same rank, plus any other two cards. Example: 7♣ 7♦ 7♥ K♣ J♣.
  7. Two pair: Two cards of the same rank, two cards of a different rank, plus any other card. Example: 4♣ 4♦ 3♣ 3♥ A♥.
  8. Pair: Two cards of the same rank, plus any other three cards. Example: K♣ K♦ 10♦ 9♥ 7♠.
  9. High card: If none of the above combinations are made, the hand takes the value of the highest card. For example, the follwing hand would be called high-card king: K♣ 9♠ 6♠ 4♠ 3♠.
Poker Variations

Besides the usual Five Card Draw poker game, there are several interesting variations on the game: You also might want to check out Poker Terminology and Slang in progress.
The following analysis will give you an idea of the probability of being dealt a certain poker hand. Consider a standard deck of cards (2, 3, ..., 10, J, Q, K, A; ♣, ♦, ♥, ♠). The number of different hands of five cards out of 52 (=number of possible combinations) is equal to:
          C552 = -------------------- = 2 598 960 hands
  • A Royal Flush requires 10-to-Ace in one suit. There are 4 suits, so there are 4 ways of making a Royal Flush.
  • A Straight Flush requires five cards in sequence of the same suit. There are ten straights in each suit, considering that the Ace can be either low or high: A, 2, 3, 4, 5 through 10, J, Q, K, A. Since there are 4 suits, this leads to 40 combinations. Subtract the 4 Royal Flushes results in 36 ways of making a Straight Flush.
  • A Four of a Kind requires four cards of the same denomination, and one other card. There are 13 denominations, with (12 x 4 =) 48 non- matching cards. In total, there are 13 x 48 = 624 ways of making a Four of a Kind.
  • A Full House consists of 3 cards with one denomination, and 2 of another. There are 4 ways to get three cards of any nomination:

    ♣ ♦ ♥
    ♦ ♥ ♠
    ♣ ♥ ♠
    ♣ ♦ ♠

    There are 13 denominations resulting in 4 x 13 = 52 ways to get three cards of one denomination. The pair must be in another denomination. There are 12 possible denominations, and 6 ways of pairing the denominations:

    ♣ ♦
    ♣ ♥
    ♣ ♠
    ♦ ♥
    ♦ ♠
    ♥ ♠

    Thus, the pair can be obtained in 6 x 12 = 72 ways. In total, there are 52 x 72 = 3 744 ways of making a Full House

  • A Flush consists of five cards in the same suit. Since there are four suits, there are:
              4*C513 = 4 * ------------------- = 5 148 combinations
    Subtract the 40 combinations that form a Royal or Straight Flush. This results in 5 108 ways to obtain a Flush
  • There are ten possible Straights, each with 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 ways of occurring. This equals 10 240 ways. Subtract the 40 combinations that a Straight Flush. This results in 10 200 ways to obtain a Straight.
  • Three of a Kind requires one of four ways of getting three cards of the same rank. Any one of (4 x 12 =) 48 cards will have a different rank from the triple. Any one of (4 x 11=) 44 cards will have a different rank from the triple and the other non-matching card. There are 48 x 44/2 = non-matching pairs that will fill the hand (order doesn't matter e.g. 9 Q is similar to Q 9). Thus, there are 4 x 13 x 48 x 44/2 = 54 912 ways to get a Three of a Kind.
  • Similarly, Two Pair consists of
              C24 x C24 x C213 x 44 = 6 x 6 x 13 x 12 x 44/2 = 123 552 combinations
  • One pair consists of
              13 x C24 x 48 x 44 x 40 / (3 x 2 x 1) = 1 098 240 combinations
  • There are 1 302 400 remaining deals that have no value (High Card).

Dividing each number by the total number of hands (2 598 960) yields the probabilities for each poker hand for the initial deal:

Hand            Probability       %
Royal Flush     0.000002         0.0002
Straight Flush  0.000014         0.0014
Four of a Kind  0.00024          0.0240
Full House      0.00144          0.144
Flush           0.00197          0.197
Straight        0.00392          0.392
Three of a Kind 0.02113          2.113
Two Pairs       0.04754          4.754
One Pair        0.42257         42.257
High Card       0.50112         50.112

Knowing the winning hand in poker is certainly useful, but surely the actual gameplay is worth covering as well? Here is the basic sequence of play for Five Card Draw, the "standard" game of poker.

  • All players place the ante (the minimum bet needed to participate) in the pot (a pool of money) and are dealt five cards face down.

  • Players pick up cards and examine them. The first betting round begins.

  • The player to the left of the dealer plays first. His choices are to:
    • check, do nothing and pass
    • bet, raise the bet by placing an additional amount in the pot
    Play continues clockwise.

  • If no bet has yet been placed (ie. everybody so far has checked), players continue to choose between checking and betting.

  • If a bet has been placed, the player's options are to:
    • call, place the bet in the pot and continue play
    • raise, place the bet and an additional amount in the pot; play continues with the new increased bet
    • fold, stop playing, forfeit the hand and the pot
      (Note: a folded hand does not have to be shown to others)

  • Play continues until a full round has passed without a new bet or raise (ie. the person who made the last bet/raise cannot raise himself).

  • Players discard 0-5 cards at their discretion and draw (take) new ones to replace them.

  • A second round of betting begins, starting from the player to the left of the first bettor.

  • If all players except one fold, the player who doesn't is the winner.

  • Otherwise, the remaining players show their hands, and highest hand wins.

  • Winner takes the pot. If there is no designated dealer, the player to the left of the dealer is the new dealer.
These are skeletal rules, usable for playing at home but not at the casino -- not that most casinos do Five Card Draw anyway. The industrial-strength rules for minimum/maximum antes, blinds, bets and raises, in particular, are complex and varied. See the FAQ for much more detail and references, and Nekojin's poker terms for more terminology.

Poker is a complex card game played with either 52, 53 or 54 cards (depending on how many jokers/bugs are used by the game in question). What all the various forms share is a ranking of 5-card hands, based on their probability of occurrence, regardless of how many cards you are actually playing with. See Professor Pi's writeup for an excellent analysis, but here is the result, from highest to lowest:
  1. Royal Flush
  2. Straight Flush
  3. Four of a Kind (aka quads)
  4. Full House (aka boat/full boat)
  5. Flush
  6. Straight
  7. Three of a Kind (aka trips)
  8. Two Pair
  9. One Pair
  10. Highest card

I believe Scarne says that the money gambled on poker in America in a given week exceeds that of all other forms of gambling, possibly combined. This is due to the sheer number of unsanctioned/illegal home games played in suburban neighborhoods, even if played for (relatively) small stakes.

There are a metric truckload of poker nodes in E2 at the moment, some redundant, some insightful. Some rough organization is necessary.

Terminology, alphabetically (see also Poker terms,casino terms)
Games - Basic, or "Stuff you might see in a Casino"
Flop games
Stud games
Draw games

Games - Stranger, or "Stuff you play at home"
Flop games Stud-like games Exchanging games Draw games
  • Jacks Back
Permutations for games are endless -- whole books are devoted just to cataloging some of the ideas.

Variants, or "Stuff invented by casinos to make more money"
People, or "Guys you don't want at your table"
Places, or "Where you can play legally"

Atlantic City

California, Northern
  • Artichoke Joe's
  • Bay 101
  • Casino San Pablo
  • Lucky Chances
  • Oaks Club Room
California, Southern
  • Bicycle Club
  • Commerce
  • Hollywood Park
Connecticut Nevada, Las Vegas Nevada, Reno
  • Cal-Neva Casino
Mississippi, Tunica (Vaguely) Related Nodes This node is (clearly) a work in progress. Please /msg me if you can help or have suggestions for organization (or candidate nodes).
Where does the card game "Poker" get its name from?

Poker is a game that is German in origin, and gets its name from the German pochen, meaning "to boast or brag"- though the literal translation is "to knock." A "knock" is still used in poker to indicate a passed bet, and the game still includes considerable "bragging." However, the game appears to have been introduced to this country through New Orleans, where, due to its similarity to the French card game of poque, it acquired that name. Southern gentlemen who played the game but did not know French pronunciation tried to say "pok-uh", which is very similar to the pronunciation of "poker" today. Northerners that learned the game deduced, therefore, that it was spelled like it sounds.

Another good example of traditional American word-butchering is "Hocus Pocus".
An insert card into a 52-card deck by Hoyle
Webster Dictionary research

Poker Terms


Ace High
- A poker hand value. Even lower than a pair, winning a hand with Ace high is not very common in high stakes games and rare in lower stakes. After folding on the river Dave remarked, "Sorry, couldn't call with Ace high."
Aces Full
- A full house with Aces the majority. A hand of AAA55 would be called Aces Full or Aces Full of Fives. The expression is easily altered for whatever cards are the majority in the full house. A hand of 555AA would be termed Fives Full or Fives Full of Aces.
Aces Up
- A poker hand value. Two pair, in which one pair is Aces.
- Play. Verbal short hand for large pots, for many people seeing the flop or for many raises and re-raises. I love the action down at Caesar’s Palace, it is always a live game.
Action Flop
- A flop which many players are likely to have hit. A flop of Ac Qs 10s might be considered an action flop as Aces, paint cards and suited pockets are premium starting hands. The potential is here for a straight, a flush and large pairs or two pair.
- An approach to poker or plan of action which increases one's earnings, often ethically questionable. Her angle is to play the fish, watch the 'shock' as she scoops this pot.
- When a player has all of their chips in the pot. One can move all in as an action, be all in after the action. He went all in trying to push the others out of the pot.
- Most commonly used in Stud, Draw and in the later rounds of Hold'em tournaments, a nominal bet all players must put into the pot before the cards are dealt. Antes are one way, blinds being the other, of trying to guarantee action in a hand.


- Refers to the turn and river in terms of a draw. A hand that is not made, yet, may be completed through the backdoor. He called with second pair 10s, but made a backdoor flush on me and took the pot down.
Bad Beat
- Occurs when a made hand or technically superior pocket loses to a draw or inferior pocket. An often overused term it implies that the person who won the pot did so despite conventional poker wisdom on how the hand should have been played. See also, suck out. What a bad beat! I flopped top two pair and he sucked out a straight on the river!
- 1. A poker player's available funds for playing.
2. To cash out ahead in order to assure a positive day. You all have fun, I'm going to bank this and get something to eat.
- The lowest possible straight, A2345. See also Wheel.
Big Bet
- Generally a Limit term, refers to the larger of the bets. In reference to bank size appropriate for table size, the conventional wisdom holds that a player should have 300 big bets before buying in at a table.
- A straight draw in which a card from the middle is missing. See also Gut-Shot, Inside Straight.
Big Slick
- Also known just as Slick, a pocket consisting of an Ace and a King. Considered the third strongest starting hand behind pocket Aces or pocket Kings, Big Slick has the potential to be huge but is technically inferior to any pocket pair.
- Describes a community card that most likely helps no one in the hand. I flopped an open ended straight draw, turn came a blank and the river only gave me top pair, I had to fold.
- A forced bet, usually used in Hold'em, to guarantee action in a hand. Paid by the player or players to the left of the dealer, if there is one it is just the blind, and serves as the minimum bet in the first rounds. If there are two blinds they are known as small blind and big blind, the big blind usually being double the small.In later rounds it became very important to try to pick up the blinds.
- To bet or otherwise represent a larger hand than is actually held, with the intention of winning without a showdown.
- The community cards in Hold'em. After being dealt their two card pockets, players use the five community cards, the board, to make the best hand.
- Also known as a Full Boat, this is slang for a Full House. A five card hand consisting of three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank.
Bonus Whoring
- A term specifically used in online poker. Refers to visiting poker sites specifically to earn the bonus awarded to new players. Bonuses range from as little as $50 to as much as 50% of the buy-in up to a predetermined limit. There is usually a condition that must be met to earn the bonus, a number of hands or amount of rake contributed. Strategic whoring can earn a player as much as $1000 or more, per month.
Bottom Pair
- A hand value made when one pocket card matches the lowest card on the board. I had 9s 10s, the flop came Kh Jd 10c giving me bottom pair and a straight draw.
- A cash or prize bonus associated with a particular player in a tournament. You win the bounty if you knock that player out of the tournament.
Bring In
- 1. A forced bet in the first round of betting, determined in Stud by the lowest card showing, in Razz by the highest. 2. Verbal short hand for playing a Hold'em pocket. I can't believe he brought in a J3 off.
- A pocket consisting of a Ten and a Two. Named after Doyle Brunson who won two World Series of Poker titles by eliminating the last player with that hand.
- A pair of Aces. Also known as Pocket Rockets, it is the strongest starting hand in Hold'em.
- The pay out line in a tournament. 'On the bubble' refers to the stage of the tournament when only a few players must be knocked out in order for everyone left to be in the money. In a small Sit n' Go, it is one more player than pays. Often refers to the players with the least chips at this stage, as they are most likely to go out at this point.
- To raise. On the button, I decided to bump it one more bet to see if I could get the blinds out.
- To deal off the top card face down before dealing out cards or dealing off the flop. This began as a check against cheating. A card that is accidentally shown is also called a burn card.
- To take the last of someone's chips is to bust them. Losing the last of your chips in a tournament is to bust out of the tournament. That's two years in a row I've been busted out by Rockets in the Big Blind!
- Signified by a white disk that rotates around the table, this signifies where the dealer position is. A powerful seat in Hold'em as it means you act last in every round of betting.
- The entrance for a tournament or the amount a player brings to the table.
Buy the Pot
- A play in which one person involved in a pot makes a bet with the expectation that everyone will fold to them. Usually occurs when there is no action, no interest in the community cards, and can imply that the person who bought it did not necessarily have a strong hand, merely a willingness to bet.


Calling Station
- Generally a derogatory term, though it can also just be a description of playing style, describes a person who calls lots of bets without ever taking the initiative in a hand. They may have a very strong hand or no hand at all, they will call down to the river hoping to see the card they need or knowing they have you beat from the outset. That table is full of calling stations, I lead out top pair twice only to see it go down to two pair and a flush!
- The maximum number of bets for a round of betting. Used in Limit or Structured games to prevent collusion and/or to shelter newer players. Usually set at four bets, the cap is often lifted when two players are heads up. We capped the betting on the turn and the flop! It was a huge pot!
- The last unplayed card of a given rank. After seeing the Jack come off on the river and Dave's pocket pair Jacks, Bob remarked, "That was the case Jack, I folded the other."
Caught Speeding
- Slang for caught bluffing.
- To stay in a hand hoping for a certain card or cards to come, usually with the expectation of losing should they miss. I had him with top pair and top kicker but he chased down a flush.
- To pass your turn without betting. Signified by tapping on the table or announcing "check" it allows the next person to act, either checking it around or betting out. You may not check when there is a bet to you.
- A poker play in which a person checks and then raises someone else’s bet in the same round of betting. It is usually a sign of a very strong hand, used to get more money out of a person or more bets into the pot on that round of betting.
- An extremely inferior starting hand. "Figures a river rat would show that piece of cheese," remarked Bob as he tilted further and further.
Chip Race
- One method for removing smaller denominations of chips during a tournament. Each player is dealt a card for each odd chip, the player with the highest card is givin all the odd chips and then colored up.
- 1. To split a pot without a showdown or to split the proceeds in a tournament without finishing it. A chop must be agreed upon by the live players in a hand or the players remaining in the tournament. 2. To return the blinds to the player or players who posted them without playing the hand.
Cold Call
- To call a raise without having put the initial bet into the pot. Dave raised in early position and was re-raised by Suzie, I cold called three bets on the button with my Slick.
Color Up
- To exchange ones chips for larger denominations, usually to reduce the number of chips at the table.
- Describes two cards consecutive in rank. Though I can't play them I know Bill loves those suited connectors.
- In Omaha Hi/Lo, when a board card pairs one of your lows, reducing the value of your hand.
- Slang for Kings.
- To beat a stronger hand or pocket. I can't believe he cracked my Aces!


Dead Man's Hand
- Two pair, Aces and Eights, said to be what Wild Bill Hickok was holding when he was shot dead in Deadwood, South Dakota.
Dead Money
- Indicates someone who has little chance of succeeding in a tournament. Note it refers to their stack and not to them personally, their money is the only important thing here. As opposed to a fish, which must be kept on the line.In the 2004 WSOP Chris Moneymaker was considered dead money at the outset of the tournament, by the time he was heads up for the title most people had changed their minds about him.
Dolly Parton
- A pocket consisting of a Nine and a Five.
- To take another card or cards. In draw poker, to discard from one to four cards and replace them with the same number of new cards. In Hold'em it can indicate both an incomplete hand and the action of getting a new card hoping to complete that hand. I thought he was on a draw so I tried to price it higher than he'd be willing to pay.
Drawing Dead
- When no combination of cards can improve a hand enough to beat another. When I flopped the nut boat I knew he was drawing dead.
- Deuces.
Dynamite the Pond
- Slang for any action which causes the fish to leave or to stop playing like fish. See also Tap the Glass.


Family Pot
- Any pot in which a majority of the players see the flop. Commonly occurs in low stakes and limit games.
Fifth Street
- The fifth community card dealt in Hold'em, also known as the river. The fifth card dealt in Stud.
- A derogatory term for a new player or weak player, as contrasted with a shark.
- The first three cards of the community cards in a game of Hold'em.
Four Flush
- Four cards of the same suit with cards still to be played. Considered a draw, its power is in its potential. Playing Stud last night I bluffed with a four flush to take down a big pot.
Fourth Street
- The fourth community card dealt in Hold'em, also known as the turn card. The fourth card dealt in Stud.
Free Card
- A card a player gets without having to call a bet first. One betting strategy includes re-raising with a draw in order to get free cards in later betting rounds.
Free Roll
- Occurs when two players have the same hand but one of them has an opportunity to improve where the other does not. I was on a freeroll when we both flopped a straight to the Ten but my diamond gave me the flush draw also.
- A game or tournament which starts with equal chip standings and ends with one person having eliminated every other player.


- A straight draw in which a card from the middle is missing. See also Belly-Buster, Inside Straight.


Heads Up
- Verbal short hand for one-on-one.
- A variation of poker, generally found in Stud and Omaha, in which two different hands may claim a portion of the pot. The high hand is made using the conventional hand rankings. The low hand is awarded to the lowest five cards below eight with no pairs. Flushes and straights do not count against the low hand. A wheel would be the nut low. In Hi/Lo the high hand and low hand split the pot, if two players have the same low, they quarter it.
- To see the cards one desires on the board. For example: on a flop of KKJ, an AK hits the flop, the KJ hits it even harder. In heads up play last night my opponent made Aces Full on an A66 flop, little did he know I'd hit that flop even harder with pocket Sixes.
Hit and Run
- In a ring game, to leave immediately after a large win.
Hole Cards
- The two cards dealt face down in Hold'em or Stud. See also Pocket Cards.
- The establishment hosting the game or the entity collecting the rake, the only guaranteed winner in poker.


Implied Odds
- A ratio of the amount of money you expect to win if you make your hand to the amount of money it will cost you to see that hand filled.
In the Money
- The point in the tournament after which every player will receive a pay out. I was short stacked almost all day so it was no surprise I was the first to go out once we were in the money.
Inside Straight
- A straight draw in which a card from the middle is missing. See also Gut-Shot, Belly-Buster.
- To raise with the intention of driving out other players so as to take one person heads up. After the guy in front of me went all-in I re-raised all in as well hoping to isolate.


- Bonus money paid when a certain condition is met. These can include Royal Flush Jackpots, Straight Flush Jackpots and Bad Beat Jackpots.
- To bet and raise at every opportunity, to put as much money in the pot as possible. When I flopped that set of Aces I just started jamming the pot, I can't believe they called me all the way down.


Keep Honest
- To call a bet on the end, or to call a player down, with the expectation of losing.
Kick It
- Slang for raise it.
- In all hand rankings below the straight, the highest unpaired card in the hand. We both made a pair of Aces but his King kicker beat my Queen Kicker.
- Slang for a Jack.


- Slang for Queens.
Lay Down
- To fold.
- To be the first to bet in a round. I can't believe he was leading out with bottom pair against that maniac.
- A habit, implication is unnoticed, which causes one to lose money slowly. When I first started I lost a lot but after plugging a few leaks I now have a profitable Omaha game.
- A betting format in which the amounts that can be bet and raised are predetermined. For example: In $2/$4 Limit Hold'em the bets and raises will be $2 for the first two rounds of betting and $4 for the latter rounds. On occasion, table size may be referred to by the blinds. For this example, a $2/$4 table may be referred to as a $1/$2 table. See also No Limit, Pot Limit and Spread Limit.
Limp In
- To enter a pot for the minimum bet, to enter without raising. Limper - A person who enters the pot without raising.
Live Blind
- Also known as the option, or having the option, when a player may raise even though no one has raised in front of them.
Live Card
- In Stud, any card that has not been seen in a player's hand and is therefore technically available.
Live Hand
- Any hand in which a player has a chance to win the pot.
Live One
- Generally derogatory, indicates a player with more money than ability.
- Guarantee. A hand which cannot lose or be outdrawn, the nuts.
- To call the last bet before the river.
- 1. Describes a person who plays more hands than the norm. 2. Describes a table with more players seeing the flop than is normal.


Main Pot
- Also known as the Center Pot, the distinction is usually made when a Side Pot is created. This occurs at any table stakes game when one player is all-in and remaining players have put more money into the pot. The Main Pot will be decided for everyone who put money into it. The Side Pot is decided for the remaining players.
- An aggressive player able to play pockets most others would not. Characterized by loose starting hand requirements and lots of action, the maniac is generally to be feared as it is a style effectively used only by strong players.
- A derogatory term for a new or weak player, a fish with a target on it.
- An IOU or debt.
- A type of cheat, one who manipulates cards in order to win. Characterized by stacked decks, dealing from the bottom, palming cards and the like.
Middle Pair
- Not the Top, Not the Bottom, but the... See also Top Pair, Bottom Pair and Second Pair. Really.
- The opposite of hit. After mucking his cards on the river Dave explained, "I was open ended and missed the river."
Missed Blind
- In a ring game, this chip is given by the dealer to any player who is away from the table on their blind hand. In order to be dealt back into the game they must pay the blind they missed or wait for it to come around again.
- A pocket or hand with a high expectation of winning.
Move In
- To go all in.
- The action of folding or the pile of cards made by people who have folded. I mucked a Q2 off. / One of the chips was hidden in the muck.
- A term specific to online poker, refers to playing at more than one table at the same time. There are different limits to the number of tables a player can play at from site to site.


No Limit
- A betting format in which there is no limit to the amount one player may bet at any time, subject to the rule of table stakes. See also Limit, Pot Limit and Spread Limit.
- The strongest hand at that point, or, the best hand that can be made with given board. The nuts on the flop may or may not be the nuts on the river. When the Six came on the river I knew my Cowboys were the nuts.


- Ratio of Outs to cards remaining, or the chance of making given hand to the chance of not making it.
Off suit
- A pocket of two different suits, unsuited.
On the Come
- A straight draw or flush draw, needing one card to make a hand.
- Refers to an Inside Straight or to a starting hand in which the cards are separated by one in rank, i.e. 68 or 9J.
Open Ended
- A straight draw consisting of four consecutive cards in which the straight can be made by filling either end.
- Sitting on a live blind, having the option to raise or check regardless of what was done in earlier positions.
- Any card still in the deck which will improve your hand. With a four flush and an open ended straight draw I had fifteen outs and so called the two bets on the turn.
- Given an equal or weaker starting position, to win a pot by drawing better cards.
- A card that is larger in rank. I put him on a small pocket pair and called his minimum bet with two overcards.
- A pair that is larger in rank. My opponent made top pair on the board but I had an overpair in the pocket.
Over the Top
- To re-raise, usually all-in. When Dave came over the top and ended up winning it really sent Bob into a tilt.


- Also known as Court cards or Face cards, includes the King, Queen and Jack.
- Two cards of the same rank. Can be further defined as a pocket pair or a board pair, a pair in the hole or a pair on the board which everyone may use.
Pat Hand
- A hand which needs no improvement, in which given an opportunity to draw the player takes zero cards, usually a straight, flush or full house.
Pay Off
- To call the last bet with the expectation of losing, to pay to see the nut hand.
Play the Board
- To use the community cards as the played hand, when the pocket cards do not improve the board at all.
Pocket Cards
- The two cards dealt face down in Hold'em or Stud. See also Hole Cards.
Pocket Pair
- Also known as a Wired Pair, two cards of the same rank in the pocket.
Pocket Rockets
- Also known as Bullets, two Aces in the hole.
- Place in the betting order as measured by distance from the button. Early position is closest to the blinds, late position is closest to the button and is considered stronger as the last player to act in a round has the most information before their action.
- Another way of saying bet, usually refers to the blind. Being new to the game, Roy had to be reminded more than once to post his blind.
Pot Limit
- A betting format in which a player may bet any amount up to the amount of chips on the table at the time of their bet. See also Limit, No Limit and Spread Limit.
Pot Odds
- The ratio of the amount of money in the pot versus the amount of money it will cost a player to stay in the hand.
- Slang for pocket Fives.
- Short for a proposition player, an employee of the house who plays with his or her own money, as contrasted with a shill. Prop players are used to fill out shorthanded tables or to help get tables started.
- 1. To protect a hand is to bet so as to discourage draws, to prevent a made hand from being outdrawn. 2. To protect a pocket is to place a chip or other object over the cards to prevent the dealer from mucking them or another player from accidentally voiding the hand in some way.


- Slang for four of a kind, four cards of the same rank.


- An all-in heads up situation with hands of similar strength, usually termed such preflop. Ex: KhQh vs. 5c5d
- Cards of low rank, worthless, blanks.
- Off table, the sidelines of a poker table. Not all tables are protected by a physical rail, the rail is any observers of a game or the area where observers would stand.
- An observer or kibitzer of a poker game, sometimes refers to a disgruntled or broke poker player.
- Three or four cards of different suits, a rainbow flop would indicate that flushes are less likely to be made.
- The cut the dealer removes for the house. Generally a percentage of each bet until a max is reached.
- The value of a card. There are thirteen ranks and four suits.
- To determine, or a determination of, what a player is holding, either exactly or within a range. I read Dave on top pair but couldn't get a read on Bob at all.
- To bet in a way that indicates a strong hand. He was representing a flush when I decided to pay him off but it turned out my two pair was the best hand.
Ring Game
- A cash game, as contrasted to a tournament game or a home game.
- The last card in Hold'em, also known as Fifth Street.
River Rat
- Derogatory slang for a player who calls all the way to the river with an inferior hand in the hopes of improving it.
- A tight player. Characterized by playing only the best pockets and/or very few pockets.
Rock garden
- A tight table, a table full of rocks.
- Short for Royal Flush, an Ace high straight flush, or 10JQKA all of the same suit.
- To make a hand using the last two cards to come off, especially in a "long odds" situation. Can be used singular also. I had him on the flop and the turn but he hit a runner, guess I didn't protect my hand well enough.
- A winning streak.


- To bet or otherwise play a hand to represent it downward. To check or bet with the intention of check raising or re-raising.
- A tournament run to give players an entry into a larger tournament. For example: One hundred players contribute $100 each for entry to a tournament, the winner of which will use the proceeds to enter a $10,000 tournament.
Scare Card
- A card on the board which may contribute to a better hand. Typically, a second card of the same rank as one already out, a board pair, or a third or fourth card of the same suit, making a flush more likely.
- In Hi/Lo, to win both the high and the low pots. To win the entire pot in a game which splits pots.
Second Pair
- To pair with the second highest card on the board.
- To bet with a hand which may be inferior but has a chance of improving, for instance, a four flush or an open end straight draw.
- Often confused with trips, a set is three of a kind made with two cards of a rank in the pocket and a matching card on the board.
- As contrasted with a fish, a strong or skilled player.
- See also Prop, a shill is an employee of the house who gambles with the house's money.
Short Stack
- Refers to the player with the least chips at the table, can also refer to anyone with a small stack by way of comparison with one or a few much larger stacks. I ended up going all in with an Ace Ten, I was short stack and didn't have much choice.
Show Down
- The point at which the players must turn up their pockets and determine who won the hand.
Sit n' Go
- A tournament in which a set number of seats are available, usually 10 though can be as many as 20 to 30, and in which the tournament starts as soon as enough players have signed up. Most often used in online play, though many brick and mortar casinos are now adopting the format.
Side Pot
- Created when one player is all in and two or more are still active in the hand. In a table stakes game a player may not win bets that they did not match with their own bets, side pots make up these extra bets and are awarded to the best hand of the players who contributed to them.
Slow Play
- To bet or play a strong hand so as to make it appear weaker than it is, to draw or keep other players in the game so as to win more money.
Splash Around
- Loose play, speculative play. Typically, not as focused as a maniac, not as hopeless as a fish.
Splash the Pot
- Tossing chips into the pot as opposed to stacking them neatly in the area provided for bets, generally provocative as it makes it difficult for the dealer to confirm the size of the bet and is regarded as disrespectful.
Split Pot
- A pot that is shared due to a tie.
Spread Limit
- A form of Structured betting in which players may bet any amount in a spread, for instance, from $2 to $5. See also Limit, No Limit and Pot Limit.
- On tilt, characterized by wild play and/or poor decisions, often following a bad beat or loss.
- An optional raise made preflop by the player immediately following the blind.
String Bet
- A usually illegal play in which a player places chips into the pot for a call or a raise and then returns to their stack to grab more chips without having declared the size of their bet or raise. Proper play indicates a verbal declaration of the action to be taken or that one bring in all of the chips they plan on playing at once.
- Describes the betting format, as opposed to No Limit which is unstructured. See Limit, Pot Limit and Spread Limit for examples.
- Of the same suit.
Suck Out
- Derogatory description of a bad beat. To stay in a pot, or call large bets with terrible odds, and hit or catch runner runner to win. Implies more dollars than sense.
- When a player has more chips than the rest of the table combined they are sitting on a superstack.


Table Stakes
- A provision in poker in which a player may not bet more than they have at the table but also may not be driven out of a pot because they do not have as much as was bet to them. See also Main Pot and Side Pot.
Tap the Glass
- Slang for any action which causes fish to become aware that they are perceived as fish, the unwanted consequence of which is that they tighten up or stop having fun (losing their money).
Tapped Out
- Broke, busted, without a bank.
- An unconscious habit or indicator of hand strength, examples include riffling the cards or looking in a certain direction.
- 1. Describes a player who sees less flops than is normal, someone who has strict starting hand requirements. 2. Describes a table in which very few people see the flop or in which the pots are signficantly smaller than the average.
- An emotional response to a bad beat or loss that is characterized by loose or poor play. After Dave lost to that runner runner flush he went on tilt and ended up losing more than half of his stack.
- Not specifically required but often appreciated, a player may request a short pause in which to think about the action they would like to take.
- A tip to a dealer or floorperson.
Top Pair
- To pair with the highest card on the board.
- Three of a kind made with one card in the pocket and two on the board.
- Also known as Fourth Street, the fourth community card in Hold'em.


Under the Gun
- The first to act in each betting round.


Value Bet
- A bet made to increase earnings as opposed to one to drive out an opponent.
- A measure of the up and down swings in a player's bankroll, should be more indicative of style than skill.


- A term used more often in other parts of the casino, indicates a player with a very large bankroll.
- The lowest possible straight, A2345. See also Bicycle.
- To raise before and after a player caught in the middle.
Wild Card
- A card that may be played as any other card, can either be a Joker or a card or cards of any other rank designated as Wild.
Wired Pair
- A pocket pair.
- A pocket consisting of a Five and a Ten.


Pok"er (?), n. [From Poke to push.]


One who pokes.


That which pokes or is used in poking, especially a metal bar or rod used in stirring a fire of coals.


A poking-stick.


4. Zool.

The poachard.

[Prov. Eng.]

Poker picture, a picture formed in imitation of bisterwashed drawings, by singeing the surface of wood with a heated poker or other iron.<-- wood burning? -->



© Webster 1913.

Pok"er, n. [Of uncertain etymol.]

A game at cards derived from brag, and first played about 1835 in the Southwestern United States.

Johnson's Cyc. <-- A poker hand is played with a poker deck, composed of fifty-two cards, of thirteeen values, each card value being represented once in each of four "suits", namely spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs. The game is played in many variations, but almost invariably the stage of decision as to who wins occurs when each player has five cards (or chooses five cards from some larger number available to him). The winner usually is the player with the highest-valued hand, but, in some variations, the winner may be the player with the lowest-valued hand. The value of a hand is ranked by hand types, representing the relationships of the cards to each other. [The hand types are ranked by the probability of receiving such a hand when dealt five cards.] Within each hand type the value is also ranked by the values of the cards. The hand types are labeled, in decreasing value: five of a kind; royal flush; straight flush; four of a kind; full house (coll. full boat, or boat); flush; straight; three of a kind; two pairs; one pair; and, when the contending players have no hands of any of the above types, the player with the highest-valued card wins -- if there is a tie, the next-highest-valued card of the tied players determines the winner, and so on. If two players have the same type of hand, the value of the cards within each type determines the winner; thus, if two players both have three of a kind (and no other player has a higher type of hand), the player whose three matched cards have the highest card value is the winner. -->


© Webster 1913.

Pok"er, n. [Cf. Dan. pokker the deuce, devil, also W. pwci, a hobgoblin, bugbear, and E. puck.]

Any imagined frightful object, especially one supposed to haunt the darkness; a bugbear.

[Colloq. U. S.]


© Webster 1913.

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