Poker slang is everywhere, whether playing online, in a land-based cardroom, or even creeping into everyday life! If you’ve recently started playing, you might find yourself confused by the game’s weird and wonderful language. With this list of poker slang terms, we’ll put that right.
ABC (or ABC Strategy)
A simple, somewhat conservative and entirely predictable playing strategy. You’ll raise with premium hands, fold the rest, never get creative, and play entirely by the book.
“Air” refers to a hand containing nothing of value. So a card that is completely useless would be referred to as an Airball. For instance, if you have four spades on the flop and the next card is a heart, you’ve Airballed the turn.
This term isn’t just found in poker slang, but in all kinds of games. It describes an attempt to gain an advantage by trying immoral tricks that are not strictly against the rules. An example might be faking adding chips to the pot in order to elicit a reaction.
Backdoor (or Back Door)
Completing a draw that wasn’t intended. For instance, imagine holding J♣ T♣ on a flop of Q♣ 9♦️ 2♥️. You’re drawing to a straight, but if the turn and river are clubs, you’ll make a flush via the Back Door.
Any card that seems unlikely to have impacted the hand. A low-value card that doesn’t assist any flush or straight draws will be described as a Brick. It may also be called a “blank”.
If you hold cards that your opponent requires, these are known as Blockers. That’s because you are making it harder, or “blocking”, their ability to complete their optimal poker hand.
Boat (or Full Boat)
Full Boat is common poker slang for a full house. But it’s often abbreviated to Boat.
Originating from the term “bust”, as in bankrupt. If someone is Busto, they’ve lost their entire bankroll and are broke. An example of poker slang that crosses over into real life; this is used when someone is feeling the financial pinch.
Crossbooking (or Cross Booking)
A wager between two players in a tournament where the loser pays the winner a percentage of the difference in prize money. Imagine Player A wins $500 and Player B doesn’t make the money. If they agreed to crossbook for 10%, Player B owes Player A $50.
Poker slang for calling when you know that you have little chance of winning. Often made out of desperation or when on tilt, hoping to catch an unlikely bluff. See also Hero Call.
A pejorative term for a bad poker player; a shortened form of “donkey”. Often extended to tournaments packed with weak players, or so-called “donkaments”.
In stud poker games, the first upcard is referred to as the Door Card. It is sometimes – but rarely – used to describe the first card on the flop in games using community cards.
If the probability that you will win the pot is literally zero, you are said to be Drawing Dead. As opposed to “drawing thin”, which means you’re almost certain to lose, but there’s still a tiny chance.
This poker slang term refers to a certain type of board texture in games that use community cards. A Dry Board is one that contains no real drawing opportunities and that probably didn’t help anyone. For instance, a flop of J♥️ 7♠️ 2♦️ would be considered “dry”.
Expected Value (or EV)
A gambling term that refers to your theoretical long-term profit or loss in any given situation. Most players who talk about EV are simplifying things to suggest that they’re good or bad. For instance, a +EV decision could refer to making any positive choice, even one in everyday life away from poker.
If every player at the table is involved in the hand, we have a family pot.
Referring to a very poor player. This poker term leads us to a range of other expressions. For instance, “tapping the tank” when mocking a bad play or educating the player on what they should have done.
Floating (or Float)
Calling with nothing when you intend to bluff later on in the hand is known as Floating.
Plenty of factors go into deciding whether or not to bet or raise. One example is Fold Equity, a mathematical concept that determines the value gained when your opponent Mucks in response to your play.
One of several poker slang terms for an inside straight draw. So-called since the card you require is in the middle of the straight, as the gut is centrally located on the body. Also referred to as a “belly buster” or “gut buster”. Two inside straight draws simultaneously is a “double Gutshot”, or “double gutter”.
Hand for Hand
When playing a poker tournament, as the money bubble draws near, Hand For Hand will be implemented. This rule ensures that some tables are not playing more hands than others, increasing the likelihood of those players busting. Every table must finish the hand before the next one is dealt.
Calling with a relatively weak hand that is unlikely to win, in the desperate hope your opponent may be running a bluff. See also Crying Call.
Hit And Run
A term for winning a big pot in a cash game, then immediately cashing out. This is universally considered extremely poor etiquette when playing poker.
When calculating your pot odds, you must also consider the effects of what could happen if you complete your draw. These are known as Implied Odds.
In The Dark
Any action taken at the poker table without looking at your cards. Someone constantly raising In The Dark can be tricky to play against.
Isolation Raise (or Isolation Play)
A strategic move designed to push others out of the pot so you can take on a specific player one-on-one.
Poker slang for an all-in bet. A Jam is the same as a “shove”.
Lagtard (or LAGtard)
One of the more offensive poker slang terms in the list, Lagtard is a portmanteau of “LAG” and “retard”. It’s used to describe maniacs at the table, who are often not very good. LAG, of course, being shorthand for “Loose Aggressive”, a specific poker playing style.
As a noun, this refers to the pile of discards in front of the dealer. But it can also be used as a verb, meaning to fold. As in, to put your cards into the Muck.
An extremely tight player that folds pre-flop the vast majority of the time. When a Nit raises, you can be sure they have the goods.
Nuts (or Nut)
Poker slang for the best possible hand. Can also be used to refer to specific types of hands, such as the “nut flush” or in lowball games, the “nut low”.
Royal playing cards, i.e. the Jacks, Queens, and Kings, are often called Paint cards.
The term Rabbit Hunting refers to looking at what could have happened after a player folds and the hand ends. Usually achieved by turning over the card(s) on top of the deck.
A flop containing three different suits is sometimes dubbed a Rainbow in poker slang. It’s possible to have a Rainbow board, but the term is more commonly associated with the flop.
A play on the words “robust” and Busto. When someone’s bankroll is looking extremely healthy, perhaps after a big tournament score.
Run It Twice
During cash games, players often agree to deal an additional set of board cards, splitting the pot in half accordingly. If this happens, they have agreed to Run It Twice. The goal is to reduce the damage inflicted by a bad beat.
When a player wins the pot via the Back Door, they are said to have hit Runner-Runner cards. For instance, imagine an all-in situation with A♠️ Q♠️ against 8♣ 8♦️ on a board of Q♣ 8♠️ 2♦️. If the turn and river are 4♠️ and 9♠️, we have a Runner-Runner flush.
As you’ll probably know, a set consists of a pocket pair with a third matching card on the board. So calling before the flop trying to hit three-of-a-kind is called Set Mining in poker slang.
Usually seen in cash games, the player under the gun may raise before the hole cards are dealt. This voluntary blind bet, referred to as a Straddle, is for twice the big blind. It is designed to create more action. If permitted, a “sleeper straddle” can be placed by players in other positions.
If everyone folds to the big blind pre-flop, they will claim the pot uncontested. This is usually referred to as a Walk.
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