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Poker Lingo 101: A Guide to Basic Poker Terminology

Shane C

Jun 5, 2023

A list of poker terms written on a blackboard

Are you new to the world of poker? Do you feel lost when you hear players throwing around unfamiliar terms at the table? Don't worry, you're not alone. Poker has its own unique language, and it can be confusing for beginners. To help you navigate the world of cards with confidence, we've compiled a comprehensive glossary of essential poker terminology. So let's dive in and demystify the basic poker lingo!

Let's Start With Some Basic Terms

  • Ante: A small bet that all players at the table are required to make before the hand is dealt.

  • Blinds: Poker blinds are forced bets made by the two players to the left of the dealer button before the hand is dealt.

  • Hole Cards: The private cards dealt face-down to each player, also known as "pocket cards."

  • Flop: The first three community cards are dealt face-up on the table.

  • Turn: The fourth community card dealt face up on the table.

  • River: The fifth and final community card dealt face up on the table.

  • Call: Match the current bet or raise it to stay in the hand.

  • Check: Choosing not to bet when it's your turn, passing the action to the next player without forfeiting your right to act.

  • Fold: Surrendering your hand and forfeiting any further involvement in the current pot.

  • Showdown: The final phase of the hand where the remaining players reveal their cards to determine the winner.

Let’s Move On to Some More Advanced Terms

  • Bad Beat: When a player with a strong hand loses to a player with a weaker hand that caught lucky cards.

  • Check-Raise: When a player checks their hand with the intention of raising if their opponent bets.

  • Donkey: A derogatory term for a bad player who makes poor decisions.

  • Nuts: The best possible hand at any given point in the game.

  • Tilt: When a player becomes emotionally affected by a previous hand and starts making poor decisions.

  • Pot Odds: The ratio of the current bet size to the size of the pot, used to determine whether it is mathematically profitable to call a bet.

  • Stack-to-Pot Ratio (SPR): A measurement of a player's stack size in relation to the current pot size, influencing strategic decisions in post-flop play.

  • Three-Bet: A 3-bet is a re-raise following an initial raise and a subsequent re-raise.

  • C-Bet (Continuation Bet): A bet made by the pre-flop raiser on the flop, regardless of whether their hand improved or not.

  • Bubble: The last position in a poker tournament that does not receive a payout. Being "on the bubble" means being one position away from the money.

Let’s Wrap It up With Some Slang Terms

  • Fish: A slang term for a bad player who is an easy target for experienced players.

  • Cooler: When a player with a strong hand loses to a player with an even stronger hand.

  • Grind: A term used to describe a player who makes a small profit by playing conservatively.

  • Shark: A slang term for an experienced player who preys on weaker players.

  • Under the Gun: The player sitting immediately to the left of the big blind who acts first before the flop is dealt.

  • Donk Bet: A bet made out of position by the player who did not take the initiative in the previous betting round.

These are just a few examples of the many poker terms you may come across at the table. Don't worry if you can't remember them all right away. The more you play, the more you'll get used to the lingo. And who knows, soon enough you may be using these terms yourself like a pro. Visit our Poker Terminology guide for a full list of poker terms.

So, the next time you're at the poker table and hear someone use a term you don't understand, refer back to this guide and impress your fellow players with your newfound knowledge of poker jargon.