Texas Holdem Glossary

Newcomers to Texas holdem often get confused by some of the colorful slang and jargon used at the tables. We’ve put together this lengthy and (hopefully) comprehensive Texas holdem terms page to provide definitions for some of the words and phrases you might not be familiar with. When doing the research for this page, we noticed that even old-timers like us can sometimes be surprised by a new phrase here or there.

Please Note

This glossary of Texas holdem terms is probably not comprehensive, but we tried. We think it’s better and more thorough than most of the other glossaries we’ve seen online.

If you come across a Texas holdem poker expression you need defined and/or explained, and we failed to include it here, please contact us and let us know. We’ll update this page accordingly.

Ace in the Hole: An ace in the hole is when a player has an ace as one of their two hole cards.
Add On: In some tournaments players can choose to add on, generally during and at the end of the rebuy period. This means paying an extra sum of money to get more chips.
Action: The amount of money in a hand, or on the table, is known as action. On top of this in poker when it’s a particular player’s turn, the action is on them.
Air: To have a hand with basically no value.

“I was bluffing on the flop with nothing but air.”

Ante: A forced bet which must be made by all players at the table prior to cards being dealt. This bet is made in addition to the blinds.
All In: In no limit games all in refers to betting all of your remaining chips. This can be a verbal bet or by pushing all of your chips into the middle of the table.
Angle Shooting: Making an illegal play to get extra information and / or to cheat.

Backdoor: Using the turn and river cards in succession to make a strong hand.
Bad Beat: When a weak hand ends up beating a strong hand it’s known as a bad beat.
Bankroll: In banking games like blackjack, the player who acts as the bank. In casinos, this is the dealer, but in home games, the banker role usually rotates from player to player.
Bet: The first chips that are wagered in a poker game after a new card or cards are dealt are known as a bet. Before the flop, the blinds are the first bets. A bet can refer to any wager in a poker game, but it also can mean just a normal wager to open the betting instead of a raise or call.
Betting On the Come: Making a bet when you are drawing to a hand and don’t actually have it yet.
Big Blind: The larger of the two forced blind bets. This is the first full bet in a hand of Texas holdem.
Blank: A community card that is dealt face up and doesn’t provide any player with help given the state of the hand.
Blinds: Forced bets that two players make before the cards are dealt in a new hand. These ensure there’s money in the pot and helps create action.
Bluff: Betting and calling opponents when you know you have a weaker hand than them, with the intention of getting them to fold, at that time or later with a bet or raise.
Board: All of the face up cards in the center of the table is known as the board. This consists of the flop, turn, and river.
Boat: Poker slang for a full house.
Broadway: A straight from ten to ace.
Bullets: A pair of aces.
Burn card: Before the flop, turn, and river are dealt the dealer will burn one card by moving it into the muck.
Bust: When a player loses all their chips they bust out of the tournament, or need to rebuy cash chips if they’re in a cash game and wish to continue playing.
Button or Dealer Button: A small white disc that is placed in front of the player who is the designated dealer for that hand. The dealer is the best position at the poker table as they’re last to act on each betting round.
Buy In: The cash a player must pay to enter a tournament or sit down and play in a cash game.

Call: Matching another player’s bet in order to continue the hand and see the next card or showdown to see who wins the pot.
Calling Station: A player that simply calls bets over and over and rarely folds or raises.
Case Card: The last card in the deck of a certain rank. If you have three of a kind you’re hoping to get the fourth card, or case card.
Check: Choosing not to bet and to pass the action to the next player in the hand is known as a check. Players can indicate a check verbally or by patting the table with their hand.
Check-Raise: Checking first and then raising a player who bets behind is known as a check-raise. Usually this is done to represent a very strong hand.
Chips: Small clay or plastic discs that are used in poker to represent cash, or fake cash value in a tournament.
Chop: When player’s showdown in a pot and have the same value hand they chop the pot and receive equal parts of it. Also, in a ring game when the action is folded to the blinds pre-flop they may chop the hand, taking their bets back and not play the hand out as they normally would. In a tournament when play gets down to the final table or just a few players the remaining players may make an agreement to split up the remaining prize money.
Coin Flip: When two players are all in and both have comparatively even chances of winning. This is also known as a race. It usually occurs in Texas holdem when one player holds high suited connectors, such as ace king, and another has a pocket pair, such as pocket 10’s.
Community Cards: These are the cards dealt face up on the table which can be used by all players to make a hand with their two hole cards.
Connectors: Two cards, usually a player’s hole cards, which are in sequential order.
Continuation Bet: When a player bets pre-flop, they almost always bet on the flop, which is known as a continuation bet.
Cooler: A hand in poker where multiple players make strong hands resulting in a big pot and unavoidable action. These hands usually result in all in bets and calls.
Cowboys: A pair of kings.
Cut Off: The position in poker to the right of the dealer button.

Dead Man’s Hand: Aces and eights, which is the hand Wild Bill supposedly held as he was shot.
Dealer: This can be two things in poker. In a home game this is the person who deals the cards and plays in the game. The dealer is indicated by having the dealer button in front of them at the table, which rotates around clockwise. In a casino game it just indicates the person who acts last in the game. However, there will also be a dealer who is a casino employee and not in the game.
Deuce: A two.
Draw or Drawing: If you need one or two more cards to make a strong hand, then you’re drawing with the hope you’ll hit it and be paid off.
Drawing Dead: Being in a hand or an all in showdown and not being able to win, no matter what remaining cards hit the board.
Ducks: A pair of twos.

Expected Value or EV: Often represented as positive or negative, +EV or -EV, this is a rating on a certain play in poker as to whether it will result in positive or negative returns in the long run.

Family Pot: When all or most players call pre-flop.
Fish: A weak and inexperienced poker player.
Float: Calling a bet with the plan of trying to bluff to take down the pot on a later street.
Flop: The first three community cards that are dealt on the table.
Flush: A five card hand of all the same suit.
Fold: Throwing away a hand and ending your participation in it and surrendering your ability to win the pot.
Fold Equity: The implied equity that a player can get by making a bet with the aim of getting an opponent to fold. If a player has a small stack and you raise enough to cover her she is force to fold unless she’s willing to play for her entire stack.
Four of a Kind: Four of the same ranked cards.
Fourth Street: Another name for the turn or fourth community card.
Full House: A five card hand consisting of a three of a kind and a pair.
Free Card: If everyone checks all players get to see a free card.
Free-Roll: This can mean two things. First, it’s a tournament where no buy in is required so it is free to enter. Secondly, if you’re in a hand and you can only win or chop, then you are free-rolling for the win.
Freeze-Out: Players can’t rebuy in a freeze-out tournament.

Grinder: A player that plays long poker sessions to make small profits in a solid manner with minimal gambling and risk taking.
Gut Shot: If you hold 4 cards to a straight and the final one you need is in the middle of the others rank, then this is known as a gut shot straight draw. This is also known as an inside straight draw.

Hand: The two hole cards a player has, the five cards they use at the end, and the complete action from the first card that is dealt to the showdown.
Hand History: Online poker sites allow players to keep a history of every single hand they’ve played. This can be useful in analyzing play and determining improvements in one’s game.
Heads up: When only two players remain in a pot it’s known as heads up play. In tournament play it also means when the final two players remain to battle it out to determine a winner.
Heater: On a hot run with cards and hitting a lot of strong hands.
Hijack: Position to the right of the cut off and two spots to the right of the dealer.
Hole Cards: These are the two cards each player holds face down.
Hooks: A pair of jacks.

Implied Odds: These odds don’t exist in the current state of a hand; however players can factor them in if they hit the right card and make a hand. The implied odds consider the money that you would win should you make your hand.
In Position: Acting after another player or players in a hand is known as being in position. This carries an advantage as you get to see everyone else act first.

Kicker: When a player makes a hand that ties with another player’s hand and each player has a two, three, or four car hand. The next highest card is used to break the tie and this card is called the kicker. Two kickers can be used if players hold a three card hand such as a three of a kind.

Late Position: When you’re the dealer or the last to act in a pot, then you’re in late position.
Laydown: Another term for fold.
Limp: If a player calls the big blind pre-flop they limp into the pot. Calling the minimum bet before the flop when there hasn’t been a raise.
Loose: A player that is entering many hands and has a wide range of starting hands.

Made Hand: A completed hand that’s generally quite strong.
Middle Position: In between early and late positions.
Muck: Muck can refer to folding a hand or the muck is the pile of cards that have been discarded by the players and dealer. It can also mean in a showdown the caller will muck, or throw away, their hand if the first player has shown a better hand.

No Limit: The most popular form of Texas holdem where there’s no limit to bets a player can make at any point in the hand.
Nuts: This is the best possible hand that a player could have at a particular time in the hand.

Off Suit: Holding two hole cards that are different suits.
Odds: The chance of a particular outcome, represented by a ratio in most cases.
Open Ended Straight Draw: When a player holds four cards in sequential order and requires one more on either end to make a straight.
Option: When there are no raisers pre-flop the option is given to the big blind to check and see the flop, or bet.
Orbit: One complete rotation of the dealer button at a poker table.
Outs: The number of cards left in the deck for a player to make a certain hand.
Out of Position: Being first to act before your opponent.
Over-Bet: A single bet which is more than the current size of the pot.

Pair: Two cards of the same rank.
Play the Board: If a player’s hole cards are worse than the hand that all the cards on the board make, then the player will be using the five community cards as their hand.
Pocket Pair: A pair that a player holds as their two hole cards.
Pocket Cards: This refers to the two face down cards that the player has.
Position: Where the player is in relation to the dealer button. A player can be in early, middle, or late position. You’ll find that there are individual names for particular positions including small blind, big blind, under the gun, hijack, cutoff, and dealer.
Pot: The money in the middle of that table that is made up of bets and calls, which players are competing for.
Pot Odds: The amount of money currently in the pot compared to how much you need to call to remain in the hand is known as the pot odds. Pot odds can be used to make decisions in the game. If there’s $100 in the pot and the bet you have to call is $10, then the pot odds are 10:1. If your hand should win one in ten times or more then you should make the call.
Pot Committed: If the pot in the middle is huge compared to your remaining stack, then you’re generally pot committed to the hand and can’t fold.
Pre-Flop: Prior to the first three community cards being dealt and during the first round of betting.
Protect: Making a bet to get other players to fold so that your hand has greater odds of winning against fewer opponents.

Quads: A four of a kind.

Rags: Cards that don’t have any value and a low chance of winning a hand.
Rainbow: Community cards of all different suits. This can occur on the flop and the turn.
Raise: Making a raise is betting more in addition to another player’s bet.
Rake: In cash games the casino or online operator will take a cut out of every hand to make money. The rake can vary depending on the location and usually has a cap so as not to take too much money out of large pots.
Rake Back: Some online casinos will return a certain amount of rake taken from players as part of promotions or player’s club rewards.
Re-Buy: In some tournaments players can re-enter after they’ve busted out with a re-buy. In cash games a player can re-buy more chips if they have below a certain amount.
Ring Game: Another name for a cash game where real money is wagered each hand. Players can come and go as they like in ring games and can re-buy if they run out of money.
River: Also known as fifth street, this is the fifth and final community card that is dealt face up on the board.
Royal Flush: The best possible hand in poker which is a straight from ten to ace of all the same suit.
Runner: Generally, this is referring to the turn and river and someone catching cards on both of these to beat another hand. A player can make a runner runner flush by getting hearts on the turn and river.

Scare Card: A community card that hits the board and has the potential to ruin a made hand that a player might already have, by giving another player a stronger hand.
Semi Bluff: When a player has a strong drawing hand and makes a bet prior to completing their hand.
Set: Three of a kind with two of the cards being hole cards.
Shark: A strong and experienced poker player.
Short Stack: A player that doesn’t have many chips left is on the short stack.
Short Handed: A table that has only a few players left. This can occur in a cash game before others buy in and in tournaments when there are only a few players left. It can drastically alter players’ starting hand ranges.
Showdown: After the five community cards have been dealt and all betting rounds are over if there’s still more than one player left with cards, then they will turn over their cards to find out who has the best hand and wins the pot.
Side Pot: In Texas holdem when a pot has three or more players remaining and one of them is all in, a side pot will be created so that the players remaining with chips can continue betting until the showdown. The person who is all in can only win the initial pot and not the side pot.
Sit and Go: A style of tournament poker where the game will commence once a certain number of players have entered. Most sit and go tournaments are single table tournaments with nine or 10 players.
Slow Play: Intentionally playing an extremely strong hand slowly to trap other players into thinking their weaker hand is best.
Slow Roll: Intentionally taking longer than is necessary to reveal a winning hand in a showdown, or calling another large bet when holding an extremely strong hand, is known as a slow roll and is frowned upon by poker players.
Small Blind: The smaller of the two forced bets pre-flop. The small blind position is directly to the left of the dealer.
Split Pot: A split pot occurs when two or more players have the same hand and split the pot at the showdown.
Squeeze: An aggressive move in poker where a player raises after an initial bet has been made and others have already called this bet.
Stack: The chips a player has at the table.
Straddle: A bet made by the player to the left of the big blind, which is usually double the amount, is known as a straddle. It acts as a third blind and the player that straddles can then check or re-raise when the action comes back to them.
Straight: Five cards in sequential order. In poker ace can act as a high or low card.
Straight Flush: A straight that also is all in the same suit.
Streets: The turn is known as fourth street and the river as fifth street. Collectively they are known as streets.
Suck-Out: When a bad beat occurs the player with the initially inferior hand sucks out on the player with the stronger hand.
Suited: Two cards held by a player which are the same suit.
Suited Connectors: Two cards of the same suit that are also in sequential order. A ten and a jack both of spades are suited connectors.

Tank: When a player is making a major decision at a critical point in a poker hand and is taking their time in doing so, they are in the tank.
Tell: An action, either verbal or non-verbal, that a player makes which gives away information about their hand. Online tells can include bet sizes and timing.
Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank.
Tight: A tight player is someone who plays very few hands and waits for premium hands to enter pots and play. A common strategy amongst poker players is known as tight aggressive or TAG. This is where a player enters very few hands and when they finally do they make large and consistent bets and raises.
Tilt: Quite often when a player experiences a bad beat they start playing badly and lose a lot of hands afterwards as they can’t control their temper and get their focus back. This is known in poker as going on tilt.
Time: This can refer to two things in poker. First, it refers to a player asking for more time to think over a decision. This can occur in live poker and also online. Secondly, it refers to a time fee that some operators will charge on top of or in place of the rake.
Top Two: The best two possible pairs based on the community cards and what a player holds.
Tournament: A version of play where players buy in for a set cash value and receive tournament chips. They then play down to the last person who has all the chips and is the winner of the tournament. Usually the top 10% of players are paid winnings in a tournament.
Trips: A slang term for three of a kind.
Two Pair: Having two pairs in your five card hand. These can be made by using one hole card and a pair on the board, or by using both hole cards with two cards on the board. Or even two pairs on the board.
Turbo: A tournament variation where there’s less time than normal to make decisions and the blinds go up quicker than normal.
Turn: Also known as fourth street, this is the fourth community card that is dealt face up on the board.

Under the Gun: This player is the first to act in a betting round. Pre-flop this is the player to the left of the big blinds, and after the flop it is the first active player to the left of the dealer.
Underdog: A player is the underdog when they’re statistically not favored to win a pot with what they have compared to their opponent.

Value Bet: A bet placed by a player when they are quite certain they have the best hand and want to be paid off by their opponent. Often the value bet will be smaller than a normal bet to persuade an opponent to call.
Villain: A nickname for opponents in a poker game often used in poker books and online guides.
VPIP: Voluntary put money in pot is a measure of how often a player enters a pot, not including when they’re in the big or small blind. This measurement indicates the range of starting hands that a particular player is using.

Walk: When everyone folds to the big blind, or the straddle player if this is in play, and they win the pot.
Wheel: The lowest possible straight a player can get. A wheel consists of an ace, two, three, four, and five.
Whale count: Another term used to describe a high roller.