Texas Holdem Terminology
Texas Holdem has a lot of terminology that a player must be familiar with. Below is a list of many common terms you will hear in Holdem games or when you read articles about Holdem.
Action – This is defined in two was. First, when it is your turn to bet, raise, or fold, this is determined as action falling on you. Second, action refers to all the betting and raising going on at the table.
Ante – A forced bet by each player before the start of the hand. Antes are most common in stud variants but are used in Holdem tournaments in later rounds.
All-In – When a player puts all the chips in their stack into the pot. Also refers to a player who has all of their chips in a pot. Ex: John was all-in on the flop, but play continued between Mike and Sally.
Air – Slang term used when a player does not have any type of hand. Ex: “He pushed all his money in the pot with air.”
Backdoor – When a player needs two cards to complete either a straight or flush. Ex. John has A-10 of clubs and only one club hits the flop. John will need two cards to catch his flush. If he catches them, he is considered catching his flush through the back door. Also see “Runner”
Bad Beat – When a hand that is a huge favorite is beaten by a hand that is an underdog. Another type is when a monster hand is beaten by an even better hand, such as a full house beaten by four of a kind.
Blank – When a card falls on the board that does not help your hand. See also: “Brick”
Blind – Forced bet put into the pot before cards are dealt. The blinds are the two players to the left of the button.
Board – The community cards in the center of the table. The flop, turn, and river are the board.
Brick – A card that comes on the board that does not improve your hand.
Brick and Mortar – A live casino is considered a brick & mortar casino.
Bubble – The time in a tournament where only one person needs to be eliminated to reach money payouts.
Bubble Boy – The person that finishes in the bubble spot.
Call – When a player matches the bet made by another player at the table.
Calling Station – A player that mostly just calls bets on all streets and rarely folds. A lot are hoping that they hit something on the board.
Cap – In limit games, the maximum number of bets are three or four. If betting and raising reaches the maximum number of bets, then the betting has reached the cap. This is also referred to as capping the betting. Ex: John capped the betting after two raises.
Case card – When only one card of a particular rank is left in the deck that can help a player, that card is considered the case card for that rank, such as the case king.
Check – When a player chooses not to bet when action is to them and a bet has not been made.
Check-Raise – To make a raise after you check action to another player and that player makes a bet.
Chop – When two or more players have the same hand at the end of play, the pot is chopped. Also, in a limit game when only the blinds are left in the hand, sometimes they will agree to chop and just take back their blinds. In tournaments, sometimes the top few spots will agree to a prize money chop to guarantee a certain amount of the prize pool or to conclude the tournament early.
Cold Calling – In a limit game, when you call more than one bet, you are considered cold calling the bets.
Connector cards – A starting hand in consecutive rank is considered a connector hand. 7-8, J-10, and K-Q are all example of connectors.
Counterfeited – When you have a made a hand and cards come on the board to make your hand nearly useless. Ex: You have pocket fours and the board comes out A-A-5-5-6. You pocket fours are counterfeited.
Crack – To defeat a big starting hand with an inferior hand, such as beating pocket aces with 7-2.
Crippled – In a tournament, when your stack has gotten short to the point where more than one double-up is needed to legitimately keep you in the game, your stack is considered crippled.
Crying Call – A call that is made when a player feels that they are beaten but the pot odds make folding incorrect.
Cut-off – The player that acts one spot before the button in a Holdem game.
Dead Money – A player that does not have a realistic chance of winning a tournament. Also, money that is in the pot that came from a player no longer in the hand is considered dead money.
Dealer Button – Disc used to determine the dealer position at the table. The best overall position to be in as you are last to act in the hand.
Defending Blinds – When a player will invest more money into the pot because they are in the blind or they feel someone is trying to steal their blind.
Dominated Hand – A hand that has a weak kick that will be behind other similar holdings. For example, A-6 is dominated by A-J. A-J is dominated by A-K. Unless the player with the dominated hand gets lucky, the dominated hand will lose.
Early Position – The small blind, big blind, and cutoff position preflop. The worst position to be in at the table as everyone must act after you.
Family Pot – When several players enter a pot. This can be up to the maximum number of players at the table.
Fish – A bad player that does not know what they are doing. The most profitable type of player.
Floor – The person or people in charge of running the poker room and poker games. They make the decisions on any abnormalities at the table and are used to keep order.
Flop – The first three community cards to hit the board. Also known as Third Street.
Free Card – When you get to see the turn or river without having to place a bet, you are getting a free card.
Free Roll – When two players have the same hand at present, but one player still has a chance to win the entire pot, they are considered freerolling. Also, a poker tournament that you can enter without paying any money is considered a free roll.
Gap Hand – A starting hand with cards with more than one card separating them is considered a gap hand. J-9, 7-9, Q-10 are all one gapers. 6-9, 7-10, K-10 are considered two gapers.
Gutshot straight – When you have to catch a card from inside of the straight to make the hand. For example, if the board is J-10-8 and you hold A-6, then you need to catch a 9 to complete the gutshot straight.
Heads-Up – When only two players remain in the hand.
Hijack – A the player just before the cutoff position at the table.
Hit – When a player connects with the board, they are considered to have hit the board.
Kicker – The second card in your hand that is used to determine the winner when two players have similar hands. For example, if you hold A-Q and flopped an ace, then you have a pair of aces with a queen kicker.
Late Position – The button and two players to his right. The best position to be in as you can see all other action in the hand.
Leak – A flaw in your game that causes you to loose more than you should. Ex: John overvalues A-J and gets dominated often. A leak is also referred to when a person uses their bankroll for other things that are a detriment to it. Ex. Jack plays a lot of roulette and it is draining his bankroll. Joe spends a lot of his poker money on women. That’s a leak in his bankroll.
Limp – To call the big blind bet pre-flop
Live Cards – When a player has two cards in his hand that are not duplicated in the other players hand. For instance, if you were in a hand against A-K with 6-3, your cards would be live because if you hit a six or a three, you would stand a chance to win the hand.
Maniac – A type of player that does a lot of betting, raising, and bluff just for the sake of aggression or to bully. Most maniacs will play this way with any two cards.
Middle Position – The three seats after the cutoff position pre-flop.
Muck – To fold your cards. The muck is also the discard pile where folded hands are placed.
Nuts – The best possible hand based upon the board. If the board was to read J-10-Q unsuited, then a player with A-K would have the nuts.
Offsuit – When the suits of the cards in your hand do not match.
Out – A card that can come to give you the potential winning hand. If you had A-K and the board read Q-J-2, then the four tens in the deck are outs to your straight.
Overpair – When you hold a pair higher than the highest card on the flop.
Pat – The action you do to signify a check.
Pat Hand – When you have a completed hand, such as flopping a straight. This would be a pat hand.
Pay off – To call a bet from a player representing the best hand based on either pot odds or the strength of your hand.
Playing the board – When the five cards on the board are the best hand, you must use those as your hand. This is playing the board.
Pocket Cards – The two cards you are dealt face down are your pocket cards
Position – A player’s position is relative to where they sit in relation to the button. The better position that you have at the table, the wider array of hands that you can play. Later position players have an advantage over other positions as they see all action before it gets to them.
Post – To place your blinds and/or ante. In the case of a cash game, in many cases you must post the big blind in order to play. Also, if the blinds move past you while you are away from the table, you must post to get back into the game or wait until your blind comes back to you.
Pot Committed – When you are forced to make a call for the rest of your stack based on the size of the pot and the size of your chip stack.
Pot Limit – A variant of poker where players can bet up to the size of the pot at any time.
Protecting your hand – The action of keeping something on your cards so that the hand is not mistakenly placed into the muck. Another version of protecting your hand involves betting out when you have made a hand that can be vulnerable if players continue in the hand. An example would be flopping top pair with a potential flush draw showing. You would bet enough to force players to fold.
Protection – Slang used when a player raises to try and isolate an all-in player. This is sometimes called giving the all-in player protection.
Quads – Four of a kind
Ragged board – An uncoordinated board that does not appear to help anyone, such as 10c-5h-2d.
Rainbow – Typically used to describe a flop that comes out in three different suits. Can also refer to a board that has no more than two of one suit.
Rake – An amount of money taken out of each pot by the casino or card room. This is how they make their money.
Rank – The value of the card.
Rebuy – When a player has lost all of their money or chips, they can buy back in. More applicable to cash games than tournaments, but there are rebuy tournaments as well.
Represent – Playing a hand like you have a certain holding. For instance, if two jacks fell on the flop and someone bet out, you raise to represent a jack.
Ring Game – This is another term for a cash game.
River – The last community card in a Holdem game. Also known as Fifth Street.
Rock – A tight player that plays very predictably. They usually will only play strong holdings.
Rockets – Pocket Aces
Runner-Runner – When a player catches consecutive cards on the turn and river to win a hand. Ex: John caught runner-runner clubs to make his flush.
Satellite – A smaller tournament held that awards an entry into a larger tournament.
Scare Card – A card that comes on the board that could potentially give someone the best hand. For example, you have pocket kings and an ace falls on the turn. The ace is a scare card.
Second Pair – When you have made a pair with a card in your hand and the 2nd highest card on the board.
Semi-Bluff – To make a bet with a hand that is not yet made, but has outs to become a made hand, such as betting a four flush.
Set – Three of a kind made with two cards in your hand and one on the board.
Short Stack – The player with the fewest amount of chips at the table is considered the short stack.
Showdown – After the last round of betting at the river, card from the remaining players are shown. This also occurs on other streets where a player is all-in and receives only one caller.
Side Pot – A side pot is created when a player is all-in and more than one additional opponent remains in the hand. All remaining betting is between those players in the side pot.
Slow Play – To play a big hand weakly in order to keep people in a hand or to prompt other players to bet into you.
Small Blind – The first of two forced bets. The small blind is the first player to the left of the button. In Limit games, the small blind is half of the small bet. In No Limit games, the small blind is a set amount. In $1-$2 NL, the small blind is $1.
Small Bet – In Limit poker, the small bet is the betting limits preflop and on the flop. In a $2-$4 game, the small bet is $2.
Smooth Call – Only calling a bet from another player when you have a strong hand.
Snowmen – Pocket eights.
Soft Play – Taking it easy on another player at the poker table. For example, if you flopped a Royal Flush and only called bets from an opponent, this is called soft playing. Soft playing in tournaments is considered a form of cheating and can result in penalties an disqualification.
Splashing the Pot – To throw chips into the pot as opposed to just placing them in front of you.
Split Pot – A chopped pot due to two players having similar hands.
Stop and Go – Where you only call a bet on one street and then come out betting on the next street.
Straddle – An optional bet in certain games used to force more action in a pot. It is twice the big blind and technically a raise. This is a cash game move only.
String Bet – When a player tries to make a raise by using more than one motion. Such as a player saying, “I call your $10, and raise you $20.” This is not allowed in any form of poker.
Structured Betting – This is the type of betting used in Limit game. It limits the number of raises and the amount that a person may raise. In a $3-$6 game for example, pre-flop a player may only raise in increments of $3 and they can raise only 3 times.
Table Stakes – In all casinos, a player may bet up to the amount of money in his stack. He may not add money to his stack while he is in a hand. Also, a player cannot force a player to fold by betting more than their opponent. If a player bets more than a player has, that person will be declared all-in and can win up to the amount in their stack.
Tell – A trait or characteristic of a person’s play that gives away the strength of their hand. Tells are not all physical either. Tells may also involve betting patterns.
Tilt – When a player gets mad or upset, many times they will play erratically or even recklessly. This is known as going on tilt.
Time – A player may request time to consider his actions. If too much time is called than any player at the table may call a clock on the player to force them to act. Also, in some casinos, instead of a rake, the card room collects time, which is an amount of money from each table that substitutes as the rake.
To Go – The bet amount a player must call in order to continue playing the hand.
Toke – Tips given by players to the dealers. This is a substantial part of a dealer’s income.
Top Pair – A pair formed by a card in your hand and the highest card on the board.
Top Set – A set formed by a pair in your hand and the highest card on the board.
Top Two – Two pair formed by the two cards in your hand and the two highest cards on the board.
Trips – Three of a kind
Turn – The fourth community card on the board. Also known as Fourth Street.
Under the Gun – The first player to act after the big blind preflop and the first person to act on all subsequent streets.
Underdog – A player that is not favored to be a mathematical favorite to win the hand.
Value Bet – A bet made with the intention to induce a call. This is used to extract more money for a strong hand.
Variance – The swings that you and your bankroll will go through in poker.
Wheel – An ace through five straight.