Glossary

POKER TERMS

If you are just starting to learn how to play poker, you may find this glossary of poker terms useful and interesting.  It will certainly be helpful in reading my blog posts, since these are terms that I use frequently.  Whenever you come across an unfamiliar term in my posts, you can check here to see if I give the definition.

3-bet: The term used to describe a re-raise. Originally a  limit holdem term, it is also now used when discussing no limit and pot limit games. A 4-bet is a re-re-raise, and so on.

ABC player: An easily readable player that plays by the book. They bet when they have it, check when they don’t, and very rarely bluff.

Air: A hand with no value, totally disconnected from the board.  A bluff.

Backdoor Flush or Straight: A flush or straight that needs both the turn and river card to be completed (there is only one flush or straight card to the hand on the flop).  You can be put in a very difficult spot to read when your opponent “backdoors” you.

Balance, or a Balanced Range:  Playing with a balanced range generally means playing so that your opponent has a difficult time using game theory to exploit you.  Specifically, it means mixing in the correct amount of bluffs with your real hands, and playing both exactly the same, so that  your opponent cannot exploit you no matter what he chooses to do.  The opposite of a balanced range is an “exploitable” range.

Big Ball: Big Pot poker.  Swelling the size of the pot by aggressive betting and raising, leading to more frequent all-ins early in the hand.

Big Bets: The bets on the turn and river in limit holdem, which are twice the size of the small bets pre-flop and on the flop.  With “small bets,” the unit by which pot sizes are measured when analyzing limit holdem plays.

Blockers: Cards in your hand that block your opponents’ possible draws. Of significant importance in Omaha.

Blocking Bet: A smaller than usual bet, aimed at controlling the pot size or gaining information from an opponent. Usually indicates a weak or drawing hand.

Brick: A card that is not likely to help anyone’s hand.

Counterfeited: In holdem and Omaha, a hand gets counterfeited when a card falls that makes it lose its value.  Two pair can be counterfeited when the board pairs. A low set can be counterfeited if the top board card trips up, etc.

Cutoff: The position one away from the button

Donk Bet: A lead bet into the player who had the betting initiative on the previous street.

Draw Dead:  To be drawing with zero outs (no cards that help you). As when you draw to a flush when your opponent already has a full house.

Dry Board: A board on which few or no draws are possible.  As eg., a K-7-2 offsuit board.

EP: Early position.

Equity: The dollar value of your chances to win the pot.  If you have a 60% chance to win a $1000 pot, then your equity in the pot is $600.

Exploitable:  If a player’s range in a particular situation contains either too many bluffs or not enough bluffs, it is termed “not balanced” and exploitable.  His opponents can beat him by raising when his range has too many bluffs, and folding when his range has too few.

Fold Equity: The dollar value of the likelihood that your opponent will fold to your bet or raise.  If your opponent will fold to your bet 30% of the time, and there is $1000 in the pot, then the fold equity of your bet is $300.

For Showdown Raise (FSDR):  In limit holdem, raising the turn in position, with the intent to check down the river, and show down your hand.

Free Card Play:  A small-bet raise on the flop, made with a drawing hand and with position, with the intent of causing your opponent to check to you on the big-bet turn street, and thus giving you the option of taking a free river card if the turn doesn’t hit your draw.

taking a free river card on the big-bet turn street if the draw doesn’t fill.

Freeroll: When two players have the same hand, but one has redraws to make a better hand and win the whole pot.  A common situation in Omaha.

Gin: A flop or card that gives you a powerful hand.

Hijack: The position two away from the button

Implied Odds: The price the pot is laying you to call (ie. pot odds), expanded to include the amount you can expect to win after your hand improves to become the best hand. Eg., You have a straight draw, and you are facing an $80 turn bet with the amount already in the pot being $240. Your pot odds are (240 + 80)/80 = 320/80 = 4 to 1.  But if you can reasonably expect to win an additional $80 bet on the river if you make your straight, then your Implied Odds are actually (240+80+80)/80 = 400/80 = 5 to 1.

In no-limit holdem and pot limit omaha, where later bets are usually much larger than earlier bets, implied odds can be much more important than initial pot odds.

[Go] In the Tank: Think long and hard.  Usually happens when facing a big all-in bet.

Isolation Play: Raising in order to eliminate the blinds and stragglers, and get heads up with a limper.  Usually is done with position, against a limper that has been identified as a weak player.

LAG: Loose-Aggressive. A player that plays a lot of hands, and plays them strongly by betting and raising instead of simply calling. The opposite of Weak-Tight.

Leak: A playing habit (or life habit) that costs you money.  Chasing with bad hands is a leak.  So is dating strippers.

Level: To out-think someone. To think one level higher.

LHE: Limit holdem.

Limp in: To enter a pot without raising.

Line:  A term taken from chess used to describe a player’s plan of action in a hand.

Mubsy: Adjective used to describe a player who displays Monsters Under the Bed Syndrome. This player is fearful that his hand is beat, and thus tends to check and call hands he should be betting and raising, and incorrectly fold hands when scare cards hit.

NLH: Nolimit holdem.

Nuts: The best hand possible.

 OESD: Open-ended straight draw.

On the Bubble: The dividing line between paid and unpaid spots in a poker tournament.  The player who is the last to be eliminated before the payouts start is known as the “Bubble Boy.”  (Or Girl.)

Outs and Outers: Outs are cards that turn your hand from a loser to a winner.  For instance, if you hold JJ and your opponent holds KK, and there are no draws possible, then you have exactly 2 outs to win (the remaining Jacks), or as its called in the vernacular, a “two-outer.”  Open-end straight draws are 8-outers, flush draws 9-outers, and so on.

Peel: Simply call and look at another card.

Play Back: Raise.

PLO: Pot limit Omaha

Plus EV (+ev): Positive expected value. In general, a play that will show a profit over time and repetition.

Regular: Someone who plays in a game regularly.  Usually connotes a professional or semi-professional player.

Run It Twice: When two players who are all-in against each other agree to deal out the hand twice from the point at which the players got all-in. When done, a player has to win both deals in order to win the whole pot.  If both players win one deal, they split the pot equally.  Some players like to run it twice in order to decrease their variance.

Runner-Runner: A perfect turn and river card to make a hand.  “Backdoor” hands are made with “runner-runner.”

Scare Card: A card that fills the likely draws or otherwise improves the likely holding of your opponent, and thus is scary.  Many players use scare cards to bluff on.

Semi-Bluff: Bluffing with a good draw.

Short-stacking: Buying in for close to the minimum in no limit and pot limit games.

Showdown Raise: An in-position raise with a marginal hand on the turn, made with the intent of checking down the river without betting (taking a free showdown) if the hand doesn’t improve.  A standard play in limit holdem.

Shove: Move all-in.

Slow-Play: To disguise a big hand by checking or just calling.

Small Ball: Small pot poker.  Controlling the size of the pots by playing a style of checking and calling, leading to less frequent all-in plays.

Small Bets: The bets pre-flop and on the flop in limit holdem, which are half the size of the big bets on the turn and river.  With “big bets,” the unit by which pot sizes are measured when analyzing limit holdem plays.

TAG:  Tight-Aggressive. A player who plays very few hands, but plays the ones he does play aggressively, by betting and raising instead of simply calling. The opposite of Weak-Loose.

Tell: Something that gives away the strength of a player’s hand.  The most common tells involve bet-sizing, but a player can also betray himself with a physical or verbal tell.

Thin Value: A value bet with a very marginal hand that has a slim margin of error.

Overlay: When the pot is offering better odds than you need to call with a drawing hand.

UTG: Under the gun. The position first to act.

Value bet: A bet with a made hand, aimed at earning money from players with worse hands. The opposite of a bluff. Usually refers to bets made on the river.

Variance: The term used to describe a player’s swings of good and bad luck.

Way Ahead, Way Behind: A situation that occurs, usually when you flop a pair of Aces on a dry board, when your hand is either way ahead of your opponent’s, or way behind, with no in-between.

Wheel: The smallest straight possible, Ace through 5.  Also called a bicycle.

Wrap Hands: In Omaha, a hand that gives you more than eight outs to make a straight. Eg., a hand of QJ98 on a board of KT7 will make a straight with any Ace, Queen, Jack, 9, 8, or 6, and thus has a total of 4+3+3+3+3+4 = 20 outs. Nut wrap hands are those in which every out makes the nuts.

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