Online Poker Lingo The Terminology You Need to Know

There are many different poker game varieties, but they do all more or less share a common language. When you are learning or trying to get better at something, knowing the terms and language will help you to understand the subject more deeply. In other words, in order to get to grips with online poker and real money online poker rooms, start by understanding the language. With that in mind, here is a 2023 list of poker terms to get you on your way to being a top poker online player:


Ace-to-five; ace-to-six: Types of lowball poker games; also how to evaluate low poker hands.

Active player: A player who is still involved in the hand or the pot. They may or may not also be involved in any potential side pots.

All-in: When a player puts all of their chips into the pot. They will not participate in any additional bets above this amount (if other wagers are placed a side pot will be created for the others).

Ante: The small forced bets that all, or some players make before cards are dealt. These are common in stud and also used in tournaments.


Back door: This term refers to a hand that is made by using both the turn card and the river card. It may also be called runner.

Bad beat: When a good hand is beaten by a player who was previously way behind and hit a lucky draw or other card to pull out the victory.

Big Slick: A nickname for when you hold an Ace and a King, generally as your two hole (or hidden) cards.

Big Stack: A stack of chips that is large when compared to the stakes being played. This could also be called a deep stack; usually the biggest stack at the table.

Bluff: Making a bet when you don't think you have the best hand in an attempt to get your opponent's to think otherwise and fold.


Calling station: A derogatory term for a player who calls too often, without considering the correct odds and sometimes hitting long shot winning odds (which can anger other losing players).

Check raise: A strategy to try and get others to bet first by checking on your turn and then, after someone else has bet, raising.

Chip dumping: An interesting strategy where one playing deliberately loses chips to another. If this is a situation where both players have agreed to take such action, it might be considered a form of collusion.

Chop: To split a pot because of a tie, split pot game (where half goes to the player with the highest hand and the other half to the player with the lowest hand). Or, to play a game for a short, set time and then cash out. An agreement made between remaining players in a tournament to distribute the remaining prize pool money according to some established or agreed upon formula.


Donkey: Also another name for a fish, pigeon, or a sucker who plays poorly and is basically just throwing their real money away.

Door card: In Texas Hold’em, this is the first visible card in the flop. In stud, the first face-up card a player is dealt. In draw poker, this is the sometimes visible card at the bottom of a player's hand. Players may sometimes deliberately expose this card.

Double belly buster: A hand which has two inside straight draws. It could become a straight with one of two cards (usually on either side), but it is much more deceptive than a normal inside straight draw.

Drawing Dead: This term indicates a situation when no matter what card is drawn, you will lose.


Eight(s) or better: A commonly used qualifier for high low split games using the ace-5 ranking. In other words, to win the low portion of the pot, your highest card must be an eight or lower.

Expected value (EV): The profitability in the long run of a given hand or position or game, etc...

Exposed card: When a card has its face revealed, either deliberately or accidentally. Different games will have varying rules about options for dealing with such a situation.


Feeder: This is normally a second or even a third table playing the same game as the first. Players from this table will move into the main table as players are eliminated. It is also called a must-move table and might even be a type of satellite game or event.

Field: All of the players who are registered and playing in a tournament.

Fifth Street: This is the last card dealt on the board in a community game, also known as the river in Hold’em. The fifth card dealt to each player in stud poker.

Final table: The last table in a multi-table tournament. This is typically when no more than ten players remain; all of them will be moved together into the last table for the finale of the event.


Gap hand: In Texas Hold’em, this is a hand with at least one rank separating your two hole cards.

Grinder: A player or person who earns their living by player poker, usually by making small profits over a period of consistent and conservative play.

Gutshot: An inside straight draw.

Gypsy: To enter the pot very cheaply, usually through simply calling the blind instead of raising. Also called limping in or just limp.


Heads up: When playing a game with only one other player.

Hero call: Calling when a player has a relatively weak hand, but suspects their opponent may be bluffing.

HORSE: A form of poker that is normally played at high stakes in casinos and during major types of tournament events. This consists of several rounds of play among different games including Texas Hold’em (H), Omaha Hi Lo split (O), Razz—R, 7-Card Stud (S), 7-Card Stud Hi Lo Eights or better (E).


Implied odds: A type of extended pot odds that represents the ratio of the total amount you would expect to win by completing the hand to the amount you would need in order to call to continue. This actually takes some guess work and a bit of knowledge of your opponent's tendencies.

In the money: Finishing high enough in a poker tournament or event in order to win prize money.

Isolate: Making a raise with the intention of forcing others to fold so that you can play heads up against a single opponent.


Jackpot: A large pool of money collected by the house and then awarded for some type of bad beat or other rare occurrence. A game of jackpot poker or jackpots, a variant of five card draw that has an ante from each player but no blinds and an opening requirement of a pair of jacks or better.

Juice: Money collected by the house. Also known as the vig or vigorish.

Junk: A hand with very little expected value.


Kill button: In a kill game, this is a button that shows which players has the kill action.

Kill hand; kill game: A hand with different betting rules.

Kitty: A pool of money that is built by collecting small amounts from certain pots that are then used to buy things like refreshments. This is the home game equivalent of a rake.


Lag: A loose aggressive style of play in which a player is involved with a lot of starting hands and makes many small raises in hopes of out-playing their opponents.

Laydown: A very tough choice to fold a strong hand when you think there are stronger hands out there.

Limit: The minimum or maximum amount of a bet.

Live cards: In stud games, when there are cards that will help improve a player's hand that have not been seen among any of the up cards. In Texas Hold’em, this may also refer to a hand that is weak, but not dominated.


Maniac: A very loose and aggressive player who normally bets and raises frequently. This is often done in situations where it is very bad strategy. The opposite of a rock, or steady player.

Mark: Someone at the poker table who is the focus of attention. This is normally due to their inexperience or weak play.

Monster: A very strong hand that is almost certainly going to be the winner.

Muck: This simply means to fold or drop your hand. The entire pile of dead cards is also called the muck.


Nit: A player who is unwilling to take any real risks and plays exclusively the premium hands at the top range.

No limit: A type or style of game where players are able to wager any or all of their chips in a single bet.

Nuts: Based on the current cards on the board, the best available hand. An unbeatable hand is often called 'the Brazils' or a 'lock.'


Off suit: Cards that are not the same suit.

Openers: Cards held by a player in a game of jackpots that entitle a player to make an opening bet.

Outs: A card that will help to improve your hand, likely allowing you to win the game.

Over pair: In community card games like Texas Hold’em and Omaha, this is a pocket pair with a higher rank than the highest community card.


Passive: A style of play which uses a lot of checking and calling.

Pocket rockets: A pair of aces in your hand during the game of Hold’em.

Pot odds: The ratio of the amount of money in the pot to the amount of money it will cost to call the current bet. The type of odds you are being giving by the pot.

Protected pot: When too many players are involved the pot to have a realistic chance at bluffing your way to a win.


Quads: Four of a kind.

Qualifier: A qualifying hand in games that require a minimum hand value (i.e. eights or better).

Quartered: Winning a quarter of the pot. This usually happens when tying for either the high or the low portion of the pot in a split pot game.


Rags: This is usually a worthless card; normally small board cards in Hold’em.

Rainbow: Three or four of the board cards come out in different suits. A flop with three different suits. If the turn is also a fourth suit, then no flush is possible for that hand.

River: The fifth and final community board card dealt in Hold’em.

Runner-runner: When a hand is made using both the turn and river cards.


Sandbag: Hiding the strength of your hand through slow playing early in order to draw more players into the pot. A very deceptive ploy used to increase your profits.

Satellite: An event or a tournament where the winner (or even several top finishers) will be granted entry into another, typically larger and more prestigious tournament or poker event.

Set: When holding a pocket pair, having one of the same rank hit the board; three of a kind.

String bet: An illegal type of bet where a player does not orally declare their intention to raise and instead puts out chips to call and then reaches back to his stack to get more chips to raise.


Tilt: When a player loses their discipline and plays very loosely and aggressively in order to win a pot. Normally caused by a series of bad beats leading to frustration.

Trips: When two cards of the same rank are on the board and you hold another of the same rank in your hand; differentiated from a set in that only one person can hold the three cards in a set, while two players can hold trips.

Turn: The fourth community card dealt between the flop and the river.


Under the gun: The first person to act during the first round of betting is said to be in this position.

Underfull: A full house where the three of a kind are of a lower rank than the pair.

Upswing: A period of time in which a player is winning more (or loses less) than was to be expected. Related to expected value.


Value bet: A bet made by a player who wants to be called, maybe even hoping it can be raised later.

Variance: A statistical measure of how far actual results can differ from the expectation.


Walk: When all players fold to the big blind.

Wash: To mix the deck by spreading the cards face down and mixing them up on the table.

Wheel: A five-high straight (i.e. A-2-3-4-5), with the ace counting as the lowest card. In the deuce to seven lowball game, this is also the nut hand of 2-3-4-5-7.

Now that you’ve got more of a grasp on the language used in online poker sites from our poker term guide, why not put them into practice on one of our recommended top poker online sites.