If you’ve ever seen the film “Rounders,” you’ve probably realized the fact that poker has its own language. More than most games, poker depends on a wide range of vocabulary that is understood by all participants, and that’s why it’s crucial for beginners to learn some of this vocabulary. The more you learn, the more you’ll understand, and the more respect you’ll have from your opponents, and the more you’ll be able to think about the actual GAME instead of the words.
What follows is a short glossary of very common poker terms that all beginners should learn, and all experienced players should know by heart. Note that these terms are meant for players who understand the rules of simple Texas Hold’em. If you need some refreshing, you can check out our Games section.
BLINDS (SMALL BLIND/BIG BLIND): Blinds are forced bets that take the place of an ante, or pre-game bet. The person to the left of the dealer must pay the small blind and the person after him or her must pay the big blind. Blind values vary depending on the table at which you’re playing.
BOARD CARDS: Board cards are cards in the middle of the table that are shared by everyone. They’re sometimes called “community cards.”
DRAW: Drawing means hoping to improve your hand with the cards that will appear on the board. You are said to be “on a draw” when you are counting on board cards to complete your hand. For example, if you have a 10 and a 9 and the flop is a queen, jack, and 2, you are trying “to draw” an 8 or a king on the next two deals.
FLOP: Flop is the name for the first three community cards that are dealt in Hold’em.
IMPLIED ODDS: Impied odds are in essence the same as pot odds (see below), except that implied odds take future bets into account. Thus, you may call a bet at the flop, but have implied odds of making bigger bets in later rounds if you hit your draw.
LIMIT POKER: Limit poker is poker with fixed bets. In a $2-$4 limit game, all bets and raises are $2 in the first two rounds (pre-flop and flop), and all bets and raises are $4 in the last two rounds (turn and river).
LONGHAND: Longhand refers to a poker game with seven or more people.
OUTS: A very important poker term, outs refers to the number of undealt cards that can improve your hand. If the flop is a queen, jack and 2 and you have a 10 and a 9, you want a king or an 8 to complete the straight. Since there are four kings and four 8’s in the deck, you are said to have eight total OUTS.
POSITION: Where you sit at the poker table. The dealer has the best position because he bets last and therefore has a better understanding of what other people have in their hand. The small blind has the worst position because he goes first.
POT ODDS: Pot odds are basically a comparison of the bet you’re making with the overall total of the pot. If your chances of winning the bet are relatively good compared to the amount in the pot—in other words, if there’s a lot to win from a decent bet—your pot odds dictate that you should take the bet. For example, taking a $10 bet in which you have an 18% chance of winning might not be a bad idea if the total of the pot is $100. But taking a $300 bet in which the pot total is $400 and your chances of winning are still 18% is NOT such a good idea.
PRE-FLOP: Pre-flop refers to the part of the game in which every player has been dealt two cards, but the community cards have not yet been dealt.
RIVER: River is the name of the fifth and final card to be dealt in Hold’em, after the turn.
SHORTHAND: Shorthand refers to a poker game with six or fewer people.
TURN: Turn is the name of the fourth board card to come out in Hold’em, after the flop.