What Are Some Confusing Terms And Lingo In Poker?

Every poker table has its own special feel and vibe, right down to the players’ lingo. But certain terms are used across the board, and you should know which ones to use and which ones to avoid.

Game Terms

Buy In: How much it costs to start playing.

Stakes: A combination of the buy-in and the betting amount. This is basically how much you stand to win or lose. High stakes mean playing is expensive, low stakes mean it’s cheap.

Tournament: A style of play in which everyone is given the same amount of chips and plays until one player has them all. The money is then divided based on how far the person made it.

Cash Game: A style of play in which players buy chips that are equivalent to how much they spent. Unlike a tournament, cash game players can come and go as they please, and only win as much money as they have in front of them when they leave the table.

Limit: A betting structure in which players can only bet so much and so raise so many times each round of betting.

No Limit: A betting structure in which players can bet everything they have.

Pot Limit: A betting structure in which players can bet up to the size of the pot.

Dealing Terms

Shuffle: The act of randomizing the cards so each hand is unpredictable.

Deal: The act of divvying the cards to players and/or the community card section.

Blind: In many games, blinds are collected before the deal: one or two players will put chips into the pot to make sure the hand is worth playing. Most games with blinds have a small blind (one player puts in a small amount, usually half the minimum bet) and another puts in a big blind (one player puts in a small amount, usually the minimum bet).

Ante: In some games, every player puts in a small amount, an ante, to make the hand worth playing.

Burn: Discarding a card at the beginning of each round of dealing. Done in most Hold’Em games when dealing the community cards.

Board: The community cards or cards showing face up.

Misdeal: If cards get dealt up, in the wrong order, or to the wrong player, the hand is a misdeal: the dealer shuffles up and starts over.

Muck: Where cards go when they are not in play. It’s the dealer's job to manage the muck pile.

Ship It: When a player wins a hand, the pot is “shipped” to them. “Ship it!” might be an exclamation of victory.

Rake: A small portion of the pot collected by a casino on every hand dealt.

Betting Terms

Action: When it’s a player’s turn to act.

Call: Putting in the minimum number of chips needed to continue in a hand.

Raise: Upping the number of chips other players need to put in in order to continue in a hand.

Fold: Tossing away your hand because you no longer want to continue playing.

All-In: The big one: a player bets every chip they have.

Bad Beat: When a hand seems to be going one way, but something unlikely occurs and a player loses. Usually, this isn’t the player’s fault...but it sure can feel that way.

Calling Station: A player who calls every bet or raise. Frustrating to play against because they’re impossible to bluff or might stick around and catch lucky breaks.

Luck Box: A player who seems to get a lucky all the time. Just a superstition...or is it?