There’s a lot more to this game than knowing the rules and how to play poker at its most basic. If you want to play with the pros, you’ve got to speak the language. There’s nothing worse than staring blankly across the table when your opponent tells you that you’re under the gun or accuses someone of playing like a maniac.
To save yourself the embarrassment of looking like a total newbie, make sure you know the ABCs of the game before you claim to know how to play poker.
Putting every chip you have on the table to call a hand.
Essential to knowing how to play poker, this is the bet you have to put in before the cards are dealt. The small blind is usually half of the big blind and blinds must be put in before play begins.
One of your three betting options in poker. To check is to not bet whilst staying in the game.
This is an incomplete hand that needs another card or two to become valuable. This is opposite to a made hand which already has a strong starting value, but a hand that starts worse can beat this type of hand with a good draw.
This is the concept of how much of the pot you are entitled to based on your chances of winning. If you have a 25% chance of winning a $100 pot, your equity is $25, but this is a concept: in reality, you will either win $100 or nothing.
In Community Card games like Texas Hold’em and Omaha, the first three cards dealt face up on the table are the flop. If you don’t know about the flop, you don’t know how to play poker.
Gutshot Straight Draw
This, or bellybuster, describes a hand where there a straight of five cards is completed all but for one in the middle, like 7-8-?-10-J, for example.
Potentially the most important word in the game, it’s the establishment running the game and the one who usually wins.
This is the chances of you winning after completing a draw. Implied odds are the expectation of odds based on the completion of a certain hand and an important concept to get your head around when you’re learning how to play poker.
The cash prize paid out to a player. A bad beat jackpot, for example, is the sum paid to a player who loses despite having an undeniably strong hand, such as four of a kind.
These are cards that can break a tie between two otherwise equal hands in a showdown. They don’t determine the rank of the hand itself but act as a way of differentiating between two equal paris. If, for example, you have J-J-9-6-3 and your opponent has J-J-10-5-2, your opponent’s kicker, 10, would outrank your 9 and win the hand.
Different from a tell, a leak isn’t what gives away your game to other opponents but what loses it. Your leak is the weakness in your playing style and can be one of the major giveaways that you don’t know how to play poker.
A totally aggressive player who likes to bet, raise and bluff in fast and loose manner and will participate in nearly every hand regardless of their value. Easy to spot and usually bluffing, but beware that this isn’t an expert bluffer in disguise as a maniac.
A type of game where there is no limit to the amount of chips a player can put in. When you’re learning how to play poker, this is usually the easier type of game to start with.
This is a card that ranks higher than any other on the table. If you have Q-10, for example, thought you might not have a pair, you have two overcards of the board.
This is the money wagered during a game and awarded to the player with the best hand.
Otherwise known as four of a kind. A hand with four cards of equal ranks in it, K-K-K-K, for example.
The money taken from the pot by the dealer and how the House earns its income.
A tournament that doesn’t award a cash prize to its winner, but rather a seat in a subsequent game.
A vital clue in a player’s behaviour that gives away their intentions and the strength of their hand. This nonverbal aspect of the game is a science, and one that will be closely observed by experienced players at the table.
Under the Gun
The player who is the first to act in a round of betting before the flop is dealt. In a game with blinds, this is the player to the left of the big blind.
Vigorish or Vig
Another word for rake.
This is when not even one player meets the big blind, meaning the whole table folds a round.
X Marks the Spot
A variant game of the Southern Cross, where players make a hand by combining any of the five cards arranged in a cross shape on the board with their own.
Bakers will know that this can only mean one thing, to raise.
A player who gives away absolutely nothing to his fellow players by acting in a totally neutral and unreadable way.
Still looking to expand your poker vocabulary? Read about poker odds and outs to sound like even more of a pro at the table.