The A-Z of poker terms and where they originated from

All poker players should know their straights from their flushes, but there’s a lot more to poker terms than simply describing the hand you’ve made

Style of play, types of wins and even ways to get beat have all evolved their own terms, and new ones are appearing all the time as the game’s popularity grows through online poker sites, such as the new UK regulated platforms. Over time, many of these poker terms even make their way into everyday use. Here are some of the most common and the cleverest, in alphabetical order.

Ace up the sleeve – A phrase now in common usage in English, it literally refers to cheating by concealing an ace inside your sleeve, but can also be used to refer to any kind of cheating, or a legitimate, but hidden, advantage.

Backdoor – When you make a hand other than the one you intended. For example, you’re holding jack and 10 of hearts in your hand, and the flop shows ace of hearts, seven of hearts and six of diamonds. You might expect to get a flush. Instead, the turn and river are king and queen of spades, so you’ve made a straight instead.

Bad beat – Losing a pot to a great hand, when you yourself are holding a good hand and probably expected to win.

Big slick – When you’re dealt ace and king as your hole cards, the second best starting hand after Pocket Rockets. Boat – Another name for a full house.

Coffeehousing – A kind of bluff where players chat about the hand they’re in, intending to mislead or manipulate the reaction of other players.

Deuces – Having two two’s as your hole cards.

Dolly Parton – A straight from five to nine, named after the singer’s hit movie “9 to 5”.

Eubie – A nickname for worthless hole cards, like an eight and six – if you play these, “you be broke”.

Gravy – Your winnings.

Hockey sticks – A nickname for hole cards seven and seven, because they look like upside-down hockey sticks, of course!

Mites and lice – A hand made up of two pairs, threes over twos, so-called because of the low and usually disadvantageous numbers involved.

On a draw – When you need a helpful card on the turn or river (the two last cards placed on the table by the dealer) to make a good hand.

Playing loose – This playing style refers to when a player gets involved in a wide range of hands, including weak ones, or when a whole game is very active, with a lot of calls and raises and generally bigger pots being built.

Playing tight – The opposite of “playing loose”, this refers to a playing style of a player who will only get involved with a narrow range of strong hands, folding anything weaker. “Played tight” can refer to a whole game characterised by a lot of folding and few calls or raises.

Pocket rockets/bullets – Two ace cards as your hole cards, the best starting hand there is.

Sandbagging – When a player holds back from raising, and just calls, despite have a good hand. It’s usually done to provoke a bluff, disguise a good hand, or elicit a check-raise.

Trips – Another term for three of a kind. Usually “trips” means one of the three cards is in your hand, and the other two are on the table, while a pocket pair, with the third on the table, is referred to as a “set”.

This article was written in association with our friends from TitanBet Poker


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