The Most Common Poker Terms: a Guide To Poker Glossary and Definitions | The Sun

POKER is all about walking the walk and talking the talk. We’ve got plenty of poker strategy guides to help you perfect your walk, so this article is all about poker lingo.

To get the most from the game and understand its nuances, you need to know poker terminology. With this in mind, here’s our complete guide to the most frequently used poker words and phrases.

Most used poker terms

If you don’t want to use more words than is necessary, poker slang is perfect. The following list contains the most common poker terms you’ll hear at the table:


Action is a common poker term used to describe the amount of betting activity taking place within a game. A “lot of action” implies people are betting and raising. Players can also “give action” i.e. they play a lot of pots in the face of bets from opponents. 


Ante is the overarching term for a forced bet someone has to make at the start of each round. The ante can include a small bet made by every player as well as the small/big blind. 


All-in is a very popular poker term and it describes the act of betting your entire stack i.e. Daniel Negreanu moved all-in on the river. 

Bad Beat

This is one of the poker terms used commonly by players who lose a pot. In poker slang, a bad beat refers to a situation where a player gets unlucky. 


The blind is an ante bet i.e. it’s a forced bet someone has to make before a hand is dealt. Some poker variants don’t have blinds. Instead, everyone posts an ante. In games with a blind, there will be a big blind and a small blind (50% of the big blind’s value). The blinds move round the table in a clockwise direction. 


Call is poker slang for calling someone’s bet. For example, if someone bet £10 and you didn’t want to fold or raise, you’d put £10 in the pot to call. 


Checking, in poker terminology, is the act of passing the action to the next player without committing any chips to the pot. You can only check if there haven’t been any bets before it’s your turn to act.


A draw is when you have the potential of making a hand i.e. you’ve got outs. For example, if your hole cards are Ad Kd and there are two diamonds on the flop, you’re drawing to a flush i.e. if another diamond comes you’ve got a flush. Players can have a draw (i.e. outs) on the flop or turn. 


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Fish is a poker term frequently used to describe a weak player i.e. they’re a fish that’s easily caught. The next level of fish is a whale. A whale is a weak player with a lot of money i.e. they’re a big fish that’s worth catching.  


Flop is a poker term that describes the first three community cards. The flop comes after the pre-flop betting around and before the turn (i.e. the fourth community card). 


One of the most common terms used in poker is fold. It means you give up your hand in the face of a bet. It’s often the case that fish (i.e. weak players) don’t fold enough.


Heads-up is poker terminology for a situation where only two players are active in a pot or the final stage of a tournament.

Hole cards

Poker players use the term hole cards to describe the cards they’ve been dealt. For example, in Texas Hold’em, everyone gets two hole cards. Only you can see your hole cards.


Nuts is one of the common poker terms used to describe the best possible hand. 


In poker slang, the word overcard refers to a situation where an opponent has higher value hole cards than you. Those higher value cards have the potential to counterfeit your hand if they connect with the board. 


A rainbow board is one that contains a mixture of suits i.e. it has all the colours of the rainbow. A rainbow board means there’s no chance of someone making a flush (i.e. five cards of the same suit).


The river is the fifth and final community card. The river comes after the flop (three initial community cards) and the turn (the fourth community card). If two or more players are active after the river, a showdown occurs. It’s very common for the river card to decide the outcome of a pot. 

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Showdown is a common poker term used to describe a situation where two or more players reveal their hole cards. A showdown only takes place after the final card/betting round has ended. 


Tell is one of the most popular poker words that’s found its way into mainstream culture. In poker, a tell is any signal unwittingly given off by a player. Strong players can spot tells (aka read tells) and use them to get an advantage. 


Tilt is one of poker’s most popular terms because it’s something virtually everyone experiences. Going on tilt means you’ve got so emotional (i.e. angry) you make rash decisions. It’s very common for fish to go on tilt.


The fourth community card is known as the turn. This card is dealt in isolation. It comes after the flop (three cards) and before the river (the fifth and final community card). 

Which poker variations are there?

In addition to the frequently used poker terms we’ve already described, it’s worth knowing what the most popular games are called. 

Here’s a brief overview of each variant the poker terminology used to describe it:

  • Hold’em

Everyone starts with two hole cards in Texas Hold’em. You use them in conjunction with community cards to make the best five-card hand. Hold’em cash games and tournaments can be Limit, Pot Limit or No Limit. 

  • Omaha

Omaha is similar to Hold’em but, instead of two hole cards, you get four. You must use two of your hole cards in conjunction with the community cards to make a five-card hand. Most Omaha games are Pot Limit, also commonly known as PLO (Pot-Limit Omaha). 

  • Draw poker

Draw poker is a game where players keep their hole cards concealed. You get dealt an initial selection of cards (e.g. five) and have the option to swap as many as you like before a showdown. 

  • Stud poker

Stud poker is where you’re dealt a selection of cards; some are face-up, some are face-down. The most common type of Stud poker is Seven Card Stud. 

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Betting variation terms

Each type of poker can be played with one of three betting systems. These betting systems determine how much you can bet and/or raise:

  • Limit

Also known as fixed limit, this system restricts the amount you can bet or raise. Specifically, the amount you can bet/raise is based on the size of the ante (most commonly the big blind).

  • Pot Limit

Pot Limit betting restricts the amount you can bet/raise to the size of the pot. For example, if there’s £10 in the pot and you want to make a bet, you can bet up to a maximum of £10.

  • No Limit

There are no restrictions on the amount you can bet in No Limit games. If the bet/raise matches or exceeds the minimum, you can stake any amount up to the value of your stack.

How do I get started playing poker online?

The journey to becoming a fully-fledged poker player requires you to go through certain steps. Once you’re off and running, you can move in any direction you like. However, at least at the start, you should follow a well-trodden path. That path includes an appreciation of the most popular poker words. Essentially, you need to be able to talk the talk so you can walk the walk. 

Of course, you might think that learning a few buzz words is just for show. It’s not. If you don’t understand poker terms, you won’t understand the game. For example, let’s say you’re learning some basic poker strategy, and someone says this: 

“It’s best to raise pocket nines in position but fold from the blinds”. 

That sentence contains very popular terms used in poker but nowhere else in that context. Therefore, if you don’t know what “position”, “button” and “blinds” mean, the strategy advice will be lost on you. That’s why you need to know poker’s most popular terms.

What are the best sites for online poker?

The best online poker sites come in all shapes and sizes. We know the online gambling industry inside out, which means we’ve found three top sites from all sectors. 

1. PokerStars


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PokerStars is synonymous with online poker because it offers the most games, promotions and features. From freerolls and MTTs costing between $0.10 and $10,000, to cash games at all stakes, there aren’t many poker sites that can match PokerStars. New customers can sign up and get a a bonus up to £200 when joining with the bonuscode FIRST200.  

2. Duelz Casino


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Duelz is a casino gaming powerhouse. This means you can play all types of table poker, including Stud and Ultimate Texas Hold’em. As well as making hands at the poker table, Duelz offers blackjack, baccarat and other table games. For a final flourish, you can take a break from cards by playing one of its 600+ slots. New players can take advantage of a £100 first deposit bonus and 100 free spins. 

3. Unibet


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Unibet is universally known across all online gambling sectors. New customers at Unibet can start out with a £10 casino bonus, plus up to £40 cashback on losing sports bets. Once you’re in the mix, Unibet has one of the most relaxed online poker sites out there. This means Unibet Poker is not only fun but full of fish! 

Can I play all types of poker online?

Yes, at the best online poker sites you can play the most popular variants. There may be some obscure sub-variants that aren’t available online. However, if a game is very popular, it will be available online. As a guide, we give an online poker site top marks if it offers cash games and tournaments for these variants:

  • Texas Hold’em 
  • Omaha
  • Draw
  • Stud
  • Mixed Games
  • 6+ Hold’em
  • Razz

What are the biggest poker tournaments?

The biggest tournaments in poker take place live and online. Therefore, if you’re tired of playing cash game pots and want to compete for large prizes, tournaments are the way to go. You can click here to learn more about poker tournaments and how they work. As a prelude to that, here are some of the largest tournaments in poker:

  • The World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event
  • The WSOP Big One for One Drop
  • The World Poker Tour (WPT) World Championship
  • European Poker Tour (EPT) Monte Carlo
  • PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship
  • The Triton Million
  • The PokerGO US Poker Open
  • The World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) Main Event
  • The Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) Main Event
  • WSOP Online Super Circuit Main Event
  • The Sunday Million
  • MicroMillions

What are the most popular types of poker?

Poker is a very popular game; we all know that. What’s great about it is the fact there are so many different ways you can play. We’ve already given you a brief overview of popular poker variants, including Hold’em, Omaha, Stud and Draw. However, they aren’t the only games in town. 

For example, almost everyone in poker loves Hold’em. Because of this, there are dozens of spin-offs, including 6+ Hold’em and Irish Poker. Hold’em has also become a casino game alongside a few other interesting variants. 

In these games, you’re playing against the house (i.e. casino) rather than other players. As such, you don’t get to bluff, and hands are decided by a showdown. However, other than these differences, many of the fundamental rules of poker are used. 

Some of the standout casino poker games you can try are:

  • Casino Hold’em
  • Mississippi Stud
  • Ultimate Texas Hold’em
  • Texas Hold’em Plus
  • Let It Ride
  • Three Card Poker
  • Four Card Poker
  • I Love Suits Poker
  • Heads-Up Hold’em
  • Pai Gow Poker

Can I use bonuses for all poker variations online?

Yes! We’re not here just to give you a lesson on the most common poker terminology. We’re purveyors of all things poker, which means our experts scour the internet for generous bonus offers. Basically, when you use our secure sign-up links and promo codes, you’ll get access to a wealth of poker, casino and betting bonuses. 

The credits you get from these offers can be used in all manner of contexts. Therefore, if you want to focus specifically on poker, you can use bonuses to play Hold’em cash games, Stud tournaments or anything else you desire. 

What is the best site for live poker?

Casino poker on live poker sites might be slightly different to its player vs. player counterparts (e.g. Texas Hold’em et al) but it’s just as fun. One of the best UK online casinos for table poker is Mr Vegas. Among its best offerings are live dealer poker games, including Three Card Poker, Caribbean Stud and Ultimate Texas Hold’em. To play live poker and get a 100% welcome bonus up to £200, plus 11 free spins.

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How do I make a deposit on an online poker site?

OK, so you want to put your poker slang to good use. Good call. The steps below will take you from talking poker to playing in just a few minutes…

  1. Find a poker room suited for you in our reviews. 
  2. Choose a site you like and tap the secure sign-up link within the review. 
  3. Open the registration form. Complete the registration process by inputting your personal details, including your name, email address, date of birth and address. *Use our poker promo codes whenever possible. 
  4. Log in, go to the cashier page and select a secure deposit method (e.g. Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, Neteller, Skrill etc).
  5. Input a deposit amount (typically £10 or more). Confirm the transaction, claim any deposit bonuses you’ve activated and start playing poker. 

Top 5 tips for playing poker

Playing poker isn’t all about speaking the lingo. Knowing the difference between a fish and whale, or what antes are is important. However, if you want to get the most from your time at the table, you need to go beyond the most popular poker words. So, before you go off and talk the talk, here are five tips on how best to walk the walk…

1. Don’t focus on yourself

Your hand matters, but it doesn’t matter as much as the hands your opponent can have. You can bluff people off the best hand if you’re able to read what they’ve got. Don’t try to put opponents on one specific hand. Think in ranges i.e. what possible range of hands could they have based on the action, the cards on display and your own hole cards. This of course only applies to poker where you play against others. On live casino sites you don't have to take an opponent into account as you play against the dealer.

2. Think about your own image

While it’s true you shouldn’t focus solely on your own hand, it’s also true that you need to consider the moves you’re making. Players will react to what you’re doing. If you’re aggressive, they’ll play back at you. If you’re passive, they’ll be aggressive towards you. Understanding your own image can help you develop a robust poker strategy. 

3. Play position

Position is king in poker. The button is the most powerful position at the table because you’ll always act last post-flop. Acting last is important because you get to see what everyone else has done. The more information you’ve got in a game of imperfect information, the better. 

4. Get all the extras you can

The best poker sites online have plenty of promotions. As a smart player, you should claim every poker bonus you can. Don’t spend more than you can afford chasing bonuses but, by the same token, don’t ignore them. Freerolls, tournament tickets and bonuses will help smooth out the rough patches and push you higher when the poker gods are on your side. 

5. Have fun and be conservative

The final poker tip we’ll leave you with is one we always repeat in our guides: have fun and be conservative. Online poker, just like casino games and sports betting, is full of uncertainty. Sometimes things go well, sometimes they don’t. You need to accept this fact. Moreover, you need a financial plan. That means you should only risk a small amount of your bankroll in a cash game or tournament. Basically if it’s more than 5% of your total bankroll, it’s too expensive. 

Talk and walk like a pro: play online poker today

That’s it, you should now be ready to play poker online. Not only that, you should know all the important poker slang so you can speak like a pro, even if you’re still mastering basic strategy.

About the author

Daniel Smyth

Daniel Smyth has seen the online poker, casino, and betting industry from every angle. He previously played poker semi-professionally before working at WPT Magazine as a writer and editor. From there, he transitioned to online gaming where he’s been producing expert content for over 10 years.

Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanSmythThePoet

Remember to gamble responsibly

A responsible gambler is someone who:

  • Establishes time and monetary limits before playing
  • Only gambles with money they can afford to lose
  • Never chase their losses
  • Doesn’t gamble if they’re upset, angry, or depressed
  • Gamcare –
  • Gamble Aware –

For help with a gambling problem, call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133 or go to to be excluded from all UK-regulated gambling websites.

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