Poker Dictionary of Terms Part IV
September 19, 2017
Your mathematical share of a pot, based on the amount in the pot and your chances of winning it. If the pot is $100, and your chances of winning are N%, then your equity in that pot is $N. If the pot is $200, your equity is $2N.
Expectation is the rate of profit (or loss) you would expect to make if there were no variance, or on average over a very large number of sessions. A positive expectation poker player is one who, due to an advantage in poker skills over his/her average opposition, will earn money in the long run. A negative expectation poker player is someone you want at your table.
Note that expectation changes in different situations. You may be a positive expectation player overall, but perhaps not at certain tables, or when you’re in a particular emotional or other state. A positive expectation bet is a bet that would, if you made it a sufficient number of times in nearly identical circumstances (from your perspective), earn you a profit.
Expectation is closely linked (essentially identical) to “expected value,” a precise mathematical concept best illustrated by the following example. If you have a 50% chance of winning (and a 50% chance of losing) a $100 pot, your expectation is $50, even though you will definitely not win exactly $50. This example also illustrates variance.
I finally stood up when I realized that it wasn’t just back luck, I was a negative expectation player at the table.
When everyone at the table decides to enter a pot (e.g., see the flop in hold’em), it’s said to be a family pot.
To play fast is to play aggressively. The opposite of playing slow. See also speeding.
The hand that is expected to win most often in a particular situation. In hold’em, AA is always a pre-flop favorite. If the flop is 775, the player with 75 is now a pretty big favorite.
I knew he was on the flush draw, so I figured I was still a favorite.
The surface of most poker tables is made of some sort of felt, or is in any case referred to as such. A player who is running out of chips rapidly can be referred to as “down to the felt.”
To make a full house either from trips or two pair.
A bad player. A terrible player. A player who will tend to give away lots of money. Fish-ness can also be relative. Common poker wisdom holds that if you can’t find the fish at your table, you’re it. See also provider.
I love playing at that fish pond.
A nickname for a jack, more often heard in the plural.
Damn these fishhooks, they keep getting me into trouble.
Five Card Draw
Probably the most well known poker game, although it’s not widely played in public cardrooms anymore. Each player receives five cards. There is a round of betting, after which each player may draw a certain number of cards (house rules often stipulate how many may be drawn and under what circumstances). Then there is a second round of betting, and (if necessary) a showdown.
Flat call is a way of saying call that emphasizes the fact that the player didn’t raise. See also smooth call.
When he flat called me on the flop and on the turn, I put him on the flush draw.
A gender-specific form of floorperson.
In a cardroom floorpeople are responsible for the moment to moment management of the cardroom – seating players, starting new tables, settling disputes, generally making sure the cardroom runs smoothly. You’ll probably hear the “floorman” or “floor” more often.
Floor, get some live ones in these empty seats!
A number of games, such as hold’em and omaha, are played with five community cards. The first three of these cards are dealt all at once, and are called the flop. Games with a flop can be called flop games.
To flop a hand is to make that hand on the flop. To “see” the flop is to still be in the hand when the flop comes.
I missed my pre-flop raise, and lost the hand when the big blind made a gutshot on the river.
I flopped a fourflush and made my hand on the turn.
A hand in which all five cards share the same suit. When comparing two flushes, the hand with the highest card not in common is better. So AK873 of hearts is a better flush than AK872 of diamonds. Not much better.
To abandon your hand, usually because someone else has made a larger bet than you are willing to call. Usually, one folds by mucking one’s cards.
Just what it sounds like – a bet that one is forced to place, typically a blind bet or a bring-in.
A hand with four cards of the same suit. If there are no cards remaining to come (or to draw), a fourflush is not very useful.
With top pair and a fourflush, I thought my raise was a good idea.
Four of a Kind
Four cards of the same rank. Also called quads. For example, if you hold 88882, you have quad 8’s.
Whenever you get to see an additional card without having to call a bet, it’s a free card (usually this means it’s been checked around). Generally speaking, you’d like to get free cards when you need to improve, and you’d like to avoid giving free cards when you’re ahead.
Whenever you have at least part of the pot locked up and you still have a chance to outdraw your opponents, you’re said to be freerolling on them. In hold’em, this happens when you and another player have the same hand at the moment, but you also have a draw to a better hand. At worst you’ll tie, but you have a chance to win the whole pot while the other player doesn’t. For example, if you hold AhKh and the flop is As6h4h, you have a freeroll on a player holding AdKd. While you both have the same hand at the moment, you might still make a flush, while they can’t outdraw you.
Freeroll tournaments are tournaments with no apparent entry fee or initial buy-in. Such tournaments are typically promotional events cardrooms host in order to attract players. Sometimes players must clock a certain number of hours in the cardroom in order to qualify, or meet some other requirement.
Any tournament format in which you cannot re-buy. A freezeout is a good format for heads-up pot-limit or no-limit play, since the amount at stake can be fixed in advance, and the competitors can use arbitrarily valued chips as in tournaments.
We decided to play a series of no-limit hold’em freezeouts to show who was the better player.
A hand consisting of three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank. AAA33 is aces full of threes, often abbreviated to “aces full.” To fill up is to draw to and make a full house. Also called a boat.
I figured even if my trip sevens were no good, there was a decent chance I’d fill up.
See to go.
An inside straight draw.
Green is the most common color for $25 chips. If someone bets a stack of green, it means they’re betting a bunch of $25 chips, probably 20 of them. See also white, red, and black.
A hand is also everything that happens between shuffles – cards are dealt, betting is done, a winner is declared, and the pot is pushed. To “play a hand” sometimes means to be dealt in, and sometimes means to at least call the initial bet. Use context to figure out which.
A hand also refers to the cards you hold – in games where you have more than five cards (e.g., seven card stud or Texas hold’em), it’s your best five cards.
For your enjoyment, here are the different types of hands you can make in poker, in increasing order of strength: no pair; pair; two pair, three of a kind, straight, flush, full house, four of a kind, straight flush.
Lastly, sometimes the phrase “a hand” means specifically a good hand or a playable hand.
I’ve played (been dealt) two thousand hands in a row without making a flush.
I haven’t played (seen the flop with) a hand in hours.
I didn’t get a hand for the next six hours.
Lemme see your hand.
You can’t break up with me, I’ve got hand.
And you’re gonna need it.
Play between only two players.
We decided to play a heads-up freezeout to settle the argument.
I raised on the turn and managed to get it heads-up.
Someone who says they need help means they need their hand to improve in order to have a chance at the pot. Or that they’ve just pawned their pacemaker to fund a few more hours of poker. Use context to figure out which.
The high hand is simply the best hand. When playing a high-low split game, one is said to “win the high” when one has the best hand, while another player wins the low. In seven card stud, the player with the strongest up cards is said to be high, and is usually first to act on fourth and subsequent streets.
In high-low split games, half the pot goes to the best hand (the high), half to the worst (the low). The criteria for deciding the low vary – see low. Split games are also often played with a qualifier that the low hand must be “8 or better.” This means that the low hand must have five unpaired cards 8 or lower. Omaha and Seven Card Stud are the most popular high-low split games.
Note that if there is a sole winner of one pot and a tie for the other, the sole winner wins half the pot while the other half is split evenly among the tied hands.
To hit (or miss) the flop means to match (or not to match) the flop in some way, usually to pair one of the flopped cards. You can also hit or miss on a draw, depending on whether or not the cards you were drawing for showed up. Players whose bluffs are called when they miss their draws on the river often mutter “I missed,” as if to point out that they weren’t betting completely insanely.
The reason I bet with overcards was because I didn’t see how anyone who called my raise could’ve hit that flop.
Hit and Run
A player who leaves the table shortly after scooping a big pot is sometimes described as playing hit and run poker, especially if they’d only been at the table a short time. It’s loosely implied that they would not have left if they hadn’t won the pot.
See Texas Hold’em.
Your first two down cards in seven card stud. If they’re both jacks, you have a pair of jacks “in the hole.” See also pocket.
Another word for scooting – the practice of passing a small amount of money to another player after winning a pot.
The cardroom (management, owners, etc.) is the house. The house rakes money from the pot, has house rules, and when someone walks in, you might say they’re “in the house.” If you’re so inclined. See also full house.
Implied odds are similar to pot odds, except that the money in the pot is not actually there yet. In an extreme case, if you’re first to call a bet, and you know for a certainty that the eight players to act after you will all call (and not raise), you have great implied odds. Similarly if you know that several players in the hand will pay you off when you make your flush – you can act as though the pot were larger. In general, implied odds is just a way of referring to odds that require some estimation.
In the Air
Traditionally, a poker tournament starts when the tournament director (or whoever’s running things) instructs the dealers to get the cards “in the air.” This just means to start dealing.
Inside Straight (Draw)
An inside straight draw is a draw to a straight that’s missing one of the cards in the middle (as opposed to on the end). 4578 is an inside straight, 4567 is an outside straight. Also called a one-gapper or a gutshot.
In big bet poker, it is possible to reach a situation in which you are uncomfortable with the amount of money you have invested in a pot. To reduce variance, players will sometimes take insurance against an unfortunate outcome, essentially selling the actual outcome of the hand for its mathematical equity (at a slight discount). For example, if you hold a flush against a player who has three of a kind, your equity in the pot is a percentage of the pot equal to the probability that the other player will not fill up. If the pot is large, and you don’t want to risk coming away with nothing, you might take insurance from somebody who has more money and would be glad to have the overlay.
To raise with the intention of thinning the field to yourself and a single other player is to isolate that player.
I raised to isolate him, but ended up getting three callers.
Yes, “it” is poker terminology. “It” usually refers to the largest amount anyone has yet bet in a round. If someone opens for $5, and the next player raises $10, they’re “making it $15.” With the exception of all-in players, if a player wants to see the next round, eventually they have to match whatever “it” is. “It” can also mean the amount required to call. So if someone bets $5 and two other players each raise $5 in the same betting round, they may ask “what’s it to me?” The correct answer is, “Pay attention.”
When is a bad beat not so bad? When you’re playing jackpot poker, of course. A number of cardrooms offer sizeable jackpots for particularly bad beats. The rules vary somewhat, but typically you must have aces full or better beat (sometimes by quads or better). If the game is hold’em, often both players must use both of their pocket cards. Other rules and technicalities make it worthwhile finding out just what could invalidate a jackpot before you play your first hand. Typically the “loser” gets the lion’s share (e.g., 50%), the winner of the hand the next largest share (e.g., 25%), and often the remainder of the table splits the rest of the jackpot. The jackpot itself is usually built by a jackpot drop from every hand, sometimes the entire small blind. Jackpots for low-limit games are often in the tens of thousands of dollars, and can get very big if no one wins for a while.
Feelings about jackpot poker are divided. Some players get upset about all the bad beats they take at the hands of wild players chasing every remote chance at the jackpot, and resent the extra money taken out of every pot. On the other hand, jackpot poker is certainly popular, and it’s hard to argue with anything that fills seats.
Poker jackpots have recently been outlawed in California. As far as I know, the lottery is still legal.
Yay, I hit the jackpot.
To bet or raise the maximum, especially in no-limit, is to jam.
A joker is an additional card in the deck that is used in some games. The jokers isn’t often used in serious poker, but when it is it’s usually considered a wild card. See also bug.