Poker Dictionary of Terms Part V
October 3, 2017
Kansas City, or Kansas City lowball, is a low only game played for a deuce to seven low.
The highest unpaired card in your hand that doesn’t participate in a straight or flush – i.e., the card that does not contribute to the strength of your hand except by itself. For example, if you hold AA743, you have a pair of aces with a 7 kicker. Five card hands – straights, flushes, and full houses, – don’t have kickers per se. In games with community cards, kickers are especially important, because it’s easy for two players to make similar hands. For example, if you hold A8 and someone else holds A7, and the flop is AK642, you have your opponent out-kicked. Your hand is AAK86 while theirs is AAK76. And you both lose to the guy playing 53 off suit under the gun.
A “kill” game is one in which a player may place an extra bet, causing the betting limits to go up for just that hand. The player posting the bet is the “killer,” and the hand is considered a “kill pot.” The player is said to have “killed the pot” for the amount of the kill. The exact details depend on the local rules and on the game.
As examples, here are the rules for three kill games I’ve played in (all in San Diego). In the kill hold’em game, any player who wins two pots in a row is required to kill by posting a blind small bet on the subsequent hand, with the limits doubled for that hand. In a kill high-low split game, any player who scooped a pot larger than a certain size was required to kill the subsequent pot. And in a draw game, any player could kill any pot for an arbitrary amount after looking at their first two cards. These are just examples, the details vary from cardroom to cardroom.
See big bet.
Winning poker players often lose back part or all of their winnings through other gambling habits, either at the casino or elsewhere (e.g., sports betting, craps, or golf). These are often referred to as leaks.
Limit (Limit Poker)
Limit poker is any game in which there is a fixed limit on how much you can bet or raise in any round. Limit games usually offer either fixed-sized bets for different betting rounds or spread limits, in which there is a minimum and maximum bet for each round. For example, a 5-10 hold’em game usually requires $5 bets and raises on the first two rounds and $10 bets and raises on the last two.
Games are often referred to as low-limit, medium-limit, and high-limit. Typical low-limit games are 2-4, 3-6, and 5-10. Medium limits are 10-20, 20-40, and 30-60. High-limits are 50-100 on up.
More generally, the word limit is used to refer to the maximum bet at a given point, whether it’s pot-limit, spread limit, or whatever. See also structure.
I didn’t want to give him a chance to draw out on me, so I bet the limit.
To flat call an opening forced bet is to limp into a hand.
Three players limped in ahead of me, so I decided just to call.
A live player, or “live one,” is someone who is expected to lose their money at a pretty good rate. Players reminding floorpeople to fill a vacant seat often request a live one.
For other uses of the word “live” see live blind, live card, and live hand.
A blind bet is considered a live blind if the player is allowed to raise even if no one else raises first. See also straddle.
A live card is a card that has not been seen. In seven card stud, for example, a player with a draw to a flush, is concerned with how many of the remaining suited cards are live (i.e., have not been seen in other players’ hands). A live hand is a hand for which many of the outs are still live.
A live hand is a hand that is still eligible to win the pot (i.e., one that has not been mucked or otherwise invalidated). In seven card stud, a hand is also called live if many of the cards which would improve it are still unaccounted for (see live card).
A lock is a hand guaranteed to win at least part of the pot. In a high-low split game, for example, the lock low is the best possible low hand. See also nuts.
Playing loose simply means playing more hands and holding on to them longer. In essence, loose with your cash. A loose table is a table dominated (so to speak) by loose players. Loose isn’t always bad – excessively tight play can be equally costly, especially at high levels of play. Looseness should not be confused with aggressiveness.
A loose call is a borderline inadvisable or even incorrect call.
He was playing so loose, it seemed like he was in every pot.
In most poker games, the best hand wins. Most but not all. In a number of games, the worst hand wins all or some of the pot. Draw lowball and razz are just two examples of games played for low. Omaha and seven card stud have popular high-low split variants, in which the low hand gets half the pot. There are two common ways to evaluate low hands. In deuce to seven games, the best low hand is just the worst high hand. The best possible low is 75432, provided there is no flush. In ace to five games, straights and flushes don’t count, and aces are lower than 2’s. So the best possible low is A2345, a wheel.
Lowball (or Draw Lowball)
Five card draw played for low only (i.e., where the low hand wins the entire pot).
When a player goes all-in in a table stakes game, that player is only eligible to win the main pot – the pot consisting of those bets they were able to match. Additional bets, placed in a side pot, are contested among the remaining players.
Unfortunately, since I was all-in pre-flop, the main pot was very small.
To (non-specifically) make a hand means to get a decent hand that has a shot at winning the pot.
I didn’t make a hand for two hours, but then I went on a major rush.
A maniac is a player who plays extremely loose and aggressive, often raising with just about anything. Maniacs at the table tend to increase the variance considerably.
With all the maniacs at the table, I decided to just wait for the nuts and let the money come to me.
If there are three cards of different ranks on the flop in hold’em, and you pair the middle one, you have middle pair.
I’ll often raise with middle pair and an overcard.
An extremely strong hand, one that is almost certain to win the pot.
It’s often a bad idea to slowplay unless you make a monster.
The pile of discarded cards in front of the dealer, or the act of putting cards in this pile (and therefore taking them out of play).
The house rule is that as soon as the cards touch the muck, they are ineligible to win the pot.
After I mucked my hand, I realized that I should have called the bet.
As you might guess, any game in which there is no limit on the sizes of bets and raises. Note that in table stakes games, players are still limited to the amount of money they have in front of them.
Nuts (or Nut -)
The nuts is the best possible hand. This makes most sense in flop games like hold’em, where the community cards make the nuts pretty much the same for everyone. An exception is when your hole cards make a better hand impossible. If the board is AAK52, the nuts would be AA to an observer, but a player with AK would effectively hold the nuts (assuming the 2 and 5 didn’t share a suit with one of the A’s). In hold’em, the nuts is never less than trips. “Nut xxx” is used to refer to the best hand of a particular type, especially a straight or flush. If the table described above had the AK2 of spades, the nut flush would be the queen and any other spade.
A ratio of two probabilities, usually the probability of making a hand to the probability of not making the hand. Thus if you have a 25% chance of making a hand, the odds are 3 to 1 against your making it. In poker, this is especially important in considering pot odds.
Not of the same suit, especially in reference to hole cards. Sometimes abbreviated to just “off.”
I’ll play KT off suit occasionally, but never in early position.
Omaha is a flop game similar to hold’em, but with two key differences. First, each player is dealt four cards instead of just two. Second, a hand must be made using exactly two pocket cards (out of those four) and three from the table. That is, if four suited cards hit the table, you still need two more to make a flush. And if you start with four aces, then you have a pair of aces, with little chance to improve. The high-low variant of omaha, with an 8 or better qualifier for low, is especially popular.
See inside straight.
To open, or open betting, is simply to make the first bet in a round.
When everyone checked to me, I figured it was okay to open with middle pair.
See open-ended straight draw (right down there).
Open-Ended Straight (Draw)
An straight draw is open-ended if it consists of four consecutive cards (none of them an ace). The straight can be completed at either end. See also double belly buster and inside straight.
I had an open-ended straight draw. Really.
An open pair in seven card stud is an exposed pair – a pair among your up cards.
When a player posts a live blind, that player is given the option to raise when their turn comes around, even if no one else has raised. The dealer will typically say something like “your option,” to remind them. See also straddle.
An out is a card that will improve your hand, usually one that you think will make it a winner. In hold’em, an open-ended straight draw has eight outs (the four cards of each rank that will complete the straight). But it may be only six outs if there are two suited cards on the table and someone else is drawing for the flush.
With all that money in the pot and fifteen outs, it seemed like a good idea to call the raise. Except that I was drawing dead on both the flush and the straight.
To make a better hand than an opponent by merit of the cards you draw.
In some games, players can take “over” buttons that mean they’re willing to play at higher limits. Any time everyone left in the hand has an over button, the limits go up.
Any additional call after a bet is first called. Player A bets, player B calls, player C overcalls.
In flop games, a card higher than the highest card on the board. If you hold AJ and the flop is J92, you have top pair with an overcard. If the flop is T92, you just have two overcards.
In flop games, a pocket pair higher than the highest card on the board. If you hold AA and the flop is K62, you have a nice overpair.
A jack, king, or queen (i.e., a card with a picture on it).
Let’s see some paint.
Two cards of the same rank. If you hold AAKJ3, you have a pair. See also top pair, middle pair, bottom pair, and two pair.
To pass is to fold.
Passive is a style of play that is characterized by reluctance to bet and raise. This does not always mean tight. A typical loose-passive player will call with almost anything, but raise only with very powerful hands (see calling station). A passive table is one with many passive players, so that, for example, few hands are raised pre-flop.
In draw games, a pat hand is one to which you draw no cards. In lowball, J7542 is a pat jack, but also offers a draw to a 7.
The other day I made pat straights twice in a row.
To call a bet by a player you’re reasonably sure has you beat. Usually you ought to have some sort of reason to do this, other than just generosity. Weak players pay you off more often than other players.
I was pretty sure he had the flush, but with all that money in the pot I figured it was worth paying him off to be sure.
When you only have one way to make a hand, you need perfect cards. Usually this means two cards. If you hold 8JQ, you need two perfect cards for a straight. To catch perfect is to hit a perfect card.
Any of a number of variants of hold’em in which each player gets three cards and must discard one at some point (usually before or after pre-flop betting, after the flop, or after the second round of betting).
To play a hand in poker means to make it past the initial round of betting. In seven card stud, this usually means calling the bring-in, while in hold’em, this means calling the big blind. If someone says they haven’t played a hand in hours, they’re not usually telling you that they’ve been walking, they’re whining that they haven’t had cards good enough to play. Don’t encourage them.
To make a play, or put a play on (someone), means to present a pattern of behavior inconsistent with your cards, that will mislead your opponent and cause them to make a mistake. Often this means bluffing them out of a pot, but it can also mean getting them to call when you have a strong hand, or more generally anything calculated to guide their behavior.
Play Back (at)
To play back at someone is to raise their opening bet.
Play the Board
In flop games like hold’em, if your best five card hand uses the five community cards, you’re playing the board. The best you can do in this situation is split the pot with anyone who calls. Nevertheless, betting can be a good idea if you don’t think anyone else can improve on the board either. For example, if the board is ThJhQdKdAd, someone would have to have two diamonds not to be playing the board.
The two cards dealt to you face down in hold’em, or the first two face down in seven card stud are your pocket cards, or hole cards. Hold’em players tend to call them pocket cards, stud players tend to call them hole cards. See also pocket pair.
Two pocket cards of the same rank.
Poker isn’t just a card game – it’s many card games. While no definition is going to satisfy everyone, the majority of poker games do share some common features, especially betting in rounds and the ranking of hands. Poker is commonly played in cardrooms (often within casinos) and in private home games (illegally in many states). The games played in cardrooms seem to divide into stud games, draw games, and flop games. In home games, however, anything goes, including games that seem to have no reason to be called poker. The varieties played in home games probably number in the hundreds, or even the thousands. Some common cardroom games include Texas Hold’em, Seven Card Stud, Omaha, Razz, Lowball, Pineapple, and Anaconda. (Okay, just kidding about the anaconda.)
Position refers to your place at the table, especially with respect to the order of betting within a particular betting round. The first few players to act are said to be in early position, the next few in middle position, and the last few in late position. Late position is almost always best, since you have the advantage of knowing what your opponents have done. For this reason, many players are more liberal about the hands they will play from later positions. In some games (most flop and draw games), position is fixed from one round of betting to the next, and the dealer (or the player on the button) is always in last position.
More generally, to have position on someone is to be in a position to bet after them, either during a particular hand or in general. You have position on anyone sitting immediately to your right, since you will far more often than not be able to act after them.
I didn’t think he could’ve made the straight because he would’ve had to be playing 65 in early position. Shows what I know.
A position bet is a bet made more on the strength of one’s position than on the strength of one’s hand. A player on the button in hold’em is in good position to steal the pot if no one else opens.
To post a bet is to place your chips in the pot (or, commonly, out in front of you, so that your bet can be counted). In poker, posting usually means a forced bet, such as a blind.
All the money in the middle of the poker table that goes to the winner of the hand is the pot. Any player who has not yet folded is said to be “in the pot.” A player who has called an initial bet is said to have entered the pot.
Any game in which the maximum bet or raise is the size of the pot. For raises, the size of the pot includes the call, so if the pot is $100 and player A bets $100, player B can throw $400 out for a maximum raise (calling the $100 and then raising the size of the $300 pot).
The ratio of the amount of money in the pot to the amount of money it will cost you to call a bet. The greater the pot odds, the more likely you should be to call (all else being equal), because you will have to win fewer times (in the long run) to make the bet positive expectation.
I knew it was a longshot, but with all that money in the pot and a draw to the nuts, I had no choice but to call.
A nickname for pocket 5’s, usually in hold’em. This nickname comes from the internet newsgroup rec.gambling (now rec.gambling.poker), and is sometimes used among the readership of that newsgroup to identify other members.
Short for proposition player.
A proposition player, or “prop,” is a player who is paid by a cardroom to play poker, usually in order to keep games going when they get shorthanded, or to get games started. Props are paid a salary, but they gamble with their own money. Props either learn how to play pretty solid poker or they run out of money. See also shill.
To protect a hand is to bet so as to reduce the chances of anyone outdrawing you (by getting them to fold). A hand that needs protection is one that is almost certainly best, but that is vulnerable to being outdrawn. Large pots make it difficult to protect hands, since players will be willing to chase more long shots. The structure of a game has a large impact on how easy it is to protect a hand, as do the personalities of the players at the table. It’s easiest to protect a hand in no-limit play, where you can potentially make it as expensive as you like for someone to draw.
To protect your cards is to place a chip or some other small object (players often have particular artifacts they like to use) on top of them so that they don’t accidentally get mucked by the dealer, mixed with another player’s discards, or otherwise become dead when you’d like to play them.
A provider is a poker player who makes the game profitable for the other players at the table. Similar in meaning to fish, although provider has a somehow less negative connotation. A provider might be a decent player who just happens to be playing out of his/her league. A fish is usually someone who’s probably out of any league.
What the dealer does with the pot when he or she figures out who the winner is. Because of the nature of poker tables, the dealer can almost always orient him- or herself so as to be facing the winner of the pot. From this position, pushing the pot (literally, the chips in the pot) will result in the movement of the pot towards the winner of the hand, so that the player can add the chips to his or her stacks. Aren’t you glad you asked?
A pushka is an arrangement between two or more players to share part of the pots they win, or more precisely, the container into which the shared chips are placed. Typically pushka partners will place as much as $10 from each pot won into a container, and split the container’s contents later. I’ve only heard this term in Maryland, although apparently it’s due to the Polish word for box, via Yiddish. Of course removing chips from the table is illegal in table stakes games. See also scoot.
To put someone on a hand (or on a draw) is to guess that that is what they are holding.
When she re-raised the flop, I tentatively put her on two pair.
When she flat called the re-raise, I put her on the flush draw.
Four of a kind.
In high-low split games, the qualifier is a requirement that a hand must meet in order to be eligible for part of the pot, generally the low part. See 8 or better.
To win one fourth of the pot is to be quartered. This is usually the result of splitting half the pot in a high-low split game.