Key Terminology You Need to Know

By  //  January 26, 2023

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Poker is a hugely popular card game with a rich recorded history dating back, in its current form, to the early 19th century.

The true roots of the game are shrouded in mystery but it is believed to have originated in China, Egypt or Persia.

Its popularity is so enduring due to the fact that, well beyond a simple card game with purely quantifiable factors, poker relies on human emotions and reactions. For this reason the game is deep and complex, and becoming a master takes a lifetime of learning and experience.

Since the “Moneymaker effect” in 2003, where Chris Moneymaker became the first player to win a WSOP (World Series of Poker) main event bracelet by qualifying online, thousands of new enthusiasts for the game have taken to their smartphones, laptops and local poker tables to try their hand at becoming the next big thing in poker.

Being such a competitive arena, many providers will offer a poker bonus to attract new members to their site which might include deposit matching, free spins or loyalty rewards. If you’re just starting out in the world of poker, make sure you take advantage of these promotions when you see them.


The Rules of Poker

Poker is a betting game whereby the winner is determined by the ranks and combinations of their cards, some of which, depending on the variant being played, remain hidden until the end of the hand. Poker games vary in the number of cards dealt, the number of shared or “community” cards and the number of rounds of betting.

The goal of Texas Hold ‘em, one of the most popular versions of the game, is to make the best hand possible using any combination of the two hidden or “hole” cards and three of the five community cards on the table. The player with the best hand at the end of the final betting round takes the pot. 

Hands are ranked from the strongest, a royal flush, to the weakest, a high card. Poker requires skill, patience and strategy, and is a game that is played for both fun and for money. Some of the best players in the world also happen to be some of the wealthiest.

There are many different variations of poker including Texas Hold’em, Omaha and Seven-Card Stud. Each variation has its own set of rules and strategies and each requires a different level of skill to master.

Since the sport is so nuanced, there is an entire lexicon of vocabulary to be learned in order to understand its idiosyncrasies. Here is a collection of some of the most important terms you’re likely to encounter.

Poker Terminology

Ante – a small amount of money that each player is required to put into the pot before the start of a hand.

Blind – a forced bet that is used to compel action in the game. The two players sitting immediately to the left of the dealer are required to post the small blind and big blind respectively, but each tournament and house have their own amounts and rules.

Call – to match the current highest bet in order to stay in the hand.

Raise – to increase the current highest bet in the game.

Fold – to drop out of the current hand, losing any money already invested.

Check – to not place a bet but remain in the game if your current bet has not been exceeded by another player.

Pot – the total amount of money that has been bet in a hand. The pot will ultimately be awarded to the winner of that hand.

Showdown – the point in a hand when all remaining players reveal their cards to determine the winner.

Hole cards – the two cards dealt face-down to each player at the beginning of a hand.

Community cards – the face-up cards that are shared by all players and can be used in combination with their hole cards to form a hand.

Flop – the first three community cards that are dealt after the hole cards. A round of betting then follows.

Turn – the fourth community card that is dealt after the flop. A further round of betting follows.

River – the fifth and final community card that is dealt after the turn. The final round of betting takes place before the showdown.

All-in – when a player bets all of their remaining chips.

Chip leader – the player with the most chips/money in the game.

Tell – a mannerism or behaviour that gives an indication of the strength of a player’s hand. This can include verbal cues or physical actions such as facial expressions or the way a player bets. 

Bluff – when a player bets or raises with a hand that they assume is not likely the best one in the round in an attempt to make their opponents fold better hands. The goal of a bluff is to win the pot by convincing the other players that the bluffing player has a stronger hand than they actually do.

Being aware of the various poker terms enables you to quickly express complicated ideas with other poker players.

Using the correct terminology also makes you appear knowledgeable about the game – and a big part of being a successful poker player is projecting a certain air of confidence.