What is poker? Is it a bunch of people sitting around a table, holding cards and saying complicated things that you don’t understand? Or is it a strategic game that has the potential to reward you with some big bucks? Honestly, it can be both. But there is an easy way for you to go from confused and lost, to mastering the game. All it takes is a basic understanding of all the poker terms that experienced poker players drop from their mouths so casually.
Now if you’re wondering what these poker terms are and how you can possibly figure out what they mean, then don’t worry, this article has got you covered. We’ll go through some of the most commonly used terms that you’ll come across, either as an audience member, a fledgling fan or a player in a game of poker. Everything you need to know to begin your journey is listed below.
Top Ten Poker Terms:
1) All in:
Picture this; people are sitting at a poker table, the atmosphere is extremely tense when one player pushes all the chips towards the centre of the table and says ‘all in’. You’ve seen this scene in movies and TV shows numerous times. Now you’ll know what this term means exactly, and it will all make sense to you. This term is generally used in a game of No limit Texas Hold ‘Em and is uttered at a point in the game when a player is ready to bet; all or nothing. At this stage, a player bets all the chips they have with them, essentially emptying their bankroll. It’s a risky move, at the end of which it will be revealed if the player has won the entire pool or has lost his or her chips only to walk away from the game, empty-handed.
2) Bad Beat:
If you’ve ever thought you were definitely topping an exam or were a shoo-in for a promotion at work, only to find out that someone else has done better than you, then you’ve already experienced a ‘bad beat’. A bad beat is a dreadful experience for a poker player. Poker is a game full of hand rankings, wherein one ‘hand’ -or set of cards- is better than the other, establishing a hierarchy of sorts. Sometimes a player is certain of holding an unbeatable hand, maybe one in the top rungs of the ranking, only for him to realise that his opponent is holding a hand that’s even higher up. For example, Player A has a Straight Flush and is sure of his victory. However, Player B has a Royal Flush which trumps Player A’s hand. The sad instance we’ve just witnessed is a bad beat.
But don’t get disheartened. These days, a lot of online poker companies have a ‘bad beat jackpot’. It’s a fixed amount that is awarded to all losing players where such a hand is played. In essence, it is a consolation prize of sorts, so even when you lose, you don’t really. So, even if you’re Player A, you’re walking home with some cash.
3) Bluff :
Honestly, a poker game is the place it’s not only okay, but strategic to tell lies. And if you do, then you’ve made a bluff. Now we’ve all used the word ‘bluff’ in our regular life but in a game of poker it’s a move that can make or break your game. Basically, a bluff is when a player who has a less than ordinary hand tricks his or her opponent into thinking that their hand is the best hand ever. The player plays and bets in a manner that suggests utmost confidence and a sense of certain victory, with a hand that is as high ranking as ever. And if his or her opponents fall for this trickery, then the player has successfully bluffed his or her way through the game.
4) Community Cards:
Community cards are the water cooler of a poker game. If this sounds absurd, then read on, and it will all make sense. A water cooler is a communal pool of water, which anyone can use and dip into when they are thirsty. Community cards are similar. They are nothing but a set of cards that are laid exposed and face up, at the centre of a poker table. All the players can use these community cards to build their own hands. Players already in the game can use any combination of the community cards to design their superior hand. These cards are available to all the players, hence, the water cooler analogy.
However, unlike a water cooler, community cards can appear at different stages of the poker game, depending on the kind of game you’re playing. This twist at any stage of the game is what makes poker so strategic and is the reason why players have to often think ahead of time.
5) Drawing Dead:
Drawing Dead sounds ominous and unfortunately, it is. It is a stage in a poker game, when a player is in a hopeless situation. This means that no matter what cards are dealt to this player, he or she cannot win. This instance usually occurs in the final stages of the game, and the player is in a position where he or she cannot salvage their game, no matter what cards they draw. Basically, drawing dead is akin to fixing a bullet hole with a bandage; it does nothing.
6) Fifth Street:
Fifth Street can be looked at as the opposite of Drawing Dead. While Drawing Dead is a poker term for a hopeless situation, Fifth Street is a poker player’s last beacon of hope. Fifth Street is the last and final community card to be drawn in a game. It is of immense importance because it is the final chance for the players to discover if this card will help them build their hand. It is a single card that can change the game.
While the saying goes that ‘there is no such thing as a free meal’, in the magical world of poker, there is a free game (freeroll poker.) Most poker games and tournaments, like exclusive nightclubs and concerts, require an entry fee. But don’t lose hope because you may come across a Free Roll. A Free Roll is a poker game that is, well, free. So, any player can enter and play the game or tournament, without paying a single penny as entry fee. Everything is always better when it is free.
8) Hole Cards:
Hole Cards are the hidden secrets of poker. In the beginning of each game, the players are dealt two cards, each. These cards are the foundation of a player’s hand. They are combined with the exposed community cards to create a winning hand. The major difference between the two types of cards is that Hole Cards are kept secret and are known only to the players they have been dealt to. In short, they are the secret weapon in your arsenal during a game of poker.
You’re playing a good game of five-card poker, and you’ve got a pair of Jacks, a King, a Three and a Two in your hand. But here’s the kicker (pun intended); your opponent has a pair of Jacks, a Ten, a Seven and an Ace. This is when the poker term ‘Kicker’ comes into play. A kicker acts like a tie-breaker. In cases like the one mentioned above, the only way to determine the winner is to look for the hand that has the next highest-ranking card. Since your opponent has a kicker card of Ace, which tops your kicker card of King, he or she wins. So, when players have the same hand, looking for the next highest-ranking card can eliminate one player and help decide a winner. A Kicker is a process that ‘kicks’ one person out of a tied game.
WSOP quite literally stands for World Series of Poker. Such abbreviations of international poker games and tournaments are mentioned during poker games quite often. Terms such as WPT and EPT aren’t just random alphabets thrown together. They stand for respected poker games such as World Poker Tournament and European Poker Tournament. So if such terms are thrown around at a poker game, you be rest assured that the players are watching or playing in such large scale poker competitions, and you’re in good company.
Now that we’ve reached the end of our list, you can be sure that you know quite a few commonly used poker terms. You now have the confidence and knowledge to watch or play a game of poker with some clarity, and maybe play a winning hand. You’ve taken a step away from confusion and towards a better understanding of the game. Hopefully, you use this article to hone your skills and master the game. With this article, you’ve been dealt with some knowledge. Now how you play the hand with us, at Spartan Poker, is up to you.