Getting to Grips with Texas Hold'em Poker Terminology

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Getting to Grips with Texas Hold'em Poker Terminology

Learning to play Texas Hold'em Poker, particularly in a live gaming environment, can sometimes feel like learning a new language. Well here is an essential guide to Texas Hold'em Poker terminology, in the order you'll need it, to ensure you don't flop before the flop.

Starting a Game

These are the terms you'll need to know the moment you sit down at the table:

  • Buy-In: the minimum amount of chips required to join a game or tournament
  • Dealer: the player who actually or theoretically deals the cards
  • Button: sometimes called the 'buck' or 'hat', this is a marker that indicates the (nominal) dealer, and therefore the person who plays last in the current round. This moves clockwise around the table after each round
  • Burn: discarding the top card from the deck, face down, to prevent a player from seeing the first card dealt
  • Blind: in Hold'em, a pre-agreed sum that must be bet by the player to the left of the dealer each turn. The player on the immediate left contributes the small blind, the next player, the big blind
  • Extra Blind: a player entering a game, or returning to the table, may be expected to put in a blind regardless of their position relative to the button
  • Post: the act of contributing the blind

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The Cards

Victory might well be on the cards, but you’ll have to know the function of each of these first:

  • Hole Cards: the first two cards dealt to each player
  • Community Cards or 'The Board': the shared cards which are gradually presented face-up on the table
  • Flop: the first three community cards laid out, face-up, together
  • Turn: the fourth community card, sometimes called the fourth street
  • River: the fifth and final community card, sometimes called the fifth street
  • Kicker: a card used to assess which of two near-equal hands wins, usually by face value


Now to the nitty-gritty. Poker is won and lost on knowing which of these moves to make:

  • Call: matching the most recent bet or raise, and the proper way to say, "I'll see that bet". You can't call/see a bet and raise on the same turn
  • Raise: Increasing the current bet
  • Check: a bet of zero, used when you don't need to call and don't want to raise
  • Fold: laying down your cards and forfeiting the game, as well as any bets already in the pot
  • All-In: when you don’t have enough chips to call or raise, and bet everything you have left; a win will award a matching proportion of the pot
  • Muck: the folded cards at the end of the game, and the act of conceding without showing your hand
  • Rake: this is the percentage of a pot taken by the house (casino/host) as a commission

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Poker is full of colourful terms for players, hands and gaming styles. A few favourites are:

  • Tell: a sign a player unknowingly gives about his/her hand
  • Rock: a predictable player whose approach is tight and not very creative
  • Tilt: when a player is being reckless in their approach, they're 'on tilt'
  • Calling Station: a passive player who calls a lot, but rarely raises or folds
  • Coffee Housing: deliberately misleading players about the strength of a hand

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