Common Poker Phrases At The Table

Common Poker Phrases At The Table

You may have herd players referring to hands by names such as “sail boats”, “hooks”, “big slick” and “pocket rockets”. You probably have little to no idea what they are talking about or what they mean when referring to hands like this, below is a list of the most common ‘slang’ for different hands.

There are more out there – I’ve found that different regions and countries have their own names for specific hands, usually coined from local players who have played a specific hand and given it a name which has stuck with the local community.

A-A – American Airlines, bullets, pocket rockets
A-K – Big Slick, “Walking back to Houston”
A-J – Ajax
K-K – Cowboys
K-Q – Marriage
K-J –  Kojak
K-9 – Canine
Q-Q – Dames, divas, ladies, the Hilton sisters
Q-J – Maverick
J-J – Jokers, hooks

J-5 – Jackson Five, Motown
T-2 – Doyle Brunson
8-8 – Snowmen
7-7 – Hockey Sticks, walking Sticks
7-2 – The Hammer
5-5 – Nickels, presto
5-4 – Jesse James (for his Colt .45)
4-4 –  Sail boats
2-2 – Ducks

Aside from naming different starting hands, there’s also a range of poker terms used at the table which may sound a bit ‘alien’ to new players. Phrases like “Nice catch sir”, or “I’ve got a boat” and even “he’s on a steal!” will probably mean nothing to you, and you might feel a bit silly having to keep asking “what does that xyz mean?”

I’ve compiled a small list of frequent terminology used at the poker table for your reference.


When you bet all your money on a hand, either voluntarily in the belief that you have the strongest hand, or because do not have enough money to cover the full amount bet by someone else. You then contend for the pot in an amount proportional to what you contributed.


The minimum bet that players must place into the pot by each player before betting begins. The ante is placed before any cards are dealt.

Bad Beat

When a good hand that would have been expected to win the pot is beaten by a lucky draw.

Back-door making a hand you weren’t playing for, e.g. You play for a full house but make a flush.

Big Blind

The first bet posted by the player to the left of the player who posts the small blind. It is a forced bet. The big blind is the minimum amount a player must place to be in a hand.

Blind Bet

A forced bet that is placed before any cards are dealt. It is considered a live bet for the first round of betting. You have big blind and small blind bets in the first round of betting.


To pretend that you have a better hand than you actually do, by betting aggressively, in the hope that the other players will fold.


Slang for a full house.


The cards seen by all the players, the community cards in the centre of the table.

Burning a Card

Discarding the top card from the deck.

Buy-in Amount

the amount you must bring into a game.


When you place a bet equal to the previous bet.

Cash Out

To finish playing and exchange your chips for cash.


When a player makes the hand s/he was drawing to.


When you want to stay in the game but not place a bet. You can only check if no other bets have been placed in the betting round.


To check at the beginning of a betting round and then raise when a player to your left bets.

Community Cards

Cards that are dealt to the table. All players can use these cards to complete a five-card hand.

Dead Man’s Hand

Two pair hand consisting of Aces & Eights. This is reputed to be the hand that Wild Bill Hickock was holding when he was shot dead.


A flat disk that is used to signify the Dealer’s position on the table in online poker. The disk is usually marked with a D.


Remaining in the round and accepting more cards.

Drawing to a hand

Remaining in the round with the hope of making one’s potential hand as more cards are dealt.

Drawing Dead

When a player is drawing to a hand that is not the best hand offered by the flop and will therefore be beaten even if the hand is made.

Early Position

In an early betting position for a hand weakest position.

Family Pot

When everyone at the table is still involved in the pot.

Fast Play

Betting and raising aggressively.


The first three community cards dealt to the table.


When players throw in their cards. They give up any claim on the pot in exchange for not having to contribute more money to the pot.

Forced Bet

A bet that a player has no choice but to make, a blind bet.

Fourth Street

The fourth community card that comes after the flop.

Flush Draw

When a player holds four cards of the same suit and is hoping to draw a fifth card of that suit to complete a flush.

Go on tilt

When a player loses emotional balance during a game and plays irrationally.

Gut Shot

To draw to an inside straight.

Heads Up

A game with only two players in it.

Hole Cards

These are the Down Cards in front of the players. (Also known as “Pocket Cards”)


The host of the game.

Inside straight draw

Drawing to a straight where the cards needed to complete the straight are those in the middle of the straight. For example, you have 6-7-9-10 and need the middle card (8) to make the straight.


The highest unpaired card of a player’s pocket cards.

Limping In 

Calling the big blind rather than raising.


A very strong hand.


When you do not want to show your hand to the table. The hand is discarded without being displayed to the table. You can muck a losing hand in a show down, or the winning hand if everyone else has folded before you.


The best possible hand that cannot be beaten, at a particular point of the game.

Nut Flush 

The best possible flush, usually containing the Ace. But can refer to a straight flush.

Off suit 

Cards of different suits.


Cards that will make the hand that the player is drawing to.

Over card

A card on the board higher than your pair.

Paint Cards 

The picture cards (King, Queen, Jack).

Pocket Cards 

The cards dealt face down to each player. (Also known as “Hole Cards”)


The pot is the pile of chips that accumulates as each player ante, bet and raise. All winnings are paid from the pot. The value of the pot varies. It is dependent on the stakes involved and the amount the Players bet. The pot goes to the winner of each round.

If two or more Players have the same winning hand, they split the pot equally.

Pot Odds

The calculated odds the money in the pot represents in relation to how much it will cost to play and hand and the players chances of winning the hand.


Four of a kind (four cards of the same denomination).


Percentage of the pot taken by the house.


Useless cards – cards that don’t improve a hand.


When the board contains 3 or 4 cards of different suits.


When you increase the bet made by a preceding player. This increases the stakes for remaining Players, who now have to match the total amount including the raise.

Ring Game 

A normal real money table game, as opposed to a tournament game.

River Card 

The final community card dealt.

Scare Cards 

High board cards (e.g. an Ace that appears on the flop).


To see someone is to call their bet.


To bluff with a hand that still has drawing potential and could improve to be the winning hand.

Show down 

After the last betting round when the remaining players compare hands to determine the winner. The player with the highest value hand wins the pot.

Sitting Out 

When you choose to leave a table for a few hands.

Slow Playing 

Playing non-aggressively with a powerful hand; calling and betting instead of raising. This is done in the hope of not driving players out of the hand and thus sucking more money into the pot. This is also called “sandbagging”.

Small Blind 

The first bet posted by the player to the Dealer’s left. It is a forced bet. Usually it is half the big blind (the minimum bet for players to be in a hand).


A player’s chips.


To try and win the pot by betting when everyone else has checked, or by making a large raise when everyone else has called.


Gestures or words by a player that give away the value of his/her hand.


A tight player is a player who never bets unless they hold a good hand.


The fourth community card dealt.

Under the Gun

The player who must act first in the betting round.

Visible Cards

Cards dealt face up to each Player. Players use these cards to complete a five-card combination.

May 22, 2016 / by / in