Casino Games Glossary – What Does Fish Mean? And Other Poker Terms Explained
Casino Games Glossary – What Does Fish Mean? And Other Poker Terms Explained
Poker is played by millions of people across the globe. But despite differences in culture and language, there are some universal phrases that it’s crucial for you to know – whether you're playing with friends or at a top-ranked online casino.
From fish to nit, our casino glossary explains the key poker terms you need to know.
Ace magnets: poker hand
Ace magnets is a cruel poker term that gives voice to the sinking feeling you get when you have pocket kings and see an ace on the flop – no doubt your opponent played a weak ace and is not ahead of you.
To act is to make a play (or take your turn) during a game. This means taking one of the following actions: check, bet, call, raise, or fold.
Acting out of turn
This is when a player contributes to the game when it’s not their turn to do so. This might involve them making a bet or folding. Acting out of turn is generally considered to be accidental, making it separate to angle shooting – explained later in this article.
One of those poker terms that’s an ever-present throughout the game, action means a number of things – action describes when it’s a player’s turn, an expression of your desire to gamble, and the act of placing a bet.
Community poker incorporates cards that are shared by all the players involved in the hand. When a community card that can (potentially) alter the betting action in a number of ways enters the game it is known as an action card. This is because it changes the actions that players may take.
Advertising is one of those interesting poker terms that is seemingly at odds with the nature of the game – it involves making an obvious play, so your opponents know your game style. However, when used correctly, advertising can be an excellent power play.
Poker players fall into many categories, but at the sharper end, there are two categorisations that depict their playing style – aggro and nit (you can read more on nit later in this guide). An aggro player is someone who plays aggressively, making big raises and frequently shoving.
Aggression factor (AF)
Poker tracking software (such as the aptly named PokerTracker) uses a number of acronyms to describe the betting behaviour of players. AF stands for aggression factor and it explains how aggro a player is or isn’t.
In basketball, air is a good thing – the ability to soar through the air was one of Michael Jordan’s greatest qualities. In poker terms, air is a bad thing – it means you have a very low-value hand.
Whenever a gambler bets all of their poker chips it is termed that they are going “all in”.
American Airlines: poker hand
There are many poker terms to describe having pocket aces and American Airlines is one of the most popular.
Angle shooting is poker gamesmanship. It is an intentional action taken by a player that is used to gain an advantage over a player by acting against the spirit (but not necessarily the rules) of the game.
An example of angle shooting would be saying you’re going “all in”, then suggesting it was a mistake – the idea is that if a player with a strong hand believes you’re in a weaker position than them, they will call your be; however, you know you’re actually in a stronger position than them.
An ante is a bet that all players must post (make) before a hand starts.
During poker tournaments, you’ll reach a stage where antes have to be posted. If a player has left the table they must still post their antes, and ante off is the term used to describe this.
Any two cards
Texas hold 'em has many, many poker terms. While you might not hear “any two cards” as often as some of the other popular poker terms, you’ll experience its meaning a lot. Any two cards refers to a situation where a player’s cards have no bearing on the decision they make.
Axes: poker hand
If you have a starting hand of 77 then you’ve picked up the axes.
Generally used to refer to a flush, this is where a player requires two or more rounds of betting in order to make a hand – they have a backdoor (outside) shot at making it.
When a gambler who has a vastly stronger hand than the person(s) they are up against but still loses to them, it is known as a bad beat. An example of a bad beat would be a player with pocket aces (the strongest opening hand) losing to seven-deuce (the weakest starting hand).
Some casinos and poker tournaments will pay out a cash prize for certain bad beats, as it is such a rare occurrence.
A term with two meanings, bankroll means both of the following things:
To pay for someone's game
The amount of money you have set aside for your poker game(s)
Batteries: poker hand
Some poker terms for starting hands are a little more nuanced than others. Batteries is a term to describe pocket aces – yes, because they’re double-A batteries.
To bet is to wager money (or the currency being used) on the outcome of a hand. It is designed to extract more money from your opponent(s) or to win the pot at a given moment.
Big blind & small blind
In many poker games, there are two bets that must be posted before a game – big blinds (the larger of the two) and small blinds (the smaller of the two).
These are made before you see your cards (you make the bets ‘blind’) and are used in games to make sure there is some betting action.
A board card is when a turn card appears to have no effect on the action that has come before – for example, if the flop was ace-king-queen and the turn reveals a six it could be said to be a blank.
When a player in a late position and with a weak hand makes a raise to win the blinds and antes posted, it is known as blind stealing.
Part of poker is to win the pot when you have (or believe you have) a weaker hand than your opponent. When you make a bet to achieve this it is said that you are bluffing.
Boots: poker hand
Have you been dealt pocket sixes? Then these boots were made for walking – depending on your position on the table and the action before you.
In any poker game where there are face-up cards, those cards which are face-up are known as the board.
Boat: poker hand
If you make a five-card hand which combines three of one card (such as 3x aces) and two of another (such as 3x kings) it is said you have a boat (a.k.a, a full house).
Bottom pair is the poker term used to describe the lowest pair that you could make from the flop – for example, if the flop came ace-ten-three, then the bottom pair would be three-three.
A brick is the opposite of an action card (see the action card section of this article). Namely, it is a card that is believed to help no one in the hand.
Brothers: poker hand
We’re not sure why, but pocket jacks are known as brothers.
Burn relates to the dealing action in community poker games, such as Texas hold’ em. When dealing out the community cards, the dealer will take a face-down card from the top of the deck and remove it from the game before then a dealing face-up card (or cards, depending on the street of betting). The card removed from the game is called a burn card.
The button is the poker term for the nominal dealer. In games where one of the players acts as the dealer, the button must deal the hand and is the last to act. In games where there is a non-playing dealer, the button is simply the last person to act.
Buy is an interesting term in poker. Put simply, it’s a bluff where you try to buy the pot without another player competing against you. Put in a more nuanced way, it’s a double-bluff where you want to get a caller and extract maximum value from them.
To call is to match the bet required for you to play a hand.
If a player rarely folds or raises but frequently calls bets they are said to be a calling station.
Candy canes: poker hand
Started the game with pocket sevens? Then you have a pair of candy canes.
If you put in the last raise that is allowed for a single round of betting, then the term used is that you’ve paid the cap.
A case is the last of a specific card from the deck. For instance, imagine you have pocket aces and your opponent has pocket kings. If the flop is ace-king-nine, then the turn reveals a seven and the river is a king, your opponent will win after benefiting from the case king.
The centre pot is the main pot in play during a game. It’s a poker term that only really gains relevance if there is a side bet – when someone goes ‘all-in’ but has a smaller stack than the two or more other players left in the game.
Checking is where you neither fold or bet, but continue to play the hand. For example, if you are the big blind and another player has matched your bet, you can elect at this point to either check or raise. In this instance, if you check it means the next street begins without you having to make an additional bet.
Check-raise is a pretty simple poker term to get to grips with – you check when it’s your turn to act, an opponent then bets and you respond by raising their bet.
Chips are what players use to represent the money they are using to play the game with. Players make bets with their chips and exchange them for money.
If a tie is reached in a poker game, or the players decide to split the chips between them, then the pot (money, represented by chips on the table) is chopped.
A cold call is when you match the bet required for you to play a hand, but in doing so you call more than one bet. For example, the first player to act decides to bet then the subsequent player raises, you will be making a cold call because you are calling two bets.
One of the worst terms to be on the wrong side of and one of the best to be the right side of. A cooler is when two players have very strong hands (for example, they may both have quads – four of the same cards, i.e. four aces and four kings), and the player with the weakest hand loses the maximum amount of money possible.
Community poker games are when there are cards in play, which all players use to aid their hand – they’re shared among the community.
A complete hand is a poker term that describes when players use all the cards that are available to them to complete their hand. An example of this would be a straight flush in Texas hold 'em. For instance, Texas hold 'em is about making the best five-card hand and you need to use five cards to make a straight flush.
If you have a starting hand where your two cards are one status apart in your ranking then they are said to be connectors. How might this look? If you had five and six, for example, then you’d have connectors.
Counterfeit is one of the poker terms that will make you wince. It’s when the community cards reduce the value of your hand by pairing the board.
This is how that might play out – say you start with five-six and the flop is five-six-ten. If either the flop or river card is a ten, then you could have been counterfeited. Why? Because now a pair of sevens and above beat your hand.
Dealt a pair of threes? Then you have crabs.
Crack is a poker term that describes a scenario where a lesser hand beats a big one. For example, we recall an evening where we began with a starting hand of pocket fives. This hand ended up being good enough to be crack pocket aces. Why? Because we made a flush on the river.
Used to describe an occasion where you have such a strong hand that you’ve crippled your opponents. For instance, if you have pocket nines and there are two additional nines on the flop, it’s likely you have crippled the deck.
The dealer in poker is the person who deals the cards and manages the game. This could be someone who is also participating in the game, or a non-player – such as in a casino.
Desmond: poker hand
Named after the South African cleric, Desmond Tutu, this is the poker term used to describe having two twos.
The number two card in poker is known as deuce.
If you’re the underdog in a game, then dog is the poker term to describe your position. This might happen if you are in an ‘all-in’ situation against a stronger hand.
Dominated is a poker term that is used to describe instances where one player’s hand will almost always lose to an opposing one. This is usually used in cases where the two players share a card, with one having a higher kicker than the other – for instance, if the hands are ace-king and ace-seven, then ace-seven is dominated.
A donkey is a poker player who is believed to be weak.
If a player has the potential to significantly improve their hand (such as making a straight or a flush) then it is said they are on a draw.
Drawing dead is one of the poker terms you don’t want to be on the wrong side of – it’s when the best possible hand you could make will still be beaten by the one your opponent has made. In other words, you have a 0% chance of winning.
Ducks: poker hand
Are you holding a pair of twos in your hand? Then you’ve been dealt ducks.
Dynamite: poker hand
Got a ten and a ten? You’ve got a dynamite hand!
Elvis Presley: poker hand
Having a poker hand name after him would probably be Elvis Presley’s proudest achievement. Which hand? Pocket Kings, of course.
Equity is one of the most important poker terms for you to understand. Why? Because it tells you how much money you’ve committed to the pot, along with how much you can then win in real times – thus, if the pot is £100 and you’ve contributed £50, then you have £50 equity.
If you’ve left a game but kept your place at the poker table, you can pay an extra blind to have your turn quicker – this is because it means you don’t have to wait until the big blind gets to you.
When all players call the opening bet (or remain in the hand because they have all called a raise) it is called a family pot.
Fast is a poker term that means what you’d expect it to – it’s about playing quickly (and often aggressively), betting and raising as much as you can to get maximum value from your opponent.
First to act
The person given the first opportunity to bet, check, or fold (although this would be an open fold) is the first to act.
Perhaps the best-known term for describing a weak player in poker. A fish will play bad hands and chase draws despite being made to call large bets.
The flop is the first set of face-up cards dealt in a community poker game.
Folding is when you decide not to call or raise a bet and opt instead to give up your hand – it is possible to open fold, which will make you look very amateur.
If a hand isn’t played then the poker term to describe this is that it’s a “foul” hand. This might happen if a player is dealt one too many cards.
If you’ve not made a hand then getting a free card is a real win. This is because a free card is when your opponent(s) decide not to bet, meaning that you can see the next card without paying any money.
Freeroll is a poker term with a couple of meanings.
One definition for freeroll is that it’s when one player in a heads-up situation has a chance of winning the whole pot, despite having the same hand as their opponent(s). An example of when this might happen is if all players have ace-king, but one could make a flush.
Another definition for freeroll is that it means a poker tournament that you can enter for free.
A terrible hand in poker is called garbage, or a garbage hand.
Gorillas: poker hand
What’s King Kong? A ruddy great big gorilla. What might the initials KK mean in poker terms? Pocket kings – hence, gorillas are when you have pocket kings.
Gutshot is when you have a straight draw, namely, that you have a chance of making a straight but still need one more card to make it.
A poker player who makes a living from the game by making small, consistent wins is known as a grinder. These types of pros are often known for playing conservatively so that they don’t risk their bankroll.
Hand is a poker term that relates to the cards that you have in play. For example, in Texas hold 'em, the aim is to make the best five-card hand. This means that a hand is both the best five-card combination possible – a straight flush – and the worst – seven-deuce.
Any poker game that goes down to the final two players reaches the heads up stage.
If a player with a weakish hand believes that they are being bluffed calls a bet and then wins, they have made a hero call.
Blind stealing is a common practice for people in the button seat. The idea is that the third to last player to act places a bet to win the blinds. Hijack is a poker term that describes an occasion where the person who acts immediately before the button tries this tactic – they try to hijack their blind steal.
Hijack plus one
The hijack plus one is the player that sits two seats away from the button – the button is the player that is last to act before the small blind. In poker terms, the hijack plus one becomes important if this player tries to ‘steal the blinds’ (these being the bets posted by the players in the small and big blind positions on the table) by making a bet when it is their turn to act.
If the flop gives you a card (or cards) that improve your hand, then you are said to have “hit” the flop.
Hole cards are the cards that are dealt face-down in a poker game.
The house is the organisation or individuals who are running your poker game. For instance, if you play poker in a casino, then the casino is the house.
Implied odds is one of the most interesting poker terms. This is because implied odds are the calculation of how much you might win, despite not yet having made a hand. This means you might continue your involvement in the hand because the implied odds are so good.
Inside straight draw
An inside straight draw is an occasion where you need one more card to complete a straight.
A jackpot is a poker term that describes one of the only times you’ll ever be happy to lose a game – it’s a bonus paid to a player who has a very good hand, but still loses.
Jackpot bonuses are often very large (many thousands of pounds) and usually require you to lose with quad jacks or better.
Jaybirds: poker hand
Has the dealer given you pocket jacks? Then you’ve got the Jaybirds.
Kevin Keegan: poker hand
Football fans of a certain age will love getting dealt Kevin Keegan, while poker fans of any age will also love starting with this hand. Why? Because it’s pocket kings.
Kicks: poker hand
Are you holding a pair of sixes in your hand? Then check out your new kicks!
Kicker is a poker term to describe one of your dealt cards which has not paired. The kicker becomes important if you have the same pair as an opponent and need something to separate the hands – in this example, the player with the better kicker will be the winner.
Kid dy-no-mite: poker hand
We couldn’t tell you why, but pocket Jacks are known as Kid dy-no-mite.
King Kong: poker hand
Pocket Kings make you the king of the poker jungle. Why? Because in poker terms they’re known as King Kong or gorilla)
Krispy Kreme: poker hand
Fan of doughnuts? Love poker? Then you’ll adore being dealt pocket Kings – a.k.a Krispy Kreme.
Ladies: poker hand
What does the poker term ladies mean? Only that you’ve got the third-best starting hand in poker – pocket queens.
Gamblers who play more hands than you would expect them to (hence, they are likely to be playing weak hands) are called loose players.
Any player that just calls the posted big blind bet (prior any raise) is said to have limped.
Magnum: poker hand
Got pocket fours in your hand? Then you’re holding a Magnum.
People who play aggressively, make lots of bets (often for larger than expected amounts), and especially in situations they have little chance of winning, are maniacs.
When you fold your hand it is said that you have mucked your hand.
Needles: poker hand
Something needling at you? It might be those pocket aces you’re holding– a.k.a, the needles.
Nickels: poker hand
Nickels is one of the most popular poker terms to describe pocket fives.
Tight gamblers, who play a few hands, and generally act conservatively, are nits.
No limit is a poker term that describes a game where there is no limit on the number of chips you can bet during your turn.
Nuts is one of the best poker terms. Why? Because it means you have the best possible hand based on the available cards – in other words, you cannot be beaten.
If you are dealt two cards that are not of the same suit (for example, you may have an ace of spades and king of clubs) then they are offsuit.
Open-ended straight draw
If you are one of two card values away from a straight draw, then the correct poker term is that you have an open-ended straight draw.
An open fold is when a player mucks their hand when they had the option to check, hence, they didn’t need to fold.
An orbit is where there is a full circulation of the blinds – if you begin as the big blind, then you complete an orbit when there have been enough streets of betting that you become the first to act.
Out is a poker term that relates to the card(s) that will give you the winning hand. You may only have one out or you could have a number of outs.
Overcall refers to an occasion in a poker game where a player (or players) acts before you have called a bet and you then decide to call it. For example, if the first person to act calls the bet posted by the big blind and you choose to call it then you are said to have made an overcall.
An overcard is when you are holding a card of a better rank of any on the board, but which has yet to be paired.
Overpair: poker hand
If you have a pocket pair that is higher than any of the community cards that have been dealt then you have an overpair.
In poker, you may hear someone mutter with disappointment that they will “pay off” their opponent. This is because they believe they have a good hand, but suspect that it is beaten by their opponent’s.
Phil Hellmuth: poker hand
Named after one of poker’s greatest players, the Poker Brat, pocket nines are known as Phil Hellmuth.
Piano Keys: poker hand
Got pocket eights? Then the poker term for your hand is Piano Keys.
Play the board
To play the board is an interesting poker term. It means that your hand isn’t better than the one on the board.
As an example, you may have pocket threes. If the board were to be six-six-ten-ten-king and it isn’t possible for a flush to be made, then you are playing the board. In this scenario, your best possible outcome is to split the pot with your opponent.
Pocket pair: poker hand
Pocket pair is a well-used poker term. It describes any pair that you are dealt – as opposed to a pair that you make from the board.
Popeyes: poker hand
Looking down at pocket nines? Then you’ve been dealt Popeyes.
Post is a poker term that describes when you have paid a blind.
Pot limit is a type of poker where there is a limit placed on the amount that you can bet when it’s your turn.
Pot odds relate to how much money is in the pot compared to the amount you need to pay to keep playing. It can be explained like this, if the pot is £100 and a player bets £10, you will need to pay £10 to keep playing. This means your pot odds are 11:1.
Price is a poker term used to establish whether you are right to continue a hand based on the amount of money it will cost you to do so – if you are still to make a hand and a player makes a small bet, then the price might be right for you to call the bet.
Protect is one of the many poker terms that has one or more meanings.
One meaning for protect is that it describes when you put either your hand(s) or chip(s) on your cards. This is done to make sure the dealer doesn’t muck them by accident.
Another meaning for protect is when you defend your blind. This means that you call a bet to protect the money that was invested in posting your blind.
The money in play that can be won during a single hand or game.
Pretzels: poker hand
Holding pocket eights? Then you’ve got pretzels!
Quads: poker hand
Quads are when you have four of the same cards (for instance, four queens).
Route 66: poker hand
When might you care about Route 66 in poker? If you have pocket sixes, because that’s what this poker term refers to.
If you make a hand (such as a straight or flush) after two consecutive cards are dealt, then you have experienced a runner-runner.
Sailboats: poker hand
Fan of sailing? Then you might like having Sailboats – pocket fours.
Seven-deuce: poker hand
Seven-deuce is when your opening hand is a two and a seven – an offsuit combination of the two cards is the worst possible starting hand.
A side pot happens when a player goes ‘all in’ and is called by two or more players with more chips. The side pot is the lower amount that the player with the least chips can win. The main pot contains the additional chips that can be won by the players with more chips.
Snakes: poker hand
Got pocket fives? You’re holding snakes!
Snake Eyes: poker hand
Is there a pair of snake eyes looking out at you from your hands? Then you’ve got pocket aces.
Snowmen: poker hand
Is there a Christmas poker term? Absolutely, Snowmen describes when you have pocket eights.
Speed Limit: poker hand
Got pocket fives? Then your hand is adhering to the speed limit.
Suckers: poker hand
Why are pocket jacks known as suckers? Because you often suck out on them to queens, kings, or aces.
Teepees: poker hand
Got teepees? It’s because you have pocket aces.
A tell is a behavioural change that indicates whether you have a good or a bad hand. These changes are often subconscious.
Tension: poker hand
Feeling the tension at the poker table? It might be because you’ve dealt pocket tens.
The two Jakes: poker hand
Holding pocket jacks? Then you’ve got the two Jakes.
If you are the first gambler to put in the third unit of betting, then you have made a three-bet.
TNT: poker hand
Is pocket tens an explosive hand? Its nickname, TNT, suggests so.
Treys: poker hand
When would you have treys in poker? When you have pocket threes.
Two pips: poker hand
If one pip is an ace then what’s two pips? Pocket aces, of course.
Under the gun
The player who is first to act is known as being under the gun.
If you have a good hand and want to get more money from your opponent(s), then you make a bet which you want them to call. This is known as a value bet.
Walking sticks: poker hand
Are you leaning on walking sticks? If you’re playing poker, it’s because you’ve been dealt pocket sevens.
Wayne Gretzky: poker hand
Of course, ice hockey’s greatest ever player has a poker hand named after him. When would you have a Wayne Gretzky? When you have pocket nines.
If you make a straight which goes ace-two-three-four-five then you are said to have made a wheel.
Whether you're playing with friends or at a top-ranked online casino such as Royal Panda, knowing what people are talking about when you’re at the poker table could be the difference between you winning or losing a big pot. So make sure you know all these terms before you play your next game of poker!