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Casino Games Glossary What Does Fish Mean? And Other Poker Terms Explained

A fish is a weak poker player

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 your playing with friends or at a top-ranked online casino like Royal Panda. From fish to nit, our casino glossary explains the key poker terms you need to know. 

Act

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. 

Action card

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. 

All in 

Whenever a gambler bets all of their poker chips it is termed that they are going “all in”.

Angle shooting

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 bet, however, you know you’re actually in a stronger position than them. 

Ante

An ante is a bet that all players must post (make) before a hand starts. 

Backdoor

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. 

Bad beat

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. 

Bankroll

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)

Bet 

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. 

Blind steal

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. 

Bluff 

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. 

Board 

In any poker game where there are face-up cards, those cards which are face-up are known as the board. 

Boat 

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 (AKA, a full house). 

Brick

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. 

Burn 

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. 

Call 

To call is to match the bet required for you to play a hand. 

Calling station 

If a player rarely folds or raises but frequently calls bets they are said to be a calling station. 

Check 

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, to check means the next street begins without you having to make an additional bet. 

Chip 

Chips are what players use to represent the money they have which is being played in a game. Players make bets with their chips and exchange them for money. 

Chop 

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. 

Cooler

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. 

Deuce & seven-deuce

The number two card in poker is known as deuce. 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. 

Donkey 

A donkey is a poker player who is believed to be weak.

Draw 

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. 

Family pot  

When all players call the opening bet (or are in the hand if they have all called a raise) it is called a family pot. 

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.

Fish 

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. 

Flop 

The flop is the first set of face-up cards dealt in a community poker game. 

Garbage 

A terrible hand in poker is called garbage, or a garbage hand. 

Grinder

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. 

Heads up 

Any poker game that goes down to the final two players reaches the heads up stage.   

Hero call 

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. 

Loose 

Gamblers who play more hands than you would expect them to (hence, they are likely to be playing weak hands) are called loose players. 

Limp 

Any player that just calls the posted big blind bet (prior any raise) is said to have limped. 

Maniac 

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.   

Muck 

When you fold your hand it is said that you have mucked your hand. 

Nit 

Tight gamblers, who play few hands and generally act conservatively, are nits. 

Offsuit 

If you are dealt two cards that are not of the same suit (for example, you may have Ace of Spades and King of Clubs) then they are offsuit. 

Open fold 

An open fold is when a player mucks their hand when they had the option to check, hence, they didn’t need to fold. 

Orbit 

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. 

Pot 

The money in play that can be won during a single hand or game. 

Quads 

Quads are when you have four of the same cards (for instance, four queens). 

Runner-runner

If you make a hand (such as a straight or flush) after two consecutive cards are dealt, then you have experienced a runner-runner. 

Tell 

A tell is a behavioural change that indicates you have a good or a bad hand. These changes are often subconscious. 

Three bet 

If you are the first gambler to put in a third unit of betting, then you have made a three bet. 

Under the gun

The player who is first to act is known as being under the gun. 

Value bet

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. 

Wheel

If you make a straight which goes A-2-3-4-5 then you are said to have made a wheel. 

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!