Poker has a language all to its own and as a beginner, being able to speak the native language is key to success. Find out more below!

The Beauty of the Basics

No one walks into any pastime an expert but among the many elements of strategy, psychology and skill that go into poker, there’s also the language to consider. If you want to blend into the poker scene, you’ll have to learn how to speak the jargon like a pro. Sitting at the table before you know the basics of poker terminology could expose you as a novice. Not a great start to your game. What’s more, if you’re spending more time concealing your lack of knowledge you’re spending less time focusing on the cards. Save your poker face for the game and read on to find out the basic poker terminology you’ll need to play (and win) the game!

Essentials of the Game


An ante is an obligatory bet that every player must place into the pot before any cards are dealt.


Blinds are also compulsory bets. However, these bets are posted by players to the left of the dealer button in flop-style poker games. A blind is played by two or possibly three players, unlike an ante which is played by all at the table. 

Small Blind

Played by the first player to the left of the dealer

Big Blind

The Big Blind is double the value of the small blind played by the player to the left of the small blind player

If you want a more in-depth idea of how the blinds work in poker, click here. [hyperlink to poker blinds post]


In poker, the bubble refers to a period in the tournament where all remaining players, even those who will be eliminated, will depart with money. 

Basic Betting Terminology


If there has already been a bet, calling means that a player agrees to match the bet. In other words, if player A bets 10, and player B calls, player B will have to match the bet and put that amount into the pot.


If there have been no bets in the current round, a player can check. The action then moves to the next player on the left. The check can be interpreted as a sort of pass: you remain in the game but decide not to bet in the current round.


A player can increase the current size of the bet. To do this, the bet must exceed the last player’s bet by at least double. To continue competing for the pot, all the subsequent players must call or re-raise this bet, or fold their hand.


Folding means you refuse to compete for the current pot. If a player folds, the player’s cards no longer participate in the hand and cannot win in the current round.


A check-raise in poker is a common deceptive play in which a player checks at the first chance to bet. They do this in the hope that another player will raise the bet. The player then raises the bets that follow.


If a player is going “all-in” they place the entirety of their chips or cash into the pot. 


There are many different types of bluffs in poker but most commonly it refers to a player who is betting as though their hand is stronger than it is. This is done in an effort to intimidate other players into folding. 

Table Speak


The dealer is the person responsible for distributing the cards to players.


You’ll often notice a tile with the letter B placed in front of one person at the table. This marker is there to signify the position of the dealer.

Burn Card

A burn card is a playing card dealt from the top of a deck and then thrown away. Burn cards are typically not revealed to the players at the table. Most home games won’t bother burning a card as this practice is usually performed in casinos to discourage cheating via the act of card marking.

Community Cards

In card games, you’ll often hear the term community cards. These are the cards dealt face-up on the table that all players use in making a hand.

The Board

The board consists of the community cards which players use to make their hands. 

The Flop

These are the first three community cards that are dealt once the initial round of betting is complete.

The Turn or Fourth Street

The turn refers to the fourth community card dealt face-up to the table. Unlike the flop, the turn is a single card dealt by itself. The turn is basically like a continuation of the flop, but with the stakes increased.

The River or Fifth Street

The river is the last of the five community cards dealt in a game. This is true for both cash games and poker tournaments. This card can make or break a player and their potential hand combinations.