Poker Terms, Part II

The game of poker has had a resurgence of popularity in recent years. More popular than ever, there really are big bucks in the game. Poker tournaments garner large TV audiences and the lines for a place at table in a casino or card room are long.

This is the second of three articles that examines the jargon and slang of the game. In this second part, we take a look at terms for betting in poker.

all in, adj., to put all of one’s bankroll in a pot, an all-in player cannot be forced from a hand but is not eligible to win any money bet above their final bet, 1907.

ante, n. & v., a small forced bet that everyone at the table is required to pay before each hand, 1838, to make such a forced bet, 1846, from the Latin ante meaning before.

bet, n. & v., a wager, to make a wager, of unknown origin, it may be an aphetic form of abet meaning to support or maintain, c.1590s.

big bet, n., the largest bet size In limit games where the maximum bet increases in later rounds. A small bet is the smallest bet size. So in a 5-10 game, small bets are $5 and big bets are $10.

blind, adj., n., a bet made without looking at one’s cards, especially a forced bet made at the beginning of a poker hand in lieu of an ante. The two players to the left of the dealer place blind bets of a fixed size. The first, or small blind, is half the size of the second, or big blind. Non-blind betting then starts with the player to left of the big blind, who must call, raise, or fold.

bluff, v. & n., to bet as if one’s hand is stronger than it actually is in an attempt to deceive the other players into folding, a hand that is played as a bluff, 1846. The general sense of to deceive through boasting comes from poker usage, which in turn comes from an older sense of the word meaning to blindfold, especially to blindfold or blinker a horse. The ultimate origin is not known.

bring in, v. & n., the first bet on the first round of a hand, to make such a bet. In seven-card stud, often the lowest up-card is forced to make this bet.

bump, v., to raise a bet.

buy the pot, v.phr., to make a bet large enough to induce the other players to fold.

buy-in, n., the minimum stake needed to enter a game.

call, v., to match the current bet on the table, originally it meant a challenge to other players to show their hands, 1680.

cap, n., a limit on the number of raises permitted in a round of betting, usually three or four.

check, v., to wager nothing, to pass on betting.

check-raise, n., a raise made after one has checked earlier in the current round of betting. A type of sandbagging, check-raising is prohibited by some house rules.

family pot, n., a hand where all the players are active bettors.

fold, v., to surrender a hand by declining to bet.

forced bet, n., a mandatory bet other than an ante, typically a blind bet or a bring-in.

freezeout, n., a tournament in which a player is not permitted to buy more chips once play has commenced.

it, n., the amount required to call.

jackpot, n., a large payoff, a side pot that accumulates in value until it is awarded to the player who fulfills certain conditions, 1881.

jam, v., to bet or raise the maximum.

kitty, n., a reserve fund, which all the player’s pay into, used to pay the house for expenses incurred, 1887. The term is related to kitty meaning a prison or jail; the kitty being money that is "locked up" and the players cannot bet with. Over time, the term transferred to also mean the pot in a given hand of cards. Also known as the widow.

limit poker, n., a game where there is a fixed limit on how much one can bet or raise in any round. Limits can be either bets of a fixed size or defined by a minimum and maximum. Often the limit is raised in the later rounds of a hand. For example, a 5-10 hold’em game requires $5 bets and raises on the first two rounds and $10 bets and raises on the last two. A pot limit means one cannot bet or raise more than currently exists in the pot.

no-limit, adj., a game in which there is no limit on the sizes of bets and raises. In no-limit table-stakes games players are still limited to the amount of money they have in front of them.

open, v., to bet first in a round, some games require a specific hand (often pair of jacks or better) to open.

Pasadena, v. & interj., to fold, a play on the word pass and the California city.

pass, v., to not bet, to fold.

position bet, n., a bet made based on where one is sitting at the table rather than on the strength of one’s hand, e.g., a player on the button is in good position to steal the pot if no one else opens.

pot, n., the amount of money staked in a wager, from the vessel that would contain the coins, 1823.

pot-limit, adj., a game in which the maximum bet or raise is the amount currently in the pot, including the amount to be called.

raise, v. & n., to increase the stakes in a hand, a bet that increases the stakes.

rake, n., a percentage of the pot retained by the house in certain games, e.g., poker.

re-buy, v., to purchase more chips while sitting at the table, re-buying is not permitted in certain tournaments.

table stakes, adj., denotes a game where one is not allowed to buy more chips while a hand is in progress, one can only bet with what one has at the start of the hand.

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