Poker Slang Every Player Needs to Know

Discover the meanings of some classic poker phrases, including 'Cowboys' and 'Kicker'.
1st February 2024

Poker Slang Every Player Needs to Know

Let’s face it, poker lingo can appear to be very confusing - particularly if you’re new to the game. There are so many different terms for you to get to grips with before you start playing poker online in the UK.

Fear not - we’re here to help you. Read on to find out the meanings of a whole host of poker phrases, and you’ll have a whole new vocabulary before you know it.

Poker Slang Explained

All-In - betting every chip you have left in your stack. If you lose after going all-in, you’re out of the game.

Backdoor - hitting the cards you need to win the hand on the turn and the river. If you have three Spades in your hand, for example, and two more Spades show up in the final two cards, you have what is known as a backdoor flush.

Bad Beat - this is when you lose a hand on the river, despite the odds being largely in your favour. It’s fair to say that if this happens when you play poker online, you will be very unlucky.

Blind - the big and small blinds are the bets that have to be placed by the two players on the left-hand side of the dealers at the start of each game. The size of this bet may increase with time.

Bluff - if you haven’t got any good poker cards in your hand, you can bluff to try and convince your opponents that you do. The aim is to get them to fold so that you win the pot.

Bullets - if you are dealt two Aces initially by the dealer, you will have what is known as ‘bullets’.

Call - if you only wish to match the bet placed in the round, you can make the ‘call’.

Check - if you don’t wish to place a bet then you will check, and the buck passes to the next player along. If you are the last player to make a move in the round, then the dealer will deal the next card.

Check-Raise - to do this, you will check until one of your opponents places a bet on their poker hand, and then raise the stakes afterwards.

Community Cards - the five cards in the middle of the poker table are called the community cards. These are made up of the flop, the turn and the river.

Cowboys - if your hole cards are two Kings, then you will hold what is known as ‘Cowboys’.

Dolly Parton - the names of poker hands really can be quite clever. Dolly Parton is the term for having 9 and 5 as hole cards. If you didn’t get that, then it’s a reference to her famous song ‘9 To 5’.

Draw - if you draw, this means you are remaining in the game despite not having the poker cards you need to win the pot. This can be very risky, but on the odd occasion, it may pay off handsomely.

Fifth Street - another name for the river, or the final community card.

Flop - the first three community cards produced by the dealer.

Fold - if you know you are in a spot of bother in this card game, you can fold. This will forfeit any bets you’ve placed in the round.

High Roller - anyone who plays poker tournaments or games for high stakes is referred to as a ‘high roller’.

Hole Cards - we’ve mentioned this a few times already, so if you’ve not been paying attention, your hole cards are the two face-down cards that you receive from the dealer when you start playing.

Kicker - this is the card that’s used as a decider in poker games. If you have two Queens and a 7 in your hand, and your opponent has two Queens and a 4, the 7 is the kicker and you will win the pot with that high card.

Limp - slang for calling, meaning you basically aren’t making an aggressive play.

Muck - all of the folded cards in a round make up the ‘muck’. Sometimes players can accidentally muck their hand if they push the cards too close to the middle of the poker table - far from ideal.

No-Limit - this refers to a poker game with no cap on the amount that can be wagered on a hand. This is what you’ll find, obviously, in our No Limit Texas Hold’em games.

Nuts - if you have the ‘nuts’, you have the best possible hand available on the table, also including the community cards.

You can't beat the sought-after Royal Flush...

Pot - short for jackpot, and the pot is made up of all of the chips placed during the round. The more players that stay in, the better chance you have to play for a bigger pot.

Quads - if you hear the term ‘quads’, it means that a player has Four of a Kind, which is one of the strongest hands you can have. You can find out more about poker hand rankings in another of our posts.

Raise - this means that you are upping the stakes from the previous big bet at the table, so you can either be confident in your hand or bluffing.

Rake - any commission taken from the pot in a land-based or online poker room. This is usually due to them having to manage the game.

River - we’re sure you’ve got this by now, but if not, the river is the final community card.

Rock - you need to keep an eye out for this type of player. Anyone described as a ‘rock’ is usually very careful about when they bet, so when they do, they tend to have a very strong hand.

Runner - any hand that is relying on cards on the turn and the river to complete it is known as a runner.

Semi-Bluff - you can in fact bluff in anticipation of your hand getting better. This is called a ‘semi-bluff’, but it does carry the same risks as a normal bluff.

Slow Play - you can encourage bets from other players at the table by slow playing, which is basically acting that you don’t have a very good hand.

Tell - this can give you a clue as to whether someone is bluffing or has a good hand. A tell is some sort of indication from a player’s body language, which could be sitting back in their chair for example.

Tilt - make sure you don’t do this. If you are on a bad run, or have some bad luck, and start betting recklessly then you will be tilting. This strategy doesn’t tend to work for many players, as you have probably guessed.

Trips - you’ve got quads for Four of a Kind, and you also have trips for Three of a Kind.

Under the Gun - this is the weakest position on the poker table, and it is reserved by the player who is sat next to the dealer and has to bet first in each round.

So, now you know what many of the most common terms are that you will come across when you play online poker for real money. That being said, we’re sure you will still have some questions - so we’ve tried to answer a few for you below.

How do you play poker for beginners?

It can be daunting to start playing online poker in the UK if you’re new, but we have the perfect game for beginners. Our Cash Games+ events have buy-ins from only £2, which means you’re less likely to run into experienced high rollers. You can also get helpful tips from our live chat hosts, who can also play special chat games from time to time.

How do you bluff in poker?

It is naturally easier to bluff when you’re playing online casino poker, as opposed to being in a land-based casino - your opponents can’t see you after all. There is, however, no guaranteed way to bluff successfully. You just have to play the cards right, build trust with your opponents, and hold your nerve when push comes to shove.

Is poker luck or skill?

There are elements of both luck and skill when you’re playing any poker game. You need the cards to fall to you, of course, but you have to be able to strategise too. It’s important to know when to fold or raise, and no poker player would be complete without the ability to bluff. This gives you the chance to win more hands than the cards will on their own.

Can you play poker online for free?

Unfortunately, you cannot play any free online poker with us. However, we have a range of real money online poker games that we’re sure you’ll love, including our No Limit Texas Hold’em tournaments, as well as the Cash Games+ that we’ve already mentioned.

Get a poker bonus when you sign up with Virgin Games! We’ll give you 30 free spins on our online slot game Double Bubble once you’ve deposited and played with at least £10 on-site*.