Card Room Lingo

Dealing poker in a Las Vegas casino involves comprehending a lot of card room lingo. Study this chart in coordination with the specialized poker tournament vocabulary and you will be in good shape at your dealer school.

Action: Opportunity to act.  If a player doesn’t realize it’s his turn, the dealer alerts him by specifying, “Your action, please.”

All-In: If a player runs out of cheques, that player may go “all in.”  If the “all in” is more than half of the previous bet, the next bettor may treat it as a raise.

Ante: Most games in Vegas are played with blinds, where only the big and small blind have to post, but some games have an ante.  An ante is a set amount that every player must post at the beginning of a poker hand.

Buy In: If a table has a minimum buy-in of $100 and a maximum buy-in of $300, a full buy is $100.  A short buy would be anything less than $100.  Some casinos allow short buys, some allow one short buy after a full buy, and some do not allow short buys at all.

Burn: When the dealer discards the top card from the deck, face down.

Cap : To put in the last raise permitted on a betting round.

Check-Raise: Player A checks, Player B bets, then Player A raises.

Chop: If all players fold, the big blind and the small blind may opt to “chop” the pot, meaning that they each fold their hand and take back their blinds.

Fish: A poor player who gives his money away. It’s a well-known rule among good players to not upset the bad players, because they’ll stop having fun and perhaps leave. Thus the phrase, “Don’t tap on the aquarium.”

Kill Pot: Some casinos have kill games.  This means that when a pot reaches a certain predetermined amount or when a player wins a certain number of consecutive hands, the player who triggered the kill must post a kill blind.  This kill blind is typically 1.5 times the amount of the big blind (half kill) or double the big blind (a full kill).  Also, the betting limits for the kill hand are multiplied by 1.5 or doubled, respectively.

Missed Big Blind: If the player misses his big blind, he must post a big blind to enter the game again.  He can either wait until he is the big blind or he may post.  Missing the big blind should mean the player missed the small blind too.  In this case, the big blind is live (it is a part of the player’s bet that round), but the small blind is dead (in the pot).  If the player misses his big blind, but returns in time for the small blind, he may “buy the button,” meaning that he posts both the big and small blind and the other players who were in the big or small blind do not post.

Missed Small Blind: If a player misses the small blind, he must either wait to be in the big blind or post a dead small blind.

Muck : 1) The pile of folded cards. 2) Also used as a verb to explain folding.

Implied Odds: Pot odds that do not exist at the moment, but may be included in your calculations because of bets you expect to win if you hit your hand. For instance, you might call with a flush draw on the turn even though the pot isn’t offering you quite 4:1 odds because you’re sure you can win a bet from your opponent on the river if you make your flush.

Post: If a player sits down at a ring game (Ring game is a live game, as opposed to a tournament game.), some casinos require that he posts a blind.  If this is the case, the player may either wait until he is in the big blind position or post.

: A state where you are essentially forced to call the rest of your stack because of the size of the pot and your remaining chips.

Pot Odds: The amount of money in the pot compared to the amount you must put in the pot to continue playing. For example, if there is $60 in the pot and a player bets $6, bringing the pot to $66, it costs $6 to call, so your pot odds are 11:1. If your chance of having the best hand is at least 1 out of 12, you should call.  Or if you’re on a draw to the nut flush, for example, and there is one card left to come, you are an approximate 4:1 underdog to make your flush. If it costs you $8 to call the bet, then there must be about $32 in the pot (including the most recent bet) to make your call correct.

Raising: In unstructured games (No Limit and Pot Limit), players must make a raise that is at minimum equal to the amount of the previous bet.  So if a player raises $10 the next player cannot make it $12 to go.  The raise would have to be at least $20.

Rake: An amount of money taken from every pot that goes directly to the casino.

Recanting Bets: If a player puts money into the pot then wants to take it back (most commonly if a player calls a bet but does not realize there has been a raise), he may take the bet back provided no one has acted after him.  If someone has acted after him, the bet stands.

Rock : A player who plays very tight and not very creatively. He raises only with the best hands and is fairly predictable.

Showing Hands: After all betting, the player initiated the last action is the first who has to show their hand.  If everyone checked on the final round, the player in the earliest position must show first.  There is a standing rule: show one, show all.  If a player shows another player his hand, any player at the may request to show one, show all.

Side Pots: In the instance of a side pot, the dealer will determine the winner of the side pot before the main pot.

Soft-Play : To go easy on another player at the table (not betting or raising against him). Suppose you and a friend are the last people left in a hand. On the river, you have the nuts, but he bets. If you don’t raise, you are “soft-playing” him. Soft-playing is prohibited in tournaments and can result in penalties, up to and including forfeiture of winnings.

Straddle: A straddle is an optional extra blind bet made by the player to the left of the big blind, equal to twice the big blind.  It’s unique in that it is live.  If no other player raises, the person who straddled is given the option to re-raise, as if he were in the big blind position.

String Bet: A bet (typically a raise) where the player doesn’t put all the cheques required for the raise in the pot in one motion. This is not allowed, unless he verbally declared the raise. It prevents the unethical play of putting out enough chips to call, seeing what effect that had, and then possibly raising.

Table Stakes: A rule in a poker game that a player may not go into his pocket for money during a hand. He may only bet the cheques/money in front of him.

Tie Hand: If two players tie, the pot will be divided down to the lowest cheque denomination.  If there is an odd cheque – for instance if the players are splitting a $101 pot – the odd cheque will go to the player who was the first to act.  In the instance of a showdown when both players have, for example, an A-8, and the board still places one of them on a flush draw, the hand that still has the potential to win is considered “live.”

To Go : The amount a player must call if he wishes to continue playing. Example: “The big blind was $20. Sarah raised $40 more, making it $60 to go.”

Toke : A tip to the dealer, typically given by the winner of a pot.

Under the Gun : The first player to act on a given round.  Pre-Flop it is the player to the left of the big blind.

Value: As in “bet for value.” This means that you would like your opponents to call your bet (as opposed to a bluff). Generally it’s because you have the best hand. However, it can also be a draw that, given enough callers, has a positive expectation.