Ask any avid poker player and they will tell you that the game almost becomes a way of life. And, as in every game or pastime that becomes a way of life, poker has its own culture, which includes its own unique lingo. If you’ve just started playing the game you may have noticed this if you’ve been playing with seasoned players. You probably already realize that it’s really important that you too learn the lingo.
Once you know the jargon the game will seem easier and you’ll start to earn the respect of the other players. So, in order to help you learn the lingo quicker here are 10 of our favorite poker game slang terms that old hand players love to use.
1. ABC Poker
Have you heard your fellow players use the term “ABC Poker”? Could they be talking about you? ABC Poker is when someone plays poker in a “by the book” way, in other words, their style is straightforward – they raise when they think they have the best hand, they seldom bluff. This style can become quite predictable.
2. Dead Man’s Hand
This is the name for a two-pair of black aces and black eights. But why would it be called a “Dead Man’s Hand”? Well, apparently when Wild Bill Hickok of the old West was murdered he was said to have been holding this exact hand.
3. Drawing Dead
The poker expression “Drawing Dead” means that a player has no way at all of winning a hand, no matter how good the cards are dealt next are.
This describes a player’s behavior, for example, if a player is playing recklessly or it is used to describe negative behavior as a result of losing a game. Players are said to be “on tilt” if they become over-aggressive or frustrated in a game. Another word that is used by poker players to describe this behavior is “steam”.
Sandbagging is also called “slow playing” and it is used when a player tries to make their cards seem weak when they are actually strong, this is done to encourage opponents into betting, with the intent of raising.
In poker to “sell” means to “sell a hand”. In a spread limit game, this means to bet less than the maximum when you have a very strong hand, hoping your fellow players will call whereas they would not have called a maximum bet.
A “fish” is also known as “donkey” or “live one” and it is a derogatory term for someone who is not very good at poker and always loses a lot of money. There is an old poker saying that goes like this: If you can’t spot the fish at the table, you are the fish.
A poker Shark is the opposite of a Fish. A Shark is someone who understands the risks and ratios of combinations, and can also quickly study their opponents and detect their patterns and physical tells. Sharks are in the game to win!
The Floorman is the cardroom employee who is responsible to monitor the game and for administration. The Floorman makes rulings and decisions.
10. Scare Card
A Scare Card is a card that can turn your excellent hand into trash. It’s a card that can potentially improve your opponent’s hand.
This is just a little glimpse into the world of poker lingo. Do you know any other poker slang terms?