How to Talk Poker
The lexicon of poker has entered mainstream English. Still, there are many poker terms, such as rake schedule, that are still just poker terms. New poker players often get confused as these terms are bandied about. So, in this Juicy Stakes Poker article, we will explain a few important poker terms.
Many Terms Come from the Importance of Position
We all know how important position is in poker. Before the flop, or pre-flop as so many players say, the first player to bet is the one to the immediate left of the big blind. This player is said to be “under the gun”.
The term under the gun applies only to the first player to bet before the flop but it really applies in the context of poker to every player in early position. That’s because hands with little to intermediate value are actually weaker in early position. When you hear a player say that he was under the gun, you know that he was first to bet before the flop but you also need to realize that every player in early position is under the gun to some extent.
By the way, the rake has nothing to do with position. It is the small portion of the pot the poker room takes from each pot to cover the poker room’s costs. We have a simple rake schedule so everyone can know how much of any pot the poker room will take. Also, FYI, our rake has a maximum so, if the pot gets pretty big, the winner will win the vast majority of the money!
What is Early Position?
This is a subjective term because it also depends on the number of players at the table. If there are six players, then two would be in early position, two would be in middle position, and the two blinds would be in late position all of this being pre-flop only! The position of betting changes after the flop!
As much of an advantage the blinds have before the flop, they are at a serious disadvantage after the flop as they start the betting in the latter three streets.
If there are seven or eight players at the table, some might say that two are in early position and some might say that three are in early position. It doesn’t matter! The idea is that a weak hand is even weaker in early position and that it takes a better hand to be considered a good hand if you are in early position.
Why is There a Button?
If you play with friends, you don’t need a button. That’s because the job of dealer rotates around the table. The dealer is called the button because in a poker game at a land based room, the players don’t deal. A poker room professional deals. That almost entirely eliminates dealing mishaps such as overturned cards and the like.
The dealer is the player just to the right of the small blind. Before the flop, the dealer bets just before the small blind. In a game with several players, the dealer is considered to be in late position.
After the flop, the small blind starts the betting and the dealer bets last. It is a significant advantage to be the dealer if you can at least call the big blind to see the flop!
The reason the dealer is called the button is because a somewhat large, round object rotates along with the role of dealer and this large, round object looks a lot like a button for a giant!
The most misunderstood term in poker betting is to “limp”. This term has a strong pejorative connotation, as if the player had no business staying in the hand to see the flop.
Limping in means simply calling the big blind in the pre-flop betting. It usually signals a weak hand that the player hopes to get lucky with on the flop. The notion that the player has a bad hand but feels that he or she can afford to call and see the flop usually indicates that the hand is far from good enough to raise with.
First of all, some hands are borderline good enough to raise with. For example, if you have king-queen in the under the gun position, you might call if you have enough of a stack to do so. The hand is not strong enough to raise against everyone else since you are the first to act. So, you limp in with a pretty good hand but not good enough to raise with.
However, if several players have limped in and you are the small or big blind with king-queen, you might very well raise in this position. Some if not all of the limpers could fold in the face of the raise!
The conclusion from this example is that limping in is far too pejorative a term to accurately describe every instance of calling pre-flop.
Another example is when you want to make the others believe that you have a weak or borderline hand so they will stay in the pot and you will bet on the next street. This is often the best strategy for a player with a good hand in early position.
3-Bet and 4-Bet
A 4-bet is actually not all that common but a 3-bet is quite common. It simply means that the player made a re-raise on the hand. It might only be the second bet on the street! But a re-raise is called a 3-bet so you need to be aware of the anomalous nature of 3-bets.
If you have four to a straight or flush, you have a straight or flush draw. A straight might be an outside straight in which either of two cards gives you the straight or a gutshot straight draw which means you have to fill an inside straight.
A backdoor straight or flush draw means that you hope to get the hand on the last two streets. This is also called a runner-runner hand.
If you have a pair on the deal, you have a pocket pair. If the two cards are next to each other in the deck, you have connectors. If they are of the same suit, you have suited connectors. If they are of the same suit but not connected, you have suited cards.
It is always better to have a pair, or connected cards, or suited cards than not. Most hands have none of these and that is a big reason why the pros fold about 70% or more of the hands they are dealt.
This should be the subject of an entire article. In short, there are passive and aggressive poker players and several nuances in between strictly passive or strictly aggressive players.
For example, a player in a low stakes game may be a very aggressive player while the same player with the same bankroll might become a lot more passive if he or she “graduates” to a higher stakes game.
There is also a broad range of terms that relate to poker math. Some are abbreviations like EV which means expected value while others are whole words like pot odds and many others. We will have to visit the nomenclature of poker math in subsequent articles.
Learn the Terms of Poker
We encourage everyone to learn the most basic poker terms. Many players, especially newer ones, are a bit intimidated by the talk around the poker table, even the talk in the chat room at an online poker room if they feel that they don’t fully understand the terms and are a bit embarrassed to say so.
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