Introduction:

Playing poker is becoming a very popular sport/game. In the past you could only play in either a casino or with friends, but now, it is possible to play it 24 hours a day from your home on the internet. Although poker is a simple game, it has a terminology and rules which are used that can make it a little confusing (especially if the poker game is in English and you are a non-native speaker).

In this second of two online exercises on 'poker vocabulary', we will look at and explain the English vocabulary used when actually playing in a game of poker against other players. Although in this exercise we focus on the most commonly played type of poker, 'Texas Hold'em' (where the players each hold/have 2 cards and 5 cards are laid/put down in the middle of the table for all the players to share and see), this terms can also be used for other types of poker as well.

Click here to see the essential English poker vocabulary in the first part on this exercise.

Click here to see our other exercises on Poker & Card Games Vocabulary.


Exercise: Playing poker continued

In the following conversation between two work colleagues (Peter and Juan), Peter continues to explain to Juan how to play in a poker game in English and the terminology that is used.

From the context, try to guess what the meaning of the words/phrases in bold are. Then do the quiz at the end to check if you are right.

Juan:'So what should I say and do when I'm playing in a poker game?'

Peter:'In some types of poker before the dealer gives the players their cards, all the players who are going to play in the game have to put some money into the pot for the game. This is called the ante and is normally a small amount of money.

In Texas Hold'em poker, they don't use an ante, but two of the players in a game have to put a small amount of chips/money into the pot before they and the rest of the players receive their cards. This is called a blind bet. The rest of the players in the game don't put anything into the pot before they have their cards.'

Juan:'Ok. So, what happens when the players have their cards?'

Peter:'The first round of the poker game starts when the players have their cards. When they have looked at their cards, they have to decide if they want to continue in the game by putting money into the pot or if they want to leave the game, which is called fold.'

Juan:'Does a round happen each time new cards are given/dealt to the players or shown in the middle of the table face up?'

Peter:'Yes. In Texas Hold'em for example, the first round begins when all the players are dealt/given their own two hole or private cards. The second round begins when the dealer deals the three shared or community cards in the middle of the table. The third round begins when the dealer adds a fourth shared card in the middle of the table. The last round begins when the dealer deals the fifth and last shared card onto the table.'

Juan:'So, does the player beginning a round always have to put chips/money into the pot if they want to continue playing?'

Peter:'No, they don't. The player who has the first turn at the beginning of a round doesn't have to put chips/money into the pot (the combined money/chips from the all players which is gambled in a game) if they don't want to. If they decide not to, they say check and their turn ends and then it's the turn of the player sat to their left to decide what they want to do.

If that player also doesn't want to put chips/money into the pot, they can also say check and then it would go to the next player. But if that player thinks they have a good hand/cards they can decide to put chips/money into the pot. The first time in a round that a player puts money into the pot is called a bet.'

Juan:'So if a player makes a bet of $20. What does the next player have to do? Can they say check and not put any chips/money into the pot?'

Peter:'No. When somebody has already put chips/money into the pot, the next player can't check, they also have to put chips/money into the pot or fold/leave the game. The next player has three options: The first option is they can fold/leave the game. The second option is to put the same value of money/chips into the pot that the last player has put into the pot. This is called call. So if the last player put $20 in, when you call you put $20 into the pot also.

The last option is to put more chips/money into the pot than the last player. This is called a raise. So if the last player put $20 in, and you say raise by $10, you put $30 in.'

Juan:'So when does a round end?'

Peter:'A round ends when all the players who haven't folded and are still playing have put in the same amount/value of chips/money into the pot. So in a game of four players, if player one checks, player two folds, but player three makes a bet of $30 and player four then raises by $10 the round goes back to player one again. If player 1 wants to continue playing, he/she has to match the $40 that player four put in and call (put $40 into the pot).

It then continues to player three again. If player three wants to continue playing, he/she has to match the $40 of player three by calling and adding another €10 (to the €30 he/she originally put in) into the pot. The round will then finish because all the remaining players have each put $40 into the pot.'

Juan:'A little bit confusing, but it makes sense. I've seen people in the movies playing poker and they don't say call or raise or bet, but all-in. What does that mean?'

Peter:'It's very common in films with poker games. The phrase all-in means that a player in a round puts all of his or her chips they have on the table in front of them into the pot.'

Juan:'And what would I say if when I'm playing at a poker table and I decide not to play one game/hand before it had started and just watch the other players playing or go to the toilet?'

Peter:'When you decide not to play in a game before the game starts, is called to sit out. You have to tell the dealer that you want to sit out and they won't deal you any cards in that game.'

Juan:'I've heard that some poker games are fixed limit and others are no limit. What exactly do these mean?'

Peter:'A fixed limit game of poker is where there is a restriction on what both the minimum bet is and by how much money players can increase or raise in the game. For example, in a casino you may see a fixed limit poker game, where for the first two rounds the fixed limit is $2. That means that the the minimum bet the players can make is $2. And if one player wants to increase or raise the amount of money put into the pot, they can only increase or raise by $2.

So if the last player put $2 into the pot, the player can only raise by $2 and put a total of $4 into the put. If the next player raises, they can again only raise by $2, but because the last player put a total of $4 into the pot, he/she will have to put a total of $6 into the pot.

Normally, in fixed limit games you can only raise 3 or 4 times per round. Normally in casino fixed limit games, the limit you can bet or raise by increases in the last two rounds. For example, in a $2/$4 fixed limit game, the limit for the first two rounds is $2 and in the last two rounds the bet or raise increases to $4.'

Juan:'And I suppose that with a no limit game, there isn't any limit on how much money/chips that you can bet or raise in a game?'

Peter:'That's right.'



Quiz: English vocabulary for poker part 2

Below is a definition/description of each of the words/phrases in bold from the above text. Now choose the word/phrase from the question's selection box which you believe answers each question. Only use one word/phrase once. Click on the "Check Answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.

When the answer is correct, two icons will appear next to the question. The first is an Additional Information Icon "". Click on this for extra information on the word/phrase and for a translation. The second is a Pronunciation Icon "". Click on this to listen to the pronunciation of the word/phrase and to do a pronunciation speaking test.

1. A 'part' of a game of poker when the players decide to gamble their money or leave the game, is called a
         

Round:
(noun) It is also called a 'betting round'. A 'round' is when each player gambles/bets their money (also known as 'to put money/chips into the pot') or leave the game (which is called 'fold' in poker). In a game of poker there are normally four or five different 'rounds'. Each 'round' begins after each time new cards are dealt by the dealer to all the players individually or dealt in the middle of the poker table. A 'round' ends when all the players who are still in the game have gambled/put into the pot the same amount money. After each 'round' has finished (except the last 'round'), new cards are dealt by the dealer.

After the 'last round' has finished, the players show their cards to find the winner of the game. In some types of poker, the 'rounds' have names. For example, in Texas Hold'em the 'first round' is called the 'pre-flop'.

In Spanish: "ronda".

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Round:

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2. When a player gambles/puts into the pot more chips/money than the players before him or her have done, is called
         

Raise:
(verb) This means to 'increase' the amount of money/chips which is being gambled/put into the pot in a round of a game of poker. A player can only 'raise' in a round after a player before him/her has first put money/chips into the pot (which is called 'bet' in poker).

In poker, when you 'raise' you can say it in two different ways. The first, is where you say how much in total you are going to gamble/put into the pot by saying 'raise' followed by the preposition 'to' and then the quantity of the money, e.g. 'raise to $35'.

The second way, is to say how much extra money you are going to gamble/put into pot in the round than what the player(s) before you have gambled/put in, by saying 'raise' followed by the preposition 'by' and then the quantity/value of the extra money you are gambling (e.g. 'I raise by $10'). For example, player one opens a round and bets $25, then player two 'raises by' $10 (player two gambles/puts into the pot a total $35).

If the other players want to continue in the game they have to at least put the same amount of money/chips which has been gambled/put in by the player who has last 'raised'. In some poker games there is a restriction/limit on the total number of 'raises' that can be made in each round (a limit of 3 or 4 'raises' is common) and/or the amount each 'raise' can be (e.g. a maximum of $20). If a player 'raises' more than once in a round, this called a 're-raise'.

In Spanish: "subir/envidar".

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Raise:

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3. A poker game where there are restrictions on both the minimum amount you can gamble and the maximum you can increase/raise by, is called a
         

Fixed limit:
(noun) 'fixed limit' poker is common in casinos. It is used to make a poker game more competitive for all the players. In games where there is no limit to the maximum that a player can raise/increase during a round (called 'no limit' poker), if a player has a lot more chips/money on the table than the other players, he/she can increase/raise so much more that the other players that they don't want to or can't match/equal it ('match/equal' is called 'call' in poker) and have to leave the game or hand (which is called 'fold' in poker). 'fixed limit' poker stops this from happening and it allows players to choose a poker game which is suitable for the amount of money they want to gamble.

With 'fixed limit', there is both a minimum bet that players can make in each round (e.g. $2 or $8 or $100 etc...) and a maximum bet and increase/raise which is often the same as the minimum bet. Often, the value of the minimum/maximum bet and raise will double in the last two rounds of a poker game (e.g. in a 'fixed limit' $6/$12 game, it doubles to $12 in the last two rounds).

There is also normally a restriction/limit on the total number of 'raises' that can be made in each round (a limit of 3 or 4 'raises' is common). The dealer and/or casino board attendant will tell you if the poker game is 'fixed limit' and what the minimum and maximum bets and raises are.

In Spanish: "límite fijo".

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Fixed limit:

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4. The 'opportunity' that each player has during a game of poker to decide if they want to gamble their money or leave the game happens in their
         

Turn:
(noun) 'turn' has many different meanings. In this context it means the 'time' in a round/betting round when a player decides in front of the other players and the dealer what they are going to do in the game. During a player's 'turn' they can 'check' or 'call' or 'raise' etc... When they have said what they are going to do (e.g. 'I raise by $20'), their 'turn' ends and it is the next player's 'turn'. In poker, you have to wait your 'turn' before you tell the dealer and the other players what you are going to do.

In any type of games or sports, a 'turn' is also commonly called a 'go', so you may hear either used, e.g. 'it's your go/turn'.

In Spanish: "toca".

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Turn:

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5. When players don't want to continue playing in one game of poker, they say
         

Fold:
(verb) The infinitive is 'to fold'. This basically means to 'stop' playing in one game of poker. Normally, players 'fold' in a game of poker if their hand/cards are not very good and/or if the amount of money they have to gamble/put into the pot to continue playing is too much for them. During one game of poker, if you want to stop playing in that one game you just say 'fold' when it's your turn in the round and move your cards/hand away from you.

To 'fold' doesn't mean to leave a poker game, it just means to stop playing in only one game.

In Spanish: "retirarse/no ir".

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Fold:

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6. The money that two of the players in a game of Texas Hold'em have to gamble/put into the pot before anybody's cards are dealt/given, is called the
         

Blind bet:
(noun) In the poker game Texas Holdem, to stop everybody folding/leaving the game if their first two cards are bad, at the beginning of each game two of the players always have to bet/put some chips/money into the pot before the dealer gives/deals the two face down cards to all the players. These are called 'blind bets' or 'blinds' (they are called 'blind' because both players don't see their cards before making the bets).

In Texas Holdem the players who make the 'blind bets' changes every game (it moves around the players in a clockwise direction). The dealer remembers which players are responsible for making the 'blind bets' by placing a plastic button/disc in front of each player. One player receives a purple button/disc with 'small blind' written on it and the other player receives a yellow button/disc with 'big blind' written on it.

The player who has the 'big blind button' has to bet/put into the pot the minimum bet possible in the game (e.g. $4). The player who has 'small blind button' has to bet/put into the pot half the minimum bet in the game (e.g. $2). But the the player with the 'small blind button' will have to put into the pot the value of the minimum bet (another $2) by the end of the first round if he or she wants to continue playing.

After the 'blind bets' are made, the first two cards are dealt to all the players, who can then look at them. The player sat to the left of the player with the 'big blind button' starts the first round and has to decide if he or she wants to 'call' or 'raise' or 'fold'.

In Spanish: "ciega".

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Blind bet:

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7. When a player doesn't want to gamble/put chips/money into the pot in a round of poker, they say
         

Check:
(verb) The infinitive is 'to check'. If a player says 'check' during a round/betting round in a game of poker, it means that they are not going to gamble/put any money/chips into the pot. It is possible for all the players in a round to say 'check' and no money/chips are put into the pot. But after one player has made a bet (put the first money/chips into the pot) in the round, none of the players that follow him/her can say 'check'. They have to match the amount of money the player has gambled/put in (which is called to 'call' in poker), or put more chips/money into the pot than the last player (which is called to 'raise' in poker), or stop playing in that one game (which is called to 'fold' in poker).

If there are players or a player in the round who 'checked' before the first bet was made, the round will return back to them and they will have to put money into the pot (by either 'calling' or 'raising) if they want to continue playing in the game, or 'folding' if they want stop playing.

In Spanish: "pasar".

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Check:

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8. When a player decides to not play in one full game of poker, but not leave the poker game/table, is
         

Sit out:
(phrasal verb) The infinitive is 'to sit out'. It is common that during a poker game players will not play in every game. A player may want to go to the toilet or just watch the other players playing for one or two games. This is called in poker 'to sit out'. If you 'sit out' of a game of poker, you still have your seat/place at the poker table and you can start to play again in the next or following game. When players want to 'sit out' of a game, they normally say 'I'll sit out of this game'.

To return to play, you have to tell the dealer that you want to play again.

In Spanish: "no participar en uno o más juegos".

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Sit out:

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9. The first chips/money that is gambled/put into the pot in a round of a game of poker, is called the
         

Bet:
(verb) The infinitive is 'to bet'. In poker, the first player to gamble/put money/chips into the pot in a round, says 'bet'. Normally, the player will say 'bet' followed by the amount of chips/money they are gambling/putting into the pot, e.g. 'bet $30'. After this first player has put chips/money into the pot, the word 'bet' is not used by the rest of the players in the round (they say 'call' if they want to put the same amount of money/chips in, 'raise' if they want to put more money/chips in and 'fold' if they want to stop playing).

The 'bet' in a game of poker always has to equal or be above the 'minimum bet' for that poker game/table, e.g. If the minimum bet is $2, a player's 'bet' must be $2 or above. 'bet' can be also used as a noun.

In Spanish: "abrir".

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Bet:

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10. The money that all the players in a game of poker have to gamble/put into the pot before anybody's cards are dealt/given, is called an
         

Ante:
(noun) This is the money/chips that all players have to put into the pot/gamble at the beginning of every game of poker. After each player has given an 'ante', the cards are dealt/given. If a player doesn't put in an 'ante', they can't play in that game. Normally, the value of the 'ante' is the minimum bet (the lowest amount of chips/money any player can gamble/put into the pot in a game).

'Antes' are only used in some types of poker (e.g. In draw poker or stud poker), but are not used in other types of poker (e.g. Texas Hold'em poker, were 'blind bets' are used instead).

In Spanish: "ante / pequeña apuesta inicial".

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Ante:

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11. When a player gambles/puts all their chips/money they have on the poker table into the pot, they go
         

All-in:
(adjective) To go 'all-in' means to gamble/put into the pot all the money/chips you have left on the table. The main rule in poker is that if players want to continue to the end of a game, they all have to gamble/put into the pot the same amount of chips/money. But what happens if a player(s) has a good hand/set of cards but doesn't have enough chips/money left on the table to match (which is called to 'call' in poker) the amount of chips/money that a player before them in the round has gambled/put in? They can't ask for more chips or use more money than they have on the table during a game (which is called their 'table stakes').

'all-in' is used by players in this situation. It means that they can continue in the game being played and are able to show their hand/cards at the end of the game and possibiliy win money/chips. But the player who has gone 'all-in' can not win any extra chips/money that the other players have gambled/put into pot during the game.

To make the game fair for all the players, once a player(s) goes 'all-in', any extra money that the other players gamble/put into is kept separate from the pot (which to avoid confusion becomes called the 'main pot') and put into what is called a 'side pot'. All the players (including the player(s) who has gone 'all-in') can win the 'main pot', but only the players who have gambled/put in extra money can win the 'side pot'.

For example, player 1 bets $200, player 2 only has $150 left and goes 'all-in' with his/her $150, player 3 calls and puts in $200. The 'main pot' would be $450 ($150 from each of the players). The extra money that players 1 and 3 have put in ($50 each) is put into a 'side pot', which would have $100 in it.

In Spanish: "jugarlo todo/restarse".

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All-in:

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12. A poker game where there are no restrictions on how much money/chips you can gamble/put into the pot, is called
         

No limit:
(adjective) 'no limit poker' is a poker game where a player can 'bet' or 'raise' as much money/chips as they want/like. The only limit or restriction is the amount of chips/money that a player has with them on the table (which is called their 'table stakes'). In most games of 'no limit poker' there is a minimum bet that players can make (e.g. $10).

It is not as common in casinos as 'fixed limit poker' (where there are restrictions/limits on the value of the maximum bet and raise that players can make). The problem with 'no-limit poker' is that players with more chips/money on the table can dominate players who have less chips/money.

The dealer and/or casino board attendant will tell you if a poker game is 'no limit'.

In Spanish: "sin límites".

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No limit:

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13. When a player gambles/puts into the pot the same amount/value of chips/money as the players before him or her have done, is called
         

Call:
(verb) The infinitive is 'to call'. When a player says 'call' in a round of a game of poker, it basically means 'I'm going to gamble/put into pot the same amount of chips/money that the last player has gambled/put in'. For example, player 1 bets $25 (the first time money is gambled in a round is called a 'bet'), player 2 'calls' and player 3 also 'calls'. In this example, all three players gamble/put into the pot $25 each.

The main rule in poker is that if players want to continue to the end of a game, they all have to gamble/put into the pot the same amount of chips/money. So, if in the above example there is another player (player 4) and that player decides that he or she wants to 'raise'/increase the amount gambled/put into the pot to $35, then the round returns back to player 1 who has to match the $35. In this situation, if player 1 says 'call', he or she only has to put $10 into the pot because they have already put $25 in before (this matches the $35 that player 4 has put in).

Once all the players still playing have put the same amount of money/chips into the pot, the round ends. If a player wants to 'call' on their turn in a round, they simply say 'call' and say nothing else.

In Spanish: "ir".

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Call:

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