POKER TERMINOLOGY

While you can certainly sit down at a poker table and start playing without knowing all the terminology you’ll hear, it would probably be a good idea to be aware of what you might hear.

Betting Round Actions

BET – When a player makes a wager

CALL – When a player pays the same amount of the previous bet

RAISE – When a player bets higher than the previous bet (call plus an additional amount)

RE-RAISE – When a player makes a third bet, higher than the raise amount, after a bet and a                                                                                          raise

FOLD – When a player tosses in his hand without making a bet

CHECK – When a player passes the action to the next player without making a bet

3-BET – The third bet in a betting round, also a re-raise

CAP – The last possible raise in a betting round, in a fixed-limit game.  Players usually can raise up to 4 times in a single betting round and then the action is “capped.” Once a player has capper, the remaining players can only call or fold, no raising is allowed until the next round.

CHECK BEHIND – When a player checks after the previous player checks

Made Hands

BOTTOM PAIR – When you pair the lowest card on the board

MIDDLE PAIR – When you pair a middle card on the board

TOP PAIR – When you pair the highest card on the board

OVER PAIR – A player’s pair that is higher than any card on the board

BOTTOM TWO PAIR – When you pair your cards with the lowest two cards on the board

TOP TWO PAIR – When you pair your two cards with the highest two cards on the board

TWO PAIR -When you pair your two cards with any two cards on the board

SET – 3 of a kind

STRAIGHT – 5 cards in numerical order

FLUSH – 5 cards of the same suit

FULL HOUSE – a pair and a set together, 2 of 1 number and 3 of another

Incomplete or “Draw” Hands

This is when you don’t have a made hand, but can end up with a strong made hand, if the right cards come up on the board.

BACKDOOR DRAW – A drawing hand that needs help from the turn and river.  Hitting on the turn opens a backdoor to hitting again on the river.

OVERCARDS = Cards that are higher than cards on the board

GUTSHOT – When you are missing a card in the middle of a sequence

OESD – Open Ended Straight Draw.  When you have 4 cards in numerical sequence, that will end up in a straight with the 5th card added to either end

FLUSH DRAW – When you have 4 cards of the same suit

Additional Terms

POCKET PAIR – When you are dealt a completed pair

UNRAISED POT – When no one raises before the flop

RAISED POT – When there is a raise before the flop

PRE-FLOP – Refers to everything that happens before the flop is dealt

POST-FLOP – Refers to everything that happens after the flop is dealt

UNIMPROVED – When your hand doesn’t improve with the next card dealt

CONCLUSION

These are the most common poker terms.  Don’t be afraid to ask about a term if you can’t remember or don’t understand when playing. 

All players were beginners at one time and didn’t know the terms either.  They might be happy to answer a question because it will signify that you are a novice and therefore, they might be able to easily take your money!  Play responsibly!

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Texas Hold’em-Beginner’s Outline

Texas Hold’em Poker is definitely the most popular variation of poker played around the world.  In fact, many people not familiar with poker, think this is the only type of poker played.  More and more people want to learn the game because of it’s popularity on TV.  It’s well known that the top professional players earn millions playing a simple looking game, so why can’t the average person win a few bucks also?  It seems like such a simple game.

Starting Rules

  • In casinos and card rooms, the dealer doesn’t play.  In home games, the dealer duty usually changes clockwise with each hand
  • The player to the immediate left of the dealer acts first.  The player to act first is at a definite disadvantage because they have no idea as to what the other players may do
  • At casinos, there will be a “dealer” button that moves with each hand played, so play will rotate fairly
  • There are 2 forced bets called blinds.  They are the small blind and the big blind.  Games begin with the two players left of the dealer making these predetermined blind bets.  This is to insure there is always something (a pot of money) to play for  in each hand.  This is also why the dealer button moves every hand, because it wouldn’t be fair for the 1st two seats to always have to put in the two blinds
  • The small blind is usually ½ of the minimum bet and the big blind is usually the full minimum bet.  So, when you see a $1/$2 Hold’em table, that means the small blind is $1 and the big blind is $2.

The object of the game is to combine your hole cards with the 5 cards eventually dealt in front of the dealer, known as the “board,” to make the best poker hand at the table.  The hand can contain your 2 hole cards and 3 board cards, 1 hole card and 4 board cards, or neither hole card and just the 5 board cards.

PLAY OF THE HAND

The Deal

Each player is dealt 2 cards face down, called the “hole cards.” You cannot let the other players see your cards and therefore they are to be checked discretely.  No board cards are dealt yet.

First Betting Round

The 1st player to act is the 1st player left of the big blind spot, because the blinds have already bet in that sense.  The player may fold, call or raise.

To fold, the player pushes his cards face down towards the middle of the table, called a muck, and is out of the hand.

To call, the player matches the big blind bet.

To raise, the player bets at least double the big blind bet.  If he decides to bet all his remaining chips, it’s know as “all-in.”

Play continues clockwise around the table, with each player making the choice of fold, call or raise, with the same rules in play.  As betting continues around the table,  a raise is actually called a re-raise at that point.

THE FLOP

After the end of the 1st round of betting, the dealer “burns” (discards) the top card of the deck, just in case it was accidently seen, then proceeds to place the next 3 cards face up on the table in front of him.  This is the flop.

Second Betting Round

This starts with the 1st player to the dealer’s left, since there are no more forced bets.

After the flop, the option of “check” is now available.  This is like taking a pass.  You can stay in the hand without betting additional money.

If everybody checks, that round is over and everyone gets to see a free card.

If someone bets, then all players must either fold, call or raise.

You cannot check if a player has made a bet before you.  If a bet is made before you, you must fold, call or raise.

THE TURN (4th Street)

Once again, the dealer burns the top card and deals the next card to the table, called the turn or 4th street. 

Third Betting Round

The betting again begins with the player immediately to the left of the dealer.  The same betting rules used in the second round, apply in the 3rd round.

THE RIVER (5th Street)

The dealer burns the top card and deals the next (and last) card to the table in front of him, called the river or 5th street.

Fourth Betting Round

Same betting rules apply as in the previous betting rounds, with the player to the dealer’s left, starting.

THE SHOWDOWN

This is where it gets exciting.  The last player to bet or raise shows their hand first and the highest five-card hand wins the pot. In case of a tie, the pot is evenly split among the winning hands.

Hands don’t always reach the showdown.  In any betting round, if a player bets and everybody else folds, that betting player wins the pot without having to show his hand.

HANDS RANKINGS

  • Royal Flush — five cards of the same suit, ranked ace through ten; e.g., AKQJ10
  • Straight Flush — five cards of the same suit and consecutively ranked; e.g., 98765
  • Four of a Kind — four cards of the same rank; e.g., QQQQ4
  • Full House — three cards of the same rank and two more cards of the same rank; e.g., JJJ88
  • Flush — any five cards of the same suit; e.g., AJ852
  • Straight — any five cards consecutively ranked; e.g., QJ1098
  • Three of a Kind — three cards of the same rank; e.g., 888K4
  • Two Pair — two cards of the same rank and two more cards of the same rank; e.g., AAJJ7
  • One Pair — two cards of the same rank; e.g., 1010942
  • High Card — five unmatched cards; e.g., AJ1052 would be called “ace-high”

FINAL THOUGHTS

Texas hold’em poker is not very difficult to learn, but it is quite difficult to master.  I’ve only given the basic outline and rules of the game here.  There are a vast number of possible game situations that can challenge players of the highest levels.  Even the winningest pros say they are always learning to play better. Remember it is a game of chance, you can’t win all the time. Play responsibly.

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Blackjack Superstitions

As you sit at a blackjack table, you’re bound to hear all kinds of hype about what brings good luck or bad luck at a blackjack table.  Unfortunately, believing in any of that hype can actually harm your game.  Let’s go over some of the myths and facts:

MYTH:  Novice or Bad players will make you lose

FACT:  It’s true novice players can negatively affect the outcome of a hand, because they’ll stand when they should hit and hit when they should stand.

When a bad move happens like that, it’s easy to blame the novice player for costing you a hand (especially if that novice is in the 3rd base seat), taking the dealer’s bust card, but the reverse can also happen.  The player’s bad choices can help you just as often, evening things out. 

MYTH:  A new player entering in the middle of a shoe, ruins the flow of the cards

FACT:  There is no way to know the order of cards, so you can’t say there’s a certain flow for you to know what card is supposed to come next.  Once again, as with playing with a novice, the addition of a new player can change your luck for the better, just as well as “ruin” the flow.

The Superstition: Face cards always follow face cards—so if a face card is dealt, don’t hit your stiff hand.

FACT:   Keep the facts in mind.  If you include the 10’s with the face cards, there are 16 out of 52, 10-value cards in a deck, meaning 31 percent of the deck.  If you see two face cards in a row, the chance of another face card coming out drops to 28 percent.  Because there are now fewer face cards, you’re actually in a better position to hit a “stiff” hand (12, 13, 14, 15, 16).  Looking at it this way, that superstition would be a detriment to your game. 

The Superstition:  You will always bust if you hit a 12

FACT:  Many blackjack players feel that if you hit a 12, you will almost always get a 10-value card.  However, remember the point that  a non-10-value card is more likely to come up, than a 10-value card.  You have to trust the basic strategy charts and hit a 12 when the chart tells you to do so.

Final Fact

If you let superstitions direct your blackjack playing decisions, you can bet it will cost you more money!

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What is the House Edge

The house edge can be described as the built in advantage the casino has in games, in order for the casino to make money. It is the casino’s average profit on a player’s bet. It is well known that blackjack has the lowest house edge in all casino games, which explains the popularity of the game.

If you’ve ever wondered why blackjack has the best odds for the player, it’s because the casino has just one advantage in blackjack, which is the fact that the player makes the first move in the game.

Think about it, if the player decides to take a hit and busts, the house wins right away, without making a move. Even if the dealer busts later in the deal, that player that already busted, still loses.

Ok, say you try the strategy of never busting yourself. With that, the dealer will make 17 or better more often than you, so you still lose in the long run. When the first player to bust automatically loses, the player who has to act first, is at a distinct disadvantage. That distinct disadvantage has been calculated to be 8% for the player.

Yes, that is a ridiculous advantage for the house, so that’s why the developers of the game decided on rules that would bring down that percentage, making it a more enticing game to play.

PLAYER-FAVORED RULES

  • Blackjack paying 3-to-2 vs. even money
  • Hit/Stand at will vs. dealer hitting on 16 and standing on 17
  • May double down vs. dealer no doubling
  • May split pairs vs. dealer no splitting

As you look at the above rules, it does show that basically all the rules favor the player, except for the fact that the player must act first. The dealer also has to follow strict rules that must be played exactly the same, every time, so the dealer plays like a robot.

Maybe that’s why some dealers seem a bit grouchy! You sometimes hear players saying certain dealers are tougher than others, when actually every dealer plays by the exact same rules! In reality, no dealer is tougher than another. Therefore, the house edge over a player is ultimately decided by how well the player uses the favorable rules of the game!

PLAYER OPTIONS TO CUT HOUSE EDGE

  • 3-to-2 blackjack payout cuts house edge by 2.25%
  • Correct hitting/standing strategy cuts house edge by 3.25%
  • Correct doubling down strategy cuts house edge by 1.5%
  • Correct pair splitting cuts house edge by .5%

That totals a 7.5% player advantage if perfect strategy is used by the player, leaving the .5% house edge for casinos.

The casino doesn’t have to beat every player every time. Even the tiniest margin, as in blackjack, is enough to make it a viable game for the casino to offer players. All the casino has to do is make it a game that you will play and the casino will win in the long run.  That’s how and why the house edge works.

It can be said that there is some skill involved with blackjack. If you learn basic blackjack strategy, you can practically erase the house edge and actually enjoy profitable gambling when playing blackjack! However, as I have stated before, it is a game of chance and winning cannot be guaranteed, considering the house edge, but the chance at winning with blackjack is much better than any other casino game.

Is Gambling OK?

There are so many ways to gamble and people all over the world do it on a regular basis. The adrenaline rush that the regular casino gambler (someone who goes 4-5 times a week) gets is what drives them. An adrenaline rush is your body activating a heightened state of physical and mental alertness. As long as it’s not sustained for a long period of time, that burst of human energy can be a good thing. Besides the regular gambler, there are plenty more who enjoy the occasional trip to Vegas or the local casino, or placing a bet on a big major sporting event.

Overall, there are definitely more people out there who think gambling is a total waste of money and time. So be it. Every single person is allowed to have their own opinion and gambling certainly is not for everybody. I certainly don’t believe in encouraging someone to gamble if they don’t want to gamble.

I’m hoping to reach those who are intrigued by the thought of gambling and whether or not they should try it. Perhaps I can enlighten you on the aspects of gambling you weren’t aware of, and by doing so, you can make a more educated foray into it or definitely stay away from it.

Of course, it’s impossible to give a concrete answer to whether or not gambling is ok. You’re absolutely going to find people on both sides of the fence about gambling being worth it or not. It’s going to depend on who you ask!

I’d just like to provide you with some information to help you determine the answer for yourself. I’ll go over the obvious pros and cons, plus other factors you should consider.

Full disclosure though: I absolutely believe gambling is ok! I’m not a professional, but I enjoy the heck out of it! LOL!

 

PROS

  • Possibility of winning money
  • Entertaining and fun
  • Easy to do
  • Big variety of ways

With the conscious awareness of keeping this article relatively short, I’ve only listed 4 pros, but of course there could be many more. These four are most important in my mind.

Without a doubt, the possibility of winning money, no matter the amount, (though more is better) is my number one reason for gambling. It’s possible for anyone, even a complete beginner, to win money. You just need to have some good luck!

I am totally entertained by gambling. I probably don’t look very entertained when I’m sitting at a blackjack table, but on the inside, the adrenaline is rushing and I’m excited about the possibility of beating the dealer and winning money! I think it’s a great form of fun. In terms of pure excitement, what other pastimes can compare with the opportunity to win money? I can’t think of any.

It is easy to get started with gambling, that’s a good thing. You don’t need much knowledge to play at a casino or place a sports bet. There are a few basic concepts you should understand, but nothing is overly complicated. If you want to be a more serious player, you’ll probably want to learn more, but as a beginner you can easily enjoy gambling with just a little bit of knowledge.

Last but not least, let’s consider the various types of gambling available. Casino games and sports betting are the most popular forms of gambling, but there are other types, like bingo, scratch tickets, poker and the lottery, to name a few. With so many to choose from, chances are there will be one that you’d enjoy.

 

CONS

  • Possibility of losing money
  • Consistency of winning
  • Approval from others
  • Can be addictive

There are absolute downsides to think about. Let’s honestly take a look at these, in order to make an informed decision about getting involved with gambling in general.

The biggest con of gambling is of course the fact that it’s possible to lose money. As a matter of fact, you’re almost guaranteed to lose in the long run with some gambling. The “house edge” of casino games is the best example of this. As mentioned in the “pros” section, luck is needed, allowing you to win frequently, but the overall odds are against you as a player. Over time, you are most likely to end up a loser.

Winning on a consistent basis can be difficult. I don’t think anybody can say they’re lucky all of the time, so regularly making money gambling is not a given.

If approval by others concerns you, (many people don’t approve of gambling), it could keep you from doing it. My thought is that it’s my money and I’m going to spend it however I like. I can’t let others approval or disapproval of what I am doing concern me. I just don’t mention my penchant for gambling to those close to me whom I feel may disapprove!

The last con I’ve listed is probably the biggest reason people disapprove of gambling. It can be highly addicting, and cause major problems and potentially even ruin lives.

Making Your Decision

So I’ve listed what I consider the main pros and cons of gambling, and now you can make your own decision as to whether gambling is okay or not. These are the things I thought about it in deciding whether gambling was okay for me. I can’t tell you either way what’s good for you, but I can point out some facts to help you make that decision.

Please carefully consider the pros and cons that were outlined above. Whichever side outweighs the other in your mind, should be your answer.

If you’re still not sure, you might want to consider these additional questions for clarification:

  • Are you okay with risking losses for the chance of winning?
  • Do you really think you would enjoy gambling?
  • Do you have money you can afford to lose, to spend on gambling?
  • Would your friends and family approve of you gambling?
  • Do you think you could gamble responsibly?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, then I’d say gambling is something you should try for fun.

I can answer yes to all of them and as I stated earlier, I totally enjoy gambling. If you answered no to any of them, then, in my opinion, it may not be okay for you.

I’m not a professional gambler, but I do go to my local casino on a regular basis and believe that gambling can be an extremely enjoyable pastime if done responsibly. However, I also understand and believe that it isn’t for everyone.

I hope my website is filled with information and advice that will help people have the best possible experience gambling. I can only guarantee that you will not win all the time, that’s the nature of the beast!