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The Most Commonly Used Poker Terms And Their Meanings
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The Most Commonly Used Poker Terms And Their Meanings

Date Published: 21st September 2020
Author: Garey Kennedy
As with everything in life, there are unique terms used by those in a particular circle. This theory is provable with all the players in different industries, professions, and even religions, communicating in distinct codes. Basically, these codes are terms used to refer to certain actions or objects peculiar to their activities. Since the codes are peculiar to those involved in the activities, they may appear complex and bizarre to persons who do not belong in the circle. The game of Poker is one activity that involves the use of several terms that may appear rather confusing to a non-poker fan. Since it is widely played game, it is useful to learn some of its most popular slang terms used by poker players around the globe. Some of the most popular slangs used by poker players include the following.

Freeroll: A freeroll occurs in two instances — when a contender enters a poker tournament for free or when two players in a poker game have the same cards in hand. In terms of free entry into the tournament, a freeroll occurs when the poker room puts up prize money for the winner of a tournament, and the winner gets to go home with the exact prize amount. As such, there are no costs or charges attached to the parties involved in the competition. For example, a house organises a tournament and charges no fee for entrance. The house then declares $1000 as a cash prize for the winner of a tournament and the eventual winner goes home with exactly $1000 — no deductions.


In poker games, a freeroll occurs when two parties playing against each other both have the same cards in hand, tying against each other. However, since it is impossible to have the same cards (example, both parties having QJ Spades), one of them has to draw to a stronger hand. Simply put, if contend A has QJ of diamonds and the other has QJ of spades in hand, while the board is covered with a QJ 9, King of Spades, ten of clubs and king of spades, they either tie or Party A wins. Essentially, A has a free roll as he has nothing to lose in the game. In the end, the common insinuation of a “freeroll” is that someone in the game is playing with no cost attached.

Drawing Dead: This is a situation when a player is at a dead-end of the game, with no iota of chance of winning. In simple terms, it means that the player has already lost the game, regardless of the card that is dealt next. This means that if there was a straight draw between the contenders, and one of them already has a full house, the other player is “drawing dead”. The party drawing dead loses, regardless of whatever card he deals next because it is impossible to outdraw the full house. An example of the term being used in a sentence is “the game was going good till we realized we were drawing dead against our opponent’s full house”.

Drawing Dead: This is a situation

Titling or “Going on Tilt”: “Tilting” is what happens when a participant is infuriated about a particular occurrence or the unfortunate turn of events in the game and makes ill decisions. In this case, the participant’s decision is influenced mainly by prevailing emotions which leads to dead ends. As with poker games, participants are usually advised to play with a rational mind to avoid making wrong moves because it leads to the most destructive occurrence in poker games — tilting. This drives home the point that when participants are depressed or emotionally unstable, they are expected to take a break from playing. In any case, a participant is “going on tilt” when he makes moves that are inspired by common emotional phenomenons in the poker world like “revenge”, “depression”, “greed”, among many others.

Running Bad: This term is similar to “tilt” in the sense that it also connotes an unfortunate string of occurrences in a game. Simply, it refers to a recurrent situation where a participant loses the round, though the odds were in his favor from the onset. Put differently, the participant experiences serial losses in consecutive rounds, which mostly lead to an overall loss at the table. When this happens in poker, it is believed that the participant is hit with poor luck at that moment, and as such — “running bad. An example of this occurrence is when two participants play about 3 rounds, with one of them losing all 3, while the same person had crushed the winner in the pre-flop tenders. Interestingly, the winning party is said to be “running good” — referring to the fact that though the odds were not in the winning party’s favor, he won, regardless.

Running Bad: This term is similar

Nit: In poker, “Nit” is a term used to refer to persons who hate to take risks. As such, they are frugal in their bets, bearing in mind that their bets could go south. In fact, nits mostly prefer to take part mostly in hands where a win is possible. Essentially, they only look to indulge in hands they are most certain of winning. They make use of a tight strategy, yet looking to contend for big pots. Although professionals believe it is unfavorable to use such strategies, some “nits” smile to the bank.

While these are some popular terms used in the poker world, it is noteworthy that these are few compared to the plethora of terms used in this activity. There are countless terms used by poker players — some originating from the poker culture itself; others, imported from other “cultural trends”. Regardless, poker terms are easy because they are mostly descriptive, self-explanatory and allusive.

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