Poker lingo


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Poker has enjoyed an enormous growth spurt in the last few years. The rise of online poker makes playing at any time of the day or night as easy as the click of a mouse. Televised poker (no-limit Texas hold'em in particular) has also become a phenomenon, with players from around the world competing for huge sums of money.

But, to the novice, some of the lingo that the commentators use must sound like insider's jargon that is known only to a select few. Well, let us help you out with a glossary that has some interesting expressions.


  • American Airlines: Pocket aces. Sure A.A. is one of the largest airlines in the States, even one that has slightly greater financial stability than Air Canada. West Jet is a fine airline, but it is hardly a national carrier if it doesn't fly to Gander, Newfoundland.
  • Bicycle: The best hand in lowball i.e. A-2-3-4-5. Even non-cultured types from every corner of the country will announce they have a "beeceeclet" when they produce this monster.
  • Big Slick: An ace and a king. Also, the intersection of Portage and Main in the middle of February, pretty dangerous stuff when you're running bad.
  • Brick: A useless card. If you start off with the 2-3-6 of hearts in seven-card stud split and hit a nine of spades on fourth street, you've just been dealt a brick. Also, a popular method of obtaining enough money for a buy-in on Yonge Street.
  • Bullets: Another slang term for two aces. If you are lucky enough to be dealt pocket aces in hold'em and they actually stand up, you are required to note the date and time and ship this information to the registry in Ottawa.
  • Chop: If only the blinds remain, players will often elect to chop the antes and get their money back. If the small blind suddenly announces that he doesn't chop, careful analysis predicts that he has at least pocket queens.
  • Cowboys: Pocket kings. "Ten Day Cowboys" are often seen at the Calgary Stampede spending $68 on "Whack-A-Mole" trying to win a $12 stuffed tiger for their girlfriend.
  • Cracked: A hand that "should" have won. For example, "My Cowboy's got cracked." With a degree of certainty that "Living Loving Maid" always follows "Heartbreaker," bad beat stories are sure to follow.
  • Family Pot: A pot where just about everyone sees the flop. To call until the end is almost mandatory in friendly home games. I've also been in friendly games where three generations of people were getting blasted off the same baggie.
  • Fishhooks: A pair of jacks. I've seen many people play fishhooks like they were something special. Often, they are the fish.
  • Free Rolling: Where you cannot lose the pot, but you can win it. Let's say all the money goes in on a flop of Q-J-9 with 2 spades. You have A-K and your opponent has A-K offsuit. If you have one or two spades with your Big Slick and he doesn't have any, you are now free rolling. He cannot beat you, but you could win with a backdoor flush.
  • Gretzky's: A pair of nines. Should be pretty self-explanatory for anyone who has watched a hockey game in the last 25 years. I'm sure even folk in Tampa Bay have heard of Gretzky; he was a pretty good hockey player. He's completely useless, however, on shootouts.
  • Hockey Sticks: A pair of sevens. Also Coffey's or Bourque's, but that might be getting a bit too carried away with the whole Canadiana thing.
  • Hogger: To win the whole pot. In split games to get a "hogger" is a beautiful thing, it means that you win everything.
  • Hosed: To lose. As in, "I got hosed out of a huge pot last week!" Often heard in "friendly" home games where it is expected that all players consume at least two Molson Stubby's during each round of guts.
  • Lead Pipe Cinch: A lock, a sure thing. The Canadian filly Dance Smartly was a L.P.C. in the Breeders Cup. Even though many thought so, the French trained horse Arazi wasn't a lock in the Kentucky Derby as it turned out.
  • Monster: A huge hand. This expression far predates internet job search boards.
  • On Tilt: To start playing very badly. If, after taking a pounding in the last few hands, a good player picks up her next hand and announces to the table that she's "on tilt" - she isn't.
  • Outs: The outs are the number of cards in the deck that will improve your hand.
  • Pay Off: Even when a player is sure that he is beat, he elects to pay off the winner just in case he is bluffing. This is also the preferred method of conducting business in Canadian politics.
  • Pocket Rockets: Also, two aces. If we don't have a national airline, then it is going to be tough to get a space program going. But, you've gotta start somewhere; at least we still have an arm in space.
  • Rock: A rock is a tight passive player who does not take any risk and is easily exploited.
  • Sawmill: A king and a nine. When the boys in Northern B.C. get their paycheques and head to the big city for the weekend, it's back to the logging camp on Monday morning after playing this piece of cheese.
  • Shove: Shoving means to go all in and put all your chips in the middle.
  • Stone Cold Nuts: A hand that cannot be beaten. For some reason, Portage and Main in February comes to mind.
  • Suck Out: To get very lucky and win a pot. Also, Ricky's favourite method for getting gas for his car in the trailer park.
  • Talking Chips: A player suddenly becomes jovial and talkative after winning a pot. The Moose can pitch his chips all he wants, but this is one of the most common sounds in traditional cardrooms.
  • Tell: When Johnny has his eyes glued to the floor and is doing a circular shuffling motion with his right foot, it is a bad tell that he did indeed break daddy's Provincial bowling trophy.
  • Tight: In Canada, a full house is a "tight." In America, it's a "full boat" (often with massive guns and Tomahawk cruise missiles).
  • White Shirts: Dealers. This can be a welcome sight in Vegas as dealers sit in the game and try to parlay their tokes. They are often tired and make mistakes. Besides if they are any good at actually playing the game, why are they still dealing? In Canada, dealers are not allowed to play where they deal.


Well folks, I hope that helps the next time you are watching poker on the tube, or playing at your favourite establishment. Now you should be able to follow along without feeling too left out. Go get 'em!

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