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This is a glossary of both technical terms (indicated with tt.)
and poker jargon used
in the thesis.
Many of the poker term definitions are based on
selected excerpts from the rec.gambling Glossary of Poker terms,
used by permission of the main author, John C. Hallyburton, Jr..
- Action Frequency: n. tt. The frequency a certain opponent makes
a certain action in a certain context - based on inter-game statistics.
- Active Player: n. A player who is still in the pot.
- Ante: n. A small bet all players are required to make before a hand is dealt. Not all games have an ante. Related terms: blind.
- Bankroll: n. Current total gambling funds available. To be distinguished from the current money you happen to have on the table. See also: stake.
- Bet: v. To put money into the pot, pursuant to the rules of the game, thus maintaining a chance of winning the pot.
- Bet For Value: v. Betting a hand that, in the long run, is expected to win more than it loses. Antonym: bluff.
- Bettor: n. In a given round, the first person to put
money in the pot.
- Big Blind: n. A blind bet, usually a raise of an earlier blind which would be called the small blind. In limit poker, the big blind is usually the size of the minimum bet on the first round of betting.
- Blind: n. A mandatory bet made by certain player(s) usually sitting left of the button before each new hand is dealt. Used in place of,
or in conjunction with, antes.
See also: ante, big blind, small blind.
- Bluff: n. A bet or raise made with a poor hand, hoping
that the remaining active player(s) will fold. Can also be used as a
- Board: n. The exposed cards in Hold'em. Also called
board cards. See also: community cards.
- Button: n.
A distinctive token held by the player sitting in the theoretical dealer's
position (when the dealer is not a player in the game).
The button rotates around the table so that
every player has an opportunity to be the last to act. `` The
button" can refer to the player who currently has the button.
- Call: v. To put in to the pot the minimum amount of
money necessary to continue playing.
- Caller: n. One who calls. Sometimes used collectively, as in ``3 callers."
- Cap: v. To cap the betting is to make the last permitted
raise in a round. In this case, the betting is said to have been
- Check: v. To bet zero, when it is legal to do so. Frequently a sign of only a fair hand.
- Check-Raise: v. To check initially, then raise a bet
made later on in the same betting round. Frequently a sign of strength,
but may be a bluff. See also: sandbag.
- Chip: n. A gaming token used in place of cash for convenience
in handling and counting. The standard form of currency in most casinos.
- Community Cards: n. Cards that are available for every
player to use in making a hand. Usually dealt face-up somewhere in the
middle of the table. See also: board.
- Deuce: n. A two.
- Draw: n.  A class of poker games characterized by players being dealt 5 cards face-down and later having the opportunity to replace some of the original 5.
``Draw poker" and ``Five-card draw" are examples of usage.
- Draw: n.  In Hold'em games, the set of cards that will be dealt later can be collectively called ``the draw."
- Draw: v. To discard some number of cards and have dealt
an equal number of replacements.
- Early Position: n. Being one of the first players to act in a betting round. See also: middle position, late position.
- Effective Odds: n. A refinement to pot odds which
includes estimated extra winnings and cost to see more than one
card. The ratio of the expected winnings, when you make your hand,
to the cost to play. Used when considering a
hand with a high potential given more than one card to come.
- EHS: n. tt. Acronym for effective hand strength:
the probability of being the strongest hand in the future ( i.e. using
PPOT and NPOT). EHS' is an optimistic version which ignores
NPOT (used when EHS is considered for a betting
decision instead of for a calling decision).
- Face Card n. A jack, queen or king (a card with a face on it,
- Face-Down: adj. Specifies a card that is
known only to the owning player ( e.g. your hole cards in Hold'em).
- Face-Up: adj. Specifies a card is that is known
to all players ( e.g. community cards or board).
- Field Array: n. tt. The average of the normalized weight arrays
of all opponents.
- First to Act: n. First active player following the
- Fixed Limit: n. A betting structure where the amount of each
bet is a specific fixed quantity. Usually specified as A-B, where
A is the amount to bet in the first few betting rounds and B
(larger than A) is the amount bet in the later rounds.
Related terms: flat limit, no limit, pot limit,
- Flat Limit: n. A variant of
fixed limit where all bets are the same amount.
- Flop: n. In Hold'em, the first three community cards, dealt simultaneously.
- Flush: n. A poker hand consisting of five cards all of the
- Flush Draw: n. Four cards of the same suit ( i.e. missing
one card to make a flush).
- Fold: v. To decline to call a bet, thus dropping out of a hand.
- Four of a Kind: n. A hand containing all four cards of the same rank.
- Free Card: n. A card dealt after all players checked in a betting round.
- Full House: n. A hand consisting of three of a kind
and a (different) pair.
- GOM: n. tt. Acronym for generic opponent modeler:
a version of Loki that uses default action frequencies for
all opponents (the re-weighting system is the same for all opponents).
GOM' is a later version that uses additional betting strategies
like check-raising. Compare: SOM.
- Hand: n.  A player's hand is the set of cards that
only they may use at the showdown. In Texas Hold'em, a player's
hand is their set of hole cards.
- Hand: n.  One full game of poker ( i.e. from the
blinds or ante until the pot is awarded). See also: trial.
- High Card: n. The weakest poker hand, 5 unmatched cards.
- Hit: v. To make a hand or catch a card or cards that
improves one's hand ( e.g. you hold 2-3-4-6 and a 5 is dealt, giving
you a straight). Antonym: miss.
- Hold'em: n.  Generic name for a class of poker games where the players receive a certain number (2 to 4) of hole cards and 5 community cards. Usually there
are betting rounds after dealing the hole cards, then after dealing 3 face-up
cards ( flop), after dealing a 4th face-up card ( turn) and
finally after dealing a 5th face-up card ( river).
- Hold'em: n.  When used in the specific sense ( e.g. ``We're playing Hold'em") the term usually refers to the game of Texas Hold'em.
- Hole Cards: n. In certain poker variants, such as
Hold'em, the face-down cards dealt to each player. Sometimes called
- HR: n. tt. Acronym for hand rank: the
probability of being the strongest hand in the present state,
against one random hand. HRn is the hand rank against n hands.
- HS: n. tt. Acronym for hand strength: the
probability of being the strongest hand in the present state.
HSn is the hand strength against n opponents.
- Immediate Odds: See pot odds.
- Implied Odds: n. A refinement to pot odds which includes money not yet in the pot. Considers the ratio of estimated extra winnings,
when a player forms a good hand, to the present cost to call.
- In: adj. Still eligible to win the pot. ``I'm in"
is often spoken as one calls.
- Inside Straight: n. Four cards to a straight, where only one rank will complete the hand. For example, 4-5-6-8 is an inside straight since only a 7 will complete the hand. Compare: open-ended straight.
- Kicker: n. In hands containing pairs and
three of a kind, the highest
card not matched. In draw games, sometimes a card kept for deception purposes.
- Late Position: n. For a particular betting round, a player who does not have to act until most of the other players have acted. See also:
early position, middle position.
- Limit Poker: n. A poker game wherein the amount to be bet is fixed, or at most variable within a prescribed minimum and maximum. Antonym:
no-limit poker. See also: fixed limit.
- Loose: adj. Playing more hands than the norm. Antonym:
- Middle Position: n. Betting positions approximately halfway around the table from the first player to act. See also: early position,
- Make: v. To make a hand is to receive
cards that improve one's hand. See also: hit.
- Miss: v. To receive a card that does not improve one's
hand. Antonym: hit.
- No-Limit Poker: n. A game where there is no maximum bet; a player can wager any amount (perhaps above some minimum) up to whatever money is
on the table in front of him. Antonym: limit poker.
See also: fixed limit.
- NPOT: n. tt. Acronym for negative potential: the
probability of falling behind given that we are ahead (approximately,
the percentage of upcoming cards that help our opponents). NPOT1 is
the one card potential and NPOT2 is the two card potential.
- Off-Suit: adj. Not of the same suit. ``I held A-Q off-suit"
or ``The flop was 10-6-2 off-suit." When speaking of 5 or more cards,
then not all of the same suit ( i.e. no flush).
- One Pair: n. The second weakest poker hand. It contains
two cards of the same rank and 3 unmatched cards ( kickers).
- Open: v. Make the first bet in a hand, especially in draw poker.
- Open-Ended Straight: n. Four cards to a straight which can be completed by drawing a card at either end. E.g. 6-7-8-9 is an open-ended straight.
Compare: inside straight.
- Out: n. A card that will improve your hand, often substantially.
A hand with many outs is preferable to a hand with only a few.
E.g. with a flush draw in diamonds, any diamond is an out.
- Out: adj. Folded, ineligible to bet or win this hand. ``I'm out" is often a synonym for ``I fold."
- Overpair: n. In Hold'em, a pair in the hole that is larger than any community card on the board.
- Pair: n. Two cards of the same rank.
- Position: n. One's location in the betting sequence, relative to the players still in the hand. First position is first to act.
- Post-Flop: n. In Texas Hold'em, the rounds following the turning
of the flop cards ( i.e. the flop, turn and river). Compare:
- Pot: n. The total amount of money bet so far in a hand.
- Pot Limit: n. A game where the maximum bet is determined by the size of the pot at the time. Note that a player wanting to raise first calls the bet, then totals the
pot to determine the maximum amount he can raise.
See also: fixed limit.
- Pot Odds: n. The ratio of the money in the pot
to the amount of money to call. Often used with respect to the
potential of your hand to determine if a pot offers enough
reward to pay to see the next card.
- PPOT: n. tt. Acronym for positive potential: the
probability of pulling ahead given we are behind (approximately
the percentage of upcoming cards that make us a sure winner). PPOT1 is
the one card potential and PPOT2 is the two card potential.
In some cases where we need a very quick estimate, we use PPOTc
(for crude). It uses some fixed rules to quickly determine an
estimate of PPOT1.
- Pre-Flop: n. In Texas Hold'em, the round preceding the turning
of the flop cards, where there are no community cards. Compare: post-flop.
- Pure Bluff: n. A bluff made with a minimal chance
of winning, usually on the final round with no further cards to come.
- Raise: v. To wager more than the minimum required to call, forcing other players to put in more money as well.
- Raiser: n. One who raises.
- Represent: v. Implying, by one's betting style, that one has a particular hand.
- Reraise: v. To raise after an opponent has raised.
- Reverse Implied Odds: n. A refinement to pot odds
which includes extra cost to play the hand. Considers the ratio of the
present pot to the estimated extra cost to play to the end of the hand.
- Re-weight: v. tt. The process of taking an observed
action (and its action frequency) and applying a transformation
function to adjust the weight array to represent a more likely
distribution of hands held by the opponent.
- River: n. The last card dealt in a hand of Hold'em.
- Roll: v. In some variants, instead of dealing extra
cards the rules may call for players to roll over some
face-down cards (turn them face-up).
- Round: n. A poker variant is composed of several
rounds. In each round, players take some action (such as being
dealt a new card) and then proceed to a betting series. E.g.
Texas Hold'em has four rounds ( pre-flop, flop,
turn and river).
- Royal Flush: n. An ace-high straight flush, the
best possible hand in regular poker.
- Sandbag: v. Playing a strong hand weakly.
See also slowplay, check-raise.
- Script: n. tt. The definition for a poker variant presented
as a sequence of events ( e.g. each player receives x cards face-down,
followed by a round of betting, etc.).
- Semi-Bluff: n. A bet with a weak hand that has
good drawing potential and is likely to win if it hits ( e.g. a flush
draw with no pair is often a good semi-bluffing hand). Can
be used as a verb.
- Session: n. A contiguous series of hands (games of
- Short-Handed: adv. Playing against only a few other
opponents (usually 2-4 players total). Opponent modeling is much
- Showdown: n. The point at the end of the hand where all active players reveal their cards and the pot is awarded to the winner(s).
- Showdown Odds: n. A refinement to pot odds which
considers the ratio of the estimated winnings to the estimated cost
to play to the end of the hand.
- Slowplay: v. To play a strong hand weakly, by checking instead
of betting or by calling instead of raising. Usually done to win extra
bets by keeping more players around for future rounds of betting.
See also sandbag.
- Small Blind: n. In games with two blinds the first blind is the
small blind because it is usually one-half (or less) the second or
- SOM: n. tt. Acronym for specific opponent modeler:
a version of Loki that accumulates statistics for each opponents
to calculate action frequencies which are used to appropriately
re-weight based on observed actions.
SOM' is a later version that uses additional betting strategies
like check-raising. Compare: GOM.
- Spread Limit: n. A variation on fixed limit wherein
and maximum bets are different. A 1-4-8 game allows bets from 1 to 4 in
the early rounds and 1-8 in the last round. A 1-4-8-16 game allows bets from 1 to 4 in the early rounds, 1 to 8 in the next-to-last round,
and 1 to 16 in the last round.
- Stake: n. The amount of money a player is
willing or able to play with in a given session. Compare: bankroll.
- Steal: v. To win the pot by bluffing.
- Straight: n. A hand consisting of 5 cards in sequence but not in suit.
- Straight Draw: n. A four card straight. See also:
inside straight, open-ended straight.
- Straight Flush: n. A hand consisting of 5 cards in sequence and the same suit.
- Suited: n. Two or more cards all the same suit. Antonym:
- Table: n. The set of players playing together.
- Tell: n. Any personal mannerisms that reveal the quality of one's hand. E.g. constantly looking at one's hole cards is often a tell of a poor hand. (Some players,
knowing this, will at times check their hole cards when they have a great hand and don't need to look).
- Texas Hold'em: n. A Hold'em game where players receive two hole cards and may use zero or more of them, together with 5 board cards, to make their hands.
- Three of a Kind: n. Three cards of the same rank.
- Tight: adj. Playing fewer hands than average.
- To Call: adj. The amount that the current player
must call to continue playing; it is a factor of the previous betting
action this round. E.g. if the current player has called the
first bet of $10 but there has since been a raise of $10
then it is ``$10 to call" for that player.
Compare: to go.
- To Go: adj. The current betting level, as in ``$20 to go"
meaning every player must contribute $20 (total) or drop.
A $10 raise would then make the pot ``$30 to go."
- Top Pair: n. In flop games, having a hole card that matches the highest card on the board.
- Trey: n. A three.
- Trial: n. tt. In the self-play tournaments that
Loki uses, a trial is one particular instance of a hand. For each
particular distribution of cards, the hand is replayed ten times
(trials), shuffling the seating arrangement each time to reduce the luck
- Turn: n. The fourth community card in Hold'em.
- Two Pair: n. A poker hand which contains two pairs of
different ranks and one kicker.
- Weight Array: n. tt. The component of an opponent model
that is used to obtain a weighted sum in the hand evaluation algorithms.
For each opponent there is a weight for each possible combination of hole
cards. This weight approximately represents the conditional probability
that they would have played in the observed manner (given that hand).
See also: re-weight.
- Wild Card: n. A joker or standard card that, by player agreement and/or dealer's choice, can be used to represent any card desired.
- World Series of Poker: n. A series of several different poker
games with relatively large entry fees, culminating in a $10,000
entry-fee no-limit Hold'em tournament, the winner of which is crowned the
World Poker Champion. Sponsored by Binion's Horseshoe Club in Las Vegas.
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Up: Dealing with Imperfect Information
Previous: B. Expert-Defined Values