What Do These Tell-Tale Poker Phrases Tell You?
Friday, 2. April 2010

Poker has a language all its own. For someone who doesn’t play, “pokerise” can actually seem like a strange jargon, but players tend to use the same phrases again and again.

It is important for players to learn the most common poker terminology. This is not only so that they won’t give the impression of being “fish” but also because you can draw clues from fellow players according to the things that they say. If you can’t understand what people are saying at the table then you could easily miss out on an easy “tell.” By learning the following phrases, you will not only be able to understand your fellow players, you will learn important clues about them as well:

“You`ve got to know when to hold `em, know when to fold `em.”
This line from a famous Kenny Rogers song may be sage advice in a way - after all, in any game of poker, deciding when to bet or when to fold is key - but this phrase is often a throw-away phrase by people who are not seasoned poker players. To put it another way, few experienced poker players use this phrase at the poker table.

“I`d rather be lucky than good.”
This phrase is often used by players who play more hands than advisable. The general idea here is that poker is a game of luck and by holding in for long enough they will get a lucky “break” that will let them win. This phrase is almost always a tell of an inexperienced player who tends to play weak hands. Any good poker player avoids saying this because he or she knows that poker is a game of skill in which luck only plays a part. In fact, good poker players know that one of the best skills a poker player can learn is to decide when to fold and when to bet.

“If you don’t know who the fish at the poker table is, then the fish is you.”
Poker players use the term “fish” to refer to inexperienced poker players who make poor choices at the poker table and who are bad at reading other players. Good poker players often like to see fish at a table, because it is often quite easy for a decent player to make money from a fish at the table. Of course, at most poker tables, there is one poker player who is less experienced than the rest. This phrase suggests that if you cannot tell the good players from the less seasoned at a table, then you are likely the fish. In that case, you may wish to bow out of the game before you lose money to more experienced players.

“That’s a bad beat.”
A “bad beat” refers to a loss where a player loses despite being mathematically likely to win. If you have a very high hand, for example, but someone gets a rare higher hand, then that is a “bad beat.” Bad beats are part of the risk of poker and are what make the game so exciting and unpredictable. They happen to every player eventually, regardless of skill.

“We need a live one.”
This phrase is a request for a new fish or weak player at the poker table. It is usually said in a joking but arrogant way (because the person saying it is assuming or stating that he/she is not the fish).

“What a tight player.”
A tight player can be used to describe someone who plays conservatively and even timidly. In many cases, it can be a compliment. When used in a disparaging or insulting way, it means that a player is too conservative and uptight while playing.

“Read ‘em and weep.”
This phrase is usually used by a player who is winning a showdown. It is basically a way to show off and emphasize a win over others.

“Trust everyone, but cut the cards.”
This phrase means that you should trust noone and shuffle or cut the cards to prevent cheating.

“a single belly buster.”
This phrase means a draw to an inside straight.

“I’m drawing to a double belly buster.”
This phrase means drawing to two different straight, such as a hand of cards that includes a 2, a 3, and a 4 followed by a 9 and a 10.

“Any two will do for me.”
This phrase refers to the idea that a pair can hypothetically win in some poker games, such as Texas Hold-em, even though they rarely do. Often, this phrase is used by a player who justifies this phrase to play weak opening hands. Experienced poker players are unlikely to make statements like this - they know that solid hands and strong opening hands matter a great deal in poker.

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