Poker Jargon For Beginners - Describing The Hand You're Dealt

By: Gen Wright

If you have had a look at a poker dictionary, you will realize that getting used to all that vocabulary is a matter of months or years. Reading those long, long lists is definitely the last thing you should be doing if you want to get acclimatized to the jargon.

The best way to get used to terms is to split them up according to contexts - what terms are used to describe players? How do cardsharps (what are cardsharps?) talk about hands that are good or bad? Do cards have nicknames?

Here, I'll be telling you how to value the cards you are dealt. The ranking of a hand is decided according to two factors.

A. The type of hand. The royal flush is the highest hand, and the order of ranking is -

Royal flush
Straight flush
Four of a kind
Full house
Three of a kind
Two pairs
One pair
High card

B. The ranking of cards in the hand. Aces can be ranked high or low depending on what type of poker is being played. However, the type of hand is more influential in determining the ranking than the rankings of individual cards.
Now, we move on to the types of hands. Remember - each hand contains five cards.

Flush - Five cards belonging to the same suit, regardless of the number

Straight - five cards in consecutive order of numbering. For example, 3-4-5-6-7. The arrangement of cards in any hand does not affect its value

High card - One card of high value is present in the hand. Aces are usually the highest valued, followed by Kings, Queens, Jacks and so on.

Royal Flush - 10, J, Q, K, A all of the same suit. No suit is ranked higher than the other

Four of a kind - Four cards of the same rank, with a fifth card of different rank

Full house - Three cards of one rank, and two of another rank. A hand with three sevens and two fives, for example, will be described as "Sevens full of fives". This will be ranked higher than "fives full of sevens", as sevens are valued higher than fives.

Three of a kind - Any three cards in the hand have the same rank

Pair - two cards which share the same rank. There may be two such pairs in the hand, when it is called "two pair". Pair, like any hand that depends on the rank of cards, does not depend on suit.

As you see, unless you have a Royal Flush there is absolutely no way to tell how likely it is for your hand to be a winner just by looking at your cards. This is what makes poker such an involved and interactive game of strategy - smile or frown at the wrong time, and you may end up giving the game away.

Oh, and if you didn't know it already - a "cardsharp" is an expert card game player. That's the first of the poker terms you will come to know.

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