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Poker has a unique language all of its own. How would we communicate without the special poker terms?

When I attempted to list them, before I finished the task, I had counted well over 100 terms that we use on a more or less regular basis. Some are used so often that we just accept them as innate parts of the poker world. Some are less often used. Let’s list some of the latter as examples:

Aces cracked; advertise; broadway; bubble; capped; cold call; cut-off (position); hijack (position); image; implied odds; a money game; over-card; over-pair; over the top; pocket pair; protect your hand; push; rag; represent; on a roll; a round; royals (straight and flush); scare card; scoop (the pot); shove; super-tight; trap; steal; value (betting); and a wheel.

Wow! That’s a handful and you probably can add a lot more to our list of common poker lingo.

If you play poker on a regular basis, you are well familiar with most, if not all, of these terms. Some are adapted from our common language and applied to the game of poker.

Esther Bluff tactic essential to successful bluffing

Today, I’d like to discuss some of the less familiar terms. I think you will find it interesting, and perhaps adopt some of these in your own poker language:

• Recently we wrote a full column on the Esther Bluff. Reminder: That’s a bluffing tactic created by my granddaughter Esther when she was a teenager, just learning to play poker. It works so well.

• Hi-Lo hands — An honor card and a small card (7 or below) as your hole cards. This spells danger. If your hand improves on the flop, most likely (one out of three times) it will pair one of those cards.

Playing pairs on the flop can be costly; there are so many higher pairs that opponents may hold or catch. Pairing the honor card may look so good, but an opponent may have a higher kicker — if not a higher pair.

Be cautious — or, better yet, avoid Hi-Lo hands from the start. (Just muck them, and wait for a better opportunity.)

• The Money Odds — Are there enough chips in the pot to make a call worth the risk? If not, mucking your hand may well be the wise move against a raise by a tight player.

• The Sheriff — You will often find one at your table. The “Sheriff” is a player who calls down his opponent to make sure he’s not trying to bluff him out — a calling-station.

• The “Animals” — In his book, Play Poker Like the Pros, poker celebrity Phil Hellmuth introduced us to his animal types for describing players:

The Jackal: Plays loose and wild (stays in many hands and often raises).

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The Mouse: A very conservative player, often folding pre-flop, and generally playing only Hellmuth’s Top Ten starting hands.

The Elephant: Plays fairly loose (sees lots of flops) and is a calling-station.

The Lion: Plays fairly tight, not limiting himself to Hellmuth’s Top Ten, and is expert at bluffing.

The Eagle: A rare bird, one of the top 100 poker players in the world who often competes in the big tournaments (a pro).

I often wonder how many poker players use these. Personally, I think they are somewhat confusing and add little — if anything — to the game.

• The Hold’em Algorithm — I wrote a 39-page booklet about the amazing Hold’em Algorithm. It’s a procedure to make it much easier to select a viable starting hand. The concept includes consideration of a number of key factors. It helps you avoid getting involved with hands that are more likely to be losers. A dollar saved is more valuable than one earned.

About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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