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(n) 1. Spades (the suit), in written text. As, for example, is the ace of spades (Aspade). 2. Shorthand, particularly in e-mail and Internet postings, for suited. For example, specifying a hold 'em hand as KQs means king-queen suited.


(v) Bend cards in such a way that the deck will be cut one card above one of these cards.


(n) Two or more 4s. (That's what they look like.)

sail for

(v phrase) Lose. "How much did he sail for?"


(n, imitative) 7 (the card, or the lowball hand).

salt away

(v phrase) rathole chips during a playing session, perhaps for future use.


(n) Poor luck; the condition of being salty.


(adv) Having poor luck; on a losing streak. "How ya doin'?" "Been running salty lately; can't seem to make a hand when it counts."


(v) Use sandpaper on the sides of some cards so that their ranks can be determined by feel, or so that they can be easily located within a full deck; a method of shaving the cards. See shave and strippers.


(v) Pass a good hand (in draw) or good holding (in stud or hold 'em) with the intention of raising if anyone bets. Also see check-raise, slow-play.


(n) One who sandbags (see sandbag), often a term of disapproval.

S & M

(n phrase) Referring to the writings of poker theoreticians David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth. In a seven-card stud context, often refers to Seven-Card Stud for Advanced Players, and in a hold 'em context, to Texas Hold 'em For Advanced Players. "Playing S & M" means playing according to the precepts of these books.


(n) Cards marked on their sides by sanding. See sand. Compare with scratch paper.


(v) whipsaw.


(adj) whipsawed.

San Jose to Gilroy

(n phrase) Three 10s, so called because it used to be 30 miles from San Jose to Gilroy (no longer), and 30 miles is another term for three 10s. Sometimes shortened to just Gilroy. Also, from here to Gilroy.

Santa Barbara

(n phrase) In hold 'em, A-K as one's first two cards. Derives from a destructive oil spill off the Santa Barbara coast, the name arising from the more well-known name for the hand, big slick.


(n) satellite tournament.

satellite tournament

(n phrase) A special tournament whose prize is usually a buy-in for a larger tournament. One-table satellites usually have just one winner; sometimes second place is awarded a free entry to another tournament or cash. In larger satellite tournaments, the winner may get entry to the larger tournament, round-trip airfare plus accommodations (if the satellite takes place in a city other than that of the larger tournament), plus some percentage of the excess cash accumulated in buy-ins and rebuys. Second, third, and sometimes other places also can win a percentage of this cash or buy-ins to that or other tournaments. A satellite tournament with a large number of entrants, awarding entry or entries to major tournaments, is called a supersatellite.

sauter la coupe

(n phrase, from French: lit. hop the cut) A cheating maneuver in which the dealer palms a card and moves it to the bottom of the deck, there to be dealt at his discretion.


(n, imitative) 7 (the card, or the lowball hand).


1. (v) Make an agreement, between two or more players, to pay the others when one wins a pot. For example, if you and I are saving antes, each time you win a pot, you throw me an ante chip, and each time I win one, I throw you a chip. Also see backline. 2. In a tournament, make an agreement near the end to allocate some of the prize money for first place to lower places. For example, if first place is worth $2000 and second $1000, two players might agree to save $200 and play for the rest. This way, second place would be worth $1200 and first $1800. In another example, nine players might be at the final table in a $100-buy-in tournament that pays only the top six places. They might agree before starting final-table play to save $100 for places seven through nine, the amount to come out of first place or perhaps first and second. That way, everyone who made it to the final table would be guaranteed something. Compare with split (definition 2). 3. (n) The agreement described in definition 2. "I broke even on the tournament because the players agreed to a save at the final table."

save bets

(v phrase) Make a similar agreement to that described under save (definition 1), except that players involved in such an agreement return all of what the others have invested in the pot. For example, if you and I are saving bets, and you win a pot in which we both play, you return to me everything I put in the pot, and vice versa. In such cases, you and I make money if we are both in a pot only if someone else is in. This procedure is not permitted in most cardrooms, because it looks like a form of collusion to the other players. Also push bets Also see backline.


(n) $10 or a $10 bill.

sawdust joint

(n phrase) 1. A cardroom or casino that caters to a low-class crowd, sometimes implying a place whose denizens include thieves. Comes from a time when taverns had hardwood floors and sawdust sprinkled on the floor to absorb spilled drinks. 2. Any gambling house of less-than-opulent surroundings, as opposed to a carpet joint.


(n) sawbuck.


(n, imitative) 6 (the card, or the lowball hand).


1. (v) Announce in turn whether one is betting or passing. 2. (n) Such an announcement; a player's turn to bet or pass. "Your say, John; whaddya do?"


(n) Shorthand, particularly in e-mail and Internet postings, for small blind.


(n) Shorthand, particularly in tournament write-ups, for the head up situation in which the small blind is on the button.


1. (n) A cheating agreement between two or more players; collusion. 2. Less frequently, any marginally dishonest scheme. For example, buying cheap clothes from a factory that specializes in making knockoff copies of designer clothes and then selling them as first-class items that were supposedly part of a hijacked truck shipment, because people think they're getting a great deal if they buy something for seemingly less than it's worth because it's apparently "hot," is the "hot clothing scam." 3. (vi) Use a scam. "They got barred from the club after the manager discovered they were scamming." 4. (vt) Use a scam on someone or something. "They were scamming the game."


(n) One who scams (see scam).

scare card

(n phrase) 1. In stud, an upcard that appears likely to have improved the player's hand. For example, a player who received an ace, a 10, and a jack as his first three upcards, and then caught a king on sixth street, has definitely been dealt a scare card, because he can easily have or make a high straight. 2. In draw, a good card inadvertently turned up in a player's hand, supposedly frightening opponents.

scared money

(n phrase) Money a player is afraid to lose (and thus probably will). There's a cardroom saying, "Scared money never wins."

Scarne cut

(n phrase) A form of cut in which the cutter holds the cards in one hand, removes the bottom half with the other and places them atop the remaining half, pulls a packet from the center and places those cards on top of the remaining cards. This cut is named after John Scarne, who lectured and wrote about gambling thieves, and introduced this form of cut as a means of foiling cheaters who had stacked the deck. The Scarne cut is not permitted in most public cardrooms, where the deck must not be lifted from the table and must be cut with one hand. Sometimes called whorehouse cut.


(n) People assembled to play poker, or a group from whom players are drawn. This is mostly British usage. Also called poker school.


1. (v) Put a bad beat on someone. Some say this must be worse than a bad beat: a backdoor flush (in hold 'em) doesn't count; if you have pocket kings, the flop is K-7-3, and my 9-3 offsuited catches running threes to beat you, that does. 2. (n) The act of performing the preceding. "Did you see that schmengie?"


1. (v) Declare both ways in a high-low poker game that has a declare. 2. Win both ways in a high-low poker game that has a declare. (Just because you declare both ways does not necessarily mean you'll win both ways.) 3. Win all of the pot in a high-low poker game that does not have a declare by having both the highest and the lowest hand. 4. Win all of the pot in a high-low poker game that does not have a declare by having the best hand for one way and no one has qualifiers for the other way. For example, in high-low seven-stud, 8-or-better, if your full house is the best high hand and no one has an 8-low or better, you scoop the pot. Also called shoot the moon (usually only in home games) for definitions 1 and 2, and sweep for 3. 5. (n) In a no-limit game, a handful of chips. When a player bets, and the dealer does not know exactly how much the bet is, the dealer might say, "One scoop." When a bet is raised by approximately the same amount, the dealer might say, "Two scoops." 6. In a limit game, two bets, that is, a bet and a raise. When a player raises, the dealer might say, "Two scoops." 7. A game in which a player who wins two pots in a row (or wins one pot over a certain amount) must post a blind on the next hand such that the game is played temporarily at a higher limit. That limit is usually either twice the nominal size of the game, or 50% higher (half kill). Thus, Omaha scoop might be a 4-8 game that becomes either 8-16 or 6-12 after someone wins two pots in a row (or wins a pot greater than, say, $100). When a board man announces the game, he might refer to it just as scoop, particularly if it's the only scoop game in the house. "John, your scoop seat is open."


(n) 1. A hand that wins both ways in any high-low pot. 2. The player holding the hand that wins both ways in any high-low pot. 3. The player who declares both ways in a high-low poker game that has a declare. See scoop.

scoop hand

(n phrase) scooping hand.

scooping hand

(n phrase) A hand that wins both ways in any high-low pot, or the whole pot due to having the best hand for high when there is no low.

scoop the kitty

(n phrase) Win all the money the players have put up during a poker session.

scoop the pool

(n phrase) scoop the kitty.


(n) Pass chips between players, considered against the rules in some clubs. For example, John goes broke, and says to Sue, in the same game, "Could you lend me $20 to stay in the game?" Sue takes $20 off her stack, and passes them over to John. This is called scooting, and is considered illegal, even though it may not be specifically mentioned in the rules, because Sue has taken money off her own stack, which goes counter to the rules governing table stakes. The term came from scoot partner.


(n, pl) 1. Dollars. 2. Dollar chips. 3. Sometimes, any chips.

scoot partner

(n phrase) Someone with whom one player saves antes (or chips of the normal denomination for the game), as described under save (definition 1) and save bets.


1. (n) Win. "He made a good score." 2. (v) Win. "I scored last night." 3. Win big. 4. Win by cheating.

score a big touch

(v phrase) Win big, usually dishonestly.

scored pair

(n phrase) Having a pair in the pocket in hold 'em or seven-card stud, that is, a pair as one's starting (first two) cards.

Scotch straight

(n phrase) In high draw poker, a special skip straight, a nonstandard hand sometimes given value in a private or home game, five even cards in a series separated each from the other by one rank, that is, 2-4-6-8-10. The same hand, but with no value, is called a rizlo.

Scourge of Scotland

(n phrase) The 9 of diamonds, so called because every ninth Scottish king was (supposedly) a tyrant, and diamonds were a symbol of Scotland. Also called Curse of Scotland.


(n) Thoroughly mix the deck while it is face-down on the table by spreading the cards over a large area, a move sometimes made by a dealer prior to actually shuffling the cards in traditional fashion. Sometimes this extra time taken mixing the cards is done at the request of a player. Some say that the legendary Johnny Moss, three-time winner of the World Series of Poker, originated the term scramble. Also called wash.

scratch paper

(n phrase) Cards marked on their backs with sandpaper or a sharp instrument. Compare with sandpaper.

screen out

(v phrase) Make a diversion, to draw attention away from a thief who is in the process of performing a cheating maneuver. Also called shade.


(n) A diversion made (by another player) to draw attention away from a thief who is in the process of performing a cheating maneuver.

screwed down

(adv phrase) Playing very tight.

Screwy Louie

(n phrase) Anaconda.


(n) 1. A chair at a poker table, or, more particularly, the player in that chair, or the seating position of that player. A house dealer might say to an approaching cocktail waitress, "Seat 1 wants a drink." 2. An opening in a poker game, particularly as it just becomes available for a new player. A dealer may announce to the floorman, "Seat open on 3." Someone who has not yet sat down to play may ask the board man, "Do you have a seat in 10-20 hold 'em?"

seat charge

(n phrase) time.


1. (adv) Playing (in a game). 2. (adj) Pertaining to a player in a game (as opposed to someone who is either not yet playing, or who is away from the table). In describing the disposition of a jackpot, you may see the wording, "When a jackpot is won, 50% goes to the holder of the losing hand, 25% to the holder of the winning hand, and the remaining 25% to seated players."

seating position

(n phrase) Where a player sits in relation to the others at the table. See discussion under position.


(n) 1. A professional dealer. 2. shill.

seat position

(n phrase) 1. seating position. 2. Specifically, which seat number one occupies, starting with seat number 1 to the dealer's left and continuing clockwise around the table.


(n) The second card from the top of the deck, when referring to being dealt by a cheating dealer; often plural. "He dealt himself a second." "They barred him for dealing seconds."

second best

(n phrase) 1. Holding a hand that comes in second on the showdown (that is, loses). "Here I am, second best again." 2. The cards that constitute the hand in this situation. "Three kings was second best."

second button

(n phrase) second pair.

second deal

1. (n phrase) The dealing of one or more seconds. 2. (v phrase) Deal seconds.

second dealer

(n phrase) seconds dealer.

second dealing

(n phrase) Dealing seconds.

second hand

(n phrase) The second player to act in any betting round.

second nuts

(n phrase) In hold 'em, having the second-best possible hand for the situation, or, the actual second-best hand in such a situation. For example, if four spades (not including either the ace or king) and no pairs are on the board, the nuts would be an ace-high flush (that is, the ace of spades in the possession of any player), while the second nuts would be a king-high flush.

second pair

(n phrase) In hold 'em, forming a pair that consists of one of your hole cards matching the second-highest card on the board. Sometimes called middle pair or second button.

second position

(n phrase) 1. The player two positions to the left of the dealer. 2. The seat position of that player.


(n) 1. The dealing of one or more cards from the next-to-the-top position of the deck. 2. Cards so dealt. See second.

seconds dealer

(n phrase) A mechanic (card manipulator) whose specialty is dealing the second card from the top. The reason for such a move is to hold back the top card, which he knows because he has peeked (see peek) it, until he can deal it to himself, to a confederate, or to someone he is trying to cheat. Sometimes second dealer. Also called deuce dealer, number two man.

second story

(n phrase) In a big bet game, a raise, usually while holding a good hand; so called because, if it is called, and the player wins, it doubles the size of his stack.

second-story man

(n phrase) seconds dealer.


(vt) Call. "I'll see you." "I'll see that bet." The term is used more often in private and home games than in cardrooms and casinos, and seems very popular in Hollywood's portrayals of poker. Often part of the phrase see [a] bet.

see a bet

(v phrase) See see, señor.


(n) 1. An ace. Also called bullet (and several other names). 2. A $1 chip. Also called bone.


(v) Make a bet on the best hand that convinces one or more opponents to call or raise. In a no-limit game, for a call, the bet must not be too large for the situation, lest all opponents fold, nor too small, because then it does not extract the most chips from the opponents; for a raise, it must appear small for the situation, as if to protect a marginal hand, but not so small as to be suspicious. Sometimes part of the phrase sell a hand.

sell a hand

(v phrase) See sell.


1. (n) A bet made on a hand that is probably not the best at the time of the bet, but that has a possibility of improving to the best (has one or more outs). If the bet gets everyone else to fold, it succeeds as a bluff; if it does not, the hand might still improve (in draw) on the draw or (in stud and hold 'em) on succeeding cards. This term was first popularized in the writings of noted poker author and theorist David Sklansky. Compare with complete bet. 2. (v) Make such a bet.

senate dealer

(n phrase) A professional dealer, in particular, one who does not participate in the game.


(v) Signal someone's hand, usually by one thief to his confederate; usually followed by the hand. "Henry sent John the hand" means that Henry gave his partner, John, a signal that gave away the hand (probably of a player next to him) that Henry had managed to get a look at. See sign off.

send around

(v phrase) sandbag.

send in

(v phrase) In a no-limit game, bet large, particularly when that involves all of one's chips.

"Send it."

(v phrase) "Push the pot, losers." Said by an ungracious winner after showing down the best hand, usually in a big pot.

send it around

(v phrase) sandbag.

send it in

(v phrase) See send in.


(n) straight (definition 1).

sequence flush

(n phrase) An obsolete term for straight flush.

sequential declaration

(n phrase) consecutive declaration.

sergeant from K company

(n phrase) A king (the card).

sergeants from K company

(n phrase) Two or more kings.


(v) Deal (cards), particularly when done as a living.


(n) 1. With respect to a given player, a period of playing cards, from the point at which the player first sits down at the table until he cashes out (or leaves the table broke). 2. With respect to a group, the period of time for which the game lasts, from the deal of the first hand until it breaks up for lack of players, or due to a prearranged ending time. For both meanings, sometimes called poker session.


1. (n) In hold 'em and stud, three of a kind. To flop a set in hold 'em means that (most often) one started with a pair and one of those cards was among the flop (the first three community cards). Less often it means a pair was among the flop and the player had another card of that rank in the hole. 2. four of a kind, particularly as part of the phrase set of fours. 3. (v) Arrange the two hands that are made out of the seven cards dealt each player in pai gow poker.

set all in

(v phrase) set someone in.

set of fours

(n) four of a kind.

set over set

(n phrase) 1. In hold 'em, one player's set (definition 1) against another's. If you start with a pair of nines and I have a pair of sevens, and the board comes 9-7-2-3-8, that is a situation of set over set. 2. In hold 'em, one player's pocket pair (pair in the hole) against another's, in the situation in which the board cards help neither player. If you start with a pair of nines and I have a pair of sevens, and the board comes 10-J-2-3-8, that is a situation of set over set. (In this case, set does not refer to three of a kind.)

set over set over set

(n phrase) In hold 'em, three players each having a set (definition 1). If you start with a pair of nines, I have a pair of sevens, John has a pair of deuces, and the board comes 9-7-2-3-8, that is a situation of set over set over set.

set someone all in

(v phrase) set someone in.

set someone in

(v phrase) In a no-limit game, bet all of someone's chips. You can set another player in, or set yourself in. Both uses often include all in. "When he checked, I set him in, and when he called, I got even." "He set me all in."


(n) The period of time at the end of a poker game (usually private) at which losers pay their losses and winners collect their winnings; cashing in of chips.

settle up

(v phrase) At the end of a poker session, pay one's losses. Also see settlement.


(n) 1. A box containing two decks of plastic cards. You sometimes hear players ask for "a new setup." This means they want not just a new deck, but two fresh decks, because in a game that uses plastic cards, often the decks are rotated and not replaced until a specific period of time ends, or until requested (or when the cards become damaged). 2. The act of setting up. "He fell for the setup, and so the next time I drew two cards, he called all his chips with two little pair. Of course, that's when I showed him three aces." See set up (definition 1). 3. Preparation of a victim for being cheated.

set up

1. (v phrase) Make a bet or action that causes another player to think you always act that way, so that you can take advantage of the misconception later; set a trap for someone. For example, if in draw poker, you raise and draw one card to three of a kind several times, you may be trying to set someone up to think that every time you raise and draw one you have trips (particularly if you rarely raise on two pair). If later you raise and draw two when you really have three of a kind (if things work out the way you want, preferably aces), the player you have been setting up may think you can't possibly have trips, and will call a large bet after the draw with two pair or possibly even one high pair. (Of course, if things don't work out the way they're supposed to, he'll make a hand that beats your three aces. That's a chance a good player just has to take.) 2. Prepare a victim for being cheated. 3. (adj phrase) Having check cashing privileges (or sometimes just credit) in a particular establishment. "Are you set up in the cage?"

seven-card flip

(n phrase) A form of seven-card stud, found exclusively in home games, in which each player receives four cards face down, turns any two up, and then the betting commences. Also called you roll two.

seven-card stud

(n phrase) 1. A poker game, stud poker with two cards dealt face down, four cards dealt face up, and one final card dealt face down, with betting commencing on the third card and continuing with each round of cards. At the showdown, a player uses the best five of the seven cards. Sometimes called down the river. 2. The high-low split version of this game, usually with an 8 qualifier for low.


(n) A poker game, seven-card stud high-low split, with an 8 qualifier for low. Sometimes called Tahoe or Tahoe split.

seven rule

(n phrase) sevens rule.

7s full

(n phrase) A full house consisting of three 7s and another pair.

7s over

(n phrase) 1. 7s up. 2. 7s full.

sevens rule

(n phrase) In ace-to-five, the rule that states that you must bet a 7 or better (that is, a no-pair hand topped by a 7, 6, or 5) after the draw. Many years ago, in a very few clubs, failing to bet a 7 could cost you the entire pot; nowadays, it costs you only the action (betting) after the draw. In such a case, if a player passes a 7, and then calls with it, if the player who bet has worse than the passed hand, the bettor gets his money back, and the player who passed the 7 wins what was in the pot before the draw; if the player who bet has better than the passed hand, the bettor of course wins the whole pot, that is, the bet after the draw along with the remainder of the pot. The purpose of the rule is to speed up the game (by preventing players from passing good hands, and then waiting for the action to get back to them so they can raise).


(n phrase) seven-card stud.


(n) seven/8.

7s up

(n phrase) two pair, the higher of which are 7s.

seventh street

(n phrase) In seven-card stud, the seventh card dealt to each player, or the round in which this card is dealt. Following the dealing of this card is the fifth (last) round of betting. Also called river or river card.

seven-toed Pete

(n phrase) A name for seven-card stud, heard only in home games.


(n phrase) A stud game (sort of), played only in home games, in which each player is dealt a downcard, followed by a round of betting, and then one or more cards face up. Aces have a value of 1 or 11, face cards a value of , and all other cards have face value. This is a split-pot game, with the object being to end up with a total closest to 7 or 27. On each round, players can either receive a further upcard, or refuse further cards. After any round in which no player takes a card, the players declare which "way" they are going (7 or 27, sometimes called high or low), and there is a showdown. (Sometimes there is one more round of betting before the showdown.) In some versions, once a player refuses upcards a certain number of times (say, three), that player can no longer request further cards. The purpose of this rule is that when a player is in a "lock" (cannot lose) situation, that is, when he is the only one going low, and there are more than one player going high, and who have quit asking for upcards, the player with the lock can prolong the betting by drawing cards to a point at which he cannot hit without destroying his lock. In some games, being on one side or the other of 7 or 27 (when no one has exactly that total) wins over the other side. For example, in some games, 6 loses to 7, while in others, the reverse is true. The best hand is some combination that adds up to 7, and includes two aces, so that the hand also adds up to 27. This is a potential scooping hand, but a hand with which a player must be careful at declare time in a game in which the rules dictate that a player who declares for both ways must clearly win both ways (that is, cannot tie for either). While this is not really a poker game, it is very popular in some home games (because it has many of the elements of poker, including bluffing). Two-twenty-two and three-thirty-three are similar games.


(n, imitative) 6 (the card, or the lowball hand). Heard in a cardroom: He: "Do you like sex?" She: "Sure, sex-four, sex-five..."


(v) screen out.

shade work

(n phrase) Markings placed on the backs of cards, additions made to the natural design (as additional circles on a clock face or spokes on a bicycle wheel), for the use of cheating players or dealers. Compare with border work, edge work, and daub.

shade worker

(n phrase) A card thief who uses shade work.


(n) Markings (or cosmetics) put on the backs of cards with paint, ink, or some other fluid, so that a thief can read the ranks (and sometimes suits) of the cards from the back; alterations made to the natural design on the backs of the cards. See shade work. Compare with border work, edge work, and daub.


(n) Another name for pai gow poker.


(n) 1. Expert player. 2. Thief. 3. loan shark.


(n) 1. Expert player. 2. Thief.


1. (n) Expert player. 2. Thief. Often, cardsharp. 3. (vi) Cheat at cards.


(n) poker sharp.

sharp top

(n phrase) A four or an ace. Some lexicographers use the term only for an ace.


(v) Trim the sides of cards, to make them thinner so as to be easily detected by a thief. Also called trim.


(adv) Pertaining to the situation in which a hand is beaten by one only slightly better. Also called edged, edged out, or topped out.


(n) 1. Cards whose shape or size has been altered by a thief so they can be located by feel during manipulation of the deck. Also see concave card, convex card, end strippers, glazed card, humps, side strippers, strippers. 2. A tool for making such cards.


(v) In draw poker, discard (definition 1).


(n) The cashier's or floorman's record of stakes and cows, and sometimes transactions against players' banks and tab cards (see player's bank, tab card), which, at the end of the shift, is figured in with the determination of the net gain (or loss) for the shift; the balance sheet for the shift. From this comes the expression on the sheet, which means playing stake or cow.

sheet player

(n phrase) One who plays for the house, that is, on the sheet.


(n) Where a stake player's chips are kept when he is between playing sessions, usually a space under the control of the cashier, often just to one side of the window (to the cage). From this comes the expression on the shelf.


1. (n) One of the three traditional working periods in a cardroom or casino: day, swing, and graveyard. 2. The personnel of a particular shift. "What time does swing shift come on?" 3. The act of performing a hop of the cut. See hop the cut. 4. (v) hop the cut.

shift cards

(n phrase) While dealing, reverse the order of two cards as they are dealt. Compare with second dealing.

Shifting Sands

(n phrase) A variant of Mexican stud in which the rank of each player's hole card is wild for that player. The game probably gets its name because a player's wild card can change each round, along with the composition of the hand. The game is also called Rickey de Laet.

shift the cut

(n phrase) hop the cut.


1. (n) Someone who plays for the house, to help start games or keep short or shaky games going, to keep the live players (that is, those who are not shills) from leaving. A shill is different from a stake, because a shill keeps no part of the winnings, and is usually in the employ of the house or casino. Shills often have to play according to shill rules. Shills are not common in California cardrooms, where the function is more likely to be filled by employees helping get a game started, basically just filling seats till more live players come in. Also, game starter, house player, percentage player. An old term for shill is seat-man. Also see proposition player. 2. Someone who plays like a shill, that is, a no-action player. This is a derisive term used by other players to describe a tight or otherwise conservative player. 3. (vi) Act in the role of a shill. "I usually deal for 40 minutes, and then shill till my next down." 4. (vt) Act in the role of a shill; usually followed by a or the game. "We usually have dealers shill the games while they're waiting to go on duty."

shill rules

(n phrase) How a cardroom wants its shills to play. For example, in a lowball game, a shill might not be permitted to draw to worse than a 7, call a raise to draw, call after the draw with worse than an 8 (often only a good (smooth) 8), and be required to fold (no matter what she has) if another shill bets.


(n) A cheating device, a mirror or other shiny object, such as a highly-polished cigaret lighter, placed apparently innocently on the table, used to read the reflected faces of the cards while they are being dealt. Also, gaper, glimmer, reflector.


(n) A timid player; always preceded by play like. If someone says to you, "You play like Shirley," he is accusing you of having no gamble.


(n) Another name for H.O.S.E.

shoe clerk

(n phrase) 1. A player who does not stay for a raise (with the implication that he is dropping out of fear) or, particularly in a no-limit game, for any large bet. 2. Someone who is not serious about playing a particular pot, and thus will not call a raise. For example, for definitions 1 and 2, you might hear an aggressive player say, "Let's raise and get the shoe clerks out." Also known as ribbon clerk. 3. A weak player.

shoot an angle

(n phrase) Use an angle.

shoot it up

(v phrase) raise.


(n) shootout tournament.

shootout tournament

(n phrase) 1. A special tournament in which a number of tables of players each play down to one winner, and then the winners of each table compete in the playoff. Often all players who make it to the final table receive a prize, usually ranging from an amount equal to the buy-in for the first busted out to the main prize, which often is 40 to 50% of the total prize pool. Also see freeze-out tournament, no-rebuy tournament, and rebuy tournament. 2. A tournament in which one player ends up with all the money, one that is played till only one player remains.

shoot the moon

(v phrase) scoop (definitions 1 and 2). In both cases, this phrase is usually heard in home games, and not public cardrooms. The term is sometimes shortened to simply moon.

shoot the pot

(v phrase) raise.

shoot the pot up

(v phrase) raise.


1. (n) A cardroom. Also called joint or store. 2. (v) Stop in at a cardroom just to check out the action.


1. (adv) Low on funds. 2. Shy of a complete bet. "Who's short in the pot?" implies that someone has not put in a full bet. "He's short $10" means that he was not able to call the full bet, and implies that a side pot will be generated. 3. Be unable to pay time due to having insufficient chips (in respect to a certain cutoff point established by the house, usually equal to only a few chips, as for example less than $4 in a game with a $20 buy-in). 4. (vt) Not put the full amount of the bet in the pot. "Who shorted the pot?"

short buy

(n phrase) A buy-in of less than the minimum required for the game. Compare with full buy.

short call

(n phrase) While going all in, calling less than the full bet (and thus generating a side pot).


(n) short-cards.

short cards

(n phrase) Any card game other than poker (such as gin or klabberjass), usually used to describe a game played by two (sometimes more) players while awaiting a seat in a poker game.


(n) An obsolete name for poker.


(adj) short-stacked.

short flush

(n phrase) four-card flush, so termed mainly in European countries.

short game

(n phrase) 1. Less than a full table. "I don't like to play in a short game." Compare with ring game (definition 1). 2. Two-handed game. Many cardrooms have among their rules one that reads, "No short games." They do not want players to play head up.

short handed

(adj phrase) Pertaining to a short game (definition 1). "Send us a live one; the game's short handed."


(adj) Pertaining to a short game (definition 1). "I was in a short-handed game all night."

short-handed game

(n phrase) short game (definition 1).

short money

(n phrase) 1. Less than a player would normally buy in to a particular game with. 2. Having not enough money to survive the ordinary fluctuations of a particular game. "The game's terrific, but Jim's not going to last unless he gets real lucky; he's playing on short money."

short pair

(n phrase) In high draw poker, a small pair; often any pair less than jacks; any pair smaller than the opening requirements for the game. Also called shorts, pair of shorts.


(n) short pair. Sometimes a pair of shorts.

short stack

(n phrase) 1. Half a stack, or 10 chips. 2. Less often, anything under a full stack.


(adj) Being low on chips.

short straight

(n phrase) four-card straight, so termed mainly in European countries.

short studs

(n phrase) The British name for five-card stud and its variants.

short the pot

(v phrase) See short (definition 4).


(n) 1. An angle shot. 2. A chance to play. "I'd sure like a shot in that game." 3. A stake. If a player (usually one without money) asks a floor person to "Give me a shot," he is asking if the floor person would put him in the game, that is, stake him. 4. Any cheating move. "He has to get a little booze in him before he takes a shot."


(n) A form of draw poker, found exclusively in home games, in which each player receives three cards face down, followed by a round of betting, a fourth card, again followed by a round of betting, a fifth card, a further round of betting, and a draw, followed (naturally) by another round of betting. A particularly insidious variant, called double-barreled shotgun, is a cross between draw and stud, and has eight (or nine) rounds of betting.

shot taker

(n phrase) angle shooter.

shove 'em

(n phrase) keep it or shove it.

shove 'em along

(n phrase) keep it or shove it.


1. (v) show down. 2. (n) showdown.

show cards

1. (n phrase) Those cards dealt face up in stud games; the cards on one's board; upcards (see upcard). 2. (v phrase) Expose one's hole cards (in a stud or hold 'em game) or all or part of one's hand (in a draw game) to one or more other players. If Jim shows his hand to his neighbor, someone might say, "Hey, Jim. Don't show cards." Also see show one, show all.


(n) 1. The point in a hand, after all the betting is over, at which the players turn their cards face up for comparison with all active hands, to determine which hand (or hands in a split-pot game) wins the pot (and, if there are one or more side pots, which hand or hands win which side pots). Sometimes called laydown. 2. A hand of poker played with no draw, and no bet beyond that made before the deal of the cards. Sometimes this is played by two or more players for the odd chips they have, or for an amount that will get one of them even and the others even more stuck. Often called a hand of showdown. "Okay, fellas, the three of us are all down about $20. Let's play a hand of showdown for $10, and then one of us will be even and the other two will be stuck $30 each."

show down

(v phrase) Participate in a showdown (definition 1).

show five cards

(n phrase) A variant of seven stud, found only in home games, in which each player receives seven cards and then, on a signal from the dealer, exposes one card at a time, each followed by a round of betting, until five are exposed; the game is often played high-low.


(adv) Pertaining to one's face-up cards in stud games, that is, the cards on one's board. "What's he got showing?" means what does he have on the board?

show one, show all

(v phrase) The unwritten rule in most cardrooms that if you show your cards (when you have bet and not been called) privately to one player, any other player can request to see the hand, even if those cards would not otherwise constitute a called hand. When the situation arises, generally someone who did not see the hand chants, "Show one, show all," makes a fuss, and either the dealer turns over the hand in question (sometimes first killing the hand; see kill, definition 2), or calls a floorman to make a decision. Showing your cards to one player and not the others, or to half the table and not the rest, is considered bad form even if not against the rules.

show openers

(v phrase) In a game with minimum opening requirements, such as jacks or better, prove that you had openers when you opened a pot. If you opened the pot and then bet after the draw and are not called, or if you fold, you must show openers. You do so by showing only as much of the hand as it takes. That is, if you opened with three jacks, you need show only two of them, but if you opened with a pat straight, you must show the entire hand. If you opened with a full house, 10s full of 3s, you need show only the three 10s; with 7s full of jacks, you need show only the two jacks.

show tickets

(n phrase) 1. The third-best hand in a showdown. Comes from the horse racing term show, plus tickets. Compare with place tickets. 2. A form of draw poker, found only in home games, in which the third-best hand wins.


(v) 1. discard (definition 1). 1. substitute.


1. (v) Mix the cards prior to dealing. 2. In draw poker, mix through one's five cards repeatedly by holding them face down and sliding one card at a time from top to bottom. Also called fuzz, milk. 3. (n) The act of shuffling. Also riffle.

shuffle in

(v phrase) Add one or more cards to the deck while shuffling.

shuffle in a brief

(v phrase) Shuffle in such a way as to produce a brief in the deck.


(n) The person who shuffles the cards just prior to dealing. The term usually refers to someone other than the dealer, when the dealer does not perform the shuffling. Sometimes in home games, the player to the right of the dealer (the person who actually distributes the cards) shuffles the cards, offers them to the person on his right for a cut, and then hands the deck over to the person on his left for dealing. See still pack.

shuffle the spots off

(v phrase) Shuffle excessively. When Slow Sam gives the deck 15 painfully laconic shuffles, one of the losers is sure to say, "Don't shuffle the spots off of 'em." Also, rub the spots off.

shut out

(v phrase) In a no-limit game, bet so much that another player cannot or will not call.


(adv) 1. Short of the complete bet. "He's shy by $20." 2. Not having anted. "Who's shy?" means "Who forgot to ante?" Also called light, short.


1. (n) loan shark. Sometimes capitalized. 2. (v) Lend money at usurious rates.


(n, v) See shylock.


(n, imitative) 6 (the card, or the lowball hand).


(adj) Having the four lowest cards to a wheel; preceded by the rank of the top card. (The term is usually reserved for 10s and worse.) For example, a jack-sickle is J-4-3-2-A.


1. (n) side pot. Often part of the term on the side. 2. (adj) Referring to money that goes into or belongs in the side pot. "John's out of chips, so Jim's last bet is side money."

side action

(n phrase) The action in and the playing of side games. See side game.

side arms

(n phrase) In a two pair hand, the lower pair.

side bet

(n phrase) 1. An agreement among two or more players to pay off privately based on their original holdings. Examples are points, colors, low spade, and a backline agreement. These sorts of bet arrangements are particularly frowned on by the house, because they involve exposing too many cards, and also slow the game down while comparisons and verifications are made. 2. A bet made privately among two or more players on the outcome of the next hand, usually made by players not involved in the pot; the side bet is not part of the pot. Most clubs do not permit side bets. 3. Rarely, a bet in a side pot.


(n) side card.

side card

(n phrase) 1. The fifth card in a hand consisting of two pairs. 2. The card that decides the winner between two otherwise tied two-pair hands (sometimes the one or more cards--in which case the term is pluralized--needed to resolve a tie between two one-pair hands). For example, in the two hands Aspade Aheart Kdiamond Kclub Qdiamond and Adiamond Aclub Kspade Kheart Jspade, the first wins because its side card, Qdiamond, is higher than the side card, Jspade, of the second. Sometimes called kicker in this sense. 3. A card that has no worth to a hand. 4. kicker (definition 1).

side cards

(n phrase) Cards other than those that determine the value or rank of the hand. For example, in a one-pair hand, the remaining three cards are the side cards.

side game

(n phrase) At a poker tournament, a game other than the tournament game, usually consisting of players who have busted out of the tournament and players who come to tournaments expressly to get into side games because the action is often better than that of the tournament. Also, ring game.

side money

(n phrase) 1. side pot. 2. The money or chips in a side pot. 3. lights.

side partner

(n phrase) A thief's confederate.

side pot

(n phrase) An auxiliary pot generated when one or more players run out of chips, and which those who ran out cannot win. This can lead to a situation in which the holder of the second-best (or worse) hand can win more money in a pot than the holder of the best hand.

side strippers

(n phrase) Cards whose sides (long edges) have been shaved or trimmed by a thief so they can be located by feel during manipulation of the deck. These cards are somewhat thinner than ordinary cards, allowing the thief to find them easily. Also called belly strippers. Compare with end strippers. Also see concave card, convex card, glazed card, humps, sand, strippers.

Siegfried and Roy

(n phrase) In hold 'em, two queens as one's first two cards.


(n) A situation in which one player runs out of chips (that is, goes all in), and claims sight, that is, the right to a showdown for the amount of chips he has put in the pot thus far. This is an old term rarely used nowadays. See also side pot.


1. (n) A signal given by a cheater to a confederate, usually of someone else's holdings. Also sometimes called office. 2. (v) Give such a signal. See sign off.


1. (n) Private communication between thieves; often plural. A hand spread face-down on the table, meaning "go" or "it's safe," and a fist on the table, meaning "don't go" or "it's not safe," are "standard" signals. Also see international signals. 2. (v) Use a signal.

sign off

(v phrase) Give someone a signal, usually of someone else holdings; used by cheaters. "He signed him off" means that he gave his partner a signal that gave away the hand of another player that the signaler had managed to get a look at. Sometimes part of the phrase sign off a hand. Signing off is sometimes called piping. Also see send.

sign off a hand

(v phrase) See sign off.

sign up

1. (v phrase) See sign up for. 2. sign off.

sign-up board

(n phrase) board.

sign up for

(v phrase) 1. Get on the board (definition 1) for a particular game. "Did you sign up for the 15-30?" 2. Register for a tournament. "Did you sign up for the no-limit hold 'em at the Pasatiempo?"

sign-up list

(n phrase) The list of names for a particular game; the board.

silent partner

(n phrase) A noncheating, innocent player to whom a thief gives several winning hands, usually in small pots, to divert attention from himself. This is a specialized usage of the more general term for a business partner who takes no active part in the business, and, in many cases, is unknown to the public.

silent prop

(n phrase) A proposition player who does not openly acknowledge his role by the wearing of a badge. In many cardrooms, particularly in California, a proposition player must conspicuously display a badge indicating that he or she works for the cardroom.


(n) $1 or a $1 chip.

simultaneous declaration

(n phrase) The usual form of declaration in a high-low split game, usually with chips and everyone opening a hand at once to indicate whether contesting low, high, or both ways. Also see consecutive declaration.

single-blind game

(n phrase) A traveling blind game with one blind; under-the-gun blind game.

single-handed poker

(n phrase) straight poker (definition 1).

single limit

(n phrase) A form of limit poker (generally referring to draw poker, in particular limit draw or lowball as played in Northern California), in which all bets, before and after the draw, are in multiples of the same increment, as opposed to double limit, in which the limit doubles after the draw. For example, in a $20-limit game, all bets before and after the draw are $20, and multiples of $20 when players raise. Also called straight limit. Also see no limit and spread limit.


(adj phrase) Pertaining to single limit, in a phrase such as single-limit lowball.


(n) A thief or cheater who works alone.

single-table satellite

(n phrase) See satellite tournament.


(v) Join a game.

sit in

(v phrase) 1. Join a game. "May I sit in?" is a request from an onlooker to get into a game. 2. Play poker.


(n) A conservative player, one who gives little action, that is, one who sits and waits for only the good hands.

six-card option

(n phrase) A form of six-card stud, found exclusively in home games, in which each player receives one card face down and one face up, followed by a round of betting, with a round of betting after each successive upcard, till the fifth card, then a downcard, and then a twist, with a further round of betting; the game is played high-low. At the showdown, a player uses the best five of the six cards; (usually) one set of five cards can be used for high and another for low.

six-card stud

(n phrase) A form of stud, in which each player receives two cards face down and one face up, followed by a round of betting, with a round of betting after each successive upcard, until six cards have been dealt. Sometimes the game is played with each player receiving one card face down and one face up, followed by a round of betting, with a round of betting after each successive upcard, till the fifth card, then a sixth card dealt face down, with a further round of betting. At the showdown, a player uses the best five of the six cards. A form of razz (lowball stud) used to be played with six cards, but seven is now more common.

6s full

(n phrase) A full house consisting of three 6s and another pair.

6s over

(n phrase) 1. 6s up. 2. 6s full.

6s up

(n phrase) two pair, the higher of which are 6s.


(n phrase) In ace-to-five lowball, the second-best possible hand, 6-4-3-2-A (next to a bicycle or wheel, A-2-3-4-5).

16-way hand

(n phrase) 16-way straight.

16-way straight

(n phrase) 1. In draw poker played with the 53-card deck, the four-card combination consisting of the joker plus three to a straight with no "holes," so that any of 16 cards makes it a straight. For example, 3-4-5-joker of mixed suits can be made into a straight by drawing any ace, 2, 6, or 7, or which 16 remain in the rest of the deck. 2. In the 53-card deck, the four-card combination consisting of the joker plus three to a straight flush with two "holes," so that any of 16 cards makes it a straight or better. For example, 3-4-7 of spades plus the joker can be made into a straight by drawing any 5 or 6, a flush by drawing any spade, or a straight flush by the 5 or 6 of spades, of which there are 16 altogether.


(v) In a split-pot game, split either the low or the high half of the pot with two other players; usually part of the phrase get sixthed. This happens occasionally in Omaha/8. "My ace-deuce got sixthed." See quarter (definition 3).

sixth street

(n phrase) In seven-card stud, the sixth card dealt to each player. Following this card is the fourth round of betting.

six tits

(n phrase) Three queens. This usage is considered vulgar.


(v) In a big bet game, perform a dealer's method of equalizing two wagers. When one player puts out a large stack of chips, and another player calls by placing in the pot more chips than are required for the call (and either does not say the magic word "Raise" or obviously does not have enough chips to constitute a raise), the dealer may not count the first player's chips, but merely places the second stack of chips next to the first, and removes enough chips from the second stack until the two stacks are equal in height. This method originated with dealers in casino percentage games (such as 21 or craps), who paid off winning bets this way, so that watchers (security personnel, perhaps occupying the "eye in the sky") could clearly see that the payoff was correct.


(n) A rush; usually part of the phrase putting on a sizz.


(v) Bluffing. "I think you're skating, but I'm gonna let you slide."


(n) In draw poker, a nonstandard hand sometimes given value in a private or home game, any hand containing a 9, 5, and a 2, with one card between the 9 and the 5 and another between the 5 and the 2. This hand is also called a pelter or sometimes a kilter (both of which have wider meanings). The hand generally ranks between three of a kind and an "ordinary" straight.

skeet flush

(n) In draw poker, a nonstandard hand sometimes given value in a private or home game, a skeet in one suit. The hand generally ranks somewhere above an "ordinary" straight, sometimes better than four of a kind.


1. (n) $1 or a $1 bill. 2. (v) Deal cards by sliding them off the deck as it lies on the table, and across the table to the recipients, instead of holding the deck in the air and lifting each card while it is dealt. This method is often used just for the draw in a draw game. 3. Cheat someone. 4. Look at your cards by spreading them slightly. Compare with squeeze.

skin game

(n phrase) A game containing two or more thieves, or cheats playing partners.


(n) One who cheats by removing cards from the deck. Also known as holdout artist.


(n) Removing cards from a new deck, altering some or all of the cards (by marking), returning the cards to the deck, and resealing the deck.

skin out

(v phrase) show down a hand by spreading it on the table.

skin the deck

(v phrase) Palm one or more cards, for later introduction into the game. See hold out.

skin the hand

(v phrase) clean up.


(n) skip straight.

skip straight

(n phrase) In draw poker, a nonstandard hand sometimes given value in a private or home game, cards in a series separated each from the other by one rank, as 2-4-6-8-10, or 5-7-9-J-K. Some play that an ace ranks only high in a skip straight, that is, that A-3-5-7-9 is not considered a skip straight. A skip straight is also called an alternate straight, Dutch straight, or sometimes a kilter. The hand generally ranks between three of a kind and an "ordinary" straight.

sky's the limit

(n phrase) A term, generally used only in home games, for a no-limit game.


(n) 1. See on the cuff. 2. sleeve holdout.

sleeve holdout

(n phrase) A kind of holdout machine. A sleeve holdout straps to the thief's arm and the cards are held up the thief's sleeve.

sleeve machine

(n phrase) sleeve holdout.


1. (adj) smooth. 8-4-3-2-A and 8-5-3-2-A are slick 8s, while any 8-7 is rough. 2. (v) A cheating preparation, make the backs of some cards more slippery so that they slide more easily. 3. (n) The act of slicking cards; usually preceded by the.

slick-ace deck

(v phrase) A deck whose aces have had their backs slicked (see slick, definition 2) to make them slide out more easily when the deck is in the control of a thief.


(v) Escape. "I'm gonna let you slide," that is, not call your obvious bluff. Also see skating.


(v) 1. Pass, with the implication of sandbagging (see sandbag); often followed by it. If a player says, "I'll slip it," he's trying to give the impression that he passed a good hand, probably because in reality he passed a medium hand with which he doesn't want to have to call a bet. 2. Palm a card, for later introduction into the game. See hold out.

slip a hand

(v phrase) sandbag. "You slipped me a hand didn't you?, but I'm not going to fall into your trap."

slip it

(v phrase) See slip (definition 1).

slippery Anne

(v phrase) The queen of spades.

slippery sandbag

(v phrase) Checking with a very strong hand and then, if bet into, just calling (rather than raising), setting the trap for future rounds of betting. See sandbag.

slip the cards

(v phrase) Set a stacked packet (see stack, definition 3) on top of the deck after the deck has been cut.

slip the cut

(v phrase) slip the cards.

slip the deck

(v phrase) slip the cards.


(adj) Unlively. "This is a slow game." Opposite of fast.

slow action

(n phrase) The state of a slow game. Also see pace.


(n, imitative) Humorous name for a slow lowball game.

slow-down bet

(n phrase) In a no-limit game, a bet smaller than one ordinarily might make or than the situation calls for, in the hopes of keeping from having to call a larger bet if one passed instead of betting. Also see underbet, protection bet.

slow game

(n phrase) A game with little action (definition 1), that is, not much betting and raising, or, in a no-limit game, with few large bets. Also see pace.

slow pace

(n phrase) See pace.

slow play

(n phrase) The act of slow-playing (see slow-play). Also see check-raise, sandbag.


(v) Not raise with a powerful hand in a normal raising situation, so as to trap other players. If, in lowball, you are third to come into a pot and you have a pat bicycle and don't raise, you are slow-playing the hand, probably because you hope someone else will raise so that you can reraise.

slow roll

(n phrase) The practice by some players, at the showdown, when they have the best hand, of waiting till the last possible moment before showing that hand. This is usually done for one of three reasons: to see everyone else's cards first, to needle one or more of the active players, or just out of pure orneriness.


(v) To knowingly have the best hand at the showdown but expose it only after the losers' hands are shown, leading another player to think he has the winning hand. See slow roll.


(n) A clump of cards, usually implying that they have been deliberately arranged and shuffled into position by a cheat.

slug the deck

(v phrase) Place a slug into a deck and shuffle it into a prearranged position.

small bet

(n phrase) In a double-limit game, a bet at the smaller bet size. For example, in 10-20, small bets are $10 and big bets are $20.

small blind

(n) little blind.

small game

(n phrase) A poker table (in a cardroom) with small stakes.

small nickel

(n phrase) 1. A $50 bill. 2. $50 in cash. 3. $50 in chips.

small one

(n phrase) 1. A $100 bill. 2. $100 in cash. 3. $100 in chips. For all meanings, sometimes called big one. Small one is often used when big one is used for $1000.

small play

(n phrase) Playing for small stakes.

small table

(n phrase) A poker table (in a cardroom) with small stakes.


(n) Substance for marking the backs of cards. Also see cosmetics, daub, rouge.

"Smoke on the water."

(n phrase) A phrase used to describe a raise. If you hear this phrase, it usually comes after another player has raised. May derive from steam, a former synonym for raise.


(adj) In lowball, pertaining to a hand whose second highest card is (if possible) several notches below its top card, as opposed to rough. For example, 8-4-3-2-A and 8-5-3-2-A are smooth 8s, while any 8-7 is rough. There is some question about which category 8-6s fit into. Also called slick.

smooth call

1. (v phrase) Only or just call a prior bet, that is, without raising. "He smooth called" means that all he did was call (and implies that he should have raised). 2. Call with the intention of reraising if anyone else raises; that is, slow-play by calling. Compare with check-raise. 3. (n phrase) The action of flat calling. "That game was so tight, that when I raised before the draw I just got a smooth call from a guy with a pat straight." More commonly called flat call.


(v) Bend one or more cards, for later identification by a thief.


(adv) Having bad luck. "How ya doin'?" "Terrible. I've been snakebit for a week. Can't make a hand when it counts."

snap off

(v phrase) 1. Catch someone bluffing. 2. Catch a card on the end (as the river card or seventh card in seven-card stud, the last community card in hold 'em, or on the draw in draw games) to beat a hand that was leading up to that point.

snapped off

(adv phrase) Caught bluffing.


(v) rake (definition 1).

snatch game

(n phrase) A less-common name for rake game. Sometimes snatch game implies a game in which the dealer takes more than he is supposed to, or takes all that he can get away with, whereas rake game is just the generic term for that method of making its money by the house.


(n) The removal of a card by a player who is holding out (see hold out) or using a holdout machine or the reintroduction of a card into play.


(n) bug (definition 1).


(n, v) bluff.


(n) 1. A worthless hand. 2. A bluff.

snow hand

(n phrase) In draw poker, a hand with which you snow (see bluff), sometimes by making, in high, a pat hand bluff, or in lowball, by standing pat on any five garbage cards.

snow job

(n phrase) 1. A hand with which you snow (see bluff). 2. A bluff.


(n) Two or more 8s. (That's what they look like.)

snow the cards

(n phrase) Shuffle a deck or the cards in a hand overhand by pulling a few cards at a time from the top to the bottom. Compare with milk, stripping.

social game

(n phrase) friendly game.


(n phrase) society chips. "Gimme a stack of society."

society chips

(n phrase) Chips of relatively large denomination. In a small game, in which dollar chips are used for most bets, $5 chips would be considered society chips; in a $20 game, with most bets made with $5 chips, society chips would probably be $20 or $100 chips. Chips of the highest denomination for the game are sometimes called high society chips.

"Sock it up."

(v phrase) Raise.


1. (adj) smooth, as a soft 8. 2. In lowball, pertaining to a limit game played at slighter higher than its normal stakes. For example, a soft 8 starts out as a $6-limit game, and then the players agree to slightly increase the size of the game by adding $1 to the big blind. Instead of three blinds at $1-$2-$3, it becomes $1-$2-$4 and $8-limit. This is not the same as a straight 8, whose blinds are $2-$2-$4. Similarly, a nominal $8-limit game might become a soft 10, with blinds of $2-$2-$5, instead of the usual $2-$3-$5. The point of all this is to play at the next higher level without having to pay the time for that size game. 3. Easy to beat. "Get in; it's a soft game." 4. Pertaining to currency. For example, when requesting change in currency (as opposed to chips), a request made by a dealer to a floorman for "$20 chips, $80 soft" indicates a player has a $100 bill and wants only $20 of it in chips. See hard. 5. (adv) Without putting pressure on. "He always plays her soft" means that when he gets in a pot with this particular young lady, he does not bluff her, nor does he try to push her around with aggressive betting.

soft break

(n phrase) The changing of currency, usually for part cash and part chips. See the example under soft (definition 4). Also see hard.


(v phrase) Put no pressure on, as described under soft (definition 5).

soft-play a hand

(v phrase) See slow-play.

soft-play someone

(v phrase) Put no pressure on a person, as described under soft (definition 5).


(n) A variant of five-card stud, played mainly in Scandinavian countries, in which a four-straight ranks higher than one pair, and a four-flush ranks higher than a four-straight and just under two pair. The game is usually played pot limit.


(adj) Conservative, not likely to get out of line; said of someone's play or a player.


(n) In a no-limit game, a (usually) substantial bet. "You passed? I'm going to bet something."

sore spot

(n phrase, imitative) 4 (the card); imitates four spot.


(n) A deck made up by taking portions from several decks, usually for the purpose of cheating. This is done to, for example, take advantage of slight differences in patterns in different runs of cards. The diamonds on one deck may meet at the edges slightly differently from one deck to another, but, to the untrained eye, the patterns would look the same on the backs of all the cards.


(v) See lay down (definition 1).

soup a hand

(vt) lay down (definition 1).


(adv) See go south.

Southern Cross

(n phrase) A form of Cincinnati, in which each player is dealt five cards face down, and nine cards are dealt face down in the center (widow), in the form of a cross, forming five vertical and five horizontal cards, with each player allowed to combine any or all of either the vertical or horizontal cards together with his original cards in forming a five-card hand. The widow cards are turned up one at a time, usually clockwise or counterclockwise from the outside, working inward, with the center card turned up last, each followed by a betting round. Some play that the center card and others of the same rank are wild. In a variation, called X marks the spot, the widow consists of five cards, forming two rows of three.


1. (n) Any card in the spades suit. 2. (v) low spade or high spade. "You wanna spade for a drink?"


(n) 1. One of the four suits in a deck of cards, whose symbol is shaped like an inverted valentine with a stem (spade). Originally, spades may have represented the peasant class, the spade being an instrument used by farmers. In both the traditional and four-color deck, they are black. 2. A spade flush, that is, five cards of the same suit, all spades. "I've got a straight; whadda you got?" "Spades."


(n) spades.


(v) Bet. "Your turn to speak."

special hand

(n phrase) 1. nonstandard hand. 2. premium hand.


1. (v) Play recklessly (by betting and raising frequently and aggressively); so called because one speeds by playing fast. 2. Act out of turn. "It isn't your turn to bet, John. You're speeding. Joan hasn't acted yet." 3. (n) Excessive gamble; often used in admiration. "She's got a lotta speed!"


(n) One who speeds (see speed, definition 1).

speed hold 'em

(n phrase) A casino variant of hold 'em in which each player gets four cards, discards two, and five cards are flopped right away.


(v) Playing recklessly, making large (in a no-limit game) or frequent bets and bluffing a lot, that is, playing with considerable speed. "Don't get caught speeding."

speed table

(n phrase) 1. A poker table specially constructed with a position for a house dealer. 2. A rake game; so called because the faster the dealer puts out the hands, the more money the house makes.


(adj) Describing one who plays with a lot of speed.


(n phrase) A kind of holdout machine, a holdout device with a simple spring-loaded clasp that attaches to a vest or jacket.


1. (v) nail (definition 1). 2. In (usually) hold 'em, catch on the board precisely the card needed to match your hand, usually the third to your pair, sometimes another of the same rank; always followed by the card in question. "I was betting my two pair all the way, and he spiked another deuce on the river." 3. (n) An ace. 4. An imaginary object conservative players supposedly use to keep their chips out of action. "Yeah, he's got $1000 in front of him, but he's got a spike through $900 of it."


(n) 1. spit in the ocean. 2. spit card.

spit card

(n phrase) The card turned up in spit in the ocean.

spit in the ocean

(n phrase) A form of widow poker, played only in home games, in which each player is dealt four cards face down, and one card is dealt face-up in the center, which rank is then wild in and part of anyone's hand. Usually the card is turned up at the point at which some player other than the dealer calls out, "Spit!" After a round of betting, each player can draw to his four-card hand. Also see wild widow.


(n) See splash the pot.

splash around

(v phrase) Play recklessly; play more hands than one ought, particularly in the early rounds of betting; bet wildly and aggressively, often on losing hands. Also, plunge around, speed.

splash the pot

(v phrase) Throw chips messily into the pot, possibly mixing them with chips already there, as opposed to stacking them neatly at the perimeter of the pot. Splashing the pot is frowned on in most cardrooms, because it is hard for the house dealer--and other players--to determine exactly how much the player has bet.


1. (n) A stake or cow's share of a split-out. 2. In a tournament, an agreement made near the end not to play to the end, with the money being divided in some percentage arrangement according to the number of chips remaining to each participant in the agreement. Also called deal. 3. (v) Agree to divide a pot, without having a showdown. Some cardrooms do not permit this, insisting that all hands played to the end must have a showdown. 4. Make an agreement to participate in a split, as described under definition 2.

split openers

(v phrase) Throw one card of a pair away, in a draw poker (high) game with minimum opening requirements, when the pair were the openers, for the purpose of drawing to a straight or flush. For example, a player who opened the pot, holding Kspade Kheart Aheart Theart 9heart, might announce, "Splitting openers," and discard the Kspade (to draw one to the ace-high heart flush). He would immediately show both kings to prove that he has openers.

split out

(v phrase) When a player quits who went cow (that is, with whom the house or another player went half and half on the buy-in) or who was staked, if he won, he splits out (splits those winnings with the house or the person who was his partner). Also cut out. See split someone out.


(n) 1. Splitting out (see split out) a stake, that is, giving him half his profits. 2. The chips that represent the half of the profits that the stake gets to keep.

split pair

(n phrase) The situation in a stud game in which a player has a pair, with one card face up and the other in the hole.

split pot

(n phrase) 1. A tie, that is, the situation in which two (or more) players have identical hands, with the pot divided between them. 2. A pot that is divided between the holder of the high and the low hand in a high-low split game, or some other form of split-pot game.

split-pot game

(n phrase) 1. high-low split game. 2. Some other game in which the pot is split between the holders of two hands, as determined by other criteria, such as Black Maria or seven-twenty-seven.

split someone out

(v phrase) After the house has gone cow with someone, when the player gets far enough ahead of the game, the house may split him out, that is, remove half of his chips and put him on his own (see put someone on his own). In some games, the players object to chips leaving the table (in fact, there is often a house rule against that), so the player has to cash out to split out.

split two pair

(n phrase) In stud or hold 'em, a two pair hand in which each of your two unpaired downcards is matched on the board. For example, in seven stud, if your downcards are 9-7, and your first two upcards are 9-7, you have a split two pair. Compare with concealed pair.

split week

(n phrase) inside straight.


(n) wheel card.


1. (n) Someone buying you a drink or meal. If someone offers you a drink at the table, when you call the cocktail waitress, you can say, "Bring me a drink; I've got a sponsor." 2. Someone who puts up (bankrolls; see bankroll) a player's buy-in, usually to a tournament, in exchange for a portion of the profits, if any. 3. (v) Pay someone's buy-in to a game or entry to a tournament, in exchange for a portion of the profits, if any.


(n) pip.


(n) A card; always preceded by its rank. For example, a 4-spot is a 4.

spot card

(n phrase) Any card 2 through 10.


(n) Pips. See pip.

spotted papers

(n) marked cards. Sometimes shortened to papers.


(n) A card 4 through 10. When one of these cards is lying face down, and you lift the lower right corner, you can see spots in the corner (as opposed to a no-spotter, which has no spots in the corner, or a liner, which is a face card). Some lowball players couple the knowledge that a card could be one of these (but that they don't know which one) with game theory to decide on whether or not to bet. (Impartial observers might say they're just playing games with themselves, but we don't make judgments; we just define terms.)


1. (v) Start a game. "Don't leave; we're about to spread a 20." 2. show down; usually followed by a or the hand. "When I showed my pat 6-4, he spread a bicycle." 3. (n) A game. If you phone your local card emporium, and ask the floorman how many games are going, he might say, "I have five spreads." 4. The act of exposing one's cards at the showdown. Also called roll.

spread a hand

(v phrase) See spread (definition 2).

spread limit

(n phrase) Poker in which the betting limits are somewhere between single limit and no limit. Bets have a range, from a minimum to a maximum. For example, in $2-$5 seven-card stud, a player can bet at any time either $2, $3, $4, or $5. If 50-cent chips or coins are used, a player can sometimes also bet $2.50, $3.50, and so on. As in no-limit games, a raise must always at least equal the previous bet or raise (unless the player making the raise is going all in, in which case the interpretation varies from club to club). That is, if one player bets $2 and the next player raises $3, any other player to come into the pot who wishes to raise must raise at least $3; a $2 raise is not permitted at this point. Also called modified limit.


(adj) Describing a game played for spread limit, in such phrases as spread-limit game, spread-limit poker, spread-limit lowball, and so on.

spread the hand

(v phrase) Respond to a request to see the entire hand. If someone cannot see the winning hand, she might say to the dealer, "Spread the hand."


(v) Suddenly make a large bet.

spring table

(n phrase) A card table made for cheating, with cracks that look like honest defects through which cards can be retrieved when acted upon by a spring attached to the underside of the table.


(v) Mark cards with one's fingernails, particularly sharp thumbnails, or some other sharp instrument. Also see nail-pricking.


(v) spur.


1. (adj) Honest. Also see on the square. 2. (vt) Arrange the deck in a neat pile of cards, with no edges protruding, prior to cutting or dealing; usually followed by the cards or the deck.

squared deck

(n phrase) A deck arranged in a neat pile, with no edges protruding, usually prior to cutting or dealing.

square deal

(n phrase) An honest deal, as indicated by a deck containing no trimmed or shaved cards. The term has passed into general usage.

square deck

(n phrase) An honest deck, that is, one containing no trimmed or shaved cards, as observable when it is arranged into a squared deck.

square game

(n phrase) An honest game, as indicated by its being played with a deck containing no trimmed or shaved or otherwise marked cards.

square the table

(v phrase) A request to the dealer to make sure that all the players sit in their proper positions, that is, with no one off-center and crowding someone else (likely the player making the request).

square up the table

(v phrase) Ensure that all the players sit in their proper positions, that is, with all centered and equally spaced.


1. (v) In a draw game, look at one's cards slowly; so called because players start with their cards tightly squared together, such that they can see only the first card, and then slowly squeeze them apart, that is, separate them, causing each card to reveal itself, slowly, one at a time, as if the viewer wishes to surprise himself with the cards; this is often done agonizingly slowly, frequently when it is the squeezer's turn to act, as if the player deliberately wants to annoy the others, while he pretends to be innocent of any knowledge of what effect his slowness is having. Sometimes called sweat."Hey, don't squeeze the spots off of `em; we're paying time here." 2. whipsaw. 3. (n) Looking at one's cards in the manner described under 1. "Whenever the action is on Bess, she gives it the slow squeeze." 4. See little squeeze.

squeeze bet

(n phrase) 1. squeeze play. 2. A bet to extract additional chips from a player not likely to win a pot, or, in high-low split, not likely to share in a split.

squeeze in

(v phrase) squeeze (definition 1).

squeeze out

(v phrase) 1. squeeze (definition 1). 2. Force a player out of a pot by the size or intensity of betting or raising.

squeeze play

(n phrase) The situation in which a player is whipsawed. See whipsaw.


(n) Special cards with suit and rank printed at the corners, so these can be seen by just barely squeezing back the corners. (This is the ordinary card format now, but many years ago, cards had no markings in their corners.)


1. (n) All of your chips. "I'll bet my stack." 2. One pile of chips, usually 20 high. "Houseman, bring me another stack," means that the speaker wants another 20 chips. 3. (v) Arrange the deck, that is, perform the cheating maneuver of prearranging the cards, usually by false shuffling (see false shuffle) or some other form of sleight-of-hand, into a specific order such that specific hands go to predetermined players, usually a good hand to the "sucker" and a better hand to the deck stacker (thief) or his confederate; usually followed by the deck. 4. Arrange chips in neat piles. 5. Gather up chips after winning the pot. "Lemme cut the cards. Curly's too busy stacking that last pot."

stacked deal

(n phrase) A deal made with a stacked deck.

stacked deck

(n phrase) A deck whose cards are prearranged (sometimes brought in as a cold deck; sometimes arranged by a sleight-of-hand maneuver such as a false shuffle) such that specific hands go to predetermined players, usually a good hand to the "sucker" and a better hand to the thief or his confederate.

stack off

(v phrase) In no limit, bet all your chips; move all in.


1. (n) All of your chips. "Did he bet?" "Yep, that was a stack-off." 2. (adj) Pertaining to such a bet; usually followed by bet. "Did he bet?" "Yep, that was a stack-off bet."

stack poker

(n phrase) In no-limit, play in such a way that you get all your chips into the pot nearly every hand, that is go all in (stack off) whenever possible.

stack the deck

(v phrase) Arrange the deck by some sleight-of-hand maneuver, as done by a cheat, and described under stack (definition 3).


1. (n) stake player. 2. A player's bankroll; the money a player needs to get into a game. 3. The act of staking a player. A broker (someone with no money) might say to the floorman, "How about a stake in this game?" 4. (v) Put someone into a game with house chips. 5. Give someone chips to play on, that is, back that player. Compare with sponsor (definition 3).

stake player

(n phrase) A player given house chips to play for the purpose of starting a game that would otherwise be short, or to keep a game that is becoming short from breaking up. A stake player keeps half his profits (after returning to the house the amount given him when he was first put in), usually at the end of a shift, but absorbs none of the losses. When he receives his share of the profits, this is the split-out. Sometimes shortened to just stake. Compare with shill.


(n) The size of a game, with respect to its betting increments or limits (or lack thereof). In a $2-limit game, for example, the stakes are just that, $2. In a no-limit game, the stakes are unlimited. In anything in between, the stakes are usually described by the minimum and maximum bets, sometimes by the amount required for a buy-in.

stakes play

(n phrase) table stakes.

stakes player

(n phrase) A player in a stakes play game.

stamped cards

(n phrase) Cards marked on their backs during printing and sold to thieves for cheating purposes. Also see svengali deck.


(v) In a draw game, at the time for the draw (card replacement), draw no cards. "How many do you want?" "I'll stand."

standard deck

(n phrase) The 52-card deck, consisting of four suits (spades spade, hearts heart, diamonds diamond, clubs club) of 13 cards each (A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K).

standard signals

(n phrase) See signal.


(n) A tie.


(n) standoff.

"stand pat."

(v phrase) Draw no cards in a draw game. Also, hit the table, knock, knuckle, rap, rap pat.

stand up

(v phrase) Have a hand win, when one or more other hands are trying to, in draw, draw out on it, or, in stud or hold 'em, catch winning cards against it. "How do you like my chances? I had two little pair against three one-card draws, and the hand stood up."


(n) The joker. Also, man with the star.


(n) game starter.

starting hand

(v phrase) A player's first two cards in hold 'em or first three cards in seven-card stud.

starting requirement

(n phrase) The minimum holding a particular player feels he needs to get involved in a hand. For a good player, the starting requirement takes position into account.

starting requirements

(n phrase) starting requirement.

start the action

(v phrase) Open the betting; make the first bet in a particular hand.


1. (n) A bankroll (often hidden away, though generally readily accessible) for emergency situations. 2. Any bankroll. 3. (v) Hide money; secrete one's bankroll.


(v) Call a bet, sometimes with the connotation of doing so as an underdog. "A hundred to me? I'll stay."


(n) 1. Active player. In a draw game, "Cards to the stayers?" is a request from the dealer for those remaining in the pot to tell him how many cards they want. 2. A hand worth calling with, but not raising or initiating any betting.

stay in

(v phrase) stay.


1. (v) Win (a pot) by bluffing. 2. (n) Bluff. "I know that's a steal, but I don't have the cards to call a bet."

steal a hand

(n phrase) steal a pot.

steal a pot

(n phrase) Win (a pot) by bluffing.

steal position

(n phrase) In a game with blinds, a late position, often the dealer or the middle blind (if there are three blinds); so used because it is most likely from this position that a player attempts to steal the antes or steal the blinds.

steal the antes

(v phrase) Win just the antes by bluffing; get everyone to fold, usually by opening in late position when no one else appears to be interested in the pot, before there is any real action, and thus win the antes.

steal the blinds

(v phrase) Win just the blinds by bluffing; get the blinds to fold, usually by opening in late position, and thus win the blinds. See blind robber.


1. (v) Be on tilt. 2. raise; no longer frequently used. "He steamed it." 3. (n) Raise; no longer frequently used. "He put some steam on the pot."

steam bet

(adv) A bet made by someone playing on tilt.


(n) One who is on tilt.


(adj) Being on tilt. "Big John's going to lose his whole bankroll tonight. He's stuck and steaming."

steam kill

(adv) An overblind put in by someone playing on tilt.

steel wheel

(n phrase) A five-high straight flush (that is, a wheel, the cards of which are all the same suit); usually used in high-low games, but sometimes extended to high-only games.


(v) Hustle someone into another game, often private.


(n) One who steers (see steer) players.

steer game

(n phrase) An after-hours game, to which players are steered (see steer) from a cardroom. Someone, usually an accomplice of one of the thieves who runs the game, directs departing players to the private game.

steer joint

(n phrase) A crooked cardroom.

steer man

(n phrase) steerer.

steer money

(n phrase) Commission paid by the operators of a steer game to a steerer.


(n) Queen (the card).


(n) brief.

step bet

(n phrase) Stakes of more than one limit, with, one betting limit on early rounds and a higher limit on succeeding rounds. This is the common cardroom practice. For example, a $2-$4 hold 'em game involves a step bet: $2 may be bet or raised on the first two rounds of betting, and $4 on the last two. See double limit, structured limit.

step out

(v phrase) Bet; often implying (in a no-limit game) bet large.

step out there

(v phrase) gamble (definition 2). "You can't just sit and wait for the nuts. Sometime you have to step out there."

"steppin' out."

(v phrase) Betting.

step the deck

(v phrase) 1. Cut a stacked deck such that it ends up with a step (brief) at the stacked portion. 2. Cut a stacked deck to the step.


(v) Two cards, please. (Heard in a draw game at the time of the draw.) Also, "Stu."


1. (v) stand or stand pat. "How many cards do you want?" "I'll stick." This term is more common in home games; in cardrooms, it is usually said only by inexperienced players. 2. (n) game starter.


1. (vt) After winning a pot, give no tip (toke) to the dealer. 2. (n) A player who makes a practice of not tipping the dealers. 3. A lowball hand to which one cannot (or probably should not) draw.

still pack

(n) The alternate deck, that is, the one not currently being dealt, in home games in which two decks are used. One deck is dealt while the other is being shuffled (by the shuffler) for the next deal.


1. (n) stub. 2. (vt) stack (definition 3) a deck, that is, prearrange the cards for cheating purposes.


(adj) Complete. "A stone beauty" means a good hand.


(n) Stonewall Jackson.

Stonewall Jackson

(n phrase) 1. A tight player. 2. stiff (definition 2).


(n) Name for a tight player.


(n) joint.

stormy weather

(n phrase) A form of widow poker, played only in home games, in which each player is dealt four cards face down, and three cards are dealt face-up in the center. After a round of betting, each player can draw to his four-card hand. The dealer then turns up each of the widow cards one at a time, each followed by a round of betting. Each player may use (only) one of the cards as part of his hand. The game is sometimes played high-low split.


1. (v) overblind (definition 1). 2. (n) overblind (definition 2). Someone might say, "John acts last; he has the straddle." 3. The second of two forced blinds, usually put in by the player two positions to the left of the dealer position. In former years, these two bets were called blind and straddle. Some say that definition 3 is the only proper use of the word straddle.

straddle game

(n phrase) 1. A traveling blind game, usually with three blinds. 2. A blind and straddle game.


(n) A player who is able to come in light, that is, for a small call, such as in a pass-and-back-in game, when the pot has been opened in late position and not raised, so a player who passed earlier can now limp in (definition 2); a player coming in in this situation is called a straggler.


1. (n) The poker hand consisting of five cards in a row, of mixed suits, as A-2-3-4-5 or 8-9-10-J-Q. Sometimes called run or sequence. 2. (adj) In lowball, pertaining to a hand whose cards form a straight, or whose top four do. That is, 8-7-6-5-4 is a straight 8, but the term sometimes applies also to a hand like 8-7-6-5-2. 3. In draw poker or lowball, pertaining to a limit game without blind opens and that is not winner blind, as straight 8 is the usual 8-limit game. (A straight 8 would have three blinds, 2-2-4, while a soft 8 (see soft, definition 2) would be 1-2-4.)

straight draw

(n phrase) 1. "Normal" five-card-draw high poker, bet-or-fold before the draw, open on anything, that is, no opening requirements, as opposed to, for example, jacks or better. Also called guts-to-open, pass-out. Compare with California draw, pass-and-back-in. 2. A hand that contains four cards to a straight.


(n) In high draw, drawing to a straight.

straight flush

(n phrase) The poker hand consisting of five cards in a row all in the same suit, as Aspade 2spade 3spade 4spade 5spade or 8heart 9heart 10heart Jheart Qheart. An ace-high straight flush, as 10diamond Jdiamond Qdiamond Kdiamond Adiamond, is given the special name royal flush. A straight flush ranks above four of a kind. Sometimes called quint or routine.


(n) In high draw, drawing to a straight.

straight limit

(n phrase) single limit.

straight poker

(n phrase) 1. An early form of poker, in which players received five cards, and bet on their original cards, in much the same as draw poker, but there was no draw. Sometimes called single-handed poker. 2. Five card draw poker, high, with no wild cards.

straight up

(adv phrase) Pertaining to honest play; on the square (definition 2). A former thief may tell a friend, "I don't need any edge [dishonest advantage]; I can beat this game straight up." The manager of a cardroom may say to a player whom the former knows to be capable (that is, has the ability to cheat), "You can play in here only if you play straight up."


(adj) Money other than one player's bet. That is, if a player puts $6 into a pot and the pot has $20 altogether, the pot holds $14 strange or $14 strange money.

strange money

(n phrase) See strange.


(n) 1. In draw poker, a card one hasn't seen in one's hand after the draw, while shuffling through the entire hand. When a player is squeezing (see squeeze, definition 1) his hand, and finds one of the cards he drew, he may say, "There's a stranger." This quotation sometimes implies a card that improves the hand. Also see free look. 2. A player unknown to the regulars in a game.

strategic bluff

(n phrase) A planned bluff, as opposed to one made on the spur of the moment.


(n) A rush, or run of luck; usually part of the phrase on a streak. Generally implies a winning streak, but, as most poker players will attest, there are also losing streaks.


(n) In stud (and sometimes hold 'em), the dealing of a round of cards, usually preceded by its number, as third street, fifth street, and so on.


(n) holdout machine.

string bet

(n phrase) An illegal bet, because it was not made all in one motion. The concept of string bets is complicated (and not just because it is interpreted differently from club to club). If you want to raise a bet, you are supposed to have as many chips as you need to cover the bet plus your raise in your hand when you put your hand in the pot, and then release all of them before withdrawing your hand. Similarly, if you wish to bet more than the minimum in a no-limit game, you are supposed to have as many chips as you wish to bet in your hand. Most clubs permit you to say the magic words, "I raise" (or something that means the same, even something as nebulous as "Going up!," or, in the case of a bet, "I bet" or something interpretable as synonymous), and then make one or more trips back to your stack for more chips. In the absence of the preceding conditions, you are likely to be guilty of making a string bet, the penalty for which is being permitted only to call the preceding bet, or put in the pot only as many chips as you currently have in your hand (or, in the case of a bet in a no-limit game, bet only the minimum for the game). Watch out! The string bet situation trips up more players than almost any other rule. The rationale behind prohibiting string bets is that, in former times, a player might put in part of his bet, hesitate long enough to see the reactions of other players, and then, based on those reactions, perhaps then increase the bet.


(v) Make a string bet.


(v) Trim the sides or edges of cards, to make them identifiable by feel to a thief. This produces strippers.

stripped deck

(n phrase) A deck with certain cards removed for special games, such as for Asian stud, a form of five-card stud played with a 32-card stripped deck, from which all cards 2 through 6 have been removed. In some European countries, and Australia, poker is sometimes played with a stripped deck from which the deuces and treys have been removed.

stripped pack

(n phrase) stripped deck.

stripper deck

(n phrase) strippers.


(n, always used in the plural) A deck marked by shaving the edges of some cards such that a thief can tell by feel the values of certain cards. Examples are belly strippers, end strippers, high belly strippers, humps, low belly strippers, side strippers. Also see concave card, convex card, glazed card, sand.


(n) Shuffling by rapidly pulling small packets from the top to the bottom of the deck. Compare with snow the cards.

strip poker

(n phrase) A form of poker, generally played in mixed company, in which players use articles of clothing to purchase chips. As players need more chips, they must remove clothing; sometimes (rarely) the winners put those articles on. In some versions of the game, in each hand, all but the winner of the pot must remove one article of clothing; the drawback to this is the lack of an ante, unless players ante with clothing, in which case a disproportionate value is placed on any one article of clothing. This form of poker is not really related to the true nature of poker, whose goal is, for each player, to win money; the underlying nature of strip poker is to get almost everyone naked.


(adv) 1. Quite dishonest. "I just looked in at the lowball game. Jim's going really strong." This means that Jim is using some very dishonest cheating methods. 2. Heavily, when pertaining to the rate at which chips are raked from a game. "What? You take $2 out of every pot, even if no one plays? That's pretty strong."

stronger than nuts

(n phrase) stronger than the nuts.

stronger than the nuts

(n phrase) Describing a game so crooked that the live ones would find it harder to beat than the shell game. The nuts here refer to those used in the shell game (which, like the three-card monte found on the street, is known as the game the suckers never win at), not the unbeatable poker hand.

strong hand

(n phrase) A hand that has a great likelihood of winning a pot; the nuts.

strong work

(n phrase) Marked cards whose markings are obvious and easily seen even by the untrained eye.


(n) 1. The makeup of a game, with respect to the size of antes, the betting limits, opening requirements, blinds, forced bets, and so on. 2. With respect to a tournament, the amount of money in tournament chips players start with, the rules for rebuys and add-ons (see add-on, rebuy, rebuy tournament), and the manner in which the blinds increase.

structured limit

(n phrase) Describing the betting structure of a limit game (as opposed to no limit), as, for example, a structured limit hold 'em game, in which bets are at one level before and on the flop, and twice that level on the turn and river, such as $15-$30 hold 'em. The term structured limit is usually used for stud and hold 'em games, while double limit is used for draw games.


(v) Stand pat. In a draw game, "I'll struggle," said at the time for the draw, means "I'll take no cards."


(n) In lowball, a straight 9 (see straight, definition 2).


(v) Two cards, please. (Heard in a draw game at the time of the draw.) Also, "Stew."


(n) The undealt portion of the cards, sometimes also called the deck, stock, or talon.


(adv) Losing. "How much you stuck?"


(n) stud poker.

stud-horse poker

(n phrase) Supposedly an early form of stud poker, but, in fact, a game that no one really knows how to play. A portion of the California Constitution (Section 330) legislates against certain games of chance by name, including roulette, blackjack, something called lansquenet, and, notably, stud-horse poker. Even though attorneys-general of the state had no idea what the game was, they used that apparent ban for a long time to prevent the playing of any form of poker that was not draw. Some historians think stud-horse poker was a variant of three-card monte, that is, a sucker game in which the sucker had no chance. Eventually the government quit prosecuting clubs in which hold 'em was played, because judges ruled it was not stud. Once the "door was opened," other games were permitted, including stud, and even games like super pan 9, California aces, and 21st Century Blackjack that clearly bear little resemblance to poker. And nobody knows yet what stud-horse poker is.

stud player

(n phrase) 1. Someone who plays stud poker (usually exclusively, or in preference to other forms of poker). 2. In lowball, someone who regularly turns part of his hand face up (generally to coax another player into or out of a pot).

stud poker

(n phrase) A form of poker in which one or more cards are dealt to each player face down, followed by one upcard, with a betting round, more upcards, with a betting round after each, and then, in seven-card stud, a final downcard, and a final betting round. The forms are five-card stud and seven-card stud, and sometimes six-card stud. In home games, you can find other variants.


(v) 1. Regard your cards intently while trying to make up your mind what to do next. 2. Regard an opponent intently in an attempt to divine what cards the opponent has. Compare with read.


(v) Replace a card in stud, that is, receive a twist.


(n) twist.

substitution poker

(n phrase) Stud poker played with a twist.

subway dealer

(n phrase) bottom dealer.


1. (v) Draw cards. "How many cards do you want?" "I'll suck two." 2. (n) The act of drawing cards. "He caught a good one on the suck."


(n) live one; a rich loser; any loser or poor player.

suck out

(v phrase) draw out. "I had him before the draw, but he sucked out on me."


(v) draw-out. Someone always bemoaning his bad luck might say, "Now comes the suck-out."


(n) suction bet.

suction bet

(n phrase) In a big bet game, a small bet on a good hand to entice players to make an easy call, or better, to raise (so the suction bettor can reraise).

sudden death

(n phrase) Five-card stud played for low. So called because catching a pair usually kills a player's hand.

suicide king

(n phrase) King of hearts. (He's sticking a sword into his head.)


(n) One of the four groups of 13 cards into which a deck is divided: spades spade, hearts heart, diamonds diamond, clubs club.


(adv) In hold 'em or seven-card stud, descriptive of the first two cards being of the same suit, as opposed to offsuit. Sometimes the term applies to more than two cards, as, for example, you can start with three suited cards in seven-card stud, or four suited cards can appear among the community cards in hold 'em.

suited connectors

(n phrase) In hold 'em, two cards in sequence and in the same suit, usually with reference to hole cards, as, for example, 8spade 9spade.

suit mark

(n phrase) The single spade, heart, club, or diamond beneath the index. (Some say that the suit mark is part of the index.)

suit system

(n phrase) A method of marking the backs of cards by indicating their suits. Also see cosmetics, daub, rouge, smear.

summertime hand

(n phrase) A better-than-average hand, one likely to win the pot, but one that is not quite a strong hand.

sunning a deck

(n phrase) A form of cheating, a method of marking certain cards by leaving them in the sun for a period of time, which causes their backs either to lighten or darken.


(n) A successful bluff against the holder of a strong hand. For example, I have a pat 7-4 in no-limit lowball. You and I both have a lot of chips. Someone opens for $4, I raise $40, and you come in cold behind me. The first player does not call. After the draw, I bet $80. With only a momentary hesitation, you raise $200. I think you must have been slow-playing (see slow-play) a monster, and fold for the raise. You chuckle, and show a flash of paint in your hand as you muck it. You have just run a super-bluff.


(n) four of a kind (obsolete).


(n) See satellite tournament.

survival mode

(n phrase) In a tournament, just trying to hang on till the limits go up, or avoid being busted before someone else, for the sake of making it to the final table or be among those who receive a payout. This is a nonaggressive strategy some use to try to be among the winners of a tournament.

svengali deck

(n phrase) A machine-made deck that contains marked cards, shaved cards, cards made up of pieces of other cards for certain effects, etc. Such decks are sold at magic supply outlets, supposedly for entertainment, and are indeed used by magicians to perform tricks, but they are also used by thieves to introduce into card games. Svengali, a character in George Du Maurier's 1894 novel Trilby, was an evil hypnotist who enslaved the title character, a young woman.


1. (vt) Take a long time to look at your cards, often by squeezing; often followed by a or the hand or cards. See squeeze (definition 1). "Will you hurry up? We're paying time!" "Hold on, this is an important pot; I gotta sweat these cards." 2. kibitz. "Aren't ya ready to leave yet?" "Hold on, I wanna sweat this game a few more minutes." 3. (vi) Win by careful play, avoiding taking risks. Compare with grind out.


(n) kibitzer; sometimes in particular someone who, in a tournament, stands on the rail and closely follows the play of one particular player, perhaps because of having a financial interest in, or being married to, the significant other of, or a friend of, that player.

sweat out

(v phrase) sweat (definition 1). "Will you hurry up? We're paying time!" "Hold on, this is an important pot; I gotta sweat out this hand."


(v) scoop (usually only definition 3).


(n) 1. A hand that wins both ways in any high-low pot. 2. The player holding the hand that wins both ways in any high-low pot. 3. The player who declares both ways in a high-low poker game that has a declare. See scoop, sweep, swing. Also called scooper.

sweeping hand

(n phrase) A hand that wins both ways in any high-low pot. See scoop, sweep, swing.


(v) Add money (sometimes just in the form of antes) to a pot. See sweeten the pot (definition 2).

sweeten the pot

(v phrase) 1. Raise. "Let's sweeten the pot a little" means "I'm going to raise," and, in a no-limit game, generally portends a large raise. 2. Ante again after an unopened deal in any game with opening requirements, as jacks or better. This phrase is more commonly heard in home games than in cardrooms.


1. (v) Declare both ways in a high-low poker game that has a declare. 2. Win both ways in a high-low poker game that has a declare. (Just because you declare both ways does not necessarily mean you'll win both ways.) 3. Win all of the pot in a high-low poker game that does not have a declare, by having the best hand for one way and no one has qualifiers for the other way. For example, in high-low seven-stud, 8 for low, if you have a full house, and no one has an 8-low or better, you swung the pot. This usage is not common. For meanings 1, 2, and 3, more commonly called scoop. 4. Steal, or go south. "He was swinging with house chips, so they quit staking him." 5. (n) swing shift. "When do you work?" "I'm on swing."


(n) 1. A hand that wins both ways in any high-low pot. 2. The player holding the hand that wins both ways in any high-low pot. 3. The player who declares both ways in a high-low poker game that has a declare. See scoop, sweep, swing.

swing hand

(n) A hand that wins both ways in any high-low pot. See scoop, sweep, swing.

swing shift

(n phrase) One of the three shifts (see shift) in a 24-hour cardroom or casino, the shift between day and graveyard. Swing shift usually starts anywhere between 6 p.m and 8 p.m. and ends eight hours later.


1. (v) Substitute dishonest cards for honest ones, as, for example, bring in a marked or stacked deck. Also, bring in a deck. 2. (n) The act of so doing.

switch man

(n phrase) A person who introduces a dishonest deck into a game, surreptitiously replacing an honest deck.

Entire contents copyright (©) 2003, Michael Wiesenberg.

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