Lucky Lexicon: Poker

Different poker games have different rules, but much of the language is universal—and baffling. Lollipop hand, Pocket Rockets, Weary Willie…huh? Even the pros don’t know all the expressions, but this primer will help anyone understand the action.

The game starts with the “ante”. This is a required bet that everyone must make in order to stay and play. Another kind of bet is the “blind”. Blinds are bets that only one or two players are forced to make. There is the “big blind” and the “small blind” (small blind being half the big blind). They are bet by the two players after the dealer.

The blinds start off the betting and the game goes around the table with players “calling” to match the bet, “raising” to increase the bet value, or “folding”, which is backing out of the round and throwing your hand “into the muck” with the other rejected cards.

How you play the game will greatly depend on the hand you’re dealt. You might be holding “cheese,” a bad starting hand, or “nuts”—the best hand at the table. That could include a couple “Pocket Rockets” (a pair of aces) or a “wheel,” which is the lowest straight, ace through 5, sometimes called a “bike”. A round could also be won with a “Dolly Parton” (a 9 and a 5…based on the movie Nine to Five…get it?). You don’t want a “lollipop” though. It’s an ace and a queen—a combo that looks sweet, but tends to get licked.

Poker is a game of chance there’s no doubt, but at its most exciting it also requires strategy. So when an underdog beats a hand that’s statistically favoured to win, it’s called a “bad beat” and leaves “Weary Willies” (eliminated players) at the table. This can be hard to take when you’ve been carefully considering your moves, so don’t end up going “on tilt”: playing emotionally to recover losses.

After the “showdown,” when all remaining players turn over their hands, people sometimes commit a “hit and run”—winning big in a short period, quickly collecting their “gravy” (winnings), and leaving. Only you know when it’s time to fold ’em, but if you’re playing at OLG Slots at Woodbine Racetrack, a little “rabbit hunting”—playing out the final hand even when it’s over just to see what would have happened—lets you extend the fun responsibly.


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