Slang Terms for Different Poker Hands – and What Beats What
Poker is full of slang terms and acronyms. You will find most of the abbreviations and terms in our detailed Poker Glossary. This page keeps things simple. Here you will find the standard poker hand rankings, which shows the best 5 card poker hands in order of strength. After that is an entertaining look at the nicknames assigned to different starting hands.
The first thing any new poker player needs to learn is what beats what at the end of a hand. Poker uses 5 card hands. In the most popular game, Texas Hold’em, your best hand includes 5 cards out of the 7 total – your own 2 cards and the 5 community cards. It is possible to use any combination. This can be all 5 community cards, your own 2 cards with 3 community cards, or 1 of your own with 4 community cards.
Here are the ranks:
Many made hands have slang terms. While these are not as prevalent as the nicknames given for starting hands, they are still worth knowing.
There are a lot of nicknames given to hands before the flop. Some of these are commonly used, while others are regional / out of favour. Some of them are derogatory and should be used with caution in public card rooms.
I have covered the most common nicknames for different hands, and simply listed the alternatives after each entry.
This is commonly known as ‘Pocket Rockets’ or ‘American Airlines’. The American Airlines is used as your hand matches the ‘AA’ that company uses on their planes. You might also hear this hand referred to as ‘Bullets’.
Alternatives: Snake Eyes, Needles, Two Pips, Tepees
Kings are called Cowboys when you are dealt a pair before the flop. Some players also call them ‘Ace Magnets’. This is because it always feels like an ace hits the flop when you raise and get called holding King-King!
Alternatives: King Kong, Krispy Kreme
This hand has a lot of different nicknames. The most common is ‘Big Slick’. Another name which caught the imagination is ‘Anna Kournikova’. This is used because the initials are shared with this famous tennis player. She was a model too – and the hand Ace-King is said to look good, though rarely win (just like Anna!).
Alternatives: Big Ugly, King Arthur, Korean Airlines
Surprisingly, this premium pocket pair does not have as many names as some of the other hands. Some players simply refer to it as ‘Ladies’. A more derogatory term is ‘Bitches’. This name probably appeared from the frustration of either aces or kings on the flop making play difficult.
The most common name for Jack-Jack is ‘Fish Hooks’. This is more for the fact that novice players get hooked into playing them than their chances of catching fish at the table. With 3 different over-pairs available, post-flop play can be tricky.
Alternatives: Jakes, Brothers, Jaybirds
With the chances of an over-pair on the flop shooting up, some people refer to tens as ‘Tension’. This makes sense in the context of them being tricky to play, yet too high value to fold for a single bet.
Alternatives: Dynamite or TNT.
The smaller the pair, the less you win with them, and the nicknames follow – with fewer and more obscure references the lower you go. Here is a selection of names for each lower pair:
Big Slick (ace king) was already covered above. This section includes notable nicknames for hands which contain aces and other side cards.
A few more hands which have picked up nicknames for various reasons are listed below. Some of these names are based on the shape of the digits, others for their play in major poker events.