Language of poker: Beware the player in the hijack seat who may have a double gutter

Psst, hey pal — watch out for the woman lurking behind those chic Oakley sunglasses in the hijack seat.

If she’s drawing to a double gutter and gets there on the turn, you’ll be drawing dead and your pocket rockets will go up in flames.

Got it?

You should.

Poker has its own subculture and language, and you’ll find it and read about it — and hear it colorfully expressed — as the World Series of Poker is played out at the Rio through July 15.

Each day of the tournament, different poker games are dealt or “spread.”

You’ll read and hear about seven-card stud.

Pot-limit Omaha.

Even Open-Face Chinese. (That’s a poker game, not a menu item.)

Still, however, the most popular game is by far no-limit Texas Hold ’em.

Regardless of the game, the language of poker is colorful, descriptive and tinged with wry humor.

In seven-card stud, for example, three jacks in the hole are sometimes called “three Johnsons in the cellar.” Three 10s in just about any game become “thirty miles of railroad track.”

There are an abundance of earthy expressions — gutshot, double gutter, drawing dead, short stack, to mention just a few.

Some players will pick up a “baby ace” and decide to take on what could be “pocket cowboys.” And then pray for an ace on the river.

Regardless, once you tap into the language, your understanding of the game will grow.

Take those pocket rockets, for example. It’s merely an expression, along with American Airlines (AA), for the elusive pocket aces.

Hijack seat? It’s two seats off the button, and the button holds the best position.

The expression “get there” means to make a hand.

Drawing dead? A poker player’s worst nightmare. Even if you catch the card you need, you still lose.

Gutshot? Just another term for an inside straight draw.

Double gutter? Your odds got a little better. Either of two cards will complete an inside straight draw.

The flop, the turn, the river are common words in wildly popular Texas Hold ’em. The flop is the first three community cards that are spread at once or “flopped.” The turn and the river are individual cards that come next, in sequence.

“I think it’s like anything else. You do something with a group of people, you’ll develop your own language to describe it,” David G. Schwartz, director for the Center of Gaming Research at UNLV, said.

A baby ace? It’s an ace with a small card.

Pocket cowboys? Two kings.

The nomenclature is almost endless.

“There’s a ton of expressions,” said Gina Villa, floor shift supervisor at The Mirage poker room.

“I always like Big Slick (an ace-king starting hand in Hold ’em) because I think that’s fun.”

And all this time you probably thought a short stack was an order of three buttermilk pancakes. Nope, the short stack is a player low on chips.

Watch the game. Listen to the language from the thousands of poker players who will ply their craft at the Rio.

And if you end up in a game, try to avoid being the short stack.

Contact Assistant Business Editor Dan Behringer at or 702-383-0296. Follow @DanBehringer221.