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Reading Poker Shorthand

Written by:   R Mongoose

Message boards and websites are filled with quality poker information, but sometimes the authors use "poker shorthand" to describe the game situations. If you're not familiar with the terms, you can't take full advantage of the knowledge being shared. Reading through the Poker Shorthand Primer will help you understand what people are actually saying when they say, "YMTC, playing Kxs in LP"..

Poker comes with it's own language, slang included. While anyone who has seen an episode of the World Poker Tour knows that pocket Queens can be called the "lovely ladies" or the "hilton sisters", there is more to poker lingo than hand nicknames.

A lot of websites and message boards offer poker strategy and advice, and knowing the basic terms and how to read poker shorthand can unlock this world of information. First, let's look at the shorthand that poker players use to describe the cards during a hand.

The ranks of the cards are given, followed by a letter indicating their suit. So the King of Clubs is written, Kc. The two of Hearts is written as 2h. Tens are written as the letter T. You may see a flop described as Ac 4d Th. The Ace of Clubs, Four of Diamonds, and Ten of Hearts.

When talking about starting hands, the letter s stands for suited. For instance, a starting hand with the Jack of Clubs and the Ten of Clubs is described as JTs. The opposite of suited, offsuit, is indicated with an o. Jack/Ten offsuit is written as JTo.

And the last of the card shorthand, x is used to describe a random small card in a starting hand. If a player likes to play an Ace and any other suited card, that starting hand is described as playing Axs. Ace/anything suited.

There may be times when playing Axs is a profitable play, or times when calling raises with KQo is not recommended. Either way, the shorthand used in describing texas holdem helps cut down on the time it takes to describe the cards in play.

There is more to poker conversation than just the cards though. You will find the following shorthand on message boards as well. When talking about position at the table, or pre-flop action the blinds are often referred to as sb and bb for small and big blinds.

I mention this because when talking about the amount of money players make BB is used to mean big bets. Someone who makes 4 BB an hour at a $3/$6 table is having $24 an hour sessions. Just as in English, the words in poker lingo depend on the context.

Other shorthands you will see include YMTC instead of You Make the Call, HH in place of Hand History, and MTT for Multi-table tournament.

Of course youll find other, creative abbreviations out there, but having read through the basics, it will be easier to understand poker situations as they are described online.

About the Author
Mongoose is the webmaster of Online Poker Rules and a regular contributor at Poker Prophet.

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