It is not an uncommon occurrence for the new poker player to stride into a club, sit at a table and not understand a word being spoken. This is not a conspiracy against the new guy, these players are using terms and abbreviations that they have picked up from long experience in clubs and casinos. Poker is a game rife with special words and ideas. This article is particularly meant for the beginner who is playing online and cannot decipher the chat messages posted on the board in the poker rooms and forums.
We will begin with the most obvious, and that is with the ever-popular game of Texas hold'em. You have your choice of limit, pot limit and no limit games. Anywhere from two to ten players may engage in a Texas hold'em session. The cards are dealt by the "dealer" whose position at the table is designated by a unique "button" and the one doing the dealing may be referred to as "the button." This person is not the same as a casino dealer who makes his living at it while being paid by the casino and cannot participate in the game.
In back of the dealer are two players who make bets blindly. Only the table limit keeps the lid on their bets. They cannot bet over the particular table's limit. The first blind bet is for half of the table limit and is termed the small blind, the second player places a bet for the full table limit, the big blind. So, if the table limit $2/$4, the small blind will be for $2 and the big blind for $4. You often see abbreviations which designate the player's position. SB stands for small blind and BB denotes the big blind. Of course this seems too easy and it is. SB can also mean small bet and BB big bet, having nothing to do with blind. Be aware of this and distinguish between them while engaged in play.
The first move is always made by the small blind player. Because of this, his position is counted as the first position. The button, or dealer, plays last and is counted as whatever that number is depending on the number of players at the table. The second move is by the big blind and the third player is still in an early position and "under the gun" or UTG. Following are the next two positions also considered "early" are known as UTG +1 and UTG + 2. Are you still with me?
So, moving right along, the next three players are part of the middle position or MP1, MP2, and MP3. And the "late" positions consist of the player right before the button and is referred to as the cutoff or CO. Bringing up the rear is the button player.
Those positions listed above exist for a Texas hold'em game of ten players. Less players than ten and an appropriate number of positions are eliminated.
The first step of the game is called the preflop, during which each player is dealt two pocket cards. Three "streets" follow the preflop: the flop, the turn (the fourth street), and the river (the fifth street). During these rounds community cards are laid out on the table (also "the board"), called after the relevant streets: first three flop cards, then one turn and one river card. Flop cards of different suits are called a rainbow.
This is a bare beginning in the argot of online poker, but it should whet your appetite to learn more terms and gain more understanding of the games in the online poker rooms. So, good luck and enjoy the game and the education you are giving yourself.