Poker Slang and the Great Bluff

Casinos and specifically poker tables have a language all to themselves. There are in-house slang and terms which really distinguish the experienced players from those around them.

Imagine if you walked up to a poker table and the dealer tells you that the table is wet, should you sit down or walk away.

Then you get called a Donk because you didn’t colour up. Should you be offended or take that as a compliment. There are some key terms you should know, just to try and bluff your way through the night.

Colour Up

If you are starting to do really well and building a pile of chips, you might be asked if you want to colour up. It’s a compliment and the dealer is asking you if you would like to change your small valued chips for larger valued ones.

The dealer would only offer this if they feel that you are progressing to larger bets and are not about to slide back to the small chips again.

Colouring up is one way of ensuring that there are not too many chips covering the table, we all still need space for those cards.

A Donk

Now a Donk can either be a person or a play, but at the heart of the matter is the fact that you don’t want either.

If you are called a Donk, then the other players at the table see you as a soft target for betting against. They think they can take all of your chips and send you packing.

Whilst you might not be a Donk, you could always make a Donk play. This is just as bad. A Donk play is when you play or bet out of turn and show a complete lack of knowledge of the game.

Either way, you really don’t want to be a Donk.


To find a word worse than a Donk takes some doing but being eighty-sixed is much worse.

If you hear eighty-six being thrown your way, then your number is up, very literally. You are about to be thrown out of the casino and never allowed back in.

If a casino suspects you of card counting, cheating in any way, or just being too drunk and having run out of money, they can and will eighty-six you. It’s the shortcode for ‘get out and never come back’.


Grind is actually the only guessable slang used in poker, if you think of a long hard grind, then you’re there. The Grind is about a lot of very small bets, which win marginal amounts. Yet over a long time, they can make a player very rich. It is just a case of grinding out the big prizes.

No-one can blame you for not knowing every slang term used in poker, but with these four essentials, then you will at least be able to bluff your way through.

After all, poker is all about the bluff.