Poker Terms Explained: Tilt? Trap? Trombones?

Poker Terms Explained

The poker world can often be a confusing one, even if you already know how to play poker. You can read as many poker strategy articles and books as you like, but it's always an intimidating moment when you don't quite understand the meaning of a certain word or phrase.

There are certainly many eclectic and confusing poker terms that make poker such an exciting game, and PokerNews is here to explain seven of them to you.

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Every poker player wants to avoid "going on tilt" as it can lead to bad decision-making and poor play. Tilt is a state of play less well because of emotion, such as following a losing hand or during a downswing. Often characterized by looser, more aggressive play, although there are many forms of "tilt" which can negatively affect one's decision-making.


This is another colorful nickname for one of the many poker hands that are out there. Trombones is the nickname to {7-}{6-} after the song 76 Trombones in Meredith Wilson's play and movie The Music Man.


Tank can be used either as a verb or a noun. A player can tank or go in the tank, which means taking a longer than usual time to make a decision.

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Also known as a slow play, a trap is where a player intentionally slowplays a strong hand in order to win more chips/money off of their opponent.


Treys is the nickname of pocket threes {3-}{3-}. It is believed that the name was introduced to avoid confusion with a player holding three threes, and instead holding three treys. Similar confusion is avoided with deuces instead of pocket twos.


Every poker player wants to know their opponents tell. Made famous in the film Casino Royale with the interaction between James Bond and Le Chiffre, a tell is an action that gives clues about the cards someone is holding.


There are two definitions for the poker term time. The most common is where a player is taking too long with their decision, another player may call time to have the tournament director initiate a countdown of time left to act on their hand.

Alternatively, in time games, time is where the cardroom collects money on the half-hour or hour from participants in the game.

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