What is Able?

In poker, ‘able’ is an old term describing the player or hand to the left of the dealer. This is often the last player to bet. Other more common terms include the ‘age’, the ‘elder’ or the ‘eldest’, as this player’s hand usually makes the last play before the draw. Another more frequently used term for the ‘able’ is the ‘edge’. This comes from describing the hand which has the most information about each opponent’s hand and play style – and therefore has the greatest advantage.

‘Able’ Explained

In poker games where an automatic betting system applies, players are forced to make certain bets at different stages of the game. The responsibility for these bets is usually based on each player’s position at the table, in relation to the dealer. For example, in many casino poker games the players sat to the right of the dealer are required to make a mandatory bet, or blind, before the cards are seen. In other games, players must bet set multiples of the original ante, and can only bet under certain conditions.

In games using automatic betting play, the players might refer to a hand as being ‘able’, or being ‘the able’. This hand is located to the immediate left of the dealer, making it the last hand to play before the draw. The ‘able’ is an advantageous position to play, because all other players to have act on their cards before this player takes their turn. They will have more information on which to make a decision than any other players.

Sometimes this ‘able’ hand is referred to as the ‘elder’ at the table, or called the ‘eldest hand’, because it sits for the longest period before an action is taken. The ‘new’ hands in this sense are those which play early in the round – often the two blinds on the dealer’s right. Some poker variants allow an optional blind bet from the ‘able’ position during the first round, though this has become less common in casino poker games.

Interested in playing poker? Read our in-depth guide.