What is ‘Ragged’?
‘Ragged’ is a descriptive term used in community card poker games to describe a board which has little on it of use. It usually means a board which doesn’t benefit any player particularly, although it also appears in an individual sense. ‘Ragged’ can also apply to a poor hand with not much hope of improvement – a player might say that their hand is ‘ragged’, meaning weak or bad.
In some forms of poker, players receive personal cards along with cards that are shared by the table – the ‘community cards’. These cards most often feature in Texas Hold’Em poker and its variants. Players usually get two cards of their own and share five with the rest of the table, although this varies between games. The hand they build and play can contain as many of the community cards as they like and some, all or none of their own cards. Other players also use the centre cards and their own to make a hand.
The cards shared by everyone are known collectively as the ‘board’. Sometimes a board will benefit some players more than others: a set of 2-4-7-9-10 does not help a player who wants to improve their pair of queens with a third, but for the player who holds an 8 and a jack this is a very good board. In some situations, the board might benefit no player at all, with many folding or betting low as a result. A weak board, either for one or for all of the players, is often known as ‘ragged’. This descriptive term is also applied to games where everyone is struggling to win, and to hands that are weak and unlikely to improve with any subsequent actions. The dreaded 2-7 opener, often said to be the worst possible hand, might be called ‘ragged’ by the player.