Gambling Terms and Slang

Gambling Terms & Phrases You Should Know

When you first enter a casino, you’ll inevitably pick up on some words, phrases, and casino slang. Casino lovers all over the globe are quite inventive and creative when it comes to coining new terms to describe games, rules, bets, and playstyles. Although some are pretty straightforward, other terms and phrases can be a bit confusing at first.

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That’s why we’ve decided to put together this comprehensive glossary of casino terms. If you’re a newbie, you’ll find it much easier to keep up with the pace of the games. You won’t have to feel awkward when everyone else around the table, but you, knows what the term means. And you won’t have to stop the game and ask for an explanation, then pretend you got it because you’re too embarrassed to ask again.

Veterans, on the other hand, might discover a new ‘gamerism’ they can adopt to enrich their casino lexicon. The idea isn’t to show off, but understanding when to use a specific term will undoubtedly enhance your casino experience.

Here are the most common gambling terms, as well as a few exotic ones. To make sure some of these terms don’t slip your mind, bookmark this page in your browser. That way, you can quickly brush up on your knowledge before the next trip to your favorite casino.

A

Action — Although the first thing that comes to mind is usually “getting in on the action,” the term doesn’t actually refer to playing casino games. Rather, it indicates the amount of money a gambler has wagered throughout the play session.

Add-on — Additional chips; the chips you buy on top of what you’ve initially started playing with.

Aggregate Limit The total amount of money a casino is liable to pay out on a specific game.

Aggregate Winnings — terms for total winnings.

All-in — A term typically used in poker. When a player goes “all-in,” they are betting all of their chips/money on a single hand. Other players have to either match that amount, or go all-in themselves if they wish to call.

Ante — Prerequisite for starting a game; the minimum amount of money every player has to add to the pot before the game actually starts.

Arm — A term used primarily to describe Craps players who are believed to have developed the skills to throw the dice in a manner which would ‘guarantee’ a certain outcome. This technique usually involves throwing the dice closer to the far end of the fall.

B

Banker — A term used in card games when there is no designated dealer. The cards are dealt in turn, and the player who deals them is the banker.

Bankroll — The money a casino player has brought and intends to wager.

Barred — A player who’s kicked out from the casino and prevented from re-entering. If someone is barred, they have either been caught cheating, or have created trouble for the casino through inappropriate behavior.

Beard — An individual who places bets on behalf of someone else, typically because the actual bettor wants to remain anonymous.

Beef — A disagreement between players and the dealer.

Blind Bet — A bet made in poker before any player gets the chance to see their cards. There are both small blinds and big blinds, which rotate clockwise each round. Blinds are a form of incentive for players around the table to increase the pot, prior to knowing how likely they are to win the round. The size of the blinds depends on the buy-in of the specific table.

Break-Event Point — A situation in which a win covers the total amount of money you’ve previously wagered. You “break even” when you receive a payout that’s equivalent to what you’ve already lost in the game in question.

Breaking the Bank — You “break the bank” when you hit a big win at a casino. The symbolism is apparent when you picture coins pouring out of the freshly broken piggy bank.

Britbrag — A poker variant in which players try to beat the casino, using only 3 cards. This version is often called a 3-Card Casino Brag or is merely referred to as 3-Card Poker.

Bug — Slang used to describe the Joker card in several card games.

Buy-in — The amount of money you bring to the poker table. In a land casino, a buy-in signifies purchasing chips in order to join the table.

C

Cage — The place where cashiers in land casinos are located.

Call — A poker term that signifies matching a bet and staying in the game.

Camouflage — An addition to the poker face. Although the term doesn’t strictly refer to clothing, but rather any method of hiding intention, professional poker players often wear sunglasses as well.

Capping — A way of cheating, primarily in roulette, by adding chips on the original pile, after the ball has already landed, in order to increase winnings.

Card Counting — This one’s quite literal. Counting and remembering which cards have passed in Blackjack, to assess the likelihood of a specific card appearing next.

Card Sharp — A term referring to any gambler who’s uniquely talented with cards.

Card Washing — A way of mixing the cards which should, in theory, prevent consistencies.

Casino Advantage — Rarely any game at a casino offers 50/50 odds of winning. The casino advantage represents the difference, in percentages, between the casino’s and the player’s chances to win.

Chase — Chasing after a win is a term that describes a style of playing where a gambler keeps wagering more and more money in hopes of earning back what they’ve already lost.

Coat-tail — Slang for leveraging the exact same strategy as the player who previously won, in an attempt to replicate their results.

Cold — Term from gamblers and casino games alike that have abruptly stopped their winning streak.

Coloring Up — Exchanging smaller $5 chips for larger denominations. You’re changing the color of the chips and reducing their amount by replacing them with others that are worth more.

Comp Points — A sort of compensation or reward for playing at a certain casino. The casino will award its players with comp points, depending on how much they wager, thus providing an additional incentive for gamblers to keep playing there. Typically, comp points can be exchanged for credits you can play with.

Cracking the Nut — The lingo used by gamblers to describe their net profit after a play session.

Croupier — Dealer.

Crossfire — A situation where the dealer discusses everything with the players, while not paying enough attention to the game in front of them.

D

D’Alembert Betting System — A betting system employed by players in casinos. The main principle revolves around increasing a bet by 1 unit when you lose, and decreasing it by 1 unit when you win.

Deposit — The money you pay the online casino to add gambling funds to your betting account.

Deuce — Rolling two 1s in dice.

Dime — A $1,000 wager.

Doubling Up (Martingale System) — A similar betting strategy to D’Alambert, where a player doubles their previous bet on a loss, in order to win back the money they wagered.

Down to the Felt — Broke; out of wagering money.

Drop — The amount a player, or the casino lost.

E

Edge — Similar to casino advantage, but applicable when two players are concerned, as well. To have an edge simply means to hold any form of advantage over the opponent. Also known as the house edge.

End-of-the-day Betting Effect — When gamblers have approached the end of the play session or their bankroll, they have a tendency to raise the stakes, hoping they’ll win back some of the money they’ve lost.

En Plein — A simple, straightforward money bet you place on a single number.

En Prison Rule — In some instances, a casino will allow the player to stake half of their initial bet when they lose in roulette. The roulette wheel is spun again, without the player having to add more chips to the table. If they win, they recover the stake. This rule only applies to even-odd bets.

Eye in the Sky A camera which captures all of the action while the casino staff surveys the floor.

F

Face Cards — Kings, Queens, and Jacks.

Ficheur — The name of the special machine utilized by the croupier to sort out and hand out different-colored chips to players in American Roulette.

Firing — Casino lingo that means someone is wagering substantial amounts of money.

Fish A person who loses considerably more money than other gamblers in a casino.

Flop In poker variants like Hold’em and Omaha, where a total of 5 cards can potentially be dealt face-up on the table, the first three are called the flop. The fourth and fifth cards are known as turn and river.

Fourth Street The second round of betting in the Seven Card Stud poker. The term comes from the fact that players hold four cards once the second round of betting starts.

Fifth Street Third round in Seven Card Stud poker.

Flat Betting — Betting the same amount, regardless if you win or lose.

Flea — An annoying player that has unreasonably high expectation of comps and other casino rewards, despite not meeting the casino’s criteria.

G

Gambler’s Fallacy — A common misconception among casino players. Probably due to our innate inability to accept the randomness of outcomes, people mistakenly believe that if something tends to happen too frequently, it must stop occurring in the near future, and vice versa. That’s where the belief that a slot machine “has to pay eventually” stems from.

Gambler’s Ruin A strategy that will “ruin” any gambler who attempts it. It’s a tendency to increase the bets when you’re winning, but refusing to decrease them when you’re losing.

George We are not talking about the former US President Bush. In a casino, George is the gambler who tips the dealer.

Grease — There is a term to hide every illegal activity in casinos. Grease is a bribe which is offered to a dealer in a casino.

Grind — this term is used for playing it out on a consistent basis at the tables. This player is ‘grinding’ out planned bets based on knowledgeable probabilities of the game.

H

Hand — The cards a player is holding in their hand until the end of the round.

Hard Count — The process of counting coins in a casino or a bank. This is typically done under the watchful eye and protection from guards and cameras.

Hit — In Blackjack, when a player requests an additional card, they usually do so by saying: “Hit me.”

Honeymoon Period — Beginner’s luck; an incredible winning streak a new player has at a casino.

Hot — Not an amazing-looking gambler, but rather one that’s on a winning streak.

House Edge — The advantage a casino has over the players, due to the nature of the games themselves. For instance, slots will always pay less than they take in, on average. If a particular slot machine has a Return to Player of 96%, the house edge is 4%.

I

Inside Bet — In roulette, an inside bet is every bet a player places on an individual number.

Insurance Bet (in Blackjack) — An additional bet in Blackjack, available only when the dealer’s first face-up card is an ace. Aside from the standard bet, the players can choose to bet on a dealer having a natural blackjack. Typically, the insurance bet is half of your original bet. In that event, if the dealer does indeed have a blackjack, you would lose the initial bet, but win the insurance one and be at a net zero.

Irregular Playing Patterns — A style of play which involves abrupt and drastic changes in the bet sizes, or frequent switching between different games. This is typically frowned upon by online casinos, and many consider this erratic betting behavior to be a sign of cheating.

J

Jackpot — The grand prize of a slot machine, which is often a life-changing amount of money.

Jacks or Better — Video poker variant, in which you need to have Jacks or higher cards—Queens, Kings, or Aces—in order to win.

Juice (Vigorish) — A term for the commission a casino, sportsbook, or bookmaker takes.

K

Kicker — In poker, a high ranking card that doesn’t mix with the other cards in hand to create a Flush or a Straight.

L

Ladderman — A mediator in a Baccarat game; judge; referee.

Lay the Odds — Forgoing betting on the best odds by choosing to wager on the favorite.

Layout — The clothing on a gambling table which indicates where to place the wager.

Load Up — Increasing the bet to the maximum allowed size.

Low Roller — The opposite of high roller. A gambler who enjoys playing casino games without risking too much money, usually gravitating towards the smallest bet sizes.

Low Poker — Poker with inverted rules, where the lowest value hand wins.

M

Marker — A check that a player who has credit with a specific casino writes.

Maximum Bet The highest amount of money that you can wager on a game.

Mechanic — A slang for a dealer who cheats.

MVG — An abbreviation of Most Valued Guest; a VIP.

N

Natural — A total of 21 in a game of Blackjack, with the combination of the two dealt cards only. If you get to 21 with three or more cards, you have a blackjack, but it isn’t considered a “natural.” This term is also used in Baccarat, to signify an 8 or a 9.

Net Winnings — Profit; the amount of money you won at a casino, minus all the money you wagered.

Non-Negotiable Chips — Chips that must be played, and cannot be cashed out.

Nut — The expected minimum a gambler hopes to win at a casino.

O

Odds — The probability of a certain outcome of a game or sports event. Odds are typically fixed by the software itself, where casino games are concerned. When it comes to sportsbooks, the odds are determined by each sportsbook individually.

Open — In poker, a player who needs to place the first bet.

Outside Bet — In roulette, outside bets are any bets that aren’t placed on individual numbers. For instance, betting on Red vs Black or odds-even.

Overlay — Not what you would expect. In casino lingo, an overlay has nothing to do with the user interface of an online casino. In fact, it’s a term for a bet which favors the player, rather than the house.

P

Paint — High-value cards: Jack, Queen, Kind, and Ace.

Pallet — A stick made out of wood, used to gather the cards on a Baccarat table.

Paroli — Another betting strategy, similar to D’Alembert. Most commonly used in Baccarat and Roulette, it revolves around proportionally increasing your bets after each win and expecting the win streak to continue.

Pass — Effectively the same as Fold. A player who passes chooses not to match the bet and forfeits the round.

Pat — A hand of 17 or better in Blackjack. A “pat” pertains to a hand that doesn’t need additional cards. Although you could technically “hit” on 17, the chances of being dealt a 4 are rather slim. You are much more likely to win with a 17 and a dealer going over 21, than by hitting on a 17.

Payline — The line on slot machines where symbols from the different reels combine to make a winning combination. Every slot has at least one payline, with the contemporary slots having an upwards of 25.

Payoff — Winnings; the money you receive after winning a wager.

Pigeon — A gambler sure to lose all of their money, regardless of how much luck they have, due to their naivete and/or lack of intelligence.

Pit — A restricted area in a casino, available exclusively to the casino staff.

Pit Manager — A member of the casino staff who supervises all other casino employees.

Pocket Cards — The cards that are dealt face-down in a game of poker.

Pot — The amount of money on the table, which is a total of all bets placed by every player around the table. Whoever has the strongest hand gets to claim the pot.

Progressive Jackpot — A jackpot at a slot machine which gradually increases in size the more players play the slot in question. Progressive jackpots grow until someone claims them, and can reach absurd sums before a lucky gambler gets a winning combination.

Provably Fair — A term which describes an algorithm online casinos use for their games, which can be audited, analyzed, and verified by a third party. This is done to ensure the fairness of games by determining that the results are truly randomly generated.

Q

Quads — Poker; Four of a kind.

Qualifier — When there is no clear winner in a game of poker, a qualifier is the lowest value hand eligible to get a portion of the pot.

Queer — Counterfeit money.

R

Racino — A combination of a racetrack and a casino.

Rack — A plastic container used in casinos to hold chips, slot machine tokens, and coins.

Rake — The commission the house takes after each poker round, for the duration of the entire game.

Rapid Roulette — A game of roulette where you can only place inside bets.

Reels — The columns within a slot machine, containing all the symbols.

River — The last community card dealt in most poker variants, like Hold’em. However, when the term “going to river” is used in Seven Card Stud, it means the players are entering the fifth and final round of the game.

Royal Flush — The strongest poker hand. It is comprised of a ten, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace — all in the same suit.

S

Sawdust Joint — American slang for a shoddy, run-down casino or game house.

Sawbuck — $10.

Scared Money — The money which gamblers aren’t prepared to lose.

Session — The entirety of the time spent in a casino, in one go.

Seventh Street — The last round of the Seven Card Stud. It’s called the “Seventh Street” due to the fact that, at this point, players have seven cards.

Shark — An experienced player (veteran) who acts like a newbie, in an attempt to hustle other players.

Shill — Someone who plays on behalf of the house. The shill doesn’t technically gamble since they’re playing with the casino’s money. Their goal isn’t to win, but rather to maintain a certain level of play and ensure that the game keeps running.

Shoe — Not an actual shoe, but a wooden box that houses the cards before they are dealt. The “shoe” typically holds six or eight decks.

Showdown — During the last round of poker, when no further bets can be placed, the players left have to reveal their hands so the winner can be determined.

Shutter — The window where the numbers of a Bingo game are displayed. For each number drawn, that number’s sign equivalent on the shutter is crossed out.  

Silver Mining (Slot Walking) — Checking if the previous player had forgotten any coins in a slot machine before you start playing.

Skin — American jargon for a dollar at a casino.

Skimming — The act of tax evasion, by transferring the money from a casino to a third person.

Stack — A pile of chips.

Spinner — A win streak.

Spooking — Relaying information to a player about the hole cards the dealer has. As you can imagine, this is considered cheating by virtually every casino.

Standing Hand — A hand in Blackjack with the value of 17 and above. Standing is the polar opposite of hitting, meaning a player will not ask for an additional card.

Streaming — Playing more aggressively after a substantial losing streak, mainly in Blackjack.

Suit — The playing cards come in one of four suits: hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs.

Surrender — An option in Blackjack where you can forfeit half of your bet if you decide not to play the hand all the way through. The same happens in roulette when the ball lands on zero — you only lose half instead of the whole bet.

System — Any strategy, method, or technique leveraged by a play in an attempt to gain an advantage over the house.

T

Table Hold — The money an individual table earns at a casino, during an 8-hour shift.

Table Stakes — The money or chips a player has on the game table.

Table Limit — Betting limits at a table. This term encompasses both the minimum and the maximum bets available on the given table.

Tap Out — Losing every last cent the player had entered the casino with.

Tells — Behaviors, actions, and body language of poker players which can reveal to other players how strong the hand their holding is.

Time Cut — A small fee game houses charge from players, depending on the time they spend in the poker room.

Trips — Three cards of the same rank.

Tronc — A box used to collect tips for the dealers.

U

Underplay — A bet unlikely to be successful. The appeal of such bets comes from the fact that they offer better odds and consequently a higher payout.

Unit — The unit is the least amount of money that can be wagered. Betting units, such as chips, aren’t specifically tied to a particular currency. Rather, they can simultaneously represent one USD and EUR, depending on the casino.

Up Card — Dealer’s card in Blackjack that’s dealt face-up.

V

Vigorish — The commission received by a casino.

Viking Power — An alternative name for the Caribbean Stud Poker, typically in European casinos.

VIP — Very important player; typically a high roller who has already spent a small fortune at a casino.

W

Wager — The amount of money you place on a specified outcome of a game.

Washing — A motion where the dealer rubs their hands together to show the players that they do not carry any chips.

Whale — A player with an enormous bankroll, who usually wagers thousands of dollars per round.

Withdrawal — Issuing a request at an online casino to pay out your winnings.

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