Gambling glossary

Gambling Glossary: A Guide to Gambling Terms

Most gambling games are pretty simple, but the terms used to talk about them are not. There's an entire language filled with slang terms that gamblers know, which can be intimidating or confusing to new players.

But fear not… become a real pro by working down this page, or simply click on the letter you need to find the word that’s thrown you. Be prepared to get lucky!

a
  • Action

    The amount of money that a player bets across the whole playing session.

  • Active Player

    In poker, a player who is still playing.

  • Add-on

    In poker, you can buy and use more chips during the game and these are known as add-ons.

  • Aggregate Limit

    The casino’s total payout liability during any one game.

  • Aggregate Winnings

    Cumulative or total winnings of a game.

  • All-in (Going All-In)

    The term in poker to bet all your chips. During a No Limit game, if another player bets more than what you have then you can use everything you have by going All-In and they will bring down their bet to match yours.

  • All or Nothing

    In Keno, a ticket that only wins if either all your selected numbers or none of your selected numbers are drawn.

  • Ante

    Usually in poker, this is the initial bet placed by each player before the cards are dealt. This ensures that there is always money to play and that every player has contributed.

  • Arcade Casino

    See 'Automat Club'.

  • Arm

    In Craps, this is the player thought to possess special skills throwing dice, giving them the power to alter the odds of the game.

    Whether or not such players actually exist is up for debate but, to make sure the outcome is strictly random, dealers insist that the dice are thrown against the back wall of the table.

  • Automat Club

    Also known as Videomat Casino, Arcade Casino, and Slot Hall. Just as it sounds, it’s full of automatic games that don’t need a casino operator, e.g.: slot/video machines, electronic Derby horse racing, etc.

    They’re usually 24/7, free to enter and lax on dress code so they offer a more casual experience.

b
  • Baccarat

    A simple, yet ever popular table game, particularly amongst high rollers. Players choose the hand they want play, either as 'player' or 'banker'.

  • Bankroll

    Money that a gambler has specifically set aside for gambling. A casual gambler is unlikely to need a dedicated bankroll, but it’s very important for professional gamblers.

    It ensures they only gamble with money that they have set aside prior to the game.

  • Beef

    A dispute that arises between a player and the casino or bookmaker, usually over the outcome of a bet.

  • Beginners’ Luck

    Players who have just started often find themselves on a winning streak, and this is called ‘Beginner’s Luck’.

  • Bet

    A single instance of wagering money on a gambling game. Players may be able to make several bets in a single game.

  • Betting Limits

    Limits set by the casino on how much a player can bet on certain games. In most casinos, you’ll find both a minimum and maximum bet listed for each game.

  • Black Book

    The book containing the names of people too ‘undesirable’ to be let into the casinos of Nevada.

  • Blackjack

    A table game where players take on the dealer. To beat the dealer, players must score a hand of 21 points, or as close to, without going over.

    THE winning hand, comprised of an ace and 10-point card, is called a Blackjack.

  • Blinds

    In Hold'em Poker, it’s a bet you’re forced to make.

  • Bonus

    An incentive given to players at online casinos for opening a new account and/or making a deposit. Most bonuses are matching bonuses, meaning that the size of the  bonus depends on the size of the deposit being made.

  • Bug

    The joker card.

  • Burn Card

    The card dealt face down at the start of a shoe in most table games, or any time new community cards are revealed in a game of poker. It helps protect the integrity of the game in case any of the players see the top card.

  • Buy in

    The cash used to buy chips before joining a table game.

c
  • Call

    In poker, this is the bet to match the current one.

  • Card Counting

    A way of outdoing the dealer and the game in Blackjack. It’s a form of cheating, whereby you remember the cards that have been played so as to make an informed guess on the remaining cards and cheat the game.

  • Carpet Joint

    Slang used in the US for luxury and high-end casinos. Opposite of Sawdust Joint.

  • Casino Advantage

    The mathematical edge the casino has over the players. See 'House Edge' for more details.

  • Chase

    Where money has been lost in gambling, the bet placed to try and retrieve it is known as the chase.

  • Cold

    The way to describe a slot machine that isn’t paying out or a player who keeps losing. Opposite to 'hot'.

  • Chips

    Tokens used to represent money and make bets during most gambling games. Like paper money and coins, chips come in many different denominations.

  • Comps

    Incentives used by casinos to lure in players in the form of gifts such as free hotel rooms, food, and drink.

  • Craps

    A table game played with dice in which a shooter attempts to roll certain numbers. Because it offers so many bets to choose from, various players may be rooting for different results during the game.

  • Croupier

    The French word for Dealer.

d
  • D'Alembert System

    A staking plan that works by adding a unit for every losing bet, and deducting one for every winning bet.

  • Dealer

    The casino employee who deals cards to players and controls the flow of the game. Dealers are used in many common games, like Poker, Blackjack, and Baccarat.

  • Deuce

    Slang for a two, either in terms of cards (e.g. in the video poker game Deuces Wild) or dice.

  • Discard Tray

    The tray to the dealer’s right hand that catches used cards that have been played or discarded.

  • Dolly

    Unlike French Roulette. where the dealer simply uses a stick to point to the winning number, in American Roulette there’s a special marker made from wood or plastic that the dealer places on the table, over the winning number.

    It got its name from its doll shaped outline.

  • Double Down

    A bet of equal size to an initial bet, such as in Blackjack. In most cases, both bets will now either win or lose together.

  • Drop Box

    The box in the middle of the game table where chips used as bets are placed.

e
  • eCOGRA

    The acronym for e-Commerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance.

    They write all the online casino regulation making sure the industry stays safe and honest for players. It’s a way of knowing whether or not you can trust an online casino.

    If you see the logo on a site’s homepage you know it’s been approved and is committed to ensuring its games are fair, their players protected, and that responsible conduct is expected by all.

  • En Prison

    Similar to a bonus in some casinos, it’s the stake that stays on the Roulette table for another spin following an Even Money Bet where the outcome was zero or double zero.

  • Even Money Bet

    A bet where the odds are 1:1, meaning you’re paid back whatever amount you bet plus the same again.

  • Eye in the Sky

    Slang for security cameras in casinos.

  • Expected Value

    The average return on a given bet that a player can expect to see over the long run. Depending on how profitable (or not) the bet is, the expected value can be either positive or negative.

f
  • Face Card

    Also known as paint. Slang term for any playing card with a "face" on it – kings, queens, and jacks.

  • Ficheur

    The device used in American Roulette to separate the different colored chips.

  • Fill

    Also known as full house, straight flush. In poker, this term refers to the fifth card drawn that makes a full hand.

  • Finale Schnaps

    The command to a dealer for placing bets on numbers 11, 22, 33 In French Roulette.

  • Fish

    The sad player who’s losing all their money. Can’t spot ‘em at your table? It’s probably you!

  • Fixed Odds

    The chances of winning and payouts are fixed ahead of time, e.g scratch card games, online casino favorite simulated horse games.

    Broadly speaking it applies to most table games and slot machines, but tends to be used for “specialty” games only. Games like poker and sports betting don’t have fixed odds since the odds and probability are unknown.

  • Flat Betting

    When a player consistently bets the same amount of money.

  • Flea

    A sponger. The guy that expects everything for nothing, like comps for placing small bets.

g
h
  • Hit

    Taking an additional card, such as in Blackjack.

  • High Roller

    A term used by casinos for a gambler who spends a lot. It varies from casino to casino as to who and what exactly qualify for this title.

  • Hold

    The percentage of money bet by a gambler that the casino expects to keep at the end of a session or day. It depends a lot on how much time players spend playing certain games.

    While it’s irrelevant for the players (they care more about the house edge on each bet) it helps the casino identify which games are their most profitable.

  • Hole Card(s)

    Cards that remain face down so that nobody can see them. The dealer has a hole card in Blackjack.

    In Poker, individual players may have hole cards that they can look at, but which remain hidden to other players.

  • House Edge

    Usually expressed as a percentage of each bet made, it indicates the advantage the casino has over the player. If, for example, the house edge is 2%, over the long run players can expect to lose 2% of what they bet.

  • Hot

    A player who’s getting win after win, or a slot machine that’s dishing out. Opposite of 'cold'.

i
  • Inside Bets

    A bet in Roulette made on the inside numbers of the table.

  • Irregular Playing Patterns

    A kind of “bonus abuse” that exists in online casinos where players will do the bare minimum to claim their bonus prizes, in a bid to lose as little of their own money.

  • IVT

    Interactive Video Terminals

j
  • Jackpot

    The largest prize available on a slot machine or other games. Typically it’s only used for special prizes, such as a progressive prize or one associated with a side bet.

  • Juice

    See 'Vigorish'.

  • Junket

    A type of trip offered to VIP players by casinos. Often they will cover the flights and hotel of the guests and in exchange the players put down a deposit of $5000 and commit to play a certain number of hours in the casino.

k
  • Kalooki

    Also known as Jamaican Rummy, it follows the same idea as Rummy, matching sets of cards. Played with wild cards most of the time.

  • Keno

    A game similar to a lottery. Players choose numbers before a drawing and hope to match them to the numbers drawn by the casino.

  • Kicker

    In a draw Poker tournament, it’s the high card in a hand that doesn’t make up the fill, usually in the form of an Ace or King card.

l
  • Ladderman

    The casino employee in charge of overseeing the game of Baccarat, seated in a chair above the table.

  • Layout

    The cloth over the gaming table covered in markings indicating where to place your bets.

  • Low Poker

    Also called Lowball. The game of poker where the aim is sort of in reverse. The winner is the player with the lowest poker-value hand.

m
  • Martingale

    Originating in France, it’s a betting system that involves the gambler doubling the bet after each loss.

  • Maximum Bet

    The most that a casino will allow you to wager in a game. This can apply to a single bet, the total of all bets, or the rules in a game of poker that limit how much a player is allowed to bet or raise on a particular round.

  • Megalats Jackpot

    Also known as Minilats Jackpot. A system whereby different slot machines are wired up together and, if with your one token you get a jackpot, you may also win the accumulative winnings of all the other slot machines wired to the same network.

  • Minimum Bet

    As with Maximum Bet, but the least that a casino will allow you to wager in a game.

  • Minilats Jackpot

    See 'Megalats Jackpot'.

n
  • Natural

    A two-card hand of a certain figure – eight or nine in Baccarat, and 21 points in Blackjack.

  • Negative Expectation 

    The loss you can expect to see over the long-run of playing a particular game multiple times.

  • Non-negotiable Chips

    Promo chips dished out by the casino that can only be placed in bets and not cashed in.

  • Non-value Chip

    A gaming chip with no value written upon it. The value instead is worked out by the amount of buy-in divided by the number of chips.

  • Number Pool

    The pool, or range, of numbers from which you can pick in a game where they will be drawn.

    The number pools vary from game to game, e.g. in Keno it’s 1-80, lotteries tend to be 1-60, Bingo is either 1-75 or 1-90.

  • Nut

    Two meanings: the first is a set figure a gambler decides as their winning target for the day, the second is the casino’s overheads.

o
  • Odds

    The casino’s set ratio of the player’s chance of winning. This will determine how much money the gambler will receive against their bet, should they win.

  • On tilt 

    Wild behavior in a game following a bad hand.

  • Open

    The first player to place a bet in Poker.

  • Optimal Strategy

    Applicable to any game that involves the player making strategic decisions, and where the range of possible results can be calculated mathematically.

    It’s the set of plays in a game that will get the player their best returns. It’s commonly used in Blackjack and Video Poker (where you’ll find charts detailing optimal strategy).

  • Outside Bets

    Bets in Roulette placed on the numbers located on the outside of the table, involving 12 or 18 numbers being bet with one chip.

  • Overlay

    A strong bet that means the player has an edge over the casino.

p
  • Paroli

    A type of betting system which, as you win, increases the bet. In French Roulette, this is an order that tells the croupier to use the bet to press the win.

  • Paint 

    See 'Face Card'.

  • Pay Table

    The casino's list of payouts for various results in a given game. Casinos can alter the odds in a lot of common casino games by changing the payouts they give players.

    NB: before choosing a game to play, make sure you examine the pay table!

  • Pit

    The area of a casino where you’ll find the tables manned by dealers.

  • Pit Boss

    The casino employee with slightly elevated status, responsible for supervising multiple tables.

  • Pigeon

    The newbie of the gambling world, or a gambler who lacks sophistication and finesse.

  • Progressive Prize

    The prize from a slot machine that increases progressively with every coin that is played into it.

  • Push

    A bet that results in a tie. The player receives their money back without neither a win nor a loss.

q
  • Quads

    In poker, having a number in all four suits.

r
  • Random Number Generator (RNG)

    A device used to produce a random, unpredictable string of numbers, which requires a multi-stage process to ensure it really is random.

    Algorithms from the device (almost impossible to predict but not totally random) combine with outside factors, such as air temperature, air pressure, and mouse movements on a site (totally unpredictable).

    RNGs have many purposes, but in the gambling world are particularly helpful for predicting the results of online gambling results where dice are rolled, cards dealt etc.

  • Rank 

    A set of cards’ worth in a game of Poker.

  • River

    The fifth and last card the dealer will deal to you in a game of Poker (Stud or Hold’em). If you hang in ‘til this last round in Seven-card Stud you’re “going to the river”.

  • Roulette

    A game played using a wheel with a ball that can fall into one of many numbered pockets. The players may make a variety of bets that predict which pocket (or group of pockets) the ball will fall into.

    There are two main variations of this game: American Roulette (with two zeroes on the wheel) and European Roulette (with just a single zero), with the European version having better odds for the player.

  • Royal Flush

    Also known as a Royal Straight Flush or a Royal. The money-winning hand in a game of Poker. An Ace, King, Queen, Jack, or Ten card from each suit.

s
  • Sawdust Joint

    American slang to describe a rough and ready casino. Opposite of a 'Carpet Joint'.

  • Session 

    Period of time spent playing a game.

  • Shark

    A clever player that tricks their opponents by pretending to be the fish at the start of the game then striking when everyone’s guard is down.

  • Shiner

    A small mirror that cheats use to try and steal a glance at their opponents’ cards.

  • Shoe

    A device that can hold several decks’ worth of playing cards. Shoes are used in games like Blackjack to hold the collection of cards from which the game is dealt.

  • Slot Machine

    A game in which players spin reels in order to match combinations of symbols across pre-determined paylines.

    Older-style slot machines used mechanical or electronic reels while modern slots use video displays to simulate the reels.

  • Snake Eyes

    In Craps, when the dice land on a two. So called because the dice look snakey this way up, and if you just rolled it, it’s bad news.

  • Stand

    To sit on the hand one currently has without taking more cards. Most often associated with Blackjack, but also used in other games like Baccarat.

t
  • Tapping Out

    Losing the entirety of your bankroll and having to throw in the towel and go home.

  • Toke

    Nickname for a token which is similar to the chips used for bets. Tokes are what players use when tipping the dealer, and George hands them out in abundance.

  • Tronc

    The tip box for casino employees.

  • True Odds

    When a casino lists its “odds” they’re not usually the true chances of whether or not a thing will happen. True odds are and include the house edge.

u
  • Underlay

    A bet you don’t want to be behind as it’s bad and sure not to win. More money than it’s worth due to the improbability of the event in question occurring.

v
  • Video Poker

    A machine game that simulates the action of five-card poker games. Players choose to discard and replace cards from their starting hand and if they make the minimum hand needed to win, are then paid.

    Common video poker games include Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild.

  • Vigorish

    Also known as the vig, the take, or the juice, it’s the amount the bookmaker charges the gambler for making a bet.

  • VLT

    Video Lottery Terminal

w
  • Wagering Requirement

    The amount of money a player must bet before claiming their bonus funds on online casinos. This ensures that players cannot just claim a bonus and immediately cash out.

  • Washing

    When walking away from a table the dealer/croupier will mime the movement of washing their hands to illustrate that they are walking away with nothing.

  • Whale

    An extremely high roller who will significantly affect a casino’s business. Some might see this as a derogatory term since these are players from which a casino can hugely profit.

  • White meat

    Profit

  • Wild Card

    Common in Poker and Video Poker, this is the card that can substitute for any card value.

  • Wong

    Also known as Wonging, a Wonger, after Stanford Wong who counted cards at a certain Blackjack table to ascertain if the player was on the winning foot, and then join the table to play.

    The meaning has also evolved so that it encompasses games that are to the players’ advantage.