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21 Gambling Lingo Terms Most Commonly Used In Casinos

Gambling is among the most popular pastimes enjoyed by many worldwide. But have you ever found yourself in a situation playing a casino game or talking to friends who enjoy gambling from time to time while getting completely confused by some terms used, not knowing their meaning? Well - that's the gambling lingo.


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  Courtney Emerson  —  Grammar Tips
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Therefore, if you wish to be a proper gambler or know what's going on when someone talks about their success in a recently played poker game, it's essential to understand the specific terminology used in casinos worldwide. To help you - here are 21 of the most commonly used gambling terms you should know if you're ever visiting a casino in the list below. And as a bonus, there are also eight more terms (mostly idioms and phrases) used in gambling explained contextually.

An overview of the 21 most commonly used gambling lingo terms at casinos
Gambling lingo, just as any other contextual lingo, is a language on its own, and it can be pretty intimidating for new players. Now, let's go over some of the most commonly used terms at casinos, 21 of them to be more precise:

1. Action – This term refers to the total amount of money a player has earned.
2. Bankroll – This is the total amount of money a player has to wager with.
3. Betting Limits – These are the maximum and minimum amounts that can be bet on any game or hand.
4. Buy-In – The money required to join a game or tournament.
5. ChipsThese are tokens used instead of cash when playing casino games.
6. House Edge – This is the mathematical advantage that the casino has over players in any given game.
7. Jackpot – A large prize for hitting certain combinations on slot machines or other games.
8. Odds – The probability of winning or losing in any given situation.
9. Payout Percentage - The money returned to players from their wagers over time.
10. Rake - A fee taken by casinos from each pot in poker games as compensation for hosting them.
11. Shill - Someone a casino employs to play games and encourage others to join to increase business activity.
12. Standoff - When a game ends with neither player winning or losing.
13. Tilt - A mental or emotional confusion in which a player makes irrational decisions.
14. Vigorish - The house on specific bets takes the commission.
15. Whale - A high-stakes gambler who wagers large sums of money on games and tournaments.
16. Wild Card - An extra card in some poker variants that can be used as any other card in the deck to form hands and combinations.
17. Banker – This person deals cards and runs the game at a casino table, such as blackjack or baccarat.
18. Burn Card – This card is discarded from the top of the deck before any cards are dealt to players to prevent cheating or counting cards.
19. House Rules – These are specific rules that casinos use for their games, which may vary from other establishments, so it’s essential to know them before you play!
20. Push – When both players have equal hands and neither wins nor loses, resulting in no action taken on either side (also known as “standoff”).
21. Surrender – A rule allowing players to give up half their bet instead of playing out the hand if they feel they will lose anyway (only available in certain games).

There you have it; those are the 21 most commonly used lingo terms in gambling. But don't leave just yet - there's more. What about phrases or idioms used in gambling? Those are pretty frequent too. Read below for a thorough analysis of the top 8 most commonly used idioms and phrases in gambling, with examples of each.

How is the term "lock up" used in casinos?

The phrase "lock up" is frequently used in casinos to describe a circumstance in which a player has won a sum that surpasses the maximum payout limit. This typically occurs when a player hits a considerable jackpot or gradually accrues money. When this happens, the casino will "lock up" the extra money and retain it there until the player can claim it. Let's now examine the contexts in which this phrase can be employed.

E.g., if a slot machine has a maximum payout of $1,000 and a player wins $2,000 on it, then the casino will lock up the remaining $1,000 until the player can collect it. Another example would be if someone were playing blackjack and accumulated winnings of more than $10,000; in this case, any amount above that limit would be locked up until the player could collect it.

How is the term "roll them bones" used in gambling?

Another commonly used term in casinos is “roll them bones,” Which is most commonly used in gambling to refer to the act of rolling dice. It is often used to express excitement or anticipation when playing games involving dice, such as craps or backgammon. Let's see how it is used in a couple of examples.

E.g., if someone is about to roll the dice in a game of craps, they might say, “Let’s roll them bones!” This phrase can also be used more generally to refer to any gambling activity. For instance, if someone is about to place a bet on a horse race, they might say, “Let’s roll them bones and see what happens!”. So - are you ready to roll them bones?

What does it mean to be "in the hole"?

Not to be confused with the song from Alice in Chains, "Down in a hole," where the frontman Layne Staley is singing about self-doubt and insecurities ingrained in a relationship, the term to be “in the hole” when placed in a gambling context is a phrase used to describe a situation in which someone has more debt than they have assets. In other words, their liabilities exceed their assets, meaning they cannot pay off their debts.

To help you get a better idea, let's use this term in a couple of examples as well.

1. Joseph has $10,000 in credit card debt and only $5,000 in savings. He is “in the hole” by $5,000.
2. Belinda owes her landlord $3,500 for rent but only has $2,500 in her bank account. She is “in the hole” by $1,000.

What does it mean to be "on the river"?

What would you think if you heard someone say "I am on the river" during a poker game after looking at their cards? Would you assume they are in a precarious situation, or do you believe they have great cards? Let's solve this riddle.

It is said that a player is "on the river" when they have the upper hand over their opponents. Although this phrase typically applies to poker, it can also be used to describe other card games. For instance, you can be "on the river" if your hand is strong and your opponent's hand is weak, placing you in a better position. Another example of being "on the river" is when someone has already decided how to play their hand and is waiting for their opponents to make their move. This gives them an advantage because they know their opponents' cards and can adjust accordingly.

What does it mean to be a "shark" at a casino and when is it used?

What would you think about a gambler they call a "shark"? Would you think they're constantly winning? If yes, are they winning due to pure luck or experience? Let's see.

An expert gambler experienced and skilled in playing games like poker, blackjack, and other card games are called the "shark" at a casino. A "shark" can read people well and recognize their weaknesses, using them to make informed decisions. In essence, when to go "all in" and when to fold. Because "sharks" are usually bluffers, they frequently scam naive players and win big. Professional poker players like Phil Ivey or Daniel Negreanu are good examples of sharks, as are high rollers like Billy Walters or Archie Karas.

What does it mean when someone says they are going to "hit and run" in a casino?

When someone claims they will "hit and run" in a casino, they refer to a short visit there to quickly turn a significant profit. Experienced gamblers familiar with the odds and who can spot profitable opportunities fast frequently use this "hit and run" tactic.

Now let's place it in a context so that you can get the whole picture. Say someone notices that the roulette wheel has been spinning red numbers for several rounds in a row; their decision to place bets on black numbers would be a "hit and run" move as it would give them better odds of winning. After making their bet, they would leave the casino before any more spins occur so that their winnings are not affected by any future outcomes.

What is the meaning of "cold deck" at a casino?

"Cold deck" is a term used to describe a hand of cards that are dealt to you without your choice. It can be intentional or unintentional when someone else has chosen the cards for you. For instance, if you are dealt a pre-selected hand by your opponent in poker or if the dealer in blackjack deals out a set of pre-arranged cards instead of randomly dealing from the deck, it is considered cheating. Such practices give one player an unfair advantage over others.

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