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The Language of Gambling: Understanding Key Terms and Phrases

There are many different terms, phrases, and idioms used at casinos around the world, and understanding the key terms and phrases can make life a little easier and make you look like less of a newbie. 

Different games use different terms and phrases, but some universal ones apply to all of the games. A lot of the time, you’ll find it’s relatively simple to pick up on these phrases – a little like picking up on basic words and sentences when you’re surrounded by people speaking another language. The great thing about casino lingo is that it’s largely universal, and learning just the basics will easily carry you from one casino in Vegas to another in Macau. 

What’s more, a lot of these terms are old, with long histories behind them. It’s never a bad idea to have a little trivia up your sleeve for the poker table – just don’t let it distract you from the cards. 

There are literally too many to list individually on this page, so instead of listing them all, here are just some of the key terms and phrases everyone should know, which some of you may already be familiar with by now. 

What are some of the key terms and phrases commonly used in gambling?

If we were to name all of the key terms and phrases commonly associated with gambling, we could fill a book, and you would never remember them all. 

Let’s dive straight in to discover several terms and phrases that seem to be used more than others and may come in handy for you one day. Some are used strictly in poker, blackjack, roulette, or craps, others when playing slots, and others are more generic and apply to most games.

Without further ado, some of the most popular gambling terms and phrases include the following (in alphabetical order):

  • Bankroll (the money you use to gamble with)
  • Bet (the wager you place on a single spin, round, hand, etc.)
  • Blinds (the stake/wager certain players must place in poker at the start of a hand)
  • Bluff (a common one in poker, this is a technique whereby the user hopes to mislead the other players at the table about their hand. Perhaps they suggest they’ve got a terrible hand when, really, they’re harbouring a royal flush. Bluffing can be tricky but, in the right scenarios, very powerful). 
  • Chips (the tokens that represent money and come in various denominations)
  • Dealer (the person who deals the cards, but can also be called the croupier, and can also apply to the person in charge of any table or card game)
  • Double down (a bet that equals the size of your initial stake)
  • Face cards (Kings, Queens, Jacks)
  • High roller (also known as a whale – basically a person who only plays high-stakes games and has lots of money compared to most other players)
  • House edge (the slight advantage the house has, based on the odds, in certain games)
  • Jackpot (is the highest cash prize you can win in a game. It can be a fixed coin jackpot or progressive jackpot and can also be won as part of a side bet)
  • RTP% (return to play percentage payout rate in computer-generated games that use random number generators to produce the results/outcomes. It’s the amount paid back in winnings, on average, over a certain amount of time)
  • RNG (random number generator – a mathematical algorithm program used in computer-generated games to produce outcomes that are as realistic and as fair as can be)
  • Reel (a single column of symbols in a slot machine, stretching from top to bottom)
  • Scatter symbol (any special symbol in a slot machine that often triggers the free spins bonus when three or more show up anywhere in view)
  • Tapping out (like folding, when the player has had enough of betting or has lost their entire bankroll)

These are just some of the most basic and common gambling terms and phrases you will likely encounter. Some sites create their own jargon – often on-theme – and this can change from game to game. It’s a great way to keep things fresh. For instance, PartyCasino is a fun gambling site that offers a Party Pack to new players. It’s details like this that really set one site apart from the next. 

What common idioms are used in gambling?

Examples include ace in the hole, all bets are off, betting the farm, down to the wire, no dice, play your cards right, play the percentages, sweeten the pot, and throwing the game. 

Others include upping the ante, winner, winner, chicken dinner, the cards are stacked against you, and luck of the draw, to name a few. 

Final note

It’s not essential to use any of these gambling phrases, terms, and idioms, but they are fun and can often heighten the experience when used in the correct way. 

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