Casino Lingo: Understanding the Language of Gambling

Casino lingo can be confusing; get familiar with terminology before you play!

Whether you play online or on land, and whether you most enjoy poker, blackjack, craps, slots or all of them, you’ve probably heard words when playing at a casino that you’ve never heard anywhere else. Some apply to specific games – generally table games like poker or blackjack – and some might be more general gambling lingo. Either way, it can be embarrassing to have to ask, so we’re giving you your own handy reference guide to commonly used casino lingo.

Study it or print it and keep it on hand for future reference; either way, you’ll feel more informed the next time you play your favorite casino games!

Commonly Used Gambling Lingo

Action: What happens when bets are made by a player or players is referred to as “action.” You may also hear a dealer refer to where the action is in a hand, meaning which player is now in betting position (for poker).

Ante: Typically used in poker; a mandatory bet made by players before the action to build a pot. Often built into the later stages of poker tournaments to force action.

Bankroll: The entire amount of money that a gambler brings to gamble with, or is willing and able to gamble with.

Betting Limits:  The betting parameters for any particular game. For example, a slot machine might have betting limits of .10, .25, and $1, and for each one of those, you could bet that specific amount, or up to five times that much (called “max bets”).

A blind bet doesn’t involve a seeing-eye dog

Blind bet: A bet made without knowing what card is coming up next; typically used in poker.

Burn Cards: Cards set aside by the dealer, taken off the top of the deck and placed in the discard pile; burn cards are not used in play. Used in poker.

Color Up: For table games like blackjack and poker, chips of various denominations will all have a specific color to easily identify them. To “color up” is to change the smaller denominations (one color) for larger denomination chips (another color). You will often hear this used in poker tournaments as the levels go up and the house switches out chip denominations for larger ones.

Croupiers may look friendly, but remember, they work for the house

Croupier: The dealer at table games such as craps, baccarat and roulette; from 17th century French, meaning one who backs up another, such as a second in a duel. Just remember that the croupier is backing up the house, not you.

Double Down: Used in blackjack; when the house allows you to make a second bet on a dealt hand, after which you receive one additional card.

Overlay: A gambling situation that is more than nominally favorable to the gambler; in other words, you are getting a better than expected return on investment if you win.

Shill: Someone who is paid by the house to fill in games, usually poker. Generally these people are gambling with  their own bankroll, so tend to play extremely tight. Also known as a prop or proposition player.

Toke:  A dealer tip, often given in the form of chips. Many land casino dealers live primarily from their tokes, so don’t be cheap!

Vig (Vigorish):  Originally a bookmaker term, the vig is now any piece of the action the house takes in exchange for rendering their gaming services. Its etymology is derived from Yiddish slang, itself originating from the Russian word for winnings. Impress your friends at cocktail parties with that little factoid.