“Ocean’s Eleven” Lingo Inspires Fun Way to Explore Las Vegas

“Ocean’s Eleven” is everyone’s favorite Las Vegas movie, and we can confidently say this simple sentence is likely to result in weeks of passionate debate, but that’s not really the point of this story.

Among the many ingenious elements of “Ocean’s Eleven” was a one-sentence overview, just 12 minutes into the film, of the casino robbery to come.

Danny Ocean (George Clooney) is discussing the heist with Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), who says, “Off the top of my head, I’d say you’re looking at a Boesky, a Jim Brown, a Miss Daisy, two Jethros and a Leon Spinks, not to mention the biggest Ella Fitzgerald, ever.”

Oh, boo-hoo. So, it’s not the most flattering photo of the world’s handsomest man. He’ll survive.

The line flies by, but this con man shorthand tells you everything you need to know about the rest of the film, as long as you know how to translate it. We’ve got you!

Here’s a handy break down of the con code in “Ocean’s Eleven.” We’ll get back to the “fun way to explore Las Vegas” in a minute.


Rusty’s referring to Ivan Boesky, an infamous stock trader. Gordon Gekko, in “Wall Street,” was inspired by Boesky. In “Ocean’s 11,” the Boesky element of the robbery refers to Saul Bloom’s high roller, Lyman Zerga. Bloom is played by Carl Reiner.

Carl Reiner cons Terry Benedict into letting him store jewels in the casino’s vault. The stones are explosives used to blast open the vault door.

The fake jewels are designed by Basher, who possesses possibly the worst accent in any movie ever made. It’s a testament to “Ocean’s Eleven” that Don Cheadle’s terrible performance couldn’t ruin it.

Before he became an actor, Carl Reiner worked as a machinist fixing sewing machines.

“Jim Brown”

Jim Brown, of course, refers to the football player who is best known for his performance in “The Running Man.” That’s how we know him, anyway.

Rusty’s mention of Jim Brown refers to Frank (played by Bernie Mac), who gets into a kerfuffle with Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon), impersonating a member of the gaming commission, thus distracting Benedict so Caldwell can steal the codes to the vault.

“Miss Daisy”

This is a reference to the movie, “Driving Miss Daisy,” of course, but it’s also a hint as to how the band of thieves will make their escape: A SWAT van. We probably should’ve said “Spoiler alert!” somewhere along the way, but if you haven’t seen “Ocean’s Eleven” by now, we can’t help you.

“Two Jethros”

Pop culture references abound in “Ocean’s 11,” and this mention of “Jethros” relates to “The Beverly Hillbillies.” In the classic TV show, Jethro is kind of a lunkhead, and the heist in “Ocean’s 11” will require two of them. Specifically, the Malloy brothers, Turk and Virgil.

Turk and Virgil provide comic relief throughout the film, and are played by Scott Caan and Casey Affleck.

The dialogue between these two characters seemed very impromptu, a French word meaning “not especially good.”

“Leon Spinks”

Rusty seems to know early in the robbery planning a large-scale diversion will be needed to accomplish their plan. That diversion ends up being a boxing match.

The fighters are Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko. You know, actual boxers. Like Leon Spinks. Some of this isn’t rocket science.

“Ella Fitzgerald”

This one’s another pop culture reference that gets more obscure as times goes by.

At one time, singer Ella Fitzgerald was featured in a commercial for Memorex. Fitzgerald breaks a glass with her voice, then a recording of her voice breaks a glass. The ad ends by asking, “Is it Ella, or is it Memorex?”


That ends up being a key element of the robbery, as Terry Benedict and his security team are duped into thinking they’re watching something live when it’s actually a previously-recorded video.

That’s just one of the twists and turns in this fun movie filled with beautiful people doing fairly unrealistic things against the backdrop of Las Vegas, the most visually-appealing city in the world. Suck it, Venice.

So, now you know what Rusty meant when he used his con man codewords. Rattling off the colorful nicknames for cons plants seeds that bear fruit throughout the rest of the film.

Lots of con names appear in other movies in the franchise, too. There’s “Smugglers Paradise,” “Crazy Larry” and “Hell in a Handbasket” in “Ocean’s Twelve.” In “Ocean’s Thirteen,” there’s the “Irwin Allen,” “Reverse Big Store” and “The Brody.” There are probably some in “Ocean’s 8,” too, but the movie looked terrible, so we never watched it. Oopsie.

While the lingo in “Ocean’s 11” is enjoyable to decipher, it can also be fun to cipher, which we aren’t sure means “to untranslate something,” but that’s what it should mean.

Making up code for things, it turns out, is also entertaining.

So, we decided to come up with our own shorthand for things to do in Las Vegas. There’s no reason you and your “Ocean’s 11” crew couldn’t have your own secret slang for various activities.

You get to show off your pop culture knowledge, and when people ask you what you’re doing in Vegas, you’ll have an answer that sounds much cooler than “We’ll probably gamble and drink or whatever.”

Need examples? What part of “We’ve got you” didn’t you understand?

Off the top of our head, you’re going to want to do a Pat Sajak, a Three-Hour Gracchus, Tour the Smithsonian, pull a Charles Bronson and a Wormwood, along with a Hugh Jackman, a Drip Drip and a Daniel LaRusso.

Any idea what agenda items we’re talking about? Let’s go!

“Pat Sajak”

This one’s too easy! It’s a ride on the High Roller observation wheel. Because it’s a wheel. You’ll get the hang of this.

High Roller wheel
You sort of can’t miss it.

“Three-Hour Gracchus”

Remember, the more convoluted the reference, the better! In “Gladiator,” a Roman Senator named Gracchus (played by Derek Jacobi) says, “Rome is the mob.” The mob, of course, played a big part in the early days of Las Vegas, but the “Three-Hour Gracchus” refers to a three-hour visit to downtown’s Mob Museum. You can try a Four-Hour Gracchus, but anticipate chafing.

Used to be a courthouse. Now, it prints money.

“Tour the Smithsonian”

It’s time to play some craps. Dice are called “bones,” because early dice were made of animal bones, and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has a vast collection of animal skeletons.

“Charles Bronson”

This is a reference to “The Great Escape,” obviously. In the film, Charles Bronson played Danny (revel in the pointless fact Danny Ocean had the same first name), known as the “Tunnel King.” In Las Vegas, when you do a Charles Bronson, you take a Tesla ride in the underground Vegas Loop. The tunnels currently run between stations in the Las Vegas Convention Center, and to Resorts World, but there are more stations to come.

Vegas Loop
So many Teslas, so few places to go. For now.


If you know booze, and we pretend to, you know there’s a magical spirit flavored with wormwood (also known as Artemisia absinthium). That drink is Absinthe. That’s right, if you do a “Wormwood” in Vegas, you’re seeing the outrageously hilarious “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace. Style and usage: You can pull a Wormwood, execute a Wormwood, hang a Wormwood or swallow a Wormwood. There are no rules, it’s a made-up game.

“Hugh Jackman”

Hugh Jackman is multi-talented, but he found superhero immortality playing Wolverine in the X-Men film series. Thanks to Adamantium, Wolverine’s retractable claws make him an imposing mutant. Relatively recently, a slot machine called Go Go Claw has sprung up at numerous Las Vegas casinos. So, Hugh Jackman on your to-do list means it’s time to try your hand at Go Go Claw. All the kids are doing it.

These machines are doing very well, despite the irrelevance of skill.

“Drip Drip”

Hey, we can keep up with the youths and their slang. The first “drip” means to dress up to show off one’s sense of style. The second? That’s taking advantage of one of Sin City’s I.V. hydration services, a popular way to cure hangovers.

“Daniel LaRusso”

Daniel LaRusso of “Karate Kid” fame is more popular than ever due to the deeply satisfying “Cobra Kai” series on Netflix. The climax of “Karate Kid” featured Daniel whooping the ass of Johnny Lawrence with a crane kick. You might say it was a whooping crane. Anyhoo, cranes are used to build things, and there are a number at work on the Fontainebleau Las Vegas hotel-casino.

Fontainebleau opens in 2023, and no visit to Las Vegas would be complete without a Daniel LaRusso, a drive-by to check out the cranes at Fontainebleau.

Not going to lie, we thought this was sort of stupid until we actually started coming up with these terms, and now we’re going to do it as much as possible from here on out.

You can either share your jargon with friends, or make them try and figure out what the hell you’re talking about.

We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section, and we hope to bump into you during your next “Rose and Jack” in Las Vegas. No, it’s not a reference to the Titanic exhibit at Luxor. Too obvious. It’s slang for Criss Angel’s show, “Amystika.” Because, like the Titanic, that’s a disaster, too.

Oh, snap.

One final thought.

When you’re planning your Las Vegas visit, please don’t rob anything. Terry Benedict might not be a real person, but there’s still quite a bit of water in Lake Mead, and a robust supply of barrels. Just saying.