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The Modern Handbook of Gambling Terms

Jamie Wall
Written by Jamie Wall

The essential terms and expressions you need to know if you’re making your first steps in casino gaming.

Gambling terms can seem like a different language if you’re new to casino games. Not only does this leave you out of the loop, but it can affect how well you learn the rules and progress as a beginner player. This page contains a complete casino words list to help develop your gameplay. Inside, all the basics are covered, from land-based casino terms to lingo for online slots. We’ve also provided some handy examples to further your knowledge.

A Newbie’s Guide to the Ultimate Glossary of Casino Terms

Peter, a former Casino OPS, believes it takes around eight weeks of four hours/day and five days/week to learn to deal blackjack well enough to put on a live game. LeeFree claims it took them six weeks of training before they took the floor as dealers. But no one can estimate how long it takes to learn basic casino terminology to be ready for online or brick-and-mortar casinos. What is true, though, is the more you practise, the faster you can memorise the casino lingo. And while you do, we’ve prepared a list of expressions and conveyed them in simple language to save you the research time. 

Here’s a complete list of words & phrases you need to know:

A

aggregate limit noun 1 The maximum amount a casino can pay in a single hand of call or a lottery scheme: ○ The max payout reflects an aggregate limit, which in certain casinos may be set at £1,000.00. Alternatively, a player may place a total stake of £28.50 on a number (£28.50× 35 = £1,000.00). 2 Sometimes, the a.l. applies to bets on certain outcomes within a set event or period. This aims to manage the casino’s exposure to large wins. The a.l. will change depending on which brand you’re playing with.

aggregate winnings noun 1 The total winnings received in a certain period at an online or land-based casino. The time frame could be one game, one week, or however you want to measure your cumulative winnings. ○ Despite fluctuating attendance, the casino maintained steady aggregate winnings throughout the quarter.

all-in adverb 1 To be all-in is a common lingo that describes wagering all your remaining money or chips in a single bet. All-in is frequently used in poker but can be applied to most gambling activities as long as you’re betting your entire bankroll. ○ At the final table, the poker player went all-in, pushing his entire stack into the centre, sparking cheers and gasps from the surrounding crowd.

B

bankroll noun 1 A budget or chunk of disposable income set aside for gambling. Responsible gamblers manage and adjust this amount to minimise losses and protect their finances. ○ He carefully managed his bankroll throughout the night, strategically placing bets to maximise his time at the casino’s blackjack tables.

bonus noun 1 Funds or equivalent (e.g., free spins) provided by the operator that you can use for wagering. Examples of bonuses in the United Kingdom include welcome bonuses, no-deposit bonuses, and free bets. Casino bonuses often come with terms and conditions, such as wagering requirements. W.r. show how often you need to play through the promotion until you’re eligible to collect your winnings.

Gamblizard bonus example

Bonus example from Gamblizard

buy-in adverb 1 Buying-in is the process of joining a tournament that needs an up-front payment. The buy-in payments contribute to a prize pool, determining your potential winnings. 2 However, the buy-in payment also includes a fee (or rake), which is paid to the casino. ○ The poker tournament has a steep buy-in, which tends to attract a more serious crowd to the casino.

C

casino advantage noun 1 The advantage casinos have over players. This is also known as the house edge. An example of casino advantage is seen in blackjack, where the dealer’s edge comes from acting last. ○ Despite a player’s skill level, the casino advantage ensures that the house always has an edge in the long run.

croupier noun 1 The French word for dealer. In Great Britain, it refers to the person in charge of the table game.

comps noun 1 Complimentary services and items that are given to players by the casino. Examples of comps include free drinks, free valet parking, private rooms, free food, and private transportation. The value of the comps depends on how much the player spends. ○ Regular players at the casino often receive comps as a reward for their loyalty, which can include free meals or room upgrades.

D

deuce noun 1 A term for the number two, initially derived from French. It’s now a common gambling term in the UK. ○ When the deuce landed on the river, it completely altered the dynamics of the poker game at the casino.

deposit noun 1 The process of adding money to your online casino account that will be used for wagers. Popular deposit methods include debit cards, Apple Pay, and bank transfers. Some online casinos allow e-wallets, like PayPal and Skrill.

double down verb 1 Originally from blackjack, double down means to increase your initial wager on an existing bet. It’s an essential move if you’re feeling confident about your hand. ○ Feeling confident about his hand, he doubled down, much to the astonishment of the other punters at the table.

discard tray noun 1 The tray to the dealer’s right hand at a brick-and-mortar casino. It catches discarded or used to keep the table in order. These aren’t used at online casinos.

drop box noun 1 A metal box or container attached to each table for the dealer to deposit chips and cash from each play. Like a strongbox, it keeps everything secure.

E

eCOGRA noun 1 A UK-based independent online gambling software testing agency. The brand provides ‘Safe and Fair Seal’ awards to providers who comply with its rigorous standards. Look for this when choosing a reputable casino.

eCogra logo

The eCOGRA emblem

expected value noun 1 Represents what you can expect to win or lose per bet if you bet on the same odds repeatedly. You can calculate the EV by multiplying your possible outcomes by their probabilities. ○ Calculating the expected value is essential for any punter who wants to understand the potential return from their bets at the casino.

F

fixed odds noun 1 Pre-determined odds that don’t change throughout the match or competition. They are usually provided before the event and represent the initial likelihood of outcomes occurring. ○ Games with fixed odds at the casino offer players clear expectations of winning probabilities.

free spins (extra spins/casino spins) noun 1 A bonus feature of slot machine games used in land-based and online casinos. They provide extra spins that you don’t have to pay for. Sometimes, these are part of welcome bonuses or used to draw attraction to new slot machine games.

H

high roller (the whale) noun 1 A player who spends more than average or places significant wagers. High Rollers are often given VIP benefits, access to exclusive betting tables, and privileged treatment at land-based casinos. They’re not usually beginners.

hit verb, noun 1 Hit can have several meanings in gambling. In blackjack, a hit is used to request an additional card when it’s your turn to play. ○ At the blackjack table, he decided to hit, hoping the next card dealt by the croupier would bring him closer to twenty-one. 2 For slot machines, a hit refers to a winning combination that results in a payout. 

hold noun 1 The amount of money casinos keep from every wager. For example, a 5% hold will give the casino £5 revenue for every £100 wagered.

house edge noun 1 Also known as the casino advantage, it is the casino’s advantage over its players. If a casino game has a 97% RTP, the house edge would be 3%.

J

jackpot noun 1 The biggest prize a casino game provides. Some jackpots are fixed, and others are progressive (i.e., they can keep growing). Jackpot prizes are common in slots and video slot games, but you can find them in traditional table games and within sports betting.

O

odds noun 1 A numerical display of the probability vs potential payout for wagers and bets. In simple terms, this describes your chances of winning and how much money you’ll win if successful.

overlay noun 1 Occurs when the probability of an event happening is higher than the given odds. If successful, overlays give bettors extra value. Experienced players are better at noticing overlays, as you need an in-depth understanding of the game or sport (if sports betting).

P

payline noun 1 Straight or zigzagged lines that can win on a slot machine. Slot machines have different numbers of paylines, and slots with fixed paylines mean all paylines are active for every spin.

pay table noun 1 Lists possible payouts on a video slot or slot machine. The table shows each potential combination and how much you can win from each. You can use these to understand the game better or make sense of your winnings. 

payout percentage (return to player, RTP) noun 1 Shows the percentage of prizes that will be returned to you, depending on your initial deposit of funds. For example, a game with a 94% RTP will give you £0.94 back for every £1 you bet. 

progressive jackpot noun 1 Continuously grows each time a player makes a wager. A small portion of each bet contributes to the jackpot prize pool, which grows until one player wins. Then, it resets and starts again.

R

random number generator (RNG) noun 1 A mathematical construct that generates a random set of numbers that don’t follow any patterns. It provides an element of chance for casino games and is used in nearly all 2024 online casino games.

reel, reels noun 1 Refers to the horizontal columns on slot machines and video slots. Most modern slot machines have five reels. However, you can find slots with varied reels—such as three-reel slots.

S

scatter symbol noun 1 Found in online slot machines. When they appear, they unlock unique bonuses and special features, which leads to larger payouts. Scatters don’t need to be aligned on specific paylines, unlike other slot symbols. They can be in any order or position.

Dead or Alive slot Scatter Symbol

Dead or Alive slot Scatter symbol

stand verb 1 In blackjack, you can hit or stand. Choosing to stand means you hold your total and finish your turn. Alongside saying stand, you can wave your hand horizontally to signal the end of your turn.

T

tapping out noun 1 Means a player has spent their bankroll and cannot continue spending. This ends the casino session and is a term all newbies should note. Some players use win or loss limits as part of their bankroll management to tell them when to tap out.

W

wagering requirement noun 1 A condition applied to a bonus or promotion that dictates how a player can spend the winnings. For example, a 20× wagering requirement means you must wager your initial bet twenty times. So, if you bet £10, you need to spend a total of £200 before collecting any winnings.

wild card noun 1 Represent other playing cards. For example, jokers are usually used as wild cards. However, the rules for wild cards can change from game to game. Ask your dealer or check the terms and conditions to know if wild cards apply.

To Sum Up

Though intimidating at first, these casino words are simple to understand. If you’re on this page, you’re already on the way to improving your knowledge and your skills. Whether playing online or at a brick-and-mortar casino, these terms will help you grasp the game and elevate your comprehension.

References

  1. “Aggregate Payout Limit Definition.” Law Insider, www.lawinsider.com/dictionary/aggregate-payout-limit. Accessed 7 Apr. 2024.
  2. “Bankroll.” Cambridge Business English Dictionary, dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/bankroll. Accessed 7 Apr. 2024.
  3. “Dead or Alive Slot.” Gamblizard.com, https://gamblizard.com/slots/dead-or-alive-free-spins/. Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.
  4. LeeFee. “What does it take to become a dealer?” [Comment]. Reddit, https://www.reddit.com/r/poker/comments/1ntszf/comment/ccm1l2t/, published 11 years ago. Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.
  5. Nairn, Peter. “How hard is it to learn to be a dealer for blackjack and craps?” [Comment]. Quora, https://www.quora.com/How-hard-is-it-to-learn-to-be-a-dealer-for-blackjack-and-craps/answer/Peter-Nairn-2, published 4 years ago. Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.
  6. “Random Number Generator.” Techopedia.com, www.techopedia.com/definition/9091/random-number-generator-rng. Accessed 7 Apr. 2024.
  7. “The eCOGRA Story.” Ecogra.org, 28 Mar. 2023, ecogra.org/about-us/our-story/. Accessed 7 Apr. 2024.
  8. “Casino & Gambling Glossary — Glossary of Gambling Terms.” Casino.org, http://www.casino.org/glossary/. Accessed 10 Apr. 2024.
  9. “Gambling Dictionary | about Gambling | for the Public | Responsible Gambling Council.” Responsible Gambling Council, www.responsiblegambling.org/for-the-public/about-gambling/gambling-dictionary/. Accessed 10 Apr. 2024.
Author
Jamie Wall
Jamie Wall Casino Analyst

Former NetEnt developer with MSc in Casino Game Development from the London School of Economics and an article featured in The Times of Malta. Jamie dissects each game & casino, so you can read reviews that blend passion and insight. You’ll never meet a person who knows more about game mechanics than him.

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