Gambling Words and Their Meanings

You might be a dab hand at poker, blackjack or roulette, but some of the lingo might leave you floored. Gambling words can be confusing and intimidating, especially if you’re still getting the ropes. Whether you’re visiting a casino or playing gambling games online, we want to save you the stress and embarrassment of just not getting it. There’s nothing worse than losing track of a game because you can’t follow the terminology being used. Our handy guide breaks down the complicated language used in gambling into bite-size pieces. Gambling is a lot more fun when you know what’s going on!
The word "gambling" and its definition in a dictionary.
Published on: 7 September 2019

Poker Phrases

Despite its huge popularity all over the world, poker can be difficult for new players to get into. Playing casino poker online means you might not have anyone to dish out essential advice. In the casino, people can take the game very seriously and it’s enough of a battle just to keep a straight face! As with other card games, poker has its own terminology and gambling words that could leave you more than a little stumped. Luckily, we’ve translated some of the most useful phrases for you.

The Ante

Before the first hand is dealt, everyone playing must make a small bet. This will go into the pot contributing to the winnings. This is called the ‘ante’ and it comes from the Latin word meaning ‘before’. It is similar to a ‘blind’ in that they are both forced bets. However, the difference with a ‘blind’ is that only a couple of players have to make a bet, as it rotates around the table.

Call or Raise?

If you want to ‘call’ it means that you are willing to match the bet the player before you placed. By doing this, you get to stay in the game without raising the stakes. If you’re feeling a little more confident, you may well want to ‘raise’. This just means that you want to bet higher than the previous player. This raises the stakes for everybody, as other players will have to match that bet.

What to Do with a Bad Hand

There are a couple of options available if you think the game is running away from you. You could ‘bluff’ by calling or raising on your bad hand. Deceiving your fellow players can help you to stay in the game longer. You’ll have to keep a deadpan poker face for this, as you might get rumbled! If you’re absolutely done with the game then you’ll have to ‘fold’. This means that you’re out of the game and surrendering your hand.

Roulette: The Run Down

Roulette is a pretty simple game. Just pick your number and which that little ball go, right? That doesn’t mean it’s not a minefield of jargon that you have to be in the loop to understand. Get ahead of the game with these essential roulette terms.

A ball sitting in a roulette wheel pocket.

The Roulette Wheel

First of all, it’s a good idea to know what the different parts that make up the roulette wheel are called. The croupier you will spin the wheel, and then spin the ball in the opposite direction into the Backtrack. Sometimes known as the Ball track, this is the outside rim of the wheel. The ball will go round and round the wheel until it loses momentum. Then it will head towards the middle of the wheel, passing through a section containing deflectors. These little raised diamond shapes are designed to throw the ball off course. The ball will then come to rest in a pocket marked with a color and a number. It is up to the player to predict the color or number correctly.

The Croupier

Before you even get started on your game, you’ll need to know what a croupier is. When you’re playing a casino game, whether it’s roulette, blackjack or some other card game, the croupier is the dealer. It’s their job to deal and manage the game. If you’re lucky enough to win, the croupier will assist you with your payout too. In roulette, it is the croupier who will spin the wheel and place a chip on your chosen number.

Chips and Checks

You will use chips to place your bets. The chips will have a value applied to them for the table. Each player will have their own colored chips so that they can tell them apart. You can choose how many chips you want to buy in. For instance, if you’d like to buy in for $100, you might get 10 chips worth $10 each. During play, you will keep your chips in the check rack. This is sometimes called a check tray or a well. When you’re asking the croupier for chips, you simply ask for a stack. A stack is usually twenty chips.

Inside and Outside Bets

A single or straight bet simply means that the player is betting on one number on the wheel. An inside bet is a bet on the numbers on the inside of the betting surface. Examples of inside bets include straight bets, street bets and split bets. A ‘street’ is a bet on three consecutive numbers, e.g. 3, 4, 5. A ‘split’ is a bet on two numbers that are horizontally or vertically adjacent to one another on the table, e.g. 16 and 17 or 27 and 30. These types of bets are all linked by being numerically based on the table layout– they’re inside bets. An outside bet is placed on the outer area of the betting table. These tend to bring more frequent wins with lower payouts because they are broader. Choosing odd or even, red or black are examples of outside bets.

Getting to grips with Blackjack Terms

Blackjack is a strategic card game popular all over the world. Unlike many other card games, players do not play against one another. Instead, each player takes it in turns to play against the dealer. Some people practice card counting – a technique which requires remembering cards that have been shown to make educated guesses about which cards are left. Be aware that while this technique might be useful, some casinos will remove players found to be counting cards from the game. There are lots of terms associated with this game but don’t worry, we’ll go through the most important here. Alternatively, check out our blackjack glossary for more info.

A blackjack hand being revealed.

Blackjack – the name of the game?

You might think this one is obviously the name of the card game, but it also has a more important meaning. ‘Blackjack’ is what the dealer will say when someone gets face-up cards to the exact value of 21, winning the pot. While we’re on the subject of names, Blackjack is the most widely used name, but it has several others, including Pontoon, Twenty One and Vingt-et-Un. Don’t let this last one confuse you – it’s just French for twenty-one!

Hole Card and Up Card

When playing, you’ll notice that while your cards will be facing up, the dealer usually has one card face down and one card face up. These are respectively the hole card and the upcard. The face-up one should give you some indication of your chances of success.

Going bust

‘Bust’ of ‘busted’ is a term you will hear used when a hand has exceeded a value of twenty-one – whether the dealer or the players. The word originally comes from a form of cuss or swearword.


When you’re playing, you might reach a point when things aren’t going the way you want them to but you think the dealer’s hand will equal exactly twenty-one. This is when you’ll need the term ‘Insurance’. If you place an insurance bet and the dealer gets a blackjack, you stand to win 2:1 on your original bet.


Finally, if it doesn’t look like things are going well then you can choose to surrender. This play will allow you to lose half your original bet. Of course, it’s better than going bust but you’re forfeiting your chance to bring chips your way, so make sure to use this play tactically!

Slots – the gambling words you need to know

Slots are wildly popular on the casino floor and on online casinos. Due to their nature of being a solitary, one player game they don’t have as many specific gambling words associated with them as some other casino games, however, we thought we’d go over one of the basics so you’re covered. If you’d like more words to learn, our page on common features in slot games, which have specific names.

Return to Player or RTP

If you’re just sitting down to relax playing a game of slots you might not want to be having to get your head around statistics and percentages, but the RTP is as simple as they come. Basically it is the percentage of what the player can expect to earn back from the slot machine over a period of extended play. It lets you know the house edge of a game on average. Of course, you won’t be playing for the many thousands of spins used to determine this number, so if the RTP is 92% you can still stand a solid chance of going home with a few more dollars in your pocket!

Now to use your new found knowledge!

Once you get your head around these terms you can enter the casino with your head held high, safe in the knowledge that you’re on the same level as everyone else there. Of course, depending on your interest there are many other gambling words that you will become familiar with. Whether you game of choice is poker, blackjack or roulette, the best way to learn in-depth is to spend some time around the table, talking with players and the dealer until you become a casino vocab pro. Whether you’re playing at your favorite land-based casino or at your leisure online, we’re sure these phrases will come in useful! If you would still like to learn more, you can find other useful phrases on our baccarat terms page.

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