In a previous blog post, I took the time to put together the first part the glossary on casino gambling terminology and slang.
The impetus for that project occurred when I took a group of friends on a tour of my beloved hometown of Las Vegas. As we alternated between various table games and machines, while enjoying all of the other amenities Sin City has to offer, I soon realized that we were speaking a different language of sorts.
Every time I referenced something like tossing a “toke” (slang for tip) to the dealer, or how a well-known celebrity once got themselves “86’d” (an insider term for banned from the premises) from the joint, I was greeted with blank stares and confusion. It didn’t take long to discover that folks who are just paying a visit to Las Vegas weren’t hip to the slang terms used by experienced casino gamblers.
To help remedy that situation, I decided to rack my brain for every item of gambling related jargon I could think of. From there, I did my best to explain what the lingo meant in laymen’s terms.
The initial entry covered slang terms in the A through E range, so this second installment takes the reins by focusing on the F through M portion of alphabet.
Face Card – In a standard deck of playing cards, the face cards are the Jacks, Queens, and Kings. Face cards are worth 10 in blackjack and 0 in baccarat, making them key components of both table games staples.
Fade – As a verb, to fade refers to the act of avoiding or dodging whatever outcome would result in a loss (“I made my 20 and the dealer had to hit on soft 17, so I only needed to fade a 3 for the push or a 4 for the loss”).
As a noun, generally used in sports betting, a fade is the side of the contest you’re betting against (“The Packers are playing so well lately, I gotta make the Vikings a fade tonight”).
Fire – As a verb, to fire is to place a wager (“I think I’ll fire $300 on a Patriots + Chiefs teaser today”). As an adjective, to be “on fire” describes an extended winning streak or run of good luck.
Fish – A derisive term used to describe a losing gambler or a player who fails to deploy proper strategy.
Flat Betting – A betting system defined by using the same wager amount on successive plays. If you prefer to go with $20 bets on every hand of blackjack you play, you’re employing a flat betting pattern.
Flat (Call) – At the poker table, to flat simply means to call the current bet without adding a raise on top (“I flatted the guy’s lead bet because I didn’t want to scare him off”).
Flea – A derisive term used by casino staff to describe a low-stakes player who nonetheless pesters the house for comps and perks.
Flop – In community card poker games like Texas Hold’em and Omaha, the flop refers to the first three community cards (of five total) which are dealt at the same time.
Flush – In the traditional poker hand heirarchy, a flush – comprised of five cards all in the same suit – is the fifth-strongest holding. A flush beats a straight, but it loses to a full house.
Foreign – A term used by casino staff to describe chips which come from another venue (“Sit, this woman has $5,000 in foreign chips from Aria to use as front money, shall I cash them out for her?”).
Front Money – Any funds – either in foreign chips, cash, or cashier’s check – used by gamblers to establish a line of credit at the casino.
George – A term of endearment used by casino staff when referring to regular players known to tip generously and often.
Get Down – Another way to say “place a bet.” The term is typically used at the sportsbook (“I’m looking to get a dime down on the Astros over the Yankees tonight”).
Grind – As a verb, to grind is to play extended sessions of poker, table games, or on the machines in hopes of squeezing out a slight profit based on optimally strategic play.
Grinder – Anybody who gambles every day, or all day, while generally employing optimal strategies is said to be a grinder.
Handicap – As a verb used within the sports betting community, to handicap a game or wager is to assess available data (statistics, roster movement, weather conditions, etc.) in hopes of finding the right side.
This term can be further shortened to ‘capping (“I wanted to fire on the Rams this Sunday, but after ‘capping it, I couldn’t find enough to fade the Falcons”). As a noun, a handicapper is somebody who earns their living betting on sports.
Handle – A term used by casinos and sportsbooks to describe the total amount of wagers placed on a particular game type, contest, or table. Handle refers to the total sum of bets placed before winning players are paid back, with the remainder referred to as casino “win” or “revenue.”
Hedge – As a verb, to hedge your sports bet involves placing a second bet on the other side, thus guaranteeing yourself a small profit no matter the outcome.
If you’ll win $500 on a Steelers outright victory to complete the parlay, betting $200 on the Panthers in a single-game wager ensures you’ll earn a profit no matter which team wins.
Hit – As a verb, the most common usage of hit is to take another card during a hand of blackjack. Gamblers also refer to “hitting” their number in roulette or craps, triggering a jackpot on the slots or video poker, or any other significant positive outcome.
High Roller – Any gambler known to bet extravagant sums is known by the casino as a high-roller.
Hold – A term used by casinos to describe amount of money the house expects to retain from any given game or wager. As opposed to “house edge” – which describes the player’s expected return when employing a perfect optimal strategy – the casino’s hold is calculated by taking inferior players and their higher than expected losses into account.
When playing casino blackjack, for example, the house edge is typically 1 percent or lower, but the game offers a hold of 14 percent on average thanks to poor players, drunks, and other deviations from proper strategy.
Holding Your Own – While grinding, holding one’s own simply means preserving a starting bankroll by breaking even or enjoying minimal gains.
Honeymoon Period – Another way to say “beginner’s luck,” or that period of time when gamblers trying a game for the first time can’t seem to lose despite their inexperience or ignorance of proper strategy.
Hot – Any player who is consistently winning, or any table / machine which is consistently paying out, is said to be hot.
House – Another term for the casino, sportsbook, or any operator which banks your bets.
Hole Card(s) – Generally used in poker and blackjack, hole card(s) are any cards which remain face down throughout the hand until showdown.
House Edge – Used to describe the house’s inherent statistical advantage over players on any game or wager. House edge rates are calculated by comparing a bet’s true odds to the actual payout odds awarded by the casino. On a single-zero roulette table, for example, the true odds of landing any single number stand at 1 in 37, but winners only receive 35 to 1 on their money, resulting in a house edge of 2.70 percent. The lower the casino house edge, the better a game or bet is for the player in terms of odds over the long run.
Inside Bets – On the roulette table, an inside bet refers to any bet based on either single numbers or combinations of single numbers.
This is because the numbered 1-36 grid is shown on the inside of the table betting layout, while other options like the Red or Black, Odd or Even, and Column bets are found on the outside.
Jackpot – The topline payout offered by any slot or video poker machine, table game side bet, or poker room promotion.
Juice – Another term for the commission charged by sportsbooks (also known as “vigorish” or “the vig”) on each bet they book. When you back a team with (-110) odds, you’re paying 10 percent in juice.
Junket – Casinos often invite respected regulars and high-rollers to visit their property, free of charge, so long as they agree to gamble for certain amount of time and money. These “VIP” trips are colloquially referred to as casino junkets.
Kill Pot – At certain poker tables, usually low-stakes Limit betting games, a kill pot is initiated whenever one player wins two consecutive hands.
Lay – Used as a verb among gamblers, to lay is simply to offer somebody odds on a given wager (“I’ll lay you 3 to 1 that this junket bus doesn’t show up on time”). Within the sports betting community, “laying points” refers to taking the negative side of a point spread (“I’ve got the Buccaneers today but I gotta lay 4 points at home”).
Layout – On a table game, the layout is the area on the felt used to place chips on various wagers. Craps games are known for offering a particularly complex betting layout, while baccarat’s layout consists of only three options (Banker, Player, and Tie).
Loose – When referring to a gambler, to be loose is to have little regard for betting large sums, usually while taking the worst of it in terms of odds. When referring to a slot or video poker machine, to be loose refers to their propensity for paying out based on overall payback percentage.
Max-Bet – Any wager sized to equal the maximum allowable limit on a table or machine. For slot and video poker players, most topline jackpots are only offered when making max-bets.
Marker – Another term for an “IOU” debt incurred by players who the house has approved for betting without readily available funds.
Martingale – The most well-known progression betting system, the Martingale approach advises gamblers to simply double their wager after any loss(es) in order to earn a minimal profit on their next winning bet. You can lose $10, then $20, then $40, but if you bet $80 on the next play and win, you’ll wind up with a $10 profit. Of course, the possibility of extended losing streaks ensures that the Martingale strategy only works when players have an unlimited bankroll – which is why sharp gamblers advise against it all times.
Navigating the close-knit community of casino gambling can be difficult enough as a beginner, so learning the lingo is an essential step towards getting your bearings. I often take my experience using casino slang for granted, but after spending a few days showing my non-local buddies around Las Vegas, I realize now just how important this knowledge can be.