You do not have to be an expert-level player to have fun playing casino games or laying sports bets. But it helps to at least know the vocabulary used so you understand the situations. Use this page as your go-to source for all the key gambling terminology you need to know before wagering any money on casino games, at a sportsbook or in a slot machine.
Blackjack: A dealt two-card hand that totals 21, consisting of an Ace and a face card or 10. The 21 must be on two cards to be considered Blackjack.
Box: The squared-off area in front each player at a table where bets are placed.
Bust: When a blackjack hand goes over 21.
Card Counting: The attempt to mentally record the cards dealt in an attempt to predict future cards. A large run of small-number cards, for example, could mean a higher likelihood for more upcoming face cards.
Chip Up/Down: Increasing or decreasing your best from the previous hand.
Double Down: Doubling the size of your original bet in exchange for one more card, with not hitting after. For example, doubling down is popular on hands equaling 10 or 11 when the dealer is showing a 5 or 6.
Even Money: If you are dealt Blackjack but the dealer is showing an Ace, you have the option of taking the win with an even-money payout. A Blackjack offers a 50% payout boost, but a push with the dealer means you break even.
Hard Hand/Soft Hand: A soft hand contains an Ace, which counts as 1 or 11 and can be played either way. A hard hand does not contain an Ace.
Hit: Requesting another card from the dealer.
Hole Card: The dealer’s face-down card, the one that is not showing.
Insurance: A side bet offered at 2-1 odds when the dealer is showing an Ace. If the dealer hits Blackjack, you win, if not, you lose.
Monkey: A card valued at 10 – face cards and 10 cards.
Paint: Another name for a face card (Jack, Queen, King).
Pair: A two-card hand with both cards the same value. Pairs can be split.
Shoe: The box on the table that the dealer gets the cards from.
Split: If you receive two of the same card (two 8’s, for example), you have the option of splitting them into two separate hands, with separate wagers. You get an additional card per split hand and can hit and stand as you would any hand.
Stand: Electing to stay and not take any further cards.
Surrender: The option to end a hand and forfeit half your bet if you believe the dealer is going to win. It can only be done at the start of each hand.
American Wheel: The name of the wheel on the Roulette table. It consists of 38 slots, numbered 1-36 with two zeroes, 0 and 00.
Column Bet: The table has three columns, each with 12 numbers on it. You can bet on an entire column at 2/1 odds.
Corner Bet: A bet placed on an intersection of four numbers, at 8/1 odds.
Dozens Bet: Like a column bet, you get 12 numbers, in this case either 1-12, 13-24 or 25-36 at 2/1 odds.
European Wheel: Similar to the American wheel but with 37 total slots, 1-16 with one 0.
Five-number Bet: A wager that backs 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3, paying out 6/1 odds.
Inside Bet: Any bet placed on numbers on the board.
Outside Bet: Any bet not on an individual number or pack of four numbers. Even-money options include betting on red/black, odd/even or high/low. Column and dozens bets are also examples of outside bets.
Street Bet: One bet on a set of three numbers, paying out 11/1.
Aces: Betting that the next roll with equal 2.
Any Craps: A bet the next roll will equal 2, 3 or 12, paying at 7/1 odds.
Any Seven: A bet the next roll equals 7, at 4/1 odds.
Arm: A complimentary term given to a player who is throwing the dice with success.
Back Line: Also known as the Don’t Pass Line.
Betting Right: Pass Line and Come bets.
Betting Wrong: Don’t Pass Line and Don’t Come bets.
Big Eight:A bet at 1/1 odds that an 8 is rolled before a 7.
Big Red: Betting on a 7 being rolled.
Big Six: A bet at 1/1 odds that a 6 is rolled before a 7.
Boxcars: A roll of a pair of 6’s.
Buffalo: Betting on all Hard Way and Any Seven spots.
Buy Bets: A 5% commission to the house so correct odds are paid.
Come Bet: A wager that wins on 7 or 11 and loses on 2, 3 or 12.
Come Out Roll: The first roll on a new Craps game.
Craps: Slang for the numbers 2, 3 or 12.
Craps Out: Rolling a craps on the Come Out roll.
Dealers: The two casino workers who handle playing bets and payouts.
Don’t Come: A wager on the shooter rolling a 7 before rolling his point number.
Don’t Pass Bet: A wager against the dice before the Come Out roll.
Double Odds: Doubles any original wager on Pass, Don’t Pass, Come and Don’t Come bets.
Easy Way: A roll of 4, 6, 8 or 10 with each dice having a different number.
Field Bet: A wager that wins on 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 or 12.
Hard Way: Wagering on 4, 6, 8 or 10 when both dice numbers are the same.
Hi-Lo: A bet that the next roll will equal 2 or 12.
Hope Bet: A one-time bet that the dice will land on a specific number.
Horn Bet: A wager on 2, 3, 11 or 12 hitting.
Horn High Bet: Similar to a horn bet, but with two units on 12 and three units on 2, 3 and 11.
Inside Numbers: The numbers 5, 6, 8 and 9.
Lay Bet: Betting that a 7 will be thrown before the point number.
Lay Odds: A bet against the dice, often placed due to higher odds.
Line Bet: Wagering on the Pass Line or Don’t Pass Line.
Little Joe: A dice roll totaling 4.
Loaded dice: Dice weighted to influence the frequency of some numbers to come down.
Marker Puck: A plastic disc used by the dealer to mark whether the point on the Craps table is On or Off.
Midnight: A bet the next roll is a 12.
Natural Bet: A wager the next roll is 7 or 11.
One Roll Bets: Betting on a single roll of the dice.
Outside: Slang for the numbers 4, 5, 9 and 10.
Parlay: Using winnings to increase a bet, usually by double.
Pass Line: A common wager at 1/1 odds that wins on a 7 or 11 and loses on a 2, 3 or 12.
Point Bet: Dice rolls of 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10. To win, the shooter must roll the same number again before rolling a 7.
Point Number: A roll of the dice totaling 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10 determined on the first roll of the game (the Come Out roll).
Press: Using winnings to double the next bet.
Right Bettor: Betting the shooter will make a Point number on his next roll.
Seven Out: When a 7 is thrown after a point has been established and before the point number is rolled again, ending the shooter’s turn.
Shooter: The player rolling the dice.
Snake Eyes: Rolling two 1’s.
Stickman: The casino employee that controls the dice and calls out the number.
The Point: The number established on the come-out roll, which must be a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10. The shooter then attempts to roll the point number again before throwing a 7.
True Odds: Odds a specific number will be rolled.
Working Bets: Active bets on any given roll.
Whirl Bet: Wagering on 2, 3, 7, 11 or 12.
Wrong Bettor: Wagering that the shooter will not pass and will instead “Seven Out” (roll a 7 before rolling the Point number).
Yo: Slang for the number 11.
All-in: Going “all-in” is when a player pushes all their chips into the pot.
Ante: The ante is a small bet all players must play before the deal. Antes are used in stud poker and some tournaments and differ from blinds used in hold ‘em poker.
Back Door: Also called a runner/runner, the back door is a hand that uses both the turn card and river card in its five-card hand.
Bad Beat: A bad beat occurs when a superior hand that is beaten thanks to a lucky draw.
Big Slick: Slang for a hand of Ace and King.
Blinds: Similar to antes, blinds are mandatory bets made by the first two players left of a dealer button that moves around the table after each hand. Most hold ‘em games feature small and big blinds.
Bluff: Bluffs involve making a bet without the best hand, in the hopes the opponent will fold.
Card Speak:The best hand is seen, but declared, when everyone left in the hand flips their cards over.
Check Raise: If a player checks but another bets, the player still has the opportunity to bet as well. If the player raises instead of simply matching the original bet, that’s a check raise.
Donkey: An unflattering term for a player who is seemingly tossing money away and playing with little to no strategy. Also called a fish or a sucker.
Double Belly Buster: A hand that could become a straight if one of two different cards appear on the turn or the river.
Drawing Dead: This happens if you have no chance of winning before the final river card is even revealed.
Flop: These are the dealer’s three original “community” cards that all players can play off of.
Gutshot: When you need one specific number to hit an inside straight – there are only four cards in the deck that will help you.
Heads-up: A 1-on-1 poker match.
Isolate: Raising the bet with the intention of forcing all others, except one other player, to fold, turning it into a heads-up hand.
Limp: Calling the big blind to open the hand.
Monster: A strong hand that, barring a bad beat, is very likely a winner.
Much: Another name for folding.
Nuts: The best available hand, also called a lock or “the Brazils.”
Out: A card that will improve a hand if it lands on the turn over river.
Pocket Rockets: A pair of Aces in hold ‘em.
Quads: Four of a kind.
Rags: Cards that are worthless to your hand, often small-numbered cards in hold ‘em.
Rainbow:A hand with 3-4 cards of a different suit, making a flush unlikely or impossible.
River: The fifth-and-final card to be dealt in hold ‘em.
Sandbag: Betting a hand slowly early on to hide the strength, lull opponents into a sense of security to make more money later on.
Tilt: When frustration sets in, a player may play too loose or too aggressive in an attempt to recoup losses. This player has tilted and has lost their discipline.
Turn:The fourth card to be dealt in hold ‘em, between the original three (flop) and the final card (river).
Under the Gun: The first place to the left of the dealer button, who must make the first move of the hand.
Wheel: A hand of Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5 – the smallest straight possible. Also called a bike.
3 Reel/5 Reel: A slot machine with three or five reels. They used to be physical barrel-shaped reels, though most modern slots now use digital reels.
243 Ways: A slot that pays out when symbols appear on any of the reels in at least two adjacent spots.
Action: The amount a slots player bets at a machine, often tracked by the casino players’ card or online account.
Active Pay Line:Possible winning lines on a machine that are activated with a bet.
Bonus Game: A secondary game in a slot game, often resulted in guaranteed, special prizes.
Buy-A-Pay: A machine that may offer additional prizes for larger wagers. Sometimes, jackpots aren’t made available unless the player is wagering a certain amount per spin, often the maximum bet.
Carousel: A group of slot machines.
Collect: A button on the slot machine that allows to cash out your remaining credits.
Credit: The amount of betting units available and varying depending on the machine, from nickel to dollar to high stakes.
Free Play: Most of the top casinos offer free play as an enticement to play a slot machine or to sign up for player cards.
Hit: A winning round.
Jackpot: The biggest possible payout from a machine.
Loose Slot: These are machines with a high payback percentage that is favorable to the players.
Max Bet: The highest amount of credits that can be used per round. On slots with multiple pay lines, max bet activates all of them.
Mechanical Slots: These are the old-school machines that have actual reels behind glass, as opposed to the more-modern digital reels.
Minimum Bet: The opposite of the max bet, a player pays just one credit and likely plays just one pay line.
Multi-Line Game: A slot with more than one pay line.
Multiplier: A bet or feature that increased the size of a payout.
Nudge: This is when a line on a reel has stopped and the symbol is stuck between two lines, and the reel rolls back in one direction or the other.
Payback Percentage: This is amount of money returned to players per machine. The typical percentages rank from 90-99%, anything below 90% is very poor. Research is often needed to determine payback percentages.
Pay Line: All the available lines on a slot machine. Many slots have many pay lines; gamblers can activate some of all depending on bet size.
Penny Slots: The lowest possible stakes, players can sit at a machine for a long time and find entertainment in simply playing without the risk of losing a lot of cash.
Players Club: Every casino has a slots club or players club, rewarding those with comps based on their play. Comps can often be used for cash back, free play or other casino amenities.
Progressive Jackpot: A jackpot that increases the more people play the game.
RNG: Standing for Random Number Generator, slot machines are expected to be entirely random, with each spin independent of the ones before it.
Slot Tournaments: Players buy-in to an event, then play slots for a specific amount of time with unlimited credits. Those who finish the time with the most credits won can win prizes.
Volatility: Also known as variance, volatility refers to the ratio of size compared to the frequency of jackpots hit.
Wild: A symbol in the game that can be used with any other symbol to form a winning combination.
Across the Board: A horse racing wager involving picking a horse to win, place or show.
Action:The total number of bets being placed on a specific game or event. You can look at the percentage of bets or money placed on each side.
Against the Spread: Often shown simply as ATS, it’s a bet that gives points to an underdog to help even the odds on each side.
Bad Beat: A bet that looks good – until something unexpected and sudden occurs, flipping the side.
Beard: A friend or acquaintance that places bets on the behalf of a bettor who wants to remain anonymous.
Book: The sportsbook, which can legally accept bets and posts odds.
Bookmaker/Bookie: A person who takes wagers on sports events.
Buck: $100. Also called a dollar.
Buy Points: A practice allowed at some sportsbooks when a bettor can add points to a side in exchange for worse odds, but a higher chance at winning.
Chalk: The favorite team or athlete.
Chalk Player: A bettor who typically picks the favorite to win regardless of odds.
Circled Game: A game highlighted by sportsbooks that often allows only smaller bets, often due to injury questions and availability of top players.
Cover: If you win a pick against the spread, your pick has “covered the spread.”
Dead Heat: A horse racing phrase for when two horses cross the finish line at the same time.
Dime Line: A line where the sportsbook “juice” or “vigorish” is 10%.
Dog: Another term for the underdog team or player.
Dog Player: The opposite of a Chalk Player, this is a bettor who typically plays the underdog.
Edge: The edge is something a bettor finds as an advantage when laying a sports bet.
Even Money: A bet that has no sportsbook juice.
Exotics: A bet that isn’t on the direct result of the game, but an event inside the game, such as total points by a basketball player or strikeouts by a pitcher.
Exposure: The total amount of money that could potentially be lost on a game by a bettor.
Favorite: The team expected to win the event, often at lower odds than the underdog unless the bet is against the spread.
Futures: A bet that involves an event happening in the future, such as a league championship or MVP award.
Grand Salami: An Over/Under wager on the amount of all goals scored in the NHL on a given day.
Handicapper: A bettor who analyzes and makes sports picks, often for public consumption.
Handle: The amount of total money bet on an event or team.
Hedging: Hedging involves placing wagers on each side of a bet to cut losses or guarantee a minimum amount of winnings. If a bettor hits on the first four picks of a five-team parlay, for example, they may place a bet against his fifth pick.
Hook: A half-point on a point spread.
Juice: The commission a sportsbook collects on losing bets.
Laying the Points: Giving up points by betting on a favorite against the spread.
Laying the Price: Betting on a favorite on the moneyline.
Lines: Another term for the odds posted.
Linemaker: Also called an oddsmaker, this is the sportsbook employee who sets the betting lines for games and events.
Listed Pitchers: A baseball bet that is considered cancelled if the pitcher expected to start doesn’t play.
Lock: A bet considered to be an easy winner.
Longshot: Considered a huge underdog.
Moneyline: A bet on an event with no point spread, you’re simply picking the winner. Odds are skewed based on the favorite and underdog.
No Action: A game or event with no winner from a betting standpoint, also called a push.
Off the Board: Games on the schedule that may not be posted by a sportsbook, often due to an unclear injury status.
Over/Under: A bet involving the combined amount of points, goals or runs in a game, picking over or under a number established by the sportsbook.
Parlay: A bet involving multiple games for one wager. Odds increase depending on amount of games chosen, but all games must hit to win the bet.
Pick ‘em: A game against the spread in which neither team is favored.
Point Spread: Points given to an underdog, or taken from a favorite, to even the odds for each team. A popular form of betting football and basketball.
Prop Bets: Also known as exotics, prop bets are those that aren’t on the result of a game but on something to happen in the game.
Price: The odds or point spread.
Puckline: Similar to a point spread, it is a goal spread for hockey matches, usually set at 1.5 goals in either direction.
Puppy: Another term for the underdog.
Push: A game or event with no winner from a betting standpoint.
Round Robin: A series or three or more teams used in a two-team parlay or larger.
Runline: Similar to a point spread or puck line, it’s a spread for baseball games, often 1.5 runs for one side or the other.
Runner: A person who takes a bet from another to place with a sportsbook.
Sharp: A professional gambler.
Sides: Each side of a game bet, the underdog and the favorite.
Spread: Also known as the point spread.
Square: A sports betting beginner.
Steam: When a point spread or a moneyline shifts quickly.
Straight Bet: A single bet on just one side.
Taking the Points: Backing the underdog against the spread.
Taking the Price: Backing the underdog on the moneyline.
Teaser: A multi-team parlay bet in which the line for the chosen teams are skewed in one direction in favor of the bettor, in exchange for lower odds.
Ticket: The sports betting wager.
Total: Also called the Over/Under.
Tout: The experience of a professional handicapper.
Underdog: The team or athlete not expected to win.
Value: A pick that involves odds that are believed to be higher or lower than they should be in the bettor’s favor.
Vigorish: Also called juice, it’s the sportsbook commission on a losing bet, often 10%.
Wiseguy: A knowledgeable handicapper or bettor.