The Terms Used in Various Forms of Gambling

Action -
general gambling term referring to the total amount of money wagered within a specific period of time. For example, ten bets of $20.00 each sum up to $200.00 of action. The term action typically refers to any kind of wager. It may also be used in much the same way as a movie director uses it. For example, if a player appears to be unaware that it is his/her turn to play, the dealer may say, "Your action, sir/ma'am".

Active Player -
a player who is playing a hand during a Blackjack game, as opposed to someone who occupies a seat at the table, but is sitting out a hand.

Alpo -
a dog, puppy, or underdog, i.e., the team, side, or contestant in any given event considered being the least likely to win.

Anchor -
the last player on the dealer's right side at the Blackjack table.

Any Twelve -
a bet in craps that the next roll will be a twelve. Since there is only one possible way to roll a twelve, it pays a solid 30:1.

Back Counting -
counting cards in Blackjack and waiting for the count to become favorable before sitting down to play. Back counting is usually done while standing behind the active players in the game.

Balanced Count -
any counting system in Blackjack that begins at zero when the cards are shuffled, and ends at zero when all cards in the deck(s) have been exposed. Most counting systems use a balanced count.

Bad Beat -
a tough loss; that is, when winning points are scored against a wager in the dying seconds of an event, when a horse loses by a nose after leading all the way, or when an obvious underdog poker hand beats a heavily favored hand. The usual reaction of the loser is to mumble something about dumb luck to the winner.

Banker -
the dealer or the player who books the action of the other bettors at the table during a card game.

Bankroll -
the total gambling balance available for the player.

Basic Strategy -
a playing system designed to optimize the player's edge over the house. Most guidelines take into account the player's cards and the dealer's exposed card(s). Blackjack: a predetermined set of decisions a player could make to maximize his/her average gain or expectation while she/he is playing a single hand against a deck(s) of cards.

Bet -
the amount of money the player wagers on a card hand, or other game or sport.

Bet Spread -
the ratio between the maximum and minimum bet size. Players who bet a minimum of $5.00 and a maximum of $50.00 use a 10:1 bet spread.

Betting Limit -
the set minimum and/or maximum amount of money that the player can wager on a single bet. The player cannot bet less than the minimum or more than the maximum amount posted.

Black -
the most common color used for $100.00 poker-playing chips.

Blackjack -
an ace and any ten-point value card dealt as the initial two cards to a player or a dealer. The exception to a Blackjack is the same value cards dealt when splitting.

Book -
a sports-book or betting establishment that sets odds and accepts wagers on the outcome of sporting events.

Bookie (Bookmaker) -
a person, house, or organization that takes players' bets.

BR -
an abbreviation for bankroll.

Break-Even Point -
the point at which the player's bets approximately equal the payoffs received.

Broke Money -
money for transportation sometimes given by a casino to a broke or busted player.

Buck -
a wager worth $100.00.

Burn Card -
the single card temporarily removed from the deck during a card game. After each shuffle and cut, one card is placed on the bottom of the deck (Blackjack) or in the discard tray (Baccarat). This is called "burning the card" The card may or may not be shown face-up (which can affect the count if you are counting cards). However, to prevent any player from recognizing or glimpsing the next card to be used on the board in poker, the top card is usually discarded face down.

Bust -
to go over the total of 21 in Blackjack. If a player busts, she/he loses.

Card Counting -
to keep track of all cards that have been played since the shuffling.

Card Shark -
a person who is an expert at cards.

Card Weight -
the value assigned to each card face in a counting system. This weight is added to the count as each new card is exposed. Common weights have small numeral values, such as minus one, plus one, or plus two.

Case -
the last card of a certain rank in the deck. For example, the case ten would be the last ten in the deck(s).

Cashier's Cage -
the counter in a casino where players may redeem casino chips for cash, cash checks, or arrange credit. It is often referred to as the cage, for short.

Casino Advantage -
the edge that the house has over the players.

Casino Rate -
a reduced hotel room rate that casinos offer to good customers.

Casino Supervisor -
a person employed in a casino on a managerial position relating to gaming activity, usually joined by a game supervisor.

Change Color -
to change casino chips into smaller or larger denominations.

Check -
term referring to chips in casino gambling. It is also used by poker players who do not wish to bet on a round of cards but want to stay in the game with an option to call or raise later in the betting round.

Chips -
round tokens that are used on casino gaming tables instead of cash.

Chip Tray -
the tray in front of a dealer that holds that table's chip inventory.

Cold -
a term for a player on a losing streak, or a slot machine or video machine that is not paying out.

Color Up -
exchange of smaller denomination chips for larger denomination chips. This usually takes place when a player leaves a game.

Comps -
complimentary gifts used by casinos to entice players to gamble. Typical comps include free room, food, and/or beverage (RFB).

Count -
a number that represents the player's estimate of how favorable or unfavorable the non-dealt cards in the deck may be.

Counter -
a player who counts cards.

Cover Bet -
a bet larger than usual, placed deliberately at the wrong time, in order to distract the house staff from the fact that the player is counting cards.

Crack -
to beat a hand, typically a big hand.

Credit Button -
a button that allows players to bank coins in the form of credit while playing slot machines or video machines.

Cut -
to divide a deck into two parts and place both parts face down on the table, after they have been well shuffled.

Cut Card -
a solid colored card, typically a piece of plastic, which is given to a player by the dealer for the purpose of cutting the deck(s) after a shuffle.

Deal -
to distribute the cards during a hand.

Dealer -
a casino employee who either deals cards in Poker, Blackjack, or Baccarat, works the identical ends of the craps table, or works as a stickman.

Degenerate -
term for compulsive gamblers.

Dime -
the sum of $1000.00.

Dime Bet -
a $1000.00 wager.

Discard Tray -
tray on the dealer's right side that holds all the cards that have been played or discarded.

Dog Player -
a player who plays the dog, puppy, Alpo, or underdog as a rule.

Dollar -
the sum of $100.00.

Dollar Bet -
a $100.00 wager.

Double Bet -
a wager that is twice the amount of the player's usual wager.

Double Down -
to double the original bet in Blackjack in exchange for receiving only one more card. To do this, the player turns over his/er first two cards and places an equal bet alongside the original bet.

Double for Less -
to double down in Blackjack by betting less than two times the original bet. Generally, when doubling is allowed, the player does not have to actually double his/her bet, but may increase it by any amount up to (but not more than) his/er original bet.

Down Card -
a card that has been dealt face down on the Blackjack table.

Drop Percentage -
the portion of the player's wagers that the casino will retain based on the house percentage. It is a default amount that the player eventually loses from an initial stake, which is usually around 20 percent.

Due For -
a term referring to a contestant or team that is considered to be overdue for a win or loss in their next contest or sports event. It may also refer to a losing player who is overdue for a good hand. The due for wager is a favorite strategy of many players.

Early Surrender -
surrendering allowed during a game of Blackjack whenever the dealer has dealt her/himself a face-up natural. This rule clearly favors the player, but is rarely offered by the casinos.

Edge -
an advantage over an opponent or the house in any wager, or the advantage that the casino has on any given wager.

Even Money (Blackjack) -
when the player takes insurance even while holding a Blackjack. This results in a clear net gain of one bet. Some casinos will allow the player to be paid without actually placing the insurance bet. This is called taking even money.

Expected Win Rate -
a percentage of the total amount of money wagered that a player is expected to win or lose.

Exposure -
the amount of money the player or book is willing to lose on any action.

Extension -
the amount of money the book theoretically risks losing on an event.

Face Cards -
the jack, queen, and king on any deck of cards.

Favorite -
the team, side, horse, or contestant competing in any given event that is considered to be the most talented or has the best chance to win.

Firing -
wagering large sums of money, a player who does so is said to be firing.

First Base -
the position on the far left of the dealer. It is the first position dealt during play.

Fixed -
a slang term referring to the outcome of a race, contest, or game that has been illegally pre-determined. No one in the mainstream sports betting world, on either side of a wager, cares for this term.

Flat Bet -
a bet for the same amount on successive hands, which the player does not vary. For example, if the player makes a flat bet of five dollars, she/he is betting five dollars on each and every hand without changing the betting amount from one hand to the next.

Flea -
a derogatory term describing the "wanna-be" players who wager little and expect something for nothing.

Floorman -
a casino executive who supervises one or more tables.

Foreign Chip -
a playing chip that is issued by one casino and is honored by another as cash. A casino is not necessarily obliged to accept such chips, but many in Las Vegas do.

Front Money -
cash or bank checks a player deposits in a casino to establish credit in order to place bets against that money.

Get Down -
make a wager.

Going Down -
losing a wager, or series of wagers.

Green -
the most common color used for $25.00 chips.

Grinder -
a player who wagers small money.

Gross Win -
winnings before expenses.

Hand -
the cards that the player holds, or the different moves in a card game between every deck shuffling.

Hand-Held Game -
any card game where the players' cards are dealt face down and the players are required to pick them up and sort them in-hand.

Handicapper -
a person who analyzes, studies and rates sporting events.

Hard Hand -
any eleven-valued hand in Blackjack that does not contain an ace, or in which any ace held is counted as one and not as eleven. This is also called a hard total.

Head-On -
to play alone at a Blackjack table with the dealer.

Heads Up -
to contest a pot at a table that has no other players.

Hedge -
to wager the opposite of your original wager in order to reduce your exposure.

High Roller -
a big bettor.

Hit (Blackjack) -
the card received from the dealer, when the player says, "hit me", or otherwise indicates the need for an additional card. Along with deciding whether or not to stand on a total card count, taking a hit is the most common decision a player must make during Blackjack.

Holding Your Own -
the result of breaking even, i.e. neither winning nor losing during a wager or series of wagers.

Hole Card -
any dealt card, which is played facedown on the table. The definition most often refers to the dealer's single, facedown card.

Hot -
a player who is on a winning streak or a slot machine that is paying out.

House -
a term for the casino or establishment that runs a game.

House Edge -
the wagering advantage of the casino (house) usually gained by paying out less than real odds would require.

Insurance -
a side bet in Blackjack of up to one half the original bet. It is offered only when the dealer's up-card is an ace. An insurance bet wins double, i.e. 2:1, if the dealer has a natural, but loses if the dealer does not. Also see Even Money.

Junket -
a trip organized to enable a group of gamblers to travel to a casino together. Junkets are often subsidized by a casino to attract players.

Layout -
the imprinted surface of a gaming table, which shows all the areas where bets can be placed.

Late Surrender -
surrendering allowed only when the dealer does not have a natural. If the dealer has a natural 21 (Blackjack), the player's bet will lose. If the dealer does not have a Blackjack, the player loses half the bet and is not allowed to play the rest of the hand.

Limit -
the maximum wager accepted by the house or bookmaker before the odds, points, or price are changed. In a sense, it is the top amount the player is allowed to wager.

Load Up -
to play the maximum number of coins per spin that a slot machine or video game allows.

Lock -
an easy winner, or a clear no-lose situation.

Longshot -
an extreme underdog.

Low Level -
a slot machine where a player can sit to play.

Marker -
a check or IOU that may be written at the gaming tables by a player who has established a line of credit with the casino.

Mechanic -
a player who is an expert in manipulating cards, typically for illicit purposes.

Muck -
the pile of folded and burned cards in front of the dealer. This term is also used as a verb, e.g. to muck a hand.

Multi-Shuffler -
a machine approved by the Casino Control Authority to be used for shuffling either four (4), six (6), or eight (8) decks of cards at one time.

Natural -
a two-card hand of 21 points in Blackjack, or a two-card total of eight or nine in Baccarat.

Nickel -
a $500.00 wager.

Nickels -
a casino term for chips with a five-dollar denomination.

Nut -
the fixed amount that a gambler decides to win in a day, or the overhead costs of running a casino.

Nuts -
the best possible hand given the board in hold'em poker. If the board is the king of spades, jack of diamonds, ten of spades, four of spades, and two of hearts, then the ace of spades and a spot spade are the nuts. A player who has the ace of hearts and queen of clubs in the above hand might say he had the nut straight.

Odds -
the ratio between the amount to be paid to the winning player and the amount bet.

On Base -
a casino term for dealers other than the stickman.

One-Armed Bandit -
a slang term for a slot machine.

Over/Under (Blackjack) -
a rare bet done when the first two player cards' total is over or under 13, with aces counted as one.

Pair -
any two cards of the same rank in any hand.

Pat Hand -
a hand in draw poker that does not need any more cards, or a good Blackjack hand worth at least 17 points. In such cases, the player is said to have a pat hand.

Payoff -
the winning return or payout the player receives on a wager.

Payout Percentage -
the percentage each dollar accounts for, played in a video or slot machine. The payout percentage is also referred to as the payback percentage, which is paid to the winner of a game.

Payout Table -
a numerical table on the front of a slot or video poker machine, that tells the player what each winning hand will pay for each coin or credit played.

Penetration -
the number of cards dealt before the cards are shuffled. Penetration is usually expressed as a percentage of the total number of cards in a game, i.e., 75 percent penetration. High penetration is extremely important to card counters.

Pit -
the area of a casino in which a group of table games are arranged in an elliptical pattern, where the center area (the pit) is restricted to dealers and other casino personnel.

Pit Boss -
a casino employee who supervises all the games and casino personnel associated with a pit during a particular work shift. Pit bosses are in place to watch for cheating, settle disputes, and give comps to high rollers.

Player -
a bettor or gambler.

Point Count -
the net value of the card count at the end of a hand. This is a card counting term.

Point Total -
the total value of cards in a hand.

Preferential Shuffling -
shuffling by the dealer in Blackjack, when the deck tends to favor the players, while s/he avoids shuffling a deck that favors the house.

Press -
to wager a greater amount than usual.

Press a Bet (Press) -
to increase a bet by doubling it.

Pressing -
wagering winnings along with the original bet. A player is pressing a bet when he lets winnings ride.

Probability -
a branch of mathematics that measures the probability range for an event to occur. Probabilities are expressed as numbers between zero and one. The probability of an impossible event is zero, while an event that is certain to occur has a probability of one.

Protect -
to keep a hand or a chip on the cards to prevent them from being fouled by a discarded hand or accidentally mucked by the dealer.

Puppy -
an underdog, Alpo or dog.
Push -
a tie hand between a dealer and a player where there are no payouts. A push in the game of Blackjack occurs when both the player and the dealer have legitimate hands with the same total points. The term push also refers to a tie between a player and a bookmaker where the final score of a game is exactly the same as the point-spread, or the total scoring points of both teams.

Quarters -
a term for chips of a $25.00 denomination.

Rack -
a plastic casino container used for carrying and counting large denominational coins, slot machine tokens, and casino chips.

Rank -
the numerical playing value of each card in a set of cards, as opposed to its suit.

Red -
the most common color used for $5.00 chips.

an acronym for complimentary room, food, and beverage, usually given to high rollers (VIPs).

Rich Deck -
a partial deck that has a disproportionately high percentage of face cards and aces.

Round of Play -
a period of the game that starts with the removal of the first card from the shoe or shuffling device by the dealer and concludes when the dealer, after drawing the last card, announces a result, and if applicable, pays out the winnings.

Running Count -
the count of the total weight of all cards that have been exposed since the cards were shuffled. The running count is updated by the value of the point count after each hand.

Score -
to win a large amount of money due to successful wagering.

Session -
a series of moves during any gambling game.

Settlement -
the last stage of any particular bet. Either the dealer takes the player's chips and pays out player winnings, or in the case of a push, exchanges no chips with him.

Sharp -
a wise guy.

Shill -
an employee of the house who bets money and pretends to be a player in order to attract players. Shills typically follow the same rules as the dealer, which make them somewhat easy to spot in Blackjack. They do not double down or split.

Shoe -
a plastic or wooden box for holding and dealing multiple decks of cards used in Baccarat and Blackjack. The shoe can hold up to eight decks of cards and is designed to enable a dealer to slide out one card at a time.

Short -
a slang term for Alpo, puppy, dog, or underdog. It is often expressed as "The short."

Shortstop -
a term that refers to people who make small wagers.

Short Stack -
a stack of chips in front of a player that is smaller than the stacks of the other players at the table. If a player has $10.00 in front of him/her and everybody else at the table has over $100.00, she/he is playing on a short stack.

Shuffle -
to manually mix the cards in a deck prior to starting a game. The dealer normally does the shuffling.

Shuffle Tracking -
a system used by card counters to predict which sections of the deck/shoe will be favorable to the player. Shuffle tracking is based on studying the locations of favorable sections of previous decks/shoes, as well as the method used by the dealer to shuffle the cards.

Shuffle Up -
shuffling by the dealer intentionally previous to a game to harass a player who is suspected of being a counter.

Shuffling Device -
a card-shuffling machine approved by the Casino Control Authority for use in a Blackjack game, which does not include a multi-shuffler.

Side Bet/Side Wager -
a wager on a particular team, side, or contestant to win an event.

Side Count -
an additional count to the main count, usually involving a single card face, e.g. an ace side count.

Single -
a bet on a single result or outcome.

Soft Hand -
any hand in Blackjack that contains an ace counted as 11, without having the total hand value exceed 21. It is always possible to draw one card to a soft hand without busting.

Split Hand -
a hand in Blackjack, consisting of two dealt cards of the same rank that are split to form two independent hands. The split hand is played as two separate hands after the player adds a new bet to the second hand.

Spread (Blackjack) -
to place more than one bet before the cards are dealt.

Spread Limit -
a betting structure in which a player may bet any amount within a set range, on every betting round. A typical spread limit structure is $2.00 to $6.00, where a player may bet as little as $2.00 or as much as $6.00 on every betting round.

Stand -
to refrain from taking another card in Blackjack, to stop at the current total and await the dealer's total to see if the hand wins, loses, or ties the dealer's. Along with taking a hit card, whether to stand or not is the most common decision a player makes during Blackjack.

Standoff -
a card tie between players, or among one or more players and the house. When referring to a wager, it means that it shall neither win nor lose.

Star -
a rating given to certain high performers.

Stickman -
the dealer in craps who calls the game and handles the stick.

Stiff -
a hand in Blackjack that is not pat, and may bust if hit once. Stiffs include a hard twelve through sixteen. A stiff hand has a small chance of winning regardless of how it is played.

Strategy Variation -
to modify a basic strategy when the count indicates that it is profitable to do so.

Stuck -
a depressing condition experienced by players who feel behind, buried, losing, or down for the week.

Square -
an unsophisticated player.

Sucker Bet -
a wager that overwhelmingly favors the bookmaker or house.

Surrender -
to give up half the value of a bet for the privilege of not playing out a hand of Blackjack. Some hands, such as a 16 against the dealer's 10, are so bad that surrendering is less expensive than playing the hand.

Tapped Out -
a condition experienced by players who are broke (busted). It is a common result of pressing.

Tell -
a clue or hint that a player unknowingly gives about the strength of his/her hand, his/her next action, etc. There are a variety of ways in which a player may indicate (tell) what s/he is going to do before she/he does it. In a way, telling is similar to the tendency of some boxers to telegraph a punch. The opponent knows it is coming.

Ten Poor -
a deck that has lower density of tens and face cards than average.

Ten Rich -
a deck that has higher density of tens and face cards than average.

Third Base -
the last player at the dealer's right by the Blackjack table. Third base is played immediately before the dealer's hand is played.

Time -
a request by a player to suspend the game while s/he decides what she/he is going to do. The player simply has to say, "Time please", and the dealer will grant him/her a brief break. If a player does not request time, and there is a substantial amount of action behind him/her, the dealer may rule that the player has folded.

Toke -
a tip or gratuity given to the dealer in the form of money or chips. A toke is normally a small amount of money, a dollar or half-dollar, given to the dealer by the winner of a pot. In many circumstances, tokes represent the majority of a dealer's income.

Triple Sharp -
the sharpest of the sharps.

True Count -
an adjustment to the running count, in order to account for the number of cards left to be dealt in the deck or shoe. The true count usually is determined by dividing the running count by the number of non-dealt decks, or half-decks.

True Odds -
the range between the number of times one event will occur as compared to the number of times another event will occur. The odds posted in a casino are usually not the true odds.

Unbalanced Count -
any counting system where a count starts or ends on a non-zero value. Red seven is an example of an unbalanced count. Also see Balanced Count.

Underdog -
the team, side, or contestant in any given event considered the least likely to win. See also short, puppy, Alpo, or dog.

Under the Gun -
the position of the player who acts first on a betting round.

Unit -
the dollar amount of a basic bet, i.e. one chip.

Up Card -
the first card the Blackjack dealer deals her/himself, placed face up for all players to see before they play their hands. The player's decision to draw or stand involves the study of the dealer's face-up card.

Variance -
a measurement of the extent to which winnings and losses fluctuate over a period of time. Variance is not necessarily a measure of how well someone may play. However, the greater the variance, the greater the fluctuations between winnings and losses.

a big bettor deemed worthy of full complimentary treatment, i.e. RFB.

Void -
invalid with no result.

Wise Guy -
a well-informed, knowledgeable, and successful sports handicapper or player.

Wonging -
a card counting practice aimed at improving the player's edge. The player is said to be wonging when she/he places bets only when the count is in his/her favor, and sits out the hand when the count is unfavorable.