Social Responsibility in Gambling: Terminology Glossary

March 7, 2017
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As with any hobby, sport, or activity, gambling has its own set of jargon and slang that gamblers may use casually in conversation. And there are lots of terms and phrases that exist to describe the behaviour of gamblers.

Having knowledge of gambling terminology enables you to communicate with other gamblers at their level and understand what they’re talking about. Or, if you know someone who may have an addiction to gambling, it’ll help you understand why they might act and speak a certain way.

How to Use this Gambling Terminology Glossary

Although not comprehensive, this gambling terminology glossary covers a range of common gambling terms used in casinos and at sporting events.

poker chips

Terms and phrases are listed alphabetically so you can navigate the glossary easier and find a specific word you’re looking for.

Bold italic indicates that there is a definition for a term elsewhere in the glossary in case you need further clarification.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Action: The act of a player wagering/betting in a playing session.

Accumulator: When a player selects numerous options for what they bet on during a race or event, and agrees to have any winnings from the first bet they choose automatically placed on the next, and so on until all their options have been betted on. They may also be referred to as an ‘acca’.

Aggregate limit: The maximum amount of cash that can be paid out to a gambler.

All out: When a horse is trying its hardest.

All weather racing: When horse racing takes place on an artificial surface.

horse racing

Any to come bet: When all or part of the winnings a person just gained is immediately placed on a new bet.

Apprentice: A young rider/jockey who is still in training and has yet to win a certain amount of races.

Apron: The paved area between the racetrack and grandstand.

Arber/Arbing/Arbitrage: A controversial technique used in sports betting. An arber is the name used for a player who takes advantage of the variation in odds during an event and places bets with various bookmakers so that they make a profit no matter what the outcome. This is known as arbing or arbitrage.

At the post: When all the horses are at the starting point of the race, meaning the event is due to start.

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Backwards: A horse that is not fit or developed enough.

Backstretch: The straight part of the track opposite the grandstand.

Banker: Refers to a favourite or selection that is expected to win and bring profit. In card games, refers to the dealer.

Bank roll: The total amount of money a player is willing to risk when they visit a casino to gamble.

Barred: When a person has been banned from entering and gambling on a premises.

Bearing in/out: Refers to when a horse moves inwards and outwards towards the rail while racing.

Beeswax: UK slang for betting tax: the tax on a bookmaker’s turnover.

Bet receipt: The receipt on which a player’s unique bet receipt number is printed, which confirms the bet was placed.

gambling slot machine

Bismark: A horse that is strongly believed will be beaten in a race.

Bit: A metal or rubber attachment that is inserted into the horse’s mouth to enable the jockey to control the horse’s movement.

Blanket finish: When two or more horses come very close at the finish line.

Blinkers: Equipment fitted to a horse’s head to restrict their field of vision and prevent distractions during a race.

Bolt: When a horse swerves or runs off.

Bookmaker: The person(s) or company who deals with taking bets from players, sometimes referred to as a ‘bookie’.

Broodmare: A female horse that is bred for its racing abilities.

Bubble: Refers to the point in a tournament when the next player to leave will not win money. For example: if there are 21 players remaining in a tournament that will only pay out to the top 20, this point of the game is called ‘on the bubble’. The next person knocked out will not win money and is knocked out ‘on the bubble’.

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Camouflage: When a skilled gambler behaves and acts a certain way to conceal their activities in order to throw off a casino’s scrutiny.

Capping: When the player cheats by placing additional chips on top of their original bet once the round has started.

Carousel: When a group of slot machines are positioned in a circle, which enables the change person to stand in the centre and change bank notes into coins.

Case money: This refers to emergency funds.

Cashier’s cage: Where players go to exchange their chips for money.

Century: Refers to £100 GBP (also known as a ‘tonne’).

poker chips and dice

Chasing: When a player makes bets they normally wouldn’t because they’re trying to retrieve losses. This is particularly common in someone prone to or suffering from addiction.

Circled game: When betting on a game is restricted due to certain circumstances, e.g. injuries or bad weather.

Check: Another term for a chip. Also used in Poker as a way to stay in the game but not bet.

Checked: When a horse drops back or slows down during a race due to ‘traffic’, i.e. too many horses in one area of the track.

Cheek pieces: Head gear worn by a horse to help its performance.

Chips: Tokens that are used in order to bet. Acquired by purchasing them at the game table, and are exchanged for money when the gambler is done playing.

Chute: The straight stretch of track that extends to the oval section of a racetrack.

Circuit: Refers to a group of racetracks in neighbouring areas that have racing dates that line up well.

Clerk of the scales: The individual who’s responsible for ensuring jockeys weigh in correctly when a race is finished.

Closer: Refers to the horse that runs strongest near the end of a race, coming up on other horses from behind.

Coat-tail: When a gambler plays in the same way as a person whom they’ve seen play well.

Co-favourite: A horse who is joint favourite with at least two other horses.

gambler placing money on roulette casino table

Cold: When a player is on a losing streak or when a slot machine is not paying out as expected.

Colt: A male horse under 5 years old.

Comps: Gifts that are given to players on the house for gambling. For example: free hotel rooms, meals, beverages, etc.

Coupled: When an entry of two or more horses are made in a race that is owned by the same trainer/owner.

Cracking the nut: When a player makes enough money after a period of gambling that covers all their expenses and yields a decent profit.

Croupier: The French term for a dealer, used in certain games.

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Dam: Refers to the mother of a horse.

Dead heat: When two or more horses tie at the finish line.

Dealer: The person who deals the game at a casino.

Deep: A player ‘runs deep’ when they enter the latter stages of a tournament.

Deuce: Refers to a two on a die or a card with a rank of two.

Donkey: A new or unskilled player who does not follow standard betting patterns.

Doubling-up: Refers to when a player has lost but doubles the size of the previous bet in order to try win back the money they lost and also profit.

Draw: Refers to the number of the starting stall from which a horse will begin the race.

Drift: When odds ‘lengthen’ on a competitor (meaning the value of winning increases) due to a lack of interest from other players, they have ‘drifted’ or are ‘on the drift’.

Down to the felt: To be completely out of money.

Drop box: Where all the money, markers, and chips are stored at a gaming table.

Dwelt: Refers to when a horse leaves its starting stall late.

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Favourite: Refers to the competitor most likely to win, thus has the shortest/lowest odds. Also referred to as jolly.

Firing: If a player is said to be ‘firing’, they are making lots of bets and wagering large sums of money.

Fish: A new player who experienced players see as an easy target.

Flat betting: To continuously bet the same amount.

Fold: To eliminate yourself from the betting process during a card game.

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George: Slang for a generous tipper.

Grand: Refers to £1,000 GBP (also known as a “big ‘un”).

gambling cards

Grease: Refers to a bribe.

Grind/grinding out: When a gambler is playing consistently and tightly at a game table.

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Hand: The cards you have been dealt during a card game.

Handicap: When bookmakers apply certain conditions to make a one-sided event more evenly-matched and fair, which makes betting more competitive and appealing. Also referred to as spreads.

High roller: A player who places extremely high bets. Also see whale.

Holding your own: When a player is neither winning nor losing, but rather breaking even on their bets.

Hot: When a gambler is on a winning streak or a slot machine is paying out.

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Layer: The one who ‘lays’ the odds, e.g. the bookmaker.

Lines: Refers to the handicap values, pointspreads, and the odds that are given to a player.

LBO: The License Betting Office.

dealing cards in casino

Load up: Refers to playing the maximum amount of coins per spin that a slot machine or game allows.

Loose: Refers to slot machines that pay out generously.

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Monkey: Refers to £500 GBP.

Morning line: The forecast of probable odds.

Marker: Refers to an IOU: a cheque that’s created at a gaming table by a player who has established credit with the casino.

Mechanic: Slang for a dealer who is cheating.

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No-limit: Refers to a card game in which there is no limit to a player’s bet.

Nuts: The best possible hand in any given situation that cannot be bettered by any opponent’s hand.

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Odds: This refers to the ratio of probability: what the casino or bookmaker views the chance of a player winning should they bet on a certain option.

Odds-against: Refers to when the odds are greater than evens (for example 7 to 4), which means winning will gain the player a profit.

Odds-on: When the odds are fewer than the evens (for example 6 to 9), which means winning won’t gain the player more than what they staked.

On tilt: To ‘go on tilt’ refers to when a gambler reacts badly to losing by playing wildly and uncontrollably.

Outs: Cards that have yet to be dealt which a player may be relying on to make a winning hand.

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Pony: Refers to £25 GBP.

Punter: The UK term meaning someone who has placed a bet, usually in horse racing.

Payoff: Money that a player receives for winning.

Pigeon: Jargon for a new and/or unskilled gambler.

Pit: Refers to when table games are arranged in a certain way and the centre area is only allowed access by casino employees who manage the games.

Pot: The amount of money wagered during a card game which will be won by the player(s) with the strongest hand or if all other players fold.

Pot-limit: Refers to a card game in which players are limited to betting only what is in the pot at the time, as opposed to games that are no-limit.

Push: Where neither the player nor dealer win.

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Railbird: Refers to someone that loiters around gaming tables, perhaps with the intention of ‘lifting’ chips from non-suspecting players.

Rated: The casino’s estimate of a gambler’s skill and bankroll, which they use to determine comp value.

empty casino

Rounder: When a player places three bets on three selections in different events.

Round Robin: When a player places ten bets involving three selections in different events.

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Score: £20 GBP.

Settler: Refers to a bookmaker’s expert who calculates payouts.

Shortening the odds: When a bookmaker reduces the odds offered where heavy betting is occurring.

Spreads: Refers to when bookmakers make a one-sided event more evenly-matched and fair, which make betting more competitive and appealing. Also referred to as handicap.

Stake: The amount of money placed on a particular bet.

System: Refers to when a gambler plays strategically, usually mathematically-based, to get an advantage and increase their chances of winning.

Shark: A skilled, crafty player who often pretends they are not.

Shiner: A small mirror or reflective object used by a cheater to try see unexposed cards.

Silver mining/slot walking: Looking for coins left unattended in slot machines.

Slow roll: Refers to poor card room etiquette where a player doesn’t reveal a hand they know is a winner until their opponent reveals theirs first (often seen in Hollywood movies that involve card games).

Snake eyes: Rolling two ones on a dice roll.

Streak betting: When a player raises or lowers their wager based on what’s happened in previous rounds.

Shill: When a person plays a game at an empty or mostly-unoccupied table to promote the club, casino, house, and the games etc., rather than make money.

Sweat: When a card is dealt that potentially shifts the odds in favour of another player.

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Thick ‘un: Refers to a big bet.

Tipper/tipster: A person who gives or sells information to players about the likelihood of winners of a race, game, or event. Also referred to as a ‘tout’.

Turf accountant: Another name for a bookmaker.

Tic-tac: Sign language used by bookmakers to communicate with one another on-course.

Table hold: Refers to the amount won by a casino table game from players during an eight-hour shift.

horse racing track

Tapping out: When someone loses their entire gambling bankroll and so has to quit.

Tell play: Observing a dealer’s body language and expression to try discover information about their cards.

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Underlay: Jargon for a bad bet.

Underdog: The selection that received a point start in a handicap, i.e. the selection that is unlikely to win.

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Washing: When the dealer at a table rubs their hands, known as ‘washing’, before leaving the table to show that they have not taken any chips.

Whale: Refers to a player who makes extremely large bets.

White meat: Refers to gambling profits.

Wager: A bet or the act of betting.

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