Casino Glossary and Terms Guide | July 2024

Learning the rules and strategies for the casino games you are interested in requires understanding casino terms. Whether playing at in-person or online casinos, you will have a more enjoyable experience if you know how the games work and what the lingo means. Study the definitions provided in this casino glossary to learn the most common terms you will come across when playing a slot machine or table game.

CONTENTS

TYPES OF CASINO GAMES

A casino table game refers to any game at an in-person casino that is played at a physical table and has a dealer. While slot machines are always played alone, table games at retail locations have spots open for multiple players. Online casinos offer single-player versions of these games with digital dealers and multi-player versions in the form of live dealer games. Here's a look at five popular retail and online casino games.

BLACKJACK

Blackjack is a card game in which players aim to get closer to 21 than the dealer without going over that number. Numbered cards 2 through 10 are worth their face value, while face cards are each worth 10, and aces are worth one or 11.

At the beginning of the hand, each player and the dealer are dealt two cards, with one of the dealer's cards (the "hole card") being dealt face-down. On their turn, players can "hit" to receive another card to get closer to 21 or "stand" and keep their current hand. Players can also "double down" or "split" in some circumstances, which will be covered in the glossary below.

If you go over 21, you bust and lose the hand. If you stay, action continues around the table until all players have acted. Then the dealer reveals their hole card stays on 17 or above and hits on 16 or below. Players who didn't bust win if they finish closer to 21 than the dealer or if the dealer busts.

In addition to being the name of the game, "Blackjack" also refers to being dealt a 21 in the form of an ace and a ten. This is an automatic winner unless the dealer also has blackjack, which is a "push" or tie.

CRAPS

Craps is a dice game in which players can bet on a variety of different outcomes. The first betting round begins with the come-out roll, where the player rolling the dice (called the "shooter") establishes the point. A 7 or 11 pays out players who bet on the "pass line", a 2, 3, or 12 is a loser on the pass line, and any other number establishes the point and starts the point phase.

During the point phase, the shooter rolls until they hit the point they have set again or until they roll a 7, or "craps". Players betting on the pass line win if the shooter hits the point before craps, while players on the "don't pass line" win if the shooter rolls craps first.

The pass line is just one of the many player bets available at the craps tables. Players who didn't place an initial bet on the pass or don't pass line can wager on the roll with the come or don't come bet instead. You can also place a side bet on a specific number to be rolled before craps or a one-roll bet on what the next roll will be. This is a popular gambling game due to its wide range of betting options.

ROULETTE

A standard American roulette wheel has 38 numbered pockets, with two green zeros (0 and 00) and the numbers 1 through 36 with alternating black and red numbers. Players can place bets at "fixed odds" on various potential outcomes, such as an "even money bet" on black or red or a 36-to-1 bet on a specific number.

After bets are placed, the dealer spins the wheel and a small ball, which eventually lands inside one of the numbered pockets to reveal the spin's outcome. For example, if the ball lands on black 11, players who wagered on black or the number 11 will win money based on the odds of their bet.

The "house edge" in this game comes from the green zeros, which make all even-money bets like odds and evens or black and red lose. French and European roulette are available online, and they feature a roulette wheel with only one green zero, cutting the house advantage in half.

3 CARD POKER

Three-card poker is a simple casino game in which the player and dealer are dealt three card poker hands, and the higher hand wins. Players can place an ante bet and a pair plus side bet before receiving their cards. The dealer's cards are dealt face down.

After receiving their cards, players can "fold" to forfeit their ante bet and end the hand or "play" by matching it with the same amount of casino chips. The dealer reveals their hand once the players have decided whether to fold or play.

The dealer must have a queen-high or better to qualify. If the dealer fails to qualify, players still in hand are paid out on their ante bet, and the play bet is graded as a push. When the dealer does qualify, the player is paid on both the ante and play bets if their hand is better, or they lose both if the dealer's hand is better. The pair-plus side bet pays out on any pair-or-better hand regardless of whether the dealer qualifies.

Note that hand rankings are different in three-card poker than in five-card poker games. In three-card poker, a three-of-a-kind beats a straight, and a straight beats a flush.

BACCARAT

Baccarat is another popular card game in which players can bet on the "player" or the "banker" to win by finishing the hand closer to nine. Cards 2 through 9 are worth their face value, tens and face cards are worth zero, and aces are worth one. Unlike blackjack, which allows individual players to decide whether to hit or stand, baccarat hands are dealt according to a fixed third-card rule, and all hands are automatic.

After bets are placed, the cards are dealt. Each player and banker receives two cards; if either has eight or nine (called a "natural"), no more cards are dealt. The hand continues following the third card rule if neither the player nor the banker is dealt a natural.

Per the third card rule, the player acts first, always standing on a 6 or 7 and hitting on a 0-5. The banker's decision is determined by what the player draws, which gives the banker's side a slight edge in every hand. The casino accounts for this edge by charging a 5% commission on each winning bet you place on the banker.

A tie is also possible if the player and the banker finish the hand with the same value. You can bet on "Tie" instead of the player or banker, but this is a losing bet with a high house edge in the long run.

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW TO BET AT CASINOS?

The first step to betting on a casino game is depositing real money. When playing at an in-person casino, you can enter cash into a slot machine or hand cash to the dealer in exchange for chips. When playing at an online casino, you can use an approved deposit method, such as a credit or debit card, to add money to your account, and that balance will follow you to every table game and slot machine you open. There are a few free slots or games available on other apps or sweepstakes casinos, but for the most part traditional casino games and slots require real money.

You can request a withdrawal from your online casino site using the same cashier section that you used to make your deposit. At a land-based casino, you can take your remaining chips after finishing a table game or your slot machine printout to the cashier cage to convert your funds back into paper money. The terms below will also be helpful to know before placing any bets.

MINIMUM DEPOSITS

A minimum deposit is the smallest amount accepted for a deposit onto a mobile casino site. This can apply to the minimum for a specific deposit method or the minimum amount required to take advantage of a particular bonus offer. Confirming that your deposit will meet the minimum deposit amount and that you are eligible to receive a welcome or reload bonus is always a good idea.

GAME WAGERING

Game wagering is placing bets on a table or slot games. You can set the amount of money you want to wager on the next hand or spin as long as you have that amount in your bankroll and it is within the table limits (minimum and maximum).

CAPS ON GAMES

Caps in games refer to pre-determined limits. Gambling caps include:

  • Limits on the maximum bet size allowed in a game.
  • The number of players allowed at a table.
  • The maximum you can win on a slot spin or free play bonus.

Casino managers should always clearly state these caps in person and the terms and conditions of an online game.

PLACING TABLE BETS

A table bet is a real-money bet made with chips in a table game. Players are paid a profit when they have a winning hand on a table bet, and the casino collects the chips wagered on losing bets. Each table bet has set payout odds based on the game's rules and the probability of the outcome being wagered.

CASINO TERMS GLOSSARY

Below, we explain and expand on the terms and highlight their importance for the player.

ACTION

Refers to the total amount of money wagered or when it is a specific player's turn to act in hand. It would help if you consistently tracked how much money you have in action during any single session.

ADD-ON

You are adding chips to your stack in a cash poker game or tournament for additional money. An add-on allows you to play the next poker hand with a deeper stack, giving you more strategy options and the chance to bet more.

AGGREGATE LIMIT

The game's rules always display the total amount a casino pays on a single round or slot spin.

ALL-IN

When a player wagers all of their remaining chips on the current hand.

ANTE

A mandatory stake is required to be dealt a hand in poker games.

BALANCE

The total amount of money currently in a player's account. When deciding on bet sizing, keep an eye on your balance and consider re-depositing when your balance is low or making a withdrawal when your balance is high. But remember to always stay within your budget and keep limits in mind.

BANKER

One of the three betting options in Baccarat, along with "Player" and "Tie". The Banker hand has the highest player advantage but also has a 5% commission taken out on winning bets.

BET

Bet sizing is the money a player wagers on a single hand or spin. When determining your gambling balance, it is important to consider both risk and reward.

BLUFF

To misrepresent the strength of your hand in poker. Professional gamblers use bluffing as part of a balanced strategy in games like no-limit hold 'em poker to win pots that they wouldn't otherwise win based on the actual strength of their hand.

BUY-IN

The money is used to buy chips before joining a poker game. This is a set amount for poker tournaments and a range for cash games.

CALL

In poker, we match the current bet to continue in the hand instead of folding or raising.

CAP

A set limit on the action, such as the number of raises in a betting round or the total amount that can be wagered on a single hand.

CHASE

When a player who is losing continues to gamble in hopes of winning back what they've lost, players tend to act irrationally and bet above their means when chasing. If you feel yourself betting out of frustration in this manner, consider taking a break and waiting until you feel better to play again.

CHECK

To continue in a hand of poker without placing a bet when you aren't required to put money in the pot. After checking, you can call or raise later in the round when it is your turn to act again.

DEAL

The distribution of cards.

DOUBLE DOWN

Instead of taking a standard hit in blackjack, you can double down by matching your current bet and receiving one more card. This can be an advantageous play when you have a 10 or 11 (giving you a chance to land on a 20 or 21 if you receive a ten or face card) or when the dealer is showing a card like a 5 or 6 that gives them a higher probability of busting.

DROP BOX

The box in the middle of the table where the chips are placed. Play in live casinos is sometimes paused so that a casino employee can collect the contents of this drop box.

EDGE

Having or gaining an advantage. The "house edge" refers to the casino advantage in a specific spot, while the "player edge" refers to your advantage.

EVEN MONEY BET

Bets where the odds are 1:1, or you stand to earn the exact amount you risked if you win.

FILL

When you complete a five-card hand in draw poker like a straight, flush, full house or straight flush after drawing a card.

FREE SPINS

Spins a player can win or earn as a bonus. Generally, you can trigger free spins by collecting a set number of bonus symbols on slot machines.

FIXED ODDS

Refers to games where the payouts and chances of winning are known beforehand.

FLAT BET

A player bets the same amount each round. Flat betting is an excellent strategy for managing a bankroll.

FOLD

You decide not to call or raise a bet in a poker game, folding your hand and forfeiting your chances of winning the pot.

HIGH ROLLER

Gamblers who spend a lot of money and play high stakes. High rollers often earn comps and rewards from the casino in exchange for the large amount of money they put into action.

HIT

To ask for another card in blackjack.

HOLD

The amount of money the casino is expected to earn on a machine or in a session. Learning the hold percentage (or house edge) on each game and bet type can help you decide which game to choose.

HOT

A player, team, slot, or table is on a winning streak.

INSIDE BET

They are betting on the inside numbers of a roulette table instead of outside bets like odds and evens or black and red. Inside bets hit less frequently but pay out better when they do.

JACKPOT

A significantly large or special game prize.

KICKER

The highest card that doesn't contribute to the made hand rank. For instance, if a player is holding A-A-K-7-6, they have a pair of aces with a king kicker, which would defeat a pair of aces with a lower kicker.

LADDERMAN

The casino employee overseeing the baccarat game table.

LET IT RIDE

They add the profit from the previous winning hand to your current bet. Gamblers do this to maximize their winnings during a hot streak.

MINIMUM BET

A casino's minimum amount of money allows you to wager on a single hand or spin. In retail casinos, you will generally find higher minimum bet tables near the high-limit room, offering larger table maximums for high-roller action.

MULTI-TABLING

Playing more than one table at once is a common practice for professional hold'em poker players online.

NATURAL

A dealt 21 in blackjack or a dealt eight or nine in Baccarat. These are the strongest hands in their respective games, and getting dealt, blackjack pays out better than an even money bet at 6:5 or 3:2, depending on the table rules.

NON-VALUE CHIP

A chip with no face value that can be used to hold a later-determined amount of money. These are often used at American Roulette tables to help the dealer differentiate players by the color of their chips, which have a value set by each player.

NO-DEPOSIT BONUS

A casino gives out bonus credits or free spins with no cash deposit required. Due to their no-risk nature, these bonuses are rare and highly coveted.

ODDS

The ratio determines the potential payout a player will receive if they win. The difference between the true odds of occurrences in casino games and the paid odds makes up the house advantage.

PASS LINE

A wager in craps on the shooter rolling the set point again before they roll a seven. This bet can be pressed and paid out at true odds, making it one of the only wagers in the casino with no house edge.

PAYLINE

A line of symbols on a slot reel that pays out when a winning combination is hit. You can always check the info section when playing online slots for rules on what paylines are available in that game.

PIT

An area in the casino behind a cluster of table games where a supervisor, also called a "pit boss," monitors the action.

PLAYER

It is one of three betting options in Baccarat, along with "Banker" and "Tie." It also refers to a gambler or someone playing a game.

PLAYTHROUGH REQUIREMENTS

The conditions under which a bonus can be activated or claimed. For example, if you accept a 100% deposit match on a $100 deposit with a 5X playthrough requirement, you must play $500 ($100 x 5) on casino games with those bonus credits before withdrawing any winnings.

PROGRESSIVE JACKPOT PRIZES

Jackpots or prizes that increase in value when more rounds are played. Progressive jackpots are some of the biggest prizes available at online and in-person casinos, but those games also tend to have a significant house edge.

PUSH

A round in which neither the house nor the player wins results in the player receiving their original wager back.

RAISE

As opposed to matching the current bet on your turn to act, a raise adds even more money to the pot, forcing your opponent(s) to call the new amount if they wish to continue in the hand.

SHOE

A device on the table that can hold several decks of cards, commonly used by dealers in table games like blackjack.

SHOOTER

The player rolls the dice in craps. When a shooter rolls craps instead of hitting their point, the dice are passed to the next player at the table, who becomes the shooter until they crap out.

SPLIT

If you are dealt two of the same cards in blackjack, you can split those cards, match your original bet amount and start a new hand with each card. The best hands to split are eights and aces, as you can improve your 16 (88) into two better hands or your two or 12 into two 21s if you're dealt face cards.

STAND

You are opting not to hit in blackjack, keeping your current hand.

TAP OUT

Losing your bankroll and having to leave a game. Tapping out on a bad session is usually a much wiser decision than chasing your losses.

TELLS

Facial expressions or repeated actions at the poker table give away information about your poker hand. If you plan on giving live poker a try at the casino, try your best to act the same regardless of the strength of your hand so you don't give away any obvious tells.

UNDERLAY

A bet with low odds of success. Identify and avoid losing bet propositions, like a triple-zero American roulette wheel. Do your best to choose games and wagers with a small house advantage.

US STATES WITH LEGAL ONLINE CASINOS

Legal online casinos are currently available in seven US States: Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia. Use the links below to learn more about each state's sites and welcome promotions.

HOW TO FIND THE BEST ONLINE CASINO APPS

Using the state casino page links in the section above, you can review all of your state's best online casino apps. Once you have decided which online casino you want to use, you can sign up for an account on the website or the casino's mobile app, usually found in the App Store on iOS devices or the Google Play Store on Android devices.

New customers making their first deposit on a casino app can take advantage of a welcome offer that may include perks like a deposit match or free spins. Click the Terms and Conditions link underneath your site's welcome offer to learn more about it, including its minimum deposit, time limit, and playthrough requirement.

CASINO GLOSSARY TERMS FAQS

Want to learn more about casino glossary terms and the best ways to play at your favorite establishment? Read these common questions and answers we've compiled below.

ARE THERE TERMS I NEED TO KNOW TO GAMBLE?

Knowing the terms used in the gambling world before placing any bets will make it easier for you to play games and navigate the casino. At the very least, you should be familiar with terms essential to the casino game rules, such as "Hit" or "Stand" at the blackjack table. Be sure to look up any unfamiliar terms when learning the rules of a new game.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TERMS GAMBLERS SAY?

All of the terms defined on this casino glossary page are used by gamblers when the situation calls for them. Common terms you might hear while playing a casino table game include how much a player is "up" or "down" (their profits or losses on the day or during the current session) and whether a table is "hot" or "cold" (hot in favor of the player, cold in favor of the dealer).

WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF CASINO TERMS?

Every casino term has a unique origin story. Some terms are borrowed from other languages, such as "Roulette," which means "small wheel" in French. Others were invented for game rules or gambling-specific situations. Gambling has a rich history and has helped shape the casino world's vocabulary today.

DO I NEED TO KNOW ALL OF A GAME'S TERMS BEFORE I CAN PLAY IT AT THE CASINO?

Familiarity with a specific game's terms will help you understand its rules and play more comfortably and confidently. But it's okay to gamble without knowing every term; you can always consult the rules online or ask a casino employee if you need clarification on what something means.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE CASINO CALLED?

The "gaming floor" or "casino floor" is where you can gamble on slot machines and table games. Tables are usually clustered together with a section in the middle behind the dealers called the "pit", where a supervisor can overlook the action. Some casinos also have a "sportsbook" for sports betting and a "poker room" for competitive games like Texas Hold'em poker.