Like many cultures and activities, players and professionals in the casino world have their own way of talking about what they do. It has arisen out of a combination of affection, playfulness and necessity. Sometimes it’s fun to develop and use picturesque slang terms that refer to the world you operate in, and it can create a pleasant sense of community and inclusiveness. But this can also make newbies feel excluded and confused as to what is actually being discussed.
The full extent of casino jargon may be limitless, as terminology falls in and out of fashion, and some phrases may be local to particular countries, states, cities and even clubs. A tight group of poker-playing friends may develop a lingo all of their own. But what follows is an ABC of commonly-used phrases that it’s worth understanding before you sit in on a game.
When a player decides to gamble all of their chips or bankroll on a single bet, this is known as “going all-in.” The player lays everything they currently have in the game on the line and increases their bet accordingly. In poker, this would involve moving all of your chips into the pot, forcing other players to match the amount, or fold. A player may go all-in because they have an extremely good hand, or they may be bluffing. In a game of chance, like roulette, they might just be feeling lucky.
To up the ante is to raise the stakes or increase your bet. The ante, therefore, is the amount that all players need to match with their bets in order to continue playing. While strictly a poker term, the phrase “up the ante” is also used in other games and also in non-casino situations.
This is slang for a list of people banned from a game, casino or website, either officially or unofficially. It can also be used as a verb, e.g. “He won’t be coming, he’s been black-booked.” See also 86-ed, meaning denied entry, refused service or thrown out of the premises.
At a land-based casino, the cage is the cash desk where you exchange your chips for money at the end of the night (if you have any left!). If you go online using the New Jersey Gambling App, then the cage may still be used to identify the tab you click on to claim your winnings. To head for the cage means to call it a night, hopefully while the going is good.
As a player you don’t need to worry too much about this, but card washing is a method used by the dealer to shuffle the cards effectively. The entire deck is spread out face down and then the dealer places a hand flat against the cards and moves it in a circular motion. This helps to randomize the deck by moving cards out of sequence and is followed by a regular shuffle.
To color up means to exchange a lot of lower denomination chips for fewer higher denomination chips. This is useful if you’re on a winning streak and your chips are taking up too much room on the table. Chips of different denominations are different colors, hence “to color up.”
Obviously, these are just a very few of the casino terms in usage. Read up on articles before you play to get the full picture.