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The Casino Language: Specific Terms that Became Everyday Expressions - Your Thurrock


The gambling phenomenon has always developed in parallel with language as one of the main aspects of human civilization. Based on recent research, the first evidence of gambling practices was as early as 2000 B.C.

 For example, an ancient work called “Book of Songs” perfectly describes a game that is very similar to the first lottery entertainment played with food tiles. Gambling has always appealed to the deep-rooted desires and interests of individuals, bringing them what they want – pleasure and joy.

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That is why this activity survived the most difficult times of bans, restrictions, and fines. Slowly merging with the everyday life of people, they started to use certain word forms and terms. Thanks to them, gamblers could not only communicate more effectively with like-minded people but also form a certain stratum of society or a caste of “initiates”.

 One of the most vivid examples of imbuing gambling activity and language formation is English. Many terms such as “poker face,” “rolling the dice,” or “payout” have become widely used not only among players but also among people far from gambling. With their help, it became possible to describe the surrounding world, one’s experiences, and emotions more vividly.

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The casino industry may boast hundreds of terms, among which there are more common as well as specific words and word forms that gamblers use to describe different approaches and actions. Among those you may encounter at both land-based and online casinos are the following.

  • House Edge. It is a mathematical advantage the casino has over the player. It shows the percentage of each bet the gambling house wins in the long run. 
  • Wager. This term describes the process of placing bets on specific outcomes of the gaming round. 
  • Bet. It is the sum (a single wager) you place on the specific game outcome. 
  • Payout. This term is definitely the most pleasing to every gambler since it means money the casino pays you for the right prediction of the outcome. 
  • Bankroll. It is all funds you may easily spend on gambling.
  • Jackpot. It is a top prize a lucky gambler can win. A jackpot is not easy to trigger, but it may be life-changing.
  • Dealer. It is a casino expert (staff) who hosts the game, spin the wheel, deal cards, etc. 

Also, there are more specific terms like “calling” or “blinds” in poker, “payline” and “scatter” in slots, etc.

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Many people in everyday language may use tens of phrases and idioms that came from the gambling industry. Often, they do not even realize it, which indicates a deep intertwining of language and gambling. For example, you may often hear “hit the jackpot”. 

When it comes to gambling, everything is clear – you collect the winning combination and get the top cash prize. As for everyday use, this idiom means to achieve the top goal, often via your luck. For example, a company may choose the perfect marketing strategy and significantly increase its sales. 

The next idiom is “poker face”. In poker, you must not express emotions since they can unveil your strategy. In everyday life, this idiom may be applied to a person who does not show what he is thinking about or hide his real intentions. Wesley Fei using this approach was able to win the Monster Stack No-Limit Hold’em tournament

The last but not least idiom is “all bets are off.” you may hear it in situations when there is no understanding of what will happen next. For example, it may be applied to elections or when market conditions change quickly, and a company does not manage to adapt to them. 

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Idioms that describe life experiences take a special place among the whole variety of gambling lingo. One of the most popular is “double down,” which came to the everyday language from blackjack. It means you are ready to take a further risk in a specific situation. 

Also, it may mean to devotely re-commit your efforts to a specific cause. It may be used in business when a company believes in some product and is ready to invest further, regardless of previous challenges. The next one is “play your cards right,” which characterizes the situation when someone can reach success if he uses all his advantages and skills correctly. 

There are many spheres in which you may use this idiom, from career advances to interpersonal relations and negotiations. The final one is “raise the stakes,” which refers to a significant increase in risks, costs, or considerations in order to reach a specific goal. This idiom has poker origins when you increase the bet value to make the game more thrilling. 

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In gambling, a bonus is used to describe an advantage that a casino provides to a client upon fulfillment of certain conditions. In everyday life, you face bonuses during online shopping when you get cashback. Another example is a gym certificate that the company provides to specific employees to achieve the best results.

Among other expressions within this category is “ace up the sleeve.” Here, you have a plan, scheme, options, or a specific solution that can help you to succeed. At the same time, you do not reveal this plan to anyone. The next idiom is “above board”. For example, you can use it when someone or something (for example, a company) acts open and straightforward. 

The last idiom within this category is “game of chance,” which originates from dice, blackjack, slots, and other entertainments. When it is a game of chance, no skills or experience can be applied to change the result of the situation. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing from Australia, but online slots jackpots are a game of luck.

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Many companies use gambling terminology to vividly express some aspects of their decision-making strategies, marketing approaches, etc. It is mostly because these words have a rather strong meaning and give a quick understanding of the essence. Regarding serious gambling idioms, “bluffing” is the first that comes to mind. 

Bluffing may be used during negotiations between business partners when one does not reveal all his intentions on purpose to get further advantages. The next idiom is “ante up” which means the need to pay in advance or invest in something to get benefits in the future. 

For example, a company may encourage its employees to develop a new technology to compete in the market successfully. The expression, “the house always wins,” refers to a significant advantage of a casino over players. In business, this idiom may be used regarding well-developed companies with highly professional staff. Such companies always dominate in the market.

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Gambling terms are used in various spheres of life. Accordingly, the problem of misunderstanding, which is based on gambling idioms, can lead both to the loss of the context of the colloquialism and to significant financial losses (when it comes to the business sphere). In this case, you need to understand who you are talking to (native speaker or not).

In the business sphere, it is worth refraining from using complex or specific idioms like “Put your money where your mouth is” or “Sweeten the pot” and exploring whether the interlocutor understands the context.

Conclusion

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Without exaggeration, gambling is an integral part of human culture that actively influences language formation. This can be seen from hundreds of expressions that we can hear both from the movie actors and directors of international corporations with a multibillion-dollar turnover. Knowing these idioms is important for understanding the contexts. 

With their help, you can enrich your language and diversify your communication. Since language is not static, it is constantly evolving. Many factors influence it, and gambling is one of the most vivid examples. 

For hundreds of years, gamblers have adapted the language to their needs and developed hundreds of phrases that can effectively and precisely describe literally everything, from the size of the bet to the poker strategy. In the long run, these phrases went far beyond the casino and are currently used daily.

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