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Gambling Glossary
These are words frequently used in the gambling world, along with their meaning.

Term & Definition

Advantage Gambling, or Advantage Play, refers to a practice of using legal ways to gain a mathematical advantage while gambling. The term usually refers to house-banked games, but can also refer to games played against other players, such as poker. Someone who practices advantage gambling is often referred to as an advantage player, or AP.

A skillfull or knowledgeable player can gain an advantage at a number of games. Blackjack can usually be beaten with card-counting and sometimes with shuffle tracking. Some video poker games can be beaten by the use of a strategy card devised by computer analysis of the game. Some progressive slot machines can eventually have such a high jackpot that they offer a positive return when played. Online games can be beaten with bonus hunting


Betting Arbitrage or Sports Arbitraging is a particular case of arbitrage arising on betting markets due to either bookmakers' different opinions on event outcomes or plain errors. By placing one bet per each outcome with different betting companies, the bettor can make a profit. Bookmakers dislike people who use arbitrage and will often limit their stakes if identified.

In the bettors' slang an arbitrage is often referred to as an arb; people who use arbitrage are called arbers. A typical arb is around 2%, often less, however 4%-5% are also normal and during some special events they might reach 20%

Beginner's Luck is when someone with limited experience achieves better than expected results. The term is most often used in reference to a first attempt in sport or gambling. For example, if Mike beats veterangolf player Joe in his first game, Joe might attribute this to beginner's luck. Beginner's luck can also be applicable to non-sporting activities. For example, if Susan takes first prize in her first ever bakingcontest, she might have had beginner's luck. The term is also used when no skill whatsoever is involved, such as a first-time slot machine player winning the jackpot.
Bookmaker, Bookie or Turf Accountant, is an organization or a person that takes bets and may pay winnings depending upon results and, depending on the nature of the bet, the odds.
Boxcars or Midnight is the outcome of rolling the dice in a game of craps and getting a 6 on both dice. The pair of 6 pips resembles a pair of boxcars on a freight train. In modern parlance, it refers to such a roll in any game involving 6 sided dice which are marked with pips. The probability of this roll is 1 in 36, or about 2.8%. One of the 4 bets on any common craps table. It is on the 'high side' of the horn bet in which the player can either bet on the 2, 3, 11, or 12. When the player throws in money and calls out "midnight" or "Boxcars", the dealer will usually 'book' the bet as a bet on the 12, so as to not create confusion
Card Counting is a card game strategy used to determine when a player has a probability advantage. Card-counting is a form of advantage gambling. The term is used almost exclusively to refer to the tracking of the ratio of high cards to low cards in blackjack, although it is sometimes used to refer to obtaining a count of the distribution or remaining high cards in trick-taking games, such as contract bridge or spades. This article deals only with card counting as it applies to blackjack.

Casino Tokens, Chips, Checks or Cheques are small discs used in lieu of currency in casinos. Colored metal or compression molded clay tokens of various denominations are used primarily in table games, as opposed to metal token coins, used primarily in slot machines.

Some casinos also use gaming plaques for high stakes table games ($25,000 and above). Plaques differ from chips in that they are larger, usually rectangular in shape and contain serial numbers.


Chinese Auction, Tricky Tray, or Pick A Prize is a type of auction (actually a combination of auction and raffle) that is typically featured at charity or other fundraising events.

In a Chinese auction, bidders are not prospective buyers (as in the conventional English auction). Instead, they buy tickets, which are essentially chances to win items. Bidders may buy as many tickets as they like, and bid them on any item(s) they want by placing them in a basket or other container in front of the item(s) they are trying to win. At the conclusion of bidding, the winning ticket is drawn from the tickets bid on each item, and the item is given to the owner of that ticket


Cold Deck is a stacked deck which is typically switched with the deck actually being used in the game in question, to the benefit of the player and/or dealer making the switch. Although a cold deck is most commonly associated with gamblingcheats, as in poker or blackjack, a cold deck might be introduced in any game using playing cards.

The term itself refers to the fact that the new deck is often physically colder than the deck that has been in use; constant handling of playing cards warms them enough that a difference is often noticeable.

Comps are complimentary items given out by casinos to encourage players to gamble. The amount of comps that a player is given usually depends on what game they are playing, how much they are betting, and how long they have played. Most casinos have hosts who are responsible for giving out free items and contacting players to bring them back to the casino. Pit bosses can also award comps at table games. Most casinos now require a player to have a player's club or similar card, so that their play can be tracked and comps awarded.

Crimp is a bend that has been intentionally made on the corner(s) of a playing card to facilitate identification.

A card cheat will typically bend some of the important cards during the game. Below are just several of the most popular examples.

In poker, for instance, a cheat may crimp one of the cards to mark off the exact location where he wishes his secret conspirator to cut the deck. Similarly, if the card cheat is not working with a confederate, he may bend one or more cards to force a cut upon an unsuspecting victim. In either case the deck will most likely be cut at the exact predetermined spot in the same way an old book always tends to open at the same page.

Croupier or Dealer is a casino employee who takes and pays out bets or otherwise assists at a gaming table. In American usage, dealer may imply a card game, but this is not always the case. For example it is common to refer to a craps dealer
Double or Nothing is where a person is losing or loses a bet on an outcome and the parties agree to "double or nothing", which means that another wager is made on a new outcome with the same stakes as the original bet, in which case if the winner of the first bet also wins the second bet, he wins double, but if the loser of the first bet then wins the second bet, the winner of the second bet will get the debt from the first bet erased.
Even Money describes a wagering proposition with even odds - if one loses a bet, one stands to lose the same amount of money that the winner of the bet would win (less any vigorish or "juice"). The term has come to have meaning in the wider English usage beyond actual gambling, however, as a way of describing an event whose occurrence is about as likely to occur as not. This is also know as 50-50 though technically they are different since the amount won on a 50-50 bet does not mean that the chance of winning is also 50-50.
Expected Value, Mathematical Expectation, or Mean of a discrete random variable is the sum of the probability of each possible outcome of the experiment multiplied by the outcome value (or payoff). Thus, it represents the average amount one "expects" as the outcome of the random trial when identical odds are repeated many times. For example, the expected value from the roll of an ordinary six-sided die is 3.5.
Gambler's Conceit is defined by economist David Ewing as the mistaken belief that one will be able to stop performing a winning action while one continues to win. This belief frequently arises during games of chance, such as casino games, or stock market trading. The individual believes they will be a winner at the game, and able to avoid gambler's ruin, by exerting the self-control necessary to stop playing while ahead in winnings. This is frequently expressed as "I'll stop when I'm ahead." This is irrational since the action contributing to the winning situation (playing) is continuing to produce the desired result and further is being rewarded.
Gambler's Fallacy or Monte Carlo Fallacy, is an informal fallacy. It is the false belief that the probability of an event in a random sequence is dependent on preceding events, its probability increasing with each successive occasion on which it fails to occur. Thus if black has come up many times in succession at a roulette table, a false belief may develop that red is increasingly likely on each subsequent spin of the wheel, to even out the sequence in the long run; or if a fair coin is tossed repeatedly and tails comes up many times in a row, a gambler may believe that heads is more likely on the following toss; or if a mother gives birth to several girls in succession, she may come to believe that the probability of a boy is greater than for her next baby.
Gambler's Ruin is a gambler's loss of the last of his bank of gambling money and consequent inability to continue gambling. In probability theory, the term sometimes refers to the fact that a gambler will almost certainly go broke in the long run against an opponent with much more money, even if the opponent's advantage on each turn is small or zero.

Groom Porter was a title granted by the king of England to the official in charge of organizing gambling in the Tudor court. Later, he also regulated English gaming halls. Eventually, the term became used for the owner, or operator of a gaming hall.

The title may originally have referred to the keeper of the king's furnishings in his bedchamber. It was a position in the royal household, and therefore had certain privileges associated with it.

Handicapping, in sport and games, is the practice of assigning advantage through scoring compensation or other advantage given to different contestants to equalize the chances of winning. The word also applies to the various methods by which the advantage is calculated. In principle, a more experienced player is disadvantaged in order to make it possible for a less experienced player to participate in the game or sport whilst maintaining fairness. Handicapping also refers to the various methods by which spectators can predict and quantify the results of a sporting match.

High Roller or Whale in the casino industry, is a gambler who wagers large amounts of money. Because of potential windfall these high sums can bring to the casinos, high rollers often receive increasingly lavish perks from casinos to lure them onto their gambling floors, such as free private jet transfers, limousine use and be allowed to stay in the casinos best suites.

These players often have tables with very high table limits that can shut out almost all other players, allowing the whale exclusive use of a table.

Holdout is any of numerous accessories used by cheats to help them "hold-out" a card (or cards) during a game. Some holdout devices are extremely simple and require moderate or advanced manipulative skill to be used properly. On the other hand, there is a group of holdout devices which are mechanical in nature, therefore they fall under a separate category of holdout machines. Even if those machines are complex mechanical apparatuses, they still require a good level of skill from the cheat's part, to be used well.
Hole Carding is a term that refers to obtaining knowledge of cards that are supposed to be hidden from view in various card games. The term is most often applied to the game of blackjack but can apply to other games with hidden hole cards, like three card poker and Caribbean stud poker. So long as it does not involve the use of a device like a mirror, or a player who is "spooking" or looking over the dealer's shoulder when they check for blackjack under a ten or an ace, hole-carding is legal and is a form of advantage gambling.
Lady Luck is a personification of luck that is often involved in gambler's superstitions.
Late Betting or Past Posting is making a bet after the time when no more bets are to be taken. It is considered cheating because information may have become available, including the outcome of the event, that was not available to those making earlier bets.
Martingale referred to a class of betting strategies popular in 18th centuryFrance. The simplest of these strategies was designed for a game in which the gambler wins his stake if a coin comes up heads and loses it if the coin comes up tails. The strategy had the gambler double his bet after every loss, so that the first win would recover all previous losses plus win a profit equal to the original stake. Since a gambler with infinite wealth will with probability 1 eventually flip heads, the Martingale betting strategy was seen as a sure thing by those who practised it. Unfortunately, none of these practitioners in fact possessed infinite wealth, and the exponential growth of the bets would eventually bankrupt those foolish enough to use the Martingale. Moreover, it has become impossible to implement in modern casinos, due to the betting limit at the tables. Because the betting limits reduce the casino's short term variance, the martingale system itself does not pose a threat to the casino, and many will encourage its use, knowing that they have the house advantage no matter when or how much is wagered.
Muck in gambling has multiple meanings:
In poker, it most often refers to pile of discarded cards into which players may throw their folded hands, and into which the dealer may place burned cards. It may also refer to the action of throwing a hand into the muck. The practice of mucking cards when discarding helps to ensure that no other player can reliably determine which cards were in the folded hand.
Mucking or hand mucking is a form of sleight of hand, and, if used in a card game, is cheating. A player conceals a card through sleight of hand, removing it from play so that it may later be inserted back into the game to the cheater's advantage. For example, in blackjack a cheating player might remove an Ace from the table to use the next time he's dealt a ten to make a blackjack.
Progressive Jackpot is a jackpot (highest payoff) for a gaming machine (usually a slot machine or video poker machine) where the value of the jackpot increases a small amount for every game played. Normally multiple machines are "linked" together to form one large progressive jackpot that grows more quickly because multiple players are contributing to the jackpot at the same time.
Risk Premium (plural risk premia) is the minimum difference between the expected value of an uncertain bet that a person is willing to take and the certain value that he is indifferent to.
Shill or Plant is an associate of a person selling goods or services or a political group, who pretends no association to the seller/group and assumes the air of an enthusiastic customer. The intention of the shill is, using crowd psychology, to encourage others unaware of the set-up to purchase said goods or services or support the political group's ideological claims. Shills are often employed by confidence artists.
Sin City is a nickname for an urban area (a city or part of) that caters to various vices, perhaps the most well known example being Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. These vices may be legal (depending on area) or illegal activities which are tolerated.

Snake Eyes or The Dog Throw is the outcome of rolling the dice in a game of craps and getting only one pip on each die. The pair of pips resembles a pair of eyes, which is appended to the term 'snake' because of the long-standing association of this word with treachery and betrayal. The dictionary of etymology traces that use of the term back to 1929, although it may be traced all the way back to the ancient Roman dice games, where 'Dogs' represented two ones. They referred to this as "the dog throw". In modern parlance, it refers to such a roll in any game involving dice.

Because this is the lowest possible roll, and will often be a loser in many dice games, the term has been employed in a more general usage as a reference to bad luck.


Speculative Art is used an a variety of ways. It may be, possibly, a reference to Gambling in general or, perhaps, specifically to investment in the Stock exchange. In these cases the "art" referred to is the art of making a wise choice of investment.


Sports Trader is similar to a finance trader but instead of dealing with financial instruments, they deal with sport betting stocks (gambling). Sports traders are different from punters in that they trade betting stocks to ensure instantanous marginal profits through arbitraging or value betting. Sports traders can be professionals (working for a sports book), or self-employed. Traders working for a sports book are also incharged adjusting the odds of the market so that profit can be made from the bid-offer spread.


Spread Betting is any of various types of wagering on the outcome of an event, where the pay-off is based on the accuracy of the wager, rather than a simple "win or lose" outcome. A spread is a range of outcomes, and the bet is whether the outcome will be above or below the spread. Spread betting has been a major growth market in the UK in recent years, with the number of gamblers heading towards one million. As with all gambling, however, spread betting carries a high level of risk.


Table Limit is the minimum and maximum bet that a gambler can make at a gaming table. It is a form of yield management in that the limits can be changed to optimize the profit from a gaming table. Gaming tables have a limited resource to sell, the seats used by the players.

Table limits can also be used to manage, in a limited manner, who plays at tables. A casino that wants to project a more exclusive image can set the limits higher so that the casual tourist walking through would not be as likely to sit down and play.

Normally the limits are set to optimize the return from the seats. Since all table games give the house an advantage, the larger the bets, the larger the house's profit. So the house needs to manage the minimum bets to keep the seats full. This usually results in a low limit early in the day when there are fewer players with the limits increasing as more players become available.


Tout is a person who sells sports betting information to bettors. Another use for the term is when used to refer to an informer or spy.


Triple Seven (or Triple 7, Three Sevens, Three 7s, T7, 777 or 7-7-7) is a common winning line in simple slot machines, as common as 3 gold bars, 3 gold bells or 3 red cherries. Being dealt three 7 cards in Blackjack is almost a sure win, as they would add up to 21. Seven is considered a lucky number in Western culture.


Vigorish, or The Vig, Juice, or The Take, is the amount charged by a bookmaker for his services. The term is Yiddish slang originating from the Russian word for "winnings", vyigrysh. Bookmakers use this concept to make money on their wagers regardless of the outcome. Because of the vigorish concept, bookmakers should not have an interest in either side winning in a given sporting event. They are interested, instead, in getting equal action on each side of the event. In this way, the bookmaker minimizes their risk and always collects a small commission from the vigorish. The bookmaker will normally adjust the odds (or "line") to attract equal action on each side of an event.


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