Casino Idioms
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8 of the Best Casino Expressions

September 21, 2023
Casino Idioms

Idioms are widespread in the gaming world, where an expression or slang term can often say so much more to an entire group of players than a long-winded explanation or conversation ever could. It is for this reason that listening in on a bustling table game such as blackjack, or to the chatter around a grouping of slots, can be difficult to follow when game-specific casino expressions and casino terms are flying around.

This is still the case at an online casino, especially with the rise of live dealer studio games as well as multiplayer games. Here, the onscreen chat function is often filled with talk of everything from “action” to “bankroll”, “house rules,” general winning terms, and everything in between. Below are just some of the popular expressions and idioms that are sure to pop up if you spend any amount of time playing casino games.

”Winner Winner Chicken Dinner”

What does a chicken dinner have to do with a casino game, you might ask? Well, more than you might think. This phrase is used to congratulate a player who has experienced a positive gaming session and is something that either fellow players or dealers can be heard saying to gamers who have had things go their way at the tables or slots.

The phrase is thought to have originated on the Las Vegas strip, where for a long time a chicken dinner could be purchased for as little as $2. Although these days it might be tricky to find a whole chicken dinner for such a good price, this famous idiom still remains one of the most commonly heard congratulatory phrases, whether you choose to play online casino games or those found at a land based establishment.

”When the Chips Are Down”

Sometimes a phrase termed in the casino can extend far beyond the online lobbies or casino floors and ingratiate itself in peoples’ everyday lives. Such is the case with “When the chips are down” which has gone from being a way of describing a tough situation at the roulette or blackjack table, to one that can be used to describe a difficult spot in any walk of life. The idiom originally came from poker and other casino games where physical chips were used. If a player’s stack was running low, then it could be said that their chips were down.

”Whales” and ”Railbirds”

Birds and marine mammals are not regular fixtures at casinos of any variety, but that has not stopped two particular types of casino visitors being named after creatures from the natural world.

“Whale” is a casino term used by pit bosses to describe a player who has a larger than average bankroll and is therefore someone a casino knows has the betting power to either make or break the house’s day. As casino phrases go, it is probably one you will hear whispered rather than shouted out loud across the casino floor or by a live dealer.

While “Whales” are actively involved in playing casino games, “Railbirds” are more interested in watching from a safe distance as someone they know goes about trying to beat the house or win an organised tournament. Before online casinos came along, the only way to do this was to stand behind, or perch upon, the “rail” that separates the gaming floor from the rest of the casino building. Since the rise of online casinos, people can now spectate some games via live lobbies if they so wish.

”An Ace Up Your Sleeve”

In many casino games the ace is the most sought-after card in the dealer’s shoe and so the idea that anyone could have one stashed up their sleeve suggests that underhand play is afoot. However, having an ace up one’s sleeve tends to refer more to a player with a smart, last-minute idea or move in mind to fox either a fellow player or the house itself. This is very much another of the casino terms which has managed to cross over into the mainstream, with everyone from business people to sports stars using it when they have a trick up their sleeve that promises to shock everyone.

”According To Hoyle”

This is a phrase that is not quite as common as others found in this article, but it is interesting because it relates to the general uniformness that most casino gaming establishments are obliged to follow when running casino games.

The phrase itself relates to a certain Edmond Hoyle, who in the early 1700s penned a collection of rules and regulations pertaining to card games and board games such as chess and backgammon. While such games were not always strictly those played in casinos, casino players adopted the writer’s name and immortalized it in this casino phrase. All dealers and croupiers are now expected to execute casino game play “According to Hoyle” even if the Brit’s rules have been altered since the 17th century.

”Play Your Cards Right”

This one is almost so obviously a term derived from casino card games that it may never have occurred to you that it’s the case. The beauty of this idiom is its simplicity, in that if a player uses their cards correctly then they will increase their chances of success. Of course, this applies to almost any casino game, including those like roulette which do not even feature cards. The phrase is now commonly used everywhere, from the dating scene right through to workers hoping for a promotion or pay rise. Allied to this phrase is the equally common “Play the percentages” which is a term that is every bit as applicable when used among other roulette terms as it is for games like blackjack and craps.

”Hit the Jackpot”

It would be remiss of us not to call time on this list with “Hit the jackpot” because although it started out as a poker phrase, it has since gone on to be heavily used in casinos, especially those which have games that boast big jackpots such as slots and video poker games.