las vegas lingo terminology terms glossary

Las Vegas Lingo: 35 Terms You’ll Hear Around Your Hotel

You’ve done your research, booked your flights, and packed your bags—you’re off to Vegas baby! Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned Vegas veteran, it pays to familiarize yourself with some of Sin City’s unique terminology before you visit, especially if you’re a fish and you plan to spend any time on the casino floor. Here are 35 terms you need to know—but probably don’t—before you hit the town:

1. 86’d

Getting kicked out of a casino for cheating.

Why “86’d”?

There are several possible origins to this term:

  • US Navy decommissioning: After WWII, a large amount of warships were being decommissioned, scrapped, or sold and placed in reserve. In the process, workers would bring spare parts from storerooms. Anything that was to be disposed of was given the US Navy Allowance Type (AT) code “AT-6”, pronounced the same as the number 86.
  • 86 Bedford Street: 86 Bedford Street was the home of a famous speakeasy in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Some reports suggest that police would call the bar during prohibition and advise patrons to leave via the 86 Bedford Street door, while the police would enter through a different door.
  • John Barrymore: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first recorded usage of “86’d” as a term for refusing service was a 1944 book about John Barrymore, who was infamous for his drinking habits. Apparently, John Barrymore was known to a particular bar as an “eighty-six”, which in the vernacular of the time, meant “don’t serve him”.
  • Electrical Protection: In common terms, an 86 device “locks out” a piece of electrical equipment, meaning it turns the equipment off until the appropriate person can resolve the issue and reset the 86 device.

2. Beard

Someone who is betting someone else’s money on their behalf.

3. Carpet joint

A casino that caters to high rollers. If you aren’t an experienced gambler, avoid carpet joints.

4. Chalk

Vegas jargon for a favorite to win, typically in a sporting event. Usually a heavy favorite.

5. Check

In casino gambling, another term for a chip. In poker, you can check in order to stay in the game without betting.

6. Color up

When a player leaving a game exchanges smaller denomination chips for larger denomination chips.

7. Comp

Short for free or complimentary. If you spend enough money gambling (or shopping, at some casino resorts), you can get comps ranging from free meals to your entire stay. An “RFB” comp covers your room, food, and beverages.

How to get comps

You don’t need to be a high roller to get comp’d. Comps in the form of free meals, discounted rooms, or free show tickets are also available to low rollers. Rather than spending a bunch of money at the blackjack table in the hopes of getting comp’d, look into rewards programs instead – they are free to sign up for, and often come with comps included.

8. Croupier

French for “dealer”. Used in baccarat, craps, and roulette. Here’s how to pronounce it.

9. Dark

No show, as in “there is no show on Sunday”.

10. Dime

$1,000. Not to be confused with $0.10.

11. Dollar

$100. Not to be confused with $1.

12. Even money

A bet that pays you back the same amount you wagered, plus your original wager.

13. Eye in the sky

A one-way surveillance mirror in the casino area

14. Fish

A novice gambler.

15. George

A casino patron who tips big. Antonym: stiff.

16. Getting down

Placing a bet.

17. Grinder

A low roller.

18. Grind joint

A casino that caters to low rollers. Also known as a “sawdust joint”.

19. Hedge

To make a bet that takes the opposite side of your original bet, usually to reduce the risk of loss and ensure some profit regardless of outcome

20. Loose

Slot machines are considered “loose” when they pay off and give the house a smaller advantage than usual.

21. Marryin’ Sam

A wedding chapel minister.

22. The pencil

Another term for authority; as in, pit bosses have “the pencil” to grant players free rooms or authorize markers.

23. Markers

Used by high rollers like IOUs.

24. Nickel

$500. Not to be confused with $0.05.

25. Pastposting

Changing your bet after the hand, roll, or spin is completed. This is cheating.

26. Pigeon

A gambler who chases their losses, also known as a “steamer”.

27. Pit boss

A casino boss who oversees multiple table dealers.

28. Rake

The money the casino charges for a hand of poker. Usually about 5-10% or a flat fee taken from the pot after each round of betting.

29. Sports book

The part of the casino that accepts bets on sports games and other athletic contests.

30. Square

An unsophisticated or casual bettor. Also known as a “tourist”. Antonym: “wise guy”.

31. Toke

Short for “tokens”. Describes a gratuity or tip.

32. Turkey

A gambler who is unpleasant to the dealer.

33. Vigorish

A fee or commission taken by the house.

34. Whale

A gambler who is so wealthy they routinely lose millions of dollars without batting an eye.

35. Wise guy

A sharp, successful professional sports bettor.

Conclusion

Don’t get 86’d for pastposting at a carpet joint! Las Vegas has its own unique lingo, and understanding the difference between a Las Vegas dime and the dimes that collect in your wallet can save you a huge headache.

Check out our Ultimate Guide for Visiting Las Vegas for more resources and tips for planning your trip.

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