The amount of money a player risks over a period of time. A player betting $25 per hand over the course of 120 hands generates $3,000 worth of “action.” This measurement is used by the house in determining whether the player qualifies for comps or special offers.
Advanced Strategy
A method of playing, beyond basic strategy and money management, that is geared toward improving the player’s chances of winning over the course of a session.
The player sitting immediately to the dealer’s right. The “anchor” is the last person to play his hand before the dealer, and is (erroneously) believed to have a strong influence on the outcome of the dealer’s hand.
An angel is a person who usually does not play for themselves, but provides a bankroll for someone to play on their behalf. This is typically a business arrangement, as the angel hires a skilled player for a cut of the winnings.
The playing surface on the table. More specifically, “apron” refers to any portion of the surface not used in the game (outside the betting spot and the area in which cards are dealt).
A wager among players (player-vs-player rather than player-vs-house). The bettors may be called “back-liners” and the practice “back-lining.” Some casinos discourage this practice (because there’s nothing in it for the house).
Back Counting
Counting cards while not involved in the game. A counter who is back counting is generally waiting for an opportune time to join the game.
Back of the House
Areas of the casino in which players are unwelcome, such as the vault, cashier’s office, and other areas. This also includes the area inside the tables, which is reserved for casino personnel.
Backing Up
Reconstructing a hand to prove the total. If a player suggests a mistake is made, the dealer may back up the hand from the discard rack to show him his original hand and re-count it.
The total amount of cash available in the game. At the table, this typically refers to the amount a player invests in a game rather than the money in his pocket, and is sometimes treated as a synonym for his buy-in. The house’s bankroll in a game is the amount of chips in the dealer’s rack. As a verb, to “bankroll” someone is to provide them with funds to wager with.
To exclude (banish) a player from a game or a gaming establishment.
Barber Pole
A wager that contains cheques of varying denominations. Sometimes used to describe a stack of differently-colored cheques that are improperly stacked (interspersed denominations).
Basic Strategy
A method of that is geared toward improving the player’s chances of winning a single hand. Since the likely outcome of every decision (hit, stand, double, split, or surrender) in every possible situation (every possible value of the player’s hand versus every possible dealer’s upcard) has been proven mathematically, there is currently only one “basic strategy.”
Betting Limits
The minimum and maximum wagers allowed by the house at a specific table. When referring to a casino, this could refer to the lowest and highest limits available at all tables in the casino.
Betting Ratio
A comparison of the highest and lowest bets placed by a player. Used by the house to identify possible card counters, who increase their bets dramatically when the deck is in their favor.
Betting the Count
The practice, among card counters, of betting a number of units equal to the current value of the “count.”
Black (Cheque)
A $100 cheque.
The name of the game. Also refers to a two-card hand with a total of 21 (an ace and any ten-value card)
Bottom Dealing
A technique, generally cheating, when the dealer delivers one or more cards from the bottom of the deck.
Break Down (Cheques)
Diving a stack of cheques to facilitate counting. A stack consisting of multiple colors is broken down by color, then individual stacks of a single color broken down into amounts that can be feasibly totaled at a glance.
To exceed 21. Synonymous with “bust,” though less commonly used.
Breakable Hand
A hand with a value of twelve or higher (not including paired aces), that can be made to “break” with the next hit.
Burn (a card)
To take a card out of play. After a shuffle, the first card is burned without exposing it to the players (it is called the “burn card” for that deck/shoe). If cards are misdealt or improperly exposed, they may be burned.
to exceed 21. More commonly used than its synonym, “break.”
Bust Hand
A hand with a value of twelve or higher (not including paired aces), that can be made to “bust” with the next hit. Also refers to a hand that is likely to bust if hit.
Bust Out
To leave a game because of losing one’s entire stake.
The amount of money (usually cash, but sometimes cheques) with which a player enters a game.
A casino cashier’s counter, so called because it is usually enclosed in bars for security.
Call for Insurance
Offer the players the opportunity to take an insurance side-bet when the dealer’s upcard is an ace. This is usually done explicitly to ensure that players are given the opportunity (or, more aptly, to ensure no player can claim that he was not offered this opportunity afterwards).
Betting on another player’s hand. This is allowed in few locations, because it is generally done by those who are counting cards, without playing themselves, when the deck is in favor of the player.
Card Down
Exclaimed by the dealer to alert the pit boss when a card is dropped.
A gaming establishment. Specifically, the part of the establishment where gambling takes place, as opposed to the hotel, restaurants, etc. that are usually housed in the same building.
Change Up
To exchange cheques for the next higher denomination.
A gambling tokens that have monetary value, to be used in placing and paying wagers.
Cheque Down
Exclaimed by the dealer to alert the pit boss when a cheque is dropped.
Synonymous with cheque (and probably more familiar to players who are more accustomed to kitchen-table poker). The term “cheque” is preferred.
Clean Money
Cheques that are put into play from a player’s bankroll. (As opposed to “Dirty Money”)
A natural phenomenon that occurs by virtue of the way in which the cards are collected at the end of each hands. “Clumps” of high-value and low-value cards tend to stay together, even after the cards have been shuffled. The practice of observing these clumps is “clump reading.”
Cold Deck
A deck (or shoe) that is unfavorable to players. Typically, this is a deck with a high percentage of low-value cards, though it may be used as a dispersion when a player has been dealt a run of losing hands. A “cold deck” can also refer to a deck that has been stacked to be unfavorable to players.
Cheques. The color of a cheque denotes its value. Standard cheque colors are white ($1), red ($5), green ($25), and black ($100). Higher denomination, or odd denomination, cheques are also color-coded, but there seem to be no standards.
Color Coming In
Exclaimed by the dealer to alert the pit boss when a player is changing a stack of cheques for others of higher denomination.
Color for Color
The practice of paying off wagers in the same denomination(s) in which they were made.
Color Out
To exchange cheques for higher denominations when the player is leaving the table.
Color Up
To exchange cheques for higher denominations. Used as a synonym for “color out,” except that a player may “color up” and continue playing.
Items that are given away to players, such as free drinks, meals, and rooms. The use of “Free” is divisive — comps are given to players in exchange for their action (though not necessarily their losses).
To change cheques from one denomination to another. This may refer to exchanging cheques for others of a higher or lower denomination.
Refers to the approximate value of cards remaining in the deck/shoe to be dealt. As a noun, the “count” is a number that approximates their value. Aside of card counting, the “count” can also refer to the value of a hand.
Count Down (Cheques)
To reduce a volume of cheques into smaller stacks that can be counted at a glance.
Count Down (Deck/Shoe)
Counting cards—i.e., keeping track of the value, or an approximation of the value, of cards that have been dealt.
A person who counts cards.
Counting Cards
The practice of observing the cards that have been dealt in order to approximate the advantage that remains in the deck/shoe.
A lid that is placed over the house’s rack of cheques.
Cover a Bet
To accept a bet for play, even before cheques have been issued.
Cover Bet
A bet made by a counter to dilute suspicion that he may be counting—typically a high wager (or a low one) at an inappropriate time.
To combine bankrolls to buy into a game. The practice is referred to as “Cowing Up.”
To take out a loan (marker) from a casino. This can also refer to the player’s ability (as permitted by the house) to take out loans. A player who gambles “on credit” is playing with cheques obtained by taking such a loan.
To cheat by folding or damaging a card for the purpose of being able to identify it later.
To divide a deck into two or more smaller stacks. During the shuffle, cards are repeatedly cut and riffled, and a player is allowed to cut the deck before they are dealt.
Cut Card
A card (usually an opaque sheet of plastic the size of a card) that is used by a player to indicate where the deck should be cut. The cut card is placed in the deck before play, and the deck must be re-shuffled when it comes out of the shoe.
Cut Into
The practice of using a stack of cheques that has been counted to measure another than has not. The stacks are placed side-by-side and excess chops are removed from the uncounted stack.