Gambling Words You Didn’t Know About

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Every group eventually develops words and phrases distinct to only its members. These are referred to as slang in linguistics, which the dictionary defines a language form regarded as informal and typically restricted to only a specific context. It may surprise many, but gamblers have formed a distinct subculture where they not only share interests. But also believe in the same old wives’ tales, and use purposefully created terms to describe concepts, many of which do not exist outside the gambling realm.

What follows is a quick rundown of some of the more exotic expressions commonly heard in casinos and betting kiosks when gamblers are mingling among their folk. Newbies to this sphere would be wise to memorize them if they plan on trying to find the best gambling sites on the Web. They should know that many platforms have adopted this terminology instead of standardized English. That also goes for top-end brands and means that using gambling slang in Google is mandatory when anyone researches the internet betting sector.


Here is a famous British word. It means a tax or commission levied by a bookie. Specifically, many Brits use it to describe the tax on the turnover of a bookmaker. Though, it should be mentioned that ajax in poker means the starting hand in a game of Texas Holdem.

Bad Beat

Bad Beat is “losing on a bet that was all but a certainty is considered a bad beat.” That is a definition taken from a gambling terms guide.


As everyone knows, a beard is a hair that grows on a man’s jaw, neck, and chin. In pop culture, this word often signifies the wife of a gay man masquerading as his real sexual partner. It describes someone that plays a role. The same logic holds in the gambling world when someone says beard; more often than not, this word means someone placing wagers for another person. And usually, this individual wants nothing to do with this practice.


A significant favorite. That is all. It originates from when horse tracks had to write odds on chalkboards when they didn’t have computerized tickets. Since gamblers mostly wagered on favorites, their odds had to be continuously rewritten. Hence, their board fields had the most chalk residue.


Again, here is another term whose etymology stems from horse racing, where races get called heats due to qualifying ones often serving to help top colts and mares heat up for the top contest. Back then, a standard school of thought was that if a horse got warmer and ran more heat, it would do better in the final race. Thus, a dead-head race is one whose result gets declared a tie because it was too close to call. In many modern sportsbooks, a dead-heat rule is listed in the site’s betting terms, which resolves how winnings get paid out if an event results in an unpredictable draw.


Virtually every movie that features illegal betting mentions juice. It is a synonym for the vig, or the amount/cut a bookie takes to supply his services. Juice is a popular term that loan sharks also use, but in that context, it is the usurious interest rates that these nefarious characters apply to their given-out loans.


Making a lay wager is betting on something not transpiring. These bets are made at exchanges and are necessary when gamblers dabble in match-wagering using free bets online.


Those who have watched A Bronx Tale are wise to what a mush is, thanks to the character of Eddie Mush in said movie. In the film, Eddie is a degenerate gambler who continuously loses at the racetrack. The movie’s narrator says that he earned the nickname – The Mush because everything he touched turned to it. Therefore, a person that should never partake in betting entertainment because of their history of bad luck is a mush.   


Horse race bettors inherently know all about pari-mutuel wagering because, for centuries, this was the backbone of this sport. It is a betting form in which those backing the first three spots in a race divide the losers’ pool of stakes after the organizer takes his fee.


Tote is short for totalizator, and this is a betting scheme where the odds get determined by popularity. The group running the system removes a percentage of the wagering pool for themselves and leaves the rest to pay out to the winners.


When someone avoids following through with something they promised to do, they are welching. The term gets marked as not doing something someone obligated themselves to do and primarily gets used when a person refuses to pay a debt.