Understanding Gambling Slang

So, you know what “hit me” means, and that makes you feel like you’re totally up with the latest casino lingo, able to sit shoulder to shoulder with the grizzled old pros, and fit in as one of the crowd. Understanding specific slang has a way of doing this; making us feel like we’ve risen to some sort of higher level. It’s a sort of rite of passage, proof that we’ve stuck with something long enough to be able to “speak the language.”

I, personally, don’t understand half the terms used by today’s youth, and am often forced to Google acronyms people use in texts. This makes me feel incredibly old, which is only made worse by the fact that I apparently write for a living, and am simultaneously rapidly losing touch with the English language as a whole. LOL at me all you like.

But that’s beside the point. We’re talking about gambling slang right now, and I feel like there are a few terms everyone should be aware of. Not because they’re important to gambling, but more because I like the creativity of the terms, and thought I’d share them for the sake of interest. This, indecently, is why I’m losing touch with the English language. I spend my time being fascinated with unimportant slang terms. SMH.


This is one that I learned about the hard way. When visiting my local gambling establishment, I heard one of the dealers refer to me as a “fish” to the manager. I thought nothing of it at the time, and only recently learned what the term means. A “fish” refers to someone that is new to gambling, although some would have you believe it is a harmless term. I’m not a fish by the way, so I was mad AF he had called me that. Anyway, let’s take a look at the word a little more closely.

A fish is something that can be caught, or hooked, by a fisherman. Therefore; a fish is referring to someone that can be caught and reeled in. In other words; a fish is a person who needs to be reeled in and captured. Or to be more specific; a person that needs to be reeled in so that they spend more money. Sneaky, right?

86’d (Eighty Sixed)

Now, I’ve never been 86’d before, but a friend of mine was once 86’d from a club. Apparently he was trying to sweet talk a lady, and wasn’t aware that the lady happened to be the girlfriend of one of the bouncers. In his version of the story the bouncer acted rather harshly when 86ing him out into the street, but knowing my friend, he was probably a lot more drunk than he thought, and acting a bit boorishly.

Either way; getting 86’d from a club is probably not much of an achievement. Getting 86’d from a casino establishment, on the other hand, I think takes a great deal more work. They apparently only do it when a person is really asking for it, so if it happens to you, I guess I take my hat off to your dedication. IMHO you’d have done something really bad, really well, and that deserves kudos.

Pigeon, Plunker, Steamer

This is actually pretty old lingo, and I’m honestly not sure if it’s even used anymore in popular casino lingo. But, I really like the terms, so I’m adding them. I have a special fondness for slang terms that just seem to fit perfectly with the thing they’re describing.

A pigeon, plunker or steamer in the casino world is a person who doesn’t know when to quit, and keeps desperately chasing after losses. In other words; it’s a person who is on the road to bankruptcy, and can’t seem to get a clue and call it quits. OMG, can they not stop already?

Galloping Dominoes

And here is another one of those terms that just tickles my fancy. Think about gambling games and see if you can’t guess what galloping dominoes are? Dice, of course! Isn’t that just the most pleasant term you’ve ever heard for dice? DUCWIM, sometimes slang is great?


Another great term, and also a very interesting tactic used by casinos, both online and real world. A “shill” is a casino employee who pretends to be a guest, visits various game tables, and tries to get others joining in on the game. Essentially his or her job is to generate business for the casino.

The shill is given a budget which they will spend at the tables and return to the casino, while encouraging others to get in on the action. In the case of real world casinos they are generally an attractive, charismatic man or woman, although, importantly, the shill is forbidden from bribing or bullying people into playing.

In online casinos a shill will simply sit at a digital table and play. Oddly, in online casinos players will normally gravitate to a table where at least one other person is playing, even if they don’t engage the person at all. Online psychology that can be used IRL.

Marc Armstrong - Signature

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