The world of gambling is awash with slang and for the uninitiated, trying to get to grips with the terminology can be little more than an exercise in confusion. Listen to a group of poker players sitting around the table and you could be forgiven for thinking they are speaking a whole different language.
To make things even more complicated, different games have different terms so depending on whether you’re playing slots, poker or blackjack you’ll need to learn a whole new language to understand what’s going on. Many of these terms have stories behind them and learning the slang means also learning about the history of the game and the characters and tall tales behind them. This is particularly true when it comes to poker terminology.
For example, the well-known phrase ‘dead-man’s hand’ in Poker refers to a hand with two pairs of Aces and Eights. The term refers to the hand “Wild Bill” Hancock was apparently holding when he was murdered in 1876. The term “Doyle Brunson” is based on more recent poker history and means a Holdem hand that consists of a 10-2. Doyle Brunson is a famous poker player who won the World Championship two years in a row with this hand.
You’ll also find plenty of popular culture references in poker terminology, for instance, the term ‘Darth Vader’ which means the four of clubs and the four of spades (the dark fours – get it!?). A ‘Dolly Parton’ means a straight five to nine, named after her role in the movie “9-5” and when you get four queens in a hand it’s known as a “Village People” (no need to explain that one!).
For most players, if you’re going to be able to understand what’s happening you’re going to need to learn at least some of the most common terms, whether you’re playing at a physical slot machine or online.
Spin those reels with confidence using our glossary of common slot game related slang below:
- 243 Ways to Win: This is a term to describe a specific type of five-reel slot where winning combinations can be made from any spot rather than a specific payline.
- 3 reels slot: Slot machines that feature just 3 reels, offering a classic feel and a simpler gameplay than their 5 reel cousins.
- 5 reels slot: Slot machines with 5 reels, creating more paylines and more ways for gamblers to play and win.
- All Way: this is when the slot’s paylines go right to left and left to right.
- Autoplay: this is a common feature where you can set a game to keep spinning automatically for a set number of spins while you go away and do something else.
- Bar: A common symbol on traditional slots. A Bar is rectangular and has the word ‘Bar’ written on it. You can get Double and Triple Bars as well as single ones.
- Bonus Feature: Slots may include various features to enhance gameplay, such as wild symbols, scatter symbols, free spins or bonus games.
- Branded Slots: Many slots these days are themed on popular TV shows, movies, video games and other aspects of popular culture – these are known as branded slots.
- Cascading Reels: With this feature, winning combinations disappear to then be replaced by the reels above giving you more opportunities to win.
- Classic Slot: This is another term for 3 reel slots, potentially containing multiple paylines as well as bonus features.
- Coin Size: On slot machines, players can bet a given number of coins per payline, and those coins can represent different amounts of money.
- Denomination: the size of the coin. Some games let you change the coin size while others have a set denomination that can’t be changed.
- Double Symbol: a symbol that doubles your winnings if you land it on an active payline.
- Expanding Wild: Some wild symbols on video slots will expand to cover multiple paylines, creating more chances for players to win.
- Fixed Jackpot: Unlike progressive jackpots, these prizes remain the same regardless of how often they are won.
- Fixed Value: This is when a slot game has a set bet value so you can’t choose coins or paylines. This takes the decision making out of the whole process.
- Free Spins: Sometimes given as bonus prizes and sometimes awarded by casinos as part of bonuses, free spins allow players to play for free and keep their winnings.
- Fruit Machine: British slang for slot machines. See our article about fruit machines for more.
- Hit: A ‘hit’ is any spin that features a winning combination on a wagered payline.
- High Volatility: Slots with a high volatility are likely to give players fewer payouts, but those payouts will tend to be bigger than a low volatility machine.
- Loose Slot: A loose slot machine will have a higher payout percentage than the average slot.
- Low Volatility: Slots with a low volatility are likely to create more hits, but those hits will generally be smaller than on a high volatility machine.
- Max Bet: This is the most a player can wager by betting on all of the paylines.
- Multi-Line: A slot game with more than one payline.
- Multiplier: When in effect, multipliers will boost a player’s winnings on a given hit, multiplying the earnings by the offered multiplier.
- Nudge: A specific feature most commonly found on fruit machine style slot games where you can bump the reel to move one spot along and sometimes make a winning combination.
- One-Armed Bandit: This is a slang term used for slot machines.
- Payline: These run across slot screens in varying patterns on which players can try to create winning combinations. Paylines are only active when the player bets on them.
- Payout: The winnings a player earns when he spins a hit.
- Payout Percentage: The amount of a player’s money he or she should expect to receive back when playing a specific slot machine.
- Pay Table: The name for the list of potential payouts a player can hit with different combinations on a slot machine.
- Penny Slots: online slots targeted towards smaller stake players.
- Pokie: Australian slang for a slot machine.
- Progressive Slot: A progressive slot machine is linked to other slot machines around the web with a growing jackpot that resets when one lucky player wins the progressive jackpot.
- Progressive Jackpot: This is the constantly expanding prize available to players who play progressive slot machines.
- Reels: Featuring the game’s symbols, the reels are the rotating strip on the slot screen.
- RNG (Random Number Generator): Slots are generally constructed with random number generator technology, ensuring the result of a given spin is truly random.
- RTP: Return to Player. This is the number of bets paid out over time to players. It’s never 100% as the casino keeps a percentage for themselves, but a good slot game should have an RTP in the high 90%’s.
- Scatter: Combinations of scatter symbols can be used to win free spins or entry into bonus games.
- Scatter Pay: When individual symbols are not required to line up to win but can be scattered around the reels.
- Slot tournament: A competition run by an online casino that brings players together to play against each other for prizes.
- Stacked: In some games, some of the symbols (most commonly the wilds) can be stacked on top of each other so they take up most of or all of a reel.
- Symbols: These are the pieces on the reels that players try to connect across paylines to win.
- Tight Slot: Unlike loose slots, tight slots generally have low payout percentages, creating a larger advantage for the house.
- Video Slot: A video slot is one that doesn’t feature actual, physical reels, but instead features animated reels and often includes assorted graphics.
- Wild Symbol: These symbols can be used to stand in for other symbols on the board, helping create winning combinations.
- Winning Combination: Any collection of symbols on a payline that results in a hit.