There’s something special about a night at the casino. Venues like Monte Carlo, Las Vegas or Macau have a unique allure, and even in these difficult times of restricted travel, social distancing, and so on, casinos in cyberspace can bring that experience to you via your desktop PC, or even your smartphone.

Still, whether it’s on the Las Vegas Strip or in the virtual world of a live casino game online, a beginner might still feel a sense of trepidation when visiting a casino for the first time. It’s a world that has its own special language and terms, and these can sometimes be a little confusing for the uninitiated. The following glossary of common terms will help ensure you come across as Mr. Bond, and not Mr. Bean when you take your place by the roulette wheel or at the blackjack table.

House Edge

The casino is known as the house, and you’ve probably heard the phrase “the house always wins.” This is a fundamental truth of the casino – after all, it is a business, and like a grocery store or a construction company, it needs to take in more money than it pays out, or it will not remain in business for long. The house edge is a mathematical expression of this concept, and it can be calculated for each game. It tells you the average payout in winnings for every dollar that is wagered on the game. So for example, blackjack has a house edge of about two percent, meaning for every dollar wagered, it pays out 98 cents.

Face cards

Sometimes known as picture cards, face cards are the jacks, queens, and kings. In many games, including popular casino classics like blackjack and baccarat, they are valued equally at 10, so a king is worth no more than a jack.


We all like something for nothing, and in the casino world, these are known as comps. Comps are commonplace in the super-competitive online world. As a result, online casinos are known to produce many more winners than land-based casinos. They offer opportunities to win real money without any risk by offering free spins, no deposit bonuses, and the like. Comps are also available through rewards clubs where you can gather loyalty points, just as you might with a frequent flyer or hotel scheme.


Your bankroll is simply the amount of money that you have available for gambling on a visit to the casino. Bankroll management is a vital part of successful casino gambling. It is about more than knowing how much to bet. Even more importantly, it means knowing when to stop.

Chasing the loss

This is directly linked to bankroll management. Sometimes, even the most successful gambler has a bad day, when nothing goes right. If that means you exhaust your bankroll, it can be tempting to withdraw some extra money from the ATM, telling yourself that your luck is ”due to change” – this is false logic and is known as chasing the loss. Avoid the temptation to do it!

High roller

Here’s another phrase that everybody sort of understands, but that can have very specific meanings in the casino. Yes, a high roller is someone who places high bets, and that means he or she has the possibility of big wins – or catastrophic losses. However, casinos have specific offers and facilities that are exclusively available to high rollers. In a physical casino, these will be in a segregated area with more plush surroundings and enhanced levels of customer service. Even online, you can find high roller areas where there are special promotions, or you can access exclusive tournaments.


As we’ve already mentioned, a casino is a unique environment, and it’s a great place to hang out and soak up the atmosphere. People who do so are known as railbirds and joining them for a while is strongly recommended for three reasons. The first is that casino action is a great spectacle and the second is you might pick up some useful strategy tips. But even more important, taking a little time out is a vitally important part of bankroll management. Just remember to be a good railbird, by staying a respectful distance back so you don’t distract or influence the players.

Card Sharp

The phrase sounds a little unethical or underhand, but a card sharp, not to be confused with a card shark, just means someone who is a skilled card player. If you encounter a card sharp at the blackjack table, you can watch, learn and improve your own strategy. In fact, you can do the same if you meet one at the poker table, but the lesson might be a more costly one – so treat card sharps with a healthy mixture of caution and respect!