Casino slang terms related to animals

Casino slang terms related to animals

If you’ve ever been to a casino, you’ve probably heard experienced gamblers using a colourful variety of casino slang. To a beginner, it can seem like a whole new bewildering language! There are a lot of animal-related phrases and slang terms used in UK casinos, so if you’ve ever wondered what on earth sharks or monkeys could possibly have to do with gambling, then read on.

Sharkcasino slang shark

Even if you’ve never been to a casino, you’ve probably heard the term ‘card shark’ used in movies. It refers to a very experienced poker player. That kind of players use their skills to take advantage of weaker or less experienced players. These experts understand the game very well, and their position at the top of the food chain allows them to easily identify weaker players.

The term, often used interchangeably with ‘card sharp’, used to be used in a negative sense to mean a person who cheated or played dirty. It’s only recently that it has taken on a more positive meaning. Now, it more commonly refers to someone who is just very good at poker, though it hasn’t quite shed its slightly darker connotations.


casino slang fish

This refers to a weak or inexperienced poker player. This kind of players might easily find themselves eaten up by a much larger predator like the one above! These players often make unwise moves as a result of their inexperience, and are quickly identified by more skilled players. They usually leave the table empty-handed.

It’s said that if you can’t identify the sucker (fish) at the table within 30 minutes, then it’s you…

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Poker players tend to be informally ranked along a scale from ‘fishes’ to ‘sharks’, as a quick and easy way to categorise their skill levels.
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Whalecasino slang whale

This refers to a high-roller = a person gambling with large sums of money. In the same way that fishes and sharks are strong and weak players, whales are named for the largest creatures in the sea because of the high stakes they play. It’s a high-risk, high-reward strategy and if it pays off, whales can make the other players around them incredibly jealous.

The exact amount of money required to define a whale varies from casino to casino. In a bricks and mortar casino whales often lay down tens of thousands of pounds, and receive the high-roller treatment in return. Online the limits used to quantify this type of player are usually much lower, around £5,000 or so.

Bugcasino slang bug

This one has two different meanings. First, there is an explanation that comes from horse racing. An apprentice jockey is allowed to carry less weight due to their inexperience. When this allowance is noted on the program, it’s with an asterisk – which looks like a little insect!

The second meaning comes from poker. When jokers are added to the deck, they are known as bugs and can be played as wild cards (cards that can be played in place of another card). In some forms of poker, bugs are considered to be aces unless they can be used to stand for a missing card in order to complete a flush or a straight.


casino slang monkey

The origins of this term are hotly disputed in many gambling communities. Some people say that it refers to the animal on the 500 rupee note, and was brought back to the UK by British soldiers when they returned from India. It now refers to the amount of £500.

Other people believe that it came about as a mispronunciation of the word ‘monarchy’ in the game of baccarat. In this game, ‘monarchy’ refers to King and Queen face cards – the royal court, or the court of the monarch. When the game was taken to China, new players would use the English terms rather than translating them directly into Mandarin or Cantonese. When spoken quickly and with an accent, English players thought that Chinese players saying the word ‘monarchy’ sounded like the word ‘monkey’, and thus the term was born.

Ponycasino slang pony

Pony is a term similar to monkey. However, in this case it refers to amount £25. The story behind it is the same; Indian 25 rupee had a picture of a pony on it.

Additionally, there is another legend behind the term. A long time ago the five pound notes were white. At that time it was common to have a wedding carriage and the cost of that was £25. Many people paid their ponies with five whites so a pony refers to 5 x £5 = £25.

Pony is mostly used on sports betting. Remember not to mix it with horse (h.o.r.s.e) that we’ll explain later in this article!

Snake eyescasino slang snake eyes

This refers to the game of craps, which involves rolling two six-sided dice. When a gambler rolls ones on both dice, you can call this snake eyes – because the two single pips on the dice look like the eyes of a snake. Snakes are also known culturally as symbols of betrayal, which a gambler might well feel as the result of a roll like this! slang horse

This refers to a multi-game poker tournament using the five main poker disciplines: (Texas) Hold’em, Omaha hi-low, Razz, 7-card Stud, and 7-card Stud hi-low Eight or better. In order to win at a H.O.R.S.E. tournament, you must be skilled in each type of game. Being good at one or two is not enough by itself to guarantee a shot at the jackpot.

Now you’re ready to go and use these colourful casino slang terms. Choose the best casino for you and start climbing up the food chain!

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