Cash plays where it lays. Hard way ten. Change only.
What do all these mean? And why do casino dealers say that? Is it just jargon that sounds fancy, or an actual part of the games?
Here are 17 common casino phrases all gamblers will hear sooner or later…
Let’s say you get dealt a queen and a nine — nineteen — but the dealer shows an ace.
In this case, the dealer could have an ace and a picture card, which would be a blackjack, and your hand would lose.
So each time the dealer has an ace, he or she will offer insurance — an optional bet that will pay 2 to 1 if the dealer does get a blackjack — and use the phrase “insurance open”.
Now, is insurance worth it? Not really. Statistically, it’s better not to take insurance. But it’s up to you!
Blackjack dealers usually say “too many” whenever a player, or the dealer themselves, bust.
Which means their hand goes over 21, and loses.
If it’s the dealer who busts, then that’s really good news for the whole table: all remaining bets will be paid, regardless of their score.
A player “doubles down” whenever they double their original bet after their first two cards have been dealt.
They don’t have to do it, but there’s a few cases in which, in terms of probability, they should.
For instance, if the dealer is likely to bust, and you have a four and a six (ten), then it may be sensible to “double down” and increase your bet, and if you do, the dealer will usually announce that.
“One card only”
When you double down, you will be dealt one card only. And again, the dealer is supposed to announce that.
Let’s say that, in the example above, you get dealt a deuce, which brings your total score up to twelve.
Because you’ve doubled down, you won’t be allowed to take any more cards, and your score will be twelve.
Unfortunate, but if the dealer shows a six or a five, then chances of them busting are quite high, and you may win anyway.
“Cash plays where it lays”
This will be announced by the croupier whenever a player places money on the roulette layout. Not chips, or plaques, but actual notes.
The phrase “cash plays where it lays” makes it clear that if a banknote is placed, say, on a split (a bet covering two numbers, which pays 17 to one), it will be taken as a split bet regardless of the player’s intention.
What if the player says they actually meant to bet on the single number, and the payment should be 35 to one? That would be an easy way to cheat, and roulette dealers prevent that by using this phrase.
“The last three”
When the pit boss declares that a roulette table must close (because there is no game, or because the casino itself is about to shut down), then the last three spins will be announced.
The dealer will say “last three”, or “last three spins”, so everyone has a chance to place their last bets.
After that, the roulette wheel will be stopped, and all players will be cashed out if they still have any color chips.
“To the maximum”
When a player wants to bet the highest possible amount on a number, or combination of numbers, or outside bet, the dealer will usually announce it.
So for example, if a roulette player places $500 on number 28, and that’s the highest bet allowed at the table, the dealer may say: “28 straight up plays to the maximum”.
Keep in mind, all casino tables will have minimum and maximum bets.
High roller tables will have much higher maximums, but these will still need to be authorized by a casino manager in advance.
The phrase “no bet” may be used whenever a bet is not valid, or not allowed. Examples:
- A beginner player throws a chip at the dealer and points at a number on the roulette layout without saying anything. Besides being unclear, this way of betting can easily lead to cheating. The bet will not be accepted.
- A player places $20 on red, but the minimum on the outside bets is $25. The dealer will return the chips, and tell the player that if they do want to bet on red, $25 would be the minimum, otherwise the bet will not be accepted.
- The ball is about to drop, and a player quickly places a chip on a number straight up. The dealer says “no bet” (or “late bet”) to make it clear that the betting round has already ended, therefore no more bets will be taken.
When a player silently throws chips, or money, while the ball is spinning — the dealer must announce that those chips or notes are not a bet.
The phrase used is “change only”, as the player’s money will be changed into color chips or cash chips after the ball has dropped and after all winning bets have been paid.
Again, this is to prevent cheating. What if the player says they wanted to bet on the number that came in?
“Shuffle up and deal”
If you’ve ever played a poker tournament, you should have heard this phrase at the very beginning.
Although some supervisors will simply signal to the dealers that it’s time to shuffle the deck, “shuffle up and deal” is the official phrase and it should be announced at the start.
In cash games, on the other hand, this phrase is not used.
“Check or bet”
When a player is first to act, the dealer may tell them they can “check or bet”. Especially if it’s a beginner who isn’t so sure.
New players may not necessarily realize that 1) it’s their turn to act, and 2) the only two options available to them are a check or a bet.
By announcing this phrase, the dealer will hopefully speed up the game.
Another phrase you’ll hear in all poker tournaments, this refers to the start of a new level.
If blinds are 25 and 50 during the first level, when the second level begins the dealer will say something like “blinds up: 50, 100”.
This is actually pretty important as the players can easily forget that a new level has begun, especially if the last hand lasted longer than usual.
“Big blind only”
If the small blind just got stacked, or left the table (in cash game), then there may only be a big blind in the following hand.
This can be confusing, so to make it 100 percent clear, the dealer has to announce this phrase.
Other casino phrases
“The dealer does not qualify”
In some casino games, rules change depending on whether the dealer qualifies or not.
For instance, in three card poker, the dealer must have at least a queen for all play bets to be paid out.
If the dealer only has e.g. a four, a five, and a jack, then they will not qualify and it will be announced to the table.
If you play craps (dice) and you roll a 5 and a 3, the dealer may announce “easy way eight”. But what does it mean?
It means that out of all combinations that add up to eight, a 3 and a 5 is an “easy way” compared to a double 4, which would be the “hard way” (the one that is less likely).
“No more bets, please”
When you’re playing in a casino, you can’t just bet at any time.
You need to place your bets before the dice are rolled, before the roulette ball reaches the last few revolutions, before the cards are dealt at the blackjack, and so on.
In most games, the dealer will announce the phrase “no more bets” and anything after that will not be accepted as a bet. Too many late bets in a row can disrupt the game, and the player who doesn’t listen may be asked to leave.
This refers to punto banco, also known as baccarat.
When the player and the banker have the same score, the dealer is supposed to announce “egalité”.
Because it’s such a rare combination, and because payouts for egalité bets are very high (200 to one or more), the dealer may tap the table and announce the phrase triumphantly.
Do you have to know all these casino phrases?
Definitely not. But the more you learn about the games, the more you’ll understand them, the more you’ll enjoy playing.
If you’re at the table and you’re not sure about a certain rule or procedure, the best thing you can do is ask the dealer: it’s their job to help you.
Some casino phrases or procedures, such as the dealers clapping their hands, can look strange.
But they’re all there for a reason — usually, to prevent cheating.
Can you think of any other common casino phrase? Perhaps one you’ve heard yourself? Hit the button and leave a comment! 👇