5 Gambling Terms in Every Day Life

Cards and Chips

Lillie Mcguire
Posted on November 25, 2014 at 12:11pm

There are loads of gambling words, phrases and metaphors that we use in everyday life but many people don’t even know where they come from! We’ve put together our favourite examples of these words and phrases so that you can wow your friends with your knowledge.

1) Play Your Cards Right

This is most often used nowadays in dating scenarios, for e.g. “If you play your cards right you might be in with a chance of dating that girl!” The origin of this phrase dates back to skilled card games such as Poker and Blackjack. The assumption is that if you play your cards right you will win the hand.

2) Ace in the Hole

An ace in the hole is a metaphor used to refer to a hidden resource or weapon that is being hidden or saved until it can be most effective. This is most often heard now in sports games when a key player is being kept on the reserves bench until the crucial point to spring him out and win the game. The origin of this term comes from Blackjack when a dealer’s hole card (the one facing down) is an Ace. Players who can only see an upturned 10 will be praying that the dealer doesn’t have an ace as his hole card as this would mean he had Blackjack and therefore would win the hand.

3) Double Down

In real life to double down means to increase the commitment you give to a situation and in return increase the rewards it will bring. This can be used in politics, sports, business and even dating – essentially by giving more you can get more in return. This phrase again has gambling derivations and originates with Blackjack. In the game of Blackjack players may be given the opportunity to double their wager for the chance of greater rewards.

4) Hit the Jackpot

To hit the jackpot is an idiom that we use all the time in our day-to-day lives and essentially means to achieve the best possible result, whether that’s monetary or not. Of course this phrase is used in a number of gambling and casino games but it originates from the Jacks or Better form of Poker where the biggest ‘pot’ of money was the ‘jack-pot’.

5) Raise the Stakes

To raise the stakes is similar to the idea of doubling down but is used more generically in conversation. Raising the stakes means increasing your investment – whether financial or emotional – in order to increase your potential gains. It is a phrase frequently used in politics. The origin of the metaphor comes from several gambling games as the ‘stake’ is the investment and increasing it will increase the rewards if your gamble pays off.


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