dictionary page opened to the word "hit the jackpot"

How has Gambling Contributed to the Colorfulness of English?

Sports in general and gambling in general have given English many terms that we now use every day.  Many gamers play short sessions on their mobile devices as the players are waiting somewhere.  In many cases, the players use that time to play progressive jackpots slots.  But did you realize that the term progressive now has a powerful political connotation and “hitting the jackpot” simply means being very successful in an unexpected way.

In 2018, Patrick Mahomes became the Most Valuable Player in the National Football League in the United States in only his second year in the league.  He was not considered the best quarterback coming out of college in 2017 but his team hit the jackpot with him as the team leader in 2018!

Here are some other common words and terms that English has taken from gambling.


This term describes complete honesty.  You want a car salesman or mechanic to be completely aboveboard.  The term originated in card games several hundred years ago as players kept their arms above the table or the “board” in order to show that they weren’t cheating.

Penny Ante

In poker, a penny ante game means that everyone puts in a single penny before the dealer deals the cards for that hand.  Until inflation made pennies too insignificant to qualify as a serious ante, penny ante was the most common game that people played with friends once or twice a month.

Now the term penny ante has a strong derogatory connotation, describing something that is so insignificant economically that we don’t even have to pay any attention to it or that we should stop striving for it.  For example, for a very large company a small increase in sales may be considered a penny ante rise as the company seeks much greater sales and profits.

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Blue Chip

This is the diametrically opposite term to penny ante.  In gambling, the blue chip represents the highest value of all the chips in the game.  A blue chip company is a company so strong that it is inconceivable that the company could go bankrupt.  Of course, even a blue chip company can sometimes go bankrupt often because it goes “all in” on a very bad business decision.

So we have:  "The blue chip Wall Street investment bank Lehman Brothers went bankrupt because it had invested so much in penny ante mortgage based bonds.  

All In

This term refers, of course, to betting your entire stack on a single hand usually in Texas Hold’em poker.  If someone calls and wins, you are out of the game.  It is a very powerful bet especially in a tournament where it might intimidate an opponent who might want to bet on the hand but not at the level of going all in.

In everyday life, all in refers to making a complete commitment to any pursuit or activity.  In 2016, there was so much opposition to Donald Trump even among Republicans that his party never went fully all in on his candidacy.

A company might go all in on a bold business plan.  Walmart went all in on their plan to lead in its business niche—large retail stores—sending Kmart and Sears into bankruptcy.

A sports team may give a player a massive contract.  In the sense that there is no way to back out of the deal, the team is going all in on that one player.  One of the more common mistakes businesspeople and politicians make is going all in on a decision that almost everyone else believes is a crapshoot.


Obviously, this term comes from craps where you never know what number will come up on the dice.  In everyday terms, a crapshoot is a decision or commitment, the outcome of which is completely unknown.

When Republican Party voters nominated Donald Trump for president in 2016, everyone thought that it was a wild crapshoot.  Everyone expected him to lose easily to Hillary Clinton.  As a result, many people went all in for Ms. Clinton and lost politically, as well as financially.

Double Down

This is a blackjack term in which you double your bet and receive one card only.  It is a very strong bet when you have 10 or 11 points and a good chance at 20 or 21 points.  It is a very poor bet when you have 4 points!

In real life, some people double down on beliefs, commitments, and decisions that are the everyday equivalent of doubling down in blackjack with 4 points.

To double down in real life is simply to express very strongly your support for any previous decision or opinion, however misguided it might have been.


This is another r well-known poker term.  Bluffing has meaning for the person bluffing and for the opponents.  The player may actually be bluffing with a weak hand or may be hoping that you’ll think he’s bluffing and will bet higher only to discover that he had a strong hand.

So, a player has to contemplate whether he has set up his opponents for a bluff or a counter-bluff and the opponents have to know the player well enough to determine if he is bluffing or counter-bluffing

Bluffing is what makes poker so difficult to learn and excel at.

In everyday life, we often negotiate.  We might negotiate the price of a new car, a house, a raise or a salary in general, or the price of a garment in a “suq” where negotiating is considered an essential part of the transaction.  In these negotiations, people often bluff hoping to pay less or receive more.  Determining when a bluff has taken place is the most difficult aspect of any high-stakes negotiation.

No Bluffing at Jackpot Capital Casino

We will continue this series of everyday terms and idioms that English took from the language of gambling.  For now, let’s finish this article by emphasizing that there is no bluff at all in the games at Jackpot Capital.  We have a couple of hundred great games from slots to Banana Jones.  Every game provides great entertainment making every gaming session a fun-filled time.

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