30+ Common Gambling Idioms, Phrases & Sayings

Last Updated on November 17, 2023

Gambling has been a popular pastime for centuries and, as with any enduring activity, it has inspired a rich and colorful collection of idioms and phrases. These terms have not only been used in casinos and gambling venues but have also made their way into our everyday vocabulary. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common gambling idioms, their origins, and how they have evolved over time.

List of Expressions and Idioms about Gambling

  • (Come) Down to the Wire
  • (Having an) Ace Up One’s Sleeve
  • (The) Die Is Cast
  • (To) Play One’s Ace
  • According To Hoyle
  • Ace In The Hole
  • All Bets Are Off
  • All The Marbles
  • Behind the Eight (or 8) Ball
  • Bet the Farm
  • Break the Bank
  • Busted Flush
  • Call a Spade a Spade
  • Cash In One’s Chips
  • Have a Lot Riding On (Something)
  • Have an Ace Up One’s Sleeve
  • Have Hand of Aces/Hold All the Aces
  • Hit the Jackpot
  • In the Cards
  • Play the Percentages
  • Play the Ponies
  • Play Your Cards Right
  • Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
  • Roll the Dice On
  • Run the Table
  • Shell Game
  • Show Your Cards
  • Sweeten the Pot
  • The Deck Is (The Cards Are) Stacked Against You
  • The Only Game in Town
  • Throw the Game
  • Tip One’s Hand
  • Up the Ante
  • When the Chips Are Down

Gambling Idioms, Phrases & Sayings | Image

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Gambling Idioms and Phrases with Meaning and Examples

Gambling Idioms and Sayings

(Come) Down to the Wire

  • Meaning: To be decided at the last possible moment, often in a close or intense competition
  • Example: The game came down to the wire, with the final score being decided in the last few seconds.

(Having an) Ace Up One’s Sleeve

  • Meaning: To have a secret advantage or strategy that can be used to win a competition or achieve a goal. 
  • Example: He had an ace up his sleeve and was confident that he could win the negotiation.

(The) Die Is Cast

  • Meaning: A decision or action has been taken that cannot be changed or undone. 
  • Example: Once he signed the contract, the die was cast and he was committed to the deal.

(To) Play One’s Ace

  • Meaning: To use one’s best or most effective strategy or resource to achieve a goal. 
  • Example: He decided to play his ace and offer a lower price to seal the deal.

Gambling Idioms and Phrases (A)

List of idiomatic expressions about gambling that start with A.

According To Hoyle

  • Meaning: To follow the rules or guidelines precisely and strictly. 
  • Example: He played the game according to Hoyle and didn’t make any mistakes.

Ace In The Hole

  • Meaning: A hidden or secret advantage or resource that can be used to gain an advantage or win a competition. 
  • Example: He had an ace in the hole and was confident that he could win the game.

Note: Also “an ace up one’s sleeve.” From the game of poker.

All Bets Are Off

  • Meaning: A situation in which the outcome is unpredictable or uncertain, often due to a change in circumstances. 
  • Example: The storm meant that all bets were off, and the outdoor event had to be cancelled.

All The Marbles

  • Meaning: A situation in which everything is at stake, and the winner takes all. 
  • Example: The championship game was for all the marbles, and the winning team would take home the trophy.

Gambling Idioms and Phrases (B)

List of idiomatic expressions about gambling that start with B.

Behind the Eight (or 8) Ball

  • Meaning: To be in a difficult or disadvantageous position, often due to one’s own mistakes or poor choices. 
  • Example: He was behind the eight ball and had to work hard to catch up to his competitors.

Bet the Farm

  • Meaning: To risk everything one has on a particular outcome or decision. 
  • Example: He decided to bet the farm and invest all his savings in the stock market.

Break the Bank

  • Meaning: To win all the money available at a casino or gambling establishment. 
  • Example: He broke the bank and won a huge amount of money at the blackjack table.

Busted Flush

  • Meaning: A hand in poker that appears to be strong but is actually weak or worthless. 
  • Example: He thought he had a winning hand, but it turned out to be a busted flush.

Gambling Idioms and Phrases (C)

List of idiomatic expressions about gambling that start with C.

Call a Spade a Spade

  • Meaning: To speak honestly and directly, without euphemisms or sugarcoating. 
  • Example: He called a spade a spade and told his friend that he needed to stop making excuses.

Cash In One’s Chips

  • Meaning: To exchange one’s chips for money at a casino or gambling establishment
  • Example: He decided to cash in his chips and leave the casino after a long night of gambling.

Gambling Idioms and Phrases (H)

List of idiomatic expressions about gambling that start with H.

Have a Lot Riding On (Something)

  • Meaning: To have a lot at stake in a particular outcome or decision. 
  • Example: He had a lot riding on the success of his new business venture.

Have an Ace Up One’s Sleeve

  • Meaning: To have a secret advantage or strategy that can be used to win a competition or achieve a goal. 
  • Example: He had an ace up his sleeve and was confident that he could win the argument.

Have Hand of Aces/Hold All the Aces

  • Meaning: To have a strong advantage or position in a particular situation. 
  • Example: She held all the aces and was confident that she could negotiate a good deal.

Hit the Jackpot

  • Meaning: To win a large amount of money or achieve great success. 
  • Example: She hit the jackpot and won the lottery, becoming an instant millionaire.

Gambling Idioms and Phrases (I, P)

List of idiomatic expressions about gambling that start with I and P.

In the Cards

  • Meaning: Likely or possible to happen in the future. 
  • Example: It was in the cards that they would eventually get married, as they had been dating for years.

Play the Percentages

  • Meaning: To make a decision based on the likelihood of success or failure. 
  • Example: He decided to play the percentages and invest in a stable, low-risk stock.

Play the Ponies

  • Meaning: To bet on horse races at a racetrack or online. 
  • Example: He liked to play the ponies and would spend hours studying the horses before placing his bets.

Play Your Cards Right

  • Meaning: To make the right decisions and take the right actions to achieve a goal. 
  • Example: He knew he had to play his cards right if he wanted to win the competition.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

  • Meaning: To back up one’s words or beliefs with action or money. 
  • Example: He was always talking about how good he was at poker, so his friends challenged him to put his money where his mouth is.

Gambling Idioms and Phrases (R)

List of idiomatic expressions about gambling that start with R.

Roll the Dice On

  • Meaning: To take a risk or chance on something, often with an uncertain outcome. 
  • Example: He decided to roll the dice on the new business venture, even though it was risky.

Run the Table

  • Meaning: To win all the games or rounds in a competition or series. 
  • Example: He ran the table and won every game in the tournament.

Gambling Idioms and Phrases (S)

List of idiomatic expressions about gambling that start with S.

Shell Game

  • Meaning: A deceptive or fraudulent game or activity, often involving misdirection or sleight of hand. 
  • Example: The salesman was playing a shell game, trying to distract the customer from the flaws in the product.

Show Your Cards

  • Meaning: To reveal one’s true intentions or plans. 
  • Example: He showed his cards and admitted that he had been lying all along.

Sweeten the Pot

  • Meaning: To add something of value to a deal or offer in order to make it more attractive. 
  • Example: He sweetened the pot by offering a lower price and free shipping.

Gambling Idioms and Phrases (T)

List of idiomatic expressions about gambling that start with T.

The Deck Is (The Cards Are) Stacked Against You

  • Meaning: To be in a situation in which the odds are strongly against one’s success. 
  • Example: The deck was stacked against him, as he was competing against much stronger opponents.

The Only Game in Town

  • Meaning: The only option or opportunity available. 
  • Example: The company had a monopoly on the market and was the only game in town.

Throw the Game

  • Meaning: To intentionally lose a game or competition, often for financial gain or to deceive others. 
  • Example: He was accused of throwing the game and accepting a bribe to lose on purpose.

Tip One’s Hand

  • Meaning: To reveal one’s intentions or plans, often unintentionally. 
  • Example: He tipped his hand and revealed that he was planning to quit his job.

Gambling Idioms and Phrases (U, W)

List of idiomatic expressions about gambling that start with U and W.

Up the Ante

  • Meaning: To increase the stakes or level of risk in a competition or situation.
  • Example: The EU upped the ante in the trade war by retaliating against Russian restrictions.

When the Chips Are Down

  • Meaning: When one is in a difficult or challenging situation, often with high stakes. 
  • Example: He knew he could count on his friends to support him when the chips were down and he needed help.
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