The Legacy of Casino Game Names

By Oliver Scott.

Casinos host an array of different games that cater to a variety of gamblers. There is something for high-rollers, something for those who love to play it safe, and even for more competitive and strategic players. They are a great source of entertainment designed around the risk-reward concept, and people play to win money. If you play online it’s incredibly important to find trustworthy operators, or those who regularly payout winnings to their users. To that end, you should consult the list of top paying online casino sites and find the one to your liking. This means picking an operator that has the best promo or loyalty program specifically for you. 

Casino Pit

Casino games have been modernized and adjusted over multiple decades but their names have been deeply embedded in cultures all over the world. Some of these games have been around for centuries, and changing their names wouldn’t even make sense. Still, it would be interesting to see how some of these modern titles got their names in the first place.

Historical Context of Casino Game Names

Casino game names have changed over the years mainly because of cultural appropriations. These gambling activities come from all sides of the world, and the original names were replaced, in many cases, with French words that aimed to explain what is the goal of the game.


Even historians struggle to pinpoint the exact origins of blackjack. Many state that the author of Don Quixote has shared records of a similar game, while others say that the closest record is Vingt et Un, a French card game that popped up in the 17th century. As far as casino card game names go, Vingt et Un would fit the bill as the literal translation to twenty-one.

However, this doesn’t explain the name blackjack, since the term dates back to 1591 and it was used to describe a jug of beer that is covered in tar, and it wasn’t until 1910 that the term was used to describe the name of casino game. There are some rumors though that gambling establishments had a special promotion or a type of jackpot for 21. If you got ace of spades in combination with a Jack in a black suit (clubs or spades) a player would win a 10 to 1 payout.

Whatever the case the name is here to stay. This is an iconic casino title with many variations, and players love it because they can count cards and use other strategies to improve their odds. It’s easy to learn and hard to master, which means you can get plenty of entertainment out of it.1)For more information on the history of blackjack visit


According to historians, Keno comes from China and it was originally called “Baige Piao” or white pigeon ticket. Beige Piao, much like other gambling activity was prohibited in China, but it managed to take off in the US. This happened in 1840 when waves of Chinese migrants brought Baige Piao to the United States. Locals called Baige Piao “Chinese Lotter” and it was only later that they changed the name of the casino game to Keno. This is a word that was derived from the French slang “quine” and it means group of five.


Records show that back in 1526 there was a popular card game called “primero” that was played with 3 cards. The version available in casinos today however is closer to a version that was played during the early 18th century. This variation involved betting and bluffing and it later evolved into something French called “Poque” which can be translated as “Bluff.” It’s easy to see how the word was later morphed into Poker.


Although there are many tales of how the roulette wheel was invented, there is no doubt that the name comes from France. It means a small wheel and it’s rather self-explanatory. According to Britannica, roulette comes from Bordeaux, and it is a morphed version of hoca and portique, which was a popular gambling activity in 1716.



Another iconic title that’s incredibly popular among the fans of dice games. The original version was called hazard and it comes from Arabian culture. It came to Western culture after the Crusades, and it quickly became popular. In hazard, if you roll 2 or 3 the result is called crabs, but French speakers pronounced it as “craps” so the term stuck around even until today.  


Fruit machines or slots were invented in the US, and they used to have the nickname “One-Armed Bandit”. Because there was a slot where you insert the coin, and because they used fruit images as symbols they were referred to as fruit machines or slots.  Today these games look drastically different and are fully digital, but the term slots is still used to describe them.


As you can see, simple names carry a lot of history and interesting facts with them, and yet we rarely think about etymology. Hopefully, you found this casino trivia interesting, and you learned some new fun facts to share with your friends.




1For more information on the history of blackjack visit

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