Skin in the Game
Popular Gambling Terms Explained
A lot of slang terms have been generated by the gambling industry over the years, many of which have been adopted by everyday persons, many of whom are not even fully aware of where the term came from. The commonly used phrase going all in can be used to describe a person who is making a decision that may change there life for the better, or change it for the worse, depending on an unknown outcome.
That is to say, it describes any situation where great risk is involved. The term, however, comes from poker, which is a type of bet. In poker a player has the option to go all in, or bet all the remaining money they have on a single hand. Generally used when the player has a good hand, or needs to make money to avoid risking going broke, it is a highly risky move, and may well result in the player being out of the game. On the other hand, it may also result in the player making double the current amount of money they have, or even more.
Skin In the Game
Another gambling term that has been adopted by everyday language is skin in the game. Although it is perhaps not as popular or commonly used as going all in, or snake eyes, another gambling term, it can still be heard in many countries around the world. Skin in the game refers to a person getting involved in a gambling situation beyond simply observing, or giving advice.
A person may watch a game of poker, comment on it, and even give advice to other players, but until that person has put their own money in the game, and is at risk of losing it, they have not yet put their skin in the game. This draws from a similar phrase, risk your own skin, which also implies that a person is putting themselves at risk in a given situation. Skin in the game, however, more specifically implies a situation that involves gambling, or money being at risk of being lost.
Other Common Usage
The origin of the term is not known, but is thought to originally have bee used in politics, and only later adopted by the gambling industry. In politics a person running for office must gain the monetary support of various factions and industries, in order to have enough money to campaign, and thus stand a chance of being elected. It is, however, common that a candidate will not use any of their own money in the campaign, but only the money of others.
If, however, that candidate does put some of their own money into the campaign, they are said to be putting their skin in the game. This, of course, implies that if the campaign is not successful, the candidate themselves is losing money, and it is not just the money of those who support him. It is generally considered honourable for a candidate to this, as it shows their personal commitment to the endeavour. Likewise, until a gambler puts his or her own money in a game, the advice they give cannot be taken seriously.