Pokies – Everything You Need to Know About Them

what are pokies
What are pokies and what does that mean as far as gambling goes? We will reveal all the different meanings of this strange word. But most importantly, we’ll tell you how it relates to the gaming industry, where it comes from, as well as a few other cool terms you may want to add to your vocabulary. Check it out!

Not to Be Confused With…

You may have heard the word quite a lot, actually, but its real meaning could still be rather elusive. And that is because its true meaning depends on the context.

As it so happens, the word ‘poky’ can mean a whole range of different things, depending on where in the world it is used and who’s the one using it. Clearly, since this site has to do with casinos and online gambling as a whole, the meaning we are interested in is also related to the gaming industry. So here are some other meanings we pulled out that we would rather you didn’t confuse this definition with.

1. Poky (also often spelled pokey) can be used as a slang term to describe a jail or prison.
2. A poky or pokies is another slang term – this time among stoners – and its meaning is a metal object used to clean pipes.
3. Pokies can also be used as a word to describe female nipples (excuse the details) that are protruding through clothing.
So, now that you are familiar with some of the things we aren’t talking about, we can move on to the meaning we actually have in mind when discussing pokies.

So What Is a Pokie Actually?

Pokie is a term widely used in Australian casinos, as well as by gamblers in New Zealand, to describe slot machines. There you have it, as simple as that.

And with the wide use of the internet, especially for gambling purposes, and the kind of global, borderless community that has created, the word has spread and gained more recognition also in other parts of the world.

australian slot machines pokies

But it’s also just the sound of it that it makes it stand out so much to non-Australian and non-New Zealand natives. It really is a peculiar sounding word that really conveys the feeling that it’s most likely some type of slang – but what kind exactly? You could very well be saying something offensive (see above meanings), or maybe even outright swearing without knowing for sure.

But thankfully, in this context at least, there is nothing offensive or demeaning about the term. And in these particular countries, you are unlikely to find another term for slot machines if you visit a local casino, for instance, or check out an online casino site catering to players in these parts of the world.

With that in mind, the fact that Australia has deregulated gambling may have also contributed to the word “pokies” spilling over its borders and entering the awareness of players from thousands of miles away. But that’s pretty much all just speculation – just as the origins of the word, as you are about to see for yourself now.

Where the Name ‘Pokie’ Came From

What the exact origins of the word are remains unknown and is subject of dispute to this day. But one theory has it that pokie is simply an abbreviation for poker, or in this case video poker, which as we know is played on a machine. Hence, following that rather complex train of thought, you can eventually see pokie was transferred on to regular ol’ slot machines, as well.

And there’s evidence supporting this theory in the simple fact that Aussies love diminutive names – that’s why they call themselves Aussies! But don’t just take our word for it. Take theirs. In fact, here are several words that show just how much Australians like to shorten the names of regular, everyday objects and coat them in a sense of endearment.

Curious Australian Words
  • Cuppa. Tea drinkers, if you plan on visiting the Land Down Under, be sure to remember that you won’t be ordering a cup of tea like you would anywhere else, no-no. Here, you will want to ask for a “cuppa” instead. They’ll know what you mean.
  • Petty. Nope, this isn’t about childish arguments or squabbles. Petty is what you will want to fill your car up with at the next gas station on your very long Australian roadtrip – or petrol, as some call it.
  • Lappy. You know that thing you work on that (usually) comes with a screen and keyboard? Some refer to it as a laptop – Australians call it a lappy.
  • Arvo. This one may be a little more difficult to guess, but it’s actually how you would refer to the afternoon down below the Equator. Yup.
  • Biccy. One last thing, for you to pair with your “arvo cuppa”. “Biccy” is how you would order a biscuit, or “biccies” if you’re hungrier.

And trust us, these aren’t at all the only examples of how Aussies show their affection for various words. Would you believe that firefighters are called “fireys” and policemen are referred to as “coppas”? So witch such an affinity to shorten words that are longer than 2 or 3 syllables, it does seem plausible that pokies could have originated from video poker or poker machines.

But for the sake of fairness, there’s also another theory that says it has more to do with the mechanism of the machines. Technically, you “poke” them by pressing a button to make the reels spin. And hence, that could have also given birth to the term.

What Slots Are Called In Other Places around the World

Australia isn’t the only place where you may come across odd words for slots. In fact, if you think about it, there have been all sorts of other names for this popular form of gambling ever since its very creation. Think back to the turn of the last century for example.

What did they call the first ever slot machines? One-arm bandits! And why was that? Because back in the day the return to player ratio or RTP was nowhere near as high as we expect from slot games today. In those days, slot machines were a genuine rip-off, and they would rob you in broad daylight – hence the name. What’s more, the name caught on pretty well and is still widely used even today.

Interesting Fact
But onward to more location-specific terms used for slots, one particularly interesting one is the Scottish word “puggy”. Puggy originally means monkey, but it was widely adopted as a term that describes slot machines, as well. And, in fact, ATM’s are also often called puggies nowadays. The way the word migrated and was stamped onto slot machines has allegedly to do with organ grinders, as their machines were referred to as “puggies” first.

As for the rest of the United Kingdom, you are more likely to see slots labeled as fruit machines, which is another remnant of the past. The term was inherited from those very first one-armed bandits that only had classic fruit symbols on their reels, as opposed to all the varied options we enjoy today. Hence, fruit machines.

So the next time you’re traveling abroad or simply feel like showing off to your friends, forget the boring old “slots”. You play pokies now!

Author: Elly Furlan
Game Analyst
Elly is a game analyst who likes to dig deep into the game features and specifics. She tests the slots we review in real money mode as well as in demo free play. The newest trends in the casino games industry are her passion.