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Sawdust Joint

A sawdust joint is a slang term used to indicate an unpretentious gambling venue aimed at the lower end of the market. Sawdust joints typically house slot machines, a bar, as well as a few popular, low-maintenance table games. 

To turn a profit, this type of venue typically provides the player with less ideal terms, especially when compared to establishments aimed at the higher end of the market (see high roller). Most of the video poker and slot machines present at such places are usually dime machines with low (~80-90%) payout percentages. The poker tables usually have a high (~8-10%) pot rake in poker. If there is a roulette table, it will almost inevitably have an American wheel or even a triple zero wheel.

Sawdust joints are typically frequented by low rollers.

Sawdust Joint Etymology

The term originated in the 19th century in the United States as the direct opposite of «carpet joint».

Carpet joint was a term used to refer upscale gambling venues that could afford expensive and hard to maintain carpets on their floors. These establishments appealed to the higher end of the market.

Sawdust joints, on the other hand, would have sawdust sprinkled on the hardwood floors and appealed to the working class.

Sawdust joint:

  • an unpretentious gambling venue aimed at the lower end of the market.
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