I was looking up a character from a Japanese game whose profession/specialty was gambler and saw that the word used in Japanese was ギャンブラー. My general distaste for katakana-English inflamed, I looked up the word to see if it truly was the only word for gambler in Japanese, but then saw 博徒 and 博奕打ち being translated the same, with the latter even being "professional gambler." But ギャンブラー seemed more common.

So, now I'm curious. What are the differences between these three words? Which one is more commonly used and in what contexts may all three be used? Why is ギャンブラー more common?

(EDIT: OK, so, looking into the bio of this character, their Wiki reveals that they wish to keep up a "Western masquerade" and thus likes to be referred to by the ギャンブラー rather than 勝負師. But my above question still stands and now I'm wondering where 勝負師 plays into the mix, too.)


1 Answer 1


ギャンブラー and 博打【ばくち】打ち【うち】/賭博師【とばくし】 have fundamentally the same meaning, but people tends to imagine ギャンブラー goes to western-style カジノ, whereas 賭博師 or 博打打ち goes to Japanese-style gambling houses (賭博場, which is illegal in Japan). Try Image Search and you'll get very different results from these words. But that does not mean it's wrong to call western gamblers 賭博師, and vice versa. Why ギャンブラー is popular is a bit hard to answer, but this answer should be relevant.

博徒 is a tricky word that refers to: 1) the same thing as 賭博師, 2) simply someone who regularly enjoys gambling, and 3) a certain type of historical gang-like organization originally formed by a group of gamblers (see this). 博徒 in the third sense is considered to be one of the origins of modern yakuza.

勝負師 in present-day Japanese is usually someone who devotes their life to the world of winning and losing, and it's not limited to gambling. For example, a professional shogi player is often described as 勝負師, although it has nothing to do with gambling in modern Japan. It can also refer to a businessperson who likes to do venturous things.

By the way, 博奕 is a very rare kanji and I believe almost no one can read it without furigana. The common kanji for ばくち is 博打.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .