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Blackjack Glossary – All the Terminology You Need

Blackjack is not a complicated game but there is a fairly large amount of terminology associated with it. Whether you are a newcomer to Blackjack or a more advanced player, you may occasionally come across a term that you don’t understand. It may be in the context of the game rules, as part of a strategy guide, or anywhere else. On this page, you will find a comprehensive list of all the terms used by Blackjack players. We have split it into easy to navigate sections, ensuring that you can quickly and easily look up the terms that you are looking for. 

General Blackjack Terminology 

Ace – The Aces in Blackjack can be worth either 1 or 11. By default they are worth 11, unless this will cause a hand to go Bust (to exceed 21), in which case the Ace assumes a value of 1.

Anchor Player – This refers to the player who is in the far left seat, so to the immediate right of the dealer. They are the last player to take a turn before the dealer plays.

Bet Spread – The ratio of the maximum to minimum bet. 

Betting Spot – The area in front of a player where they should place their chips, it is usually a square or a circle.

Blackjack – The term given to a hand consisting of an Ace and a card worth 10.

Break – When a hand’s value goes above 21. 

Burn Card – After the decks are shuffled and cut, the burn card is the first card that is removed by the dealer and then placed face down in the discard tray.

Bust – A hand whose value exceeds 21.

Bust Card – The individual card that causes the player’s or the dealer’s hand to go above 21. 

DAS – An abbreviation of Doubling After Split (when Double Down is allowed after a hand has been split).

Deck Penetration – The percentage of the cards that are dealt before the shuffle.

Discards – The cards that were played in a round and subsequently placed in the discard tray.

DOA – An abbreviation of Double on Anything, which means that doubling down is allowed on any initial two cards.

Doubling Down – This is an option in a standard round. After receiving the first two cards, a player who Doubles Down will then double their initial bet and receive just one more card to their hand.

Down Card – The dealer’s hole card or any other card that is dealt face down. 

Drawing – The act of requesting and receiving another card to a hand.

Early Surrender – The option for a player to abandon their hand and receive half of the bet back before the dealer has checked for Blackjack. 

Elimination Tournament – This is a Blackjack tournament in which the players that have the most chips on the table after a round then advance to play the next round at another table while the other players are knocked out of the tournament.

Entry-Level Card Counting system – This is a simple card counting system that is designed to be easy to learn and use, but it is not as nuanced or effective as a traditional system.

Even Money – In some games, players are offered Even Money. This can occur when the player is holding Blackjack and the dealer’s up card is an Ace. The player will then be offered to be paid even money for their hand before the dealer checks to see if they too have Blackjack.

Face-Down Game – A type of Blackjack game in which the first two cards dealt to a player are face down.

Face-Up Game – A type of Blackjack game in which the first two cards dealt to a player are face up and players are not allowed to touch the cards.

Five Card Charlie – In some versions of the game, a hand of five cards that does not bust will automatically win (except against Blackjack).

Flat Bet – Placing the same sized bet on consecutive hands.

Going for the High – This is the term used when a player bets enough chips in a tournament so that if all players win the hand, then the player Going for the High will end up with the most chips.

Going for the Low – This is the term used when a player holds back one more chip than is in the competitors’ un-bet stack of chips in a tournament and hoping that the dealer beats the table.

Hand – These are the cards that are held by a player or the dealer.

Hard Hand – A hand that does not contain an Ace or if there is an Ace, the Ace has a value of 1 not 11.

Hit – The act of a player requesting another card be dealt to their hand or when the dealer must draw a card.

Hit 17 – Often abbreviated to H17, this rule means that the dealer must hit on all 17s, including soft 17.

Hole Card – The dealer’s face down card. 

Insurance – This is a commonly offered side bet on the dealer having Blackjack. The insurance bet is equal to half of the original amount bet and it can be placed when the dealer’s up card is an Ace. If the dealer then has Blackjack, the insurance bet usually pays out at 2:1.

Late Surrender – A game that offers Late Surrender will allow a player to abandon their hand in exchange for half of their bet after the dealer has checked for Blackjack.

Monkey – A card that is worth 10 points.

Mid-Shoe Entry – Joining a game and making a bet after the first round is complete (after a shuffle) and before the cut card appears. 

Natural – Another name for the hand Blackjack, an Ace and a card worth 10.

Paint – One of the picture cards. 

Pair Splitting – An option that gives players the ability to split a hand of two identical cards into two individual hands. It requires the player to place a second bet that is equal to the first.

Pat Hand – A hand that has a total of between 17 and 21 and does not require a hit.

Penetration (Pen) – This is the percentage of the cards in the shoe that the dealer deals before shuffling.

Push – This is the term used when the player’s hand at the end of a round has the same value as the dealer’s hand. It is essentially a tie, so the bet is returned to the player or left in place for the next round.

Resplits – This is when a game allows a player to split an already split hand. Usually it is possible up to three or four hands.

Sit and Go – This is a fast-paced Blackjack tournament that is usually found online.

Six Card Charlie – In some versions of the game, a hand of six cards that does not bust will automatically win (except against Blackjack). 

Soft 17 – Often expressed at S17, this is a rule that means the dealer must stand on all 17s, including soft 17s.

Soft Hand – Any hand with an Ace where the ace is worth 11.

Stand – When a player decides not to receive any more cards to the hand or take any further actions. It is also used when the rules state that the dealer should not draw any more cards.

Stiff Hand – A hand that has a value of between 12 and 16. 

Surrender – Games that offer surrender allow a player to abandon his or her hand in exchange for receiving half of the initial bet back.

Ten Card Charlie – In some versions of the game, a hand of ten cards that does not bust will automatically win (except against Blackjack). 

Third Base – The final player to play before the dealer; also referred to as an Anchor player.

Up Card – This is the card that is dealt face-up to the dealer at the beginning of a round. 

Land Based Blackjack Terminology 

Backed Off – The term used when a casino supervisor asks a player to stop playing.

Barring – When a player is informed by a casino that they are permanently banned from playing Blackjack there.

Chip Tray – A tray that is in front of the dealer where the casino chips are kept and then handed out by the dealer to players after they win.

Colour Up – To exchange small value chips for larger value chips at a table (e.g. two $50 chips for a $100). 

Continuous Shuffling Machine (CSM) – This is a machine that automatically shuffles the cards, mixing the discarded cards with the remaining cards.

Currency Transaction Report (CTR) – This is a report that casinos in the US must complete for any cash transactions that are larger than $10,000 in a 24-hour period. The federal government requires it.

Cut Card – A coloured plastic card that a player places within the newly shuffled cards to indicate where the dealer should cut the deck. If the cut card appears during a round, the round is then finished before the cards are shuffled.

Cutoff – These are the unplayed cards that are behind the cut card in a dealing shoe.

Discard Tray – A clear plastic receptacle where cards that have been played are placed.

First Base – This is the first seat at a Blackjack table, it is located to the dealer’s far left and the player who sits there is the first to play in each round.

Flasher – A dealer who accidentally reveals the dealer down card to players.

Floor Person – A casino supervisor who is based in the pit and is in charge of monitoring a group of casino tables. 

Front Money – The money that a player deposits at the cashier cage in exchange for chips.

Greens – A chip that is coloured green, generally they are worth $25. 

Hand Held Game – This is a type of Blackjack game, usually played with one or two decks of cards, in which the dealer will hold the cards rather than keep them in a dealing shoe.

Heads Up – When a player faces a dealer one on one.

Live Money Tournament – In this type of tournament, players need to purchase chips used for betting during the actual tournament round.

Money Plays – This is a term used for a player that is going to be placing bets in cash rather than casino chips.

Peeker – This is an electronic device that is built into the Blackjack table and the dealer can use it to find out if the down card is a ten-value card or an Ace. This way, the dealer will know if they have Blackjack and that the round should end, otherwise the round will continue as usual.

Pit Boss – This is the person who supervises table games. 

Pitch – This is the method by which the dealer deals cards to the players, usually in single and/or double deck games.

Blackjack Strategy Terms 

Advantage Player – A Player who holds a mathematical advantage over the casino, usually as the result of a bonus offer or promotion.

Back Counting – A technique that sees a player stand and observe a Blackjack table without playing, while keeping track of the cards. The idea is to then join the table once the cards become favourable.

Balanced Card – This is a counting system in which the counting tags for all the cards add up to zero.

Basic Strategy – The mathematically best way to play each hand based upon the player’s cards and the dealer’s visible card.

Bet Sizing – Adjusting your bet in proportion to the mathematical advantage over the casino.

Betting Efficiency – The percentage of the occurrences when a counting system indicates if a player has an advantage of betting purposes. 

Betting Ramp – The amount of money that a card counter should bet at each value of the true count. 

Big Player – A player waiting for a secret signal from a collaborator who is card counter, and then proceeds to join the game and place big bets.

Camouflage – The techniques used by card counters to hide their activity.

Card Counter – A player who uses a mathematical technique to keep track of the cards that have been played in order to identify advantageous situations.

Chip Counting – Estimating the value of a stack of chips by looking at it, rather than counting individual chips. This usually takes place in tournaments.

Correlate – A term used when a player bets the same as an opponent in a Blackjack tournament.

Count – In card counting systems, this is the value of the count.

Deviation – A change from the basic strategy suggested by the count. 

Hand Spreading – This is the term used when a card counter increases the number of simultaneous hands per round when the edge moves in their favour.

Hi-Lo – This is a popular balanced card counting system. 

Illustrious 18 – This is the term used for a group of eighteen card-counting indices that result in achieving about 80-90% of the gain available in varying the playing strategy based on the count.

Index Number – This is the value of the true count that signifies a card counter should stray from the basic strategy for a specific hand.

Kelly Betting – This is a betting technique that seeks to optimise logarithmic bankroll growth while keeping risk at a minimum. 

Lifetime Risk of Ruin – This is the amount of money that a player should put to the side in order to play a lifetime of Blackjack with the minimum risk of ruin; it is usually set at 5% or less.

Long Term – The longer a person plays for, the greater the chance that their results will be closer to the expected results, when expressed as a percentage.

Martingale – A highly popular progressive betting system that requires players to double the bet after a loss and then return to the initial bet after a win.

Multi-Parameter System – This is a card counting system that follows two different counts. Usually they are the main running count and a side count of Aces.

Negative Count – When the count goes below zero and the advantage is with the casino. 

Play Variation – This is a change from basic playing strategy based upon the count that is used by card counters.

Ploppy – This is a slang term that is used for players who have no idea about basic playing strategy.

Positive Count – This is when the count goes above zero, signifying that the advantage may be with the player.

Progressive Betting – This is a betting system that is based upon whether the hand in play wins or loses.

Running Count – This is the cumulative sum of the tags of all the cards dealt as of the beginning of the process.

Rule of Six – In games played with just one deck of cards, this is a method for working out the number of rounds dealt before the shuffle. It is equal to six minus the number of players currently at a table.

Standard Deviation – This is a mathematical term that indicates the spread or dispersion of results around the average results, which is a way of assessing risk.

True Count – This is the running count (when card counting) divided by the number of remaining decks of cards in the shoe.

Unbalanced Card Counting System – This is a system in which the card counting tags for all of the cards do not add up to zero. 

General Casino and Other Terminology 

Bankroll – The amount of a money a player has to play with.

Barber Pole – A bet placed that uses a pile of different coloured chips, so it resembles the pole found outside traditional barbershops.

Black Chips – These are the black casino chips that are usually worth $100.

Buy-In – Exchanging money for chips.

Cashier’s Cage – The area in a casino where players can convert casino chips into cash. 

Casino Manager – The person in charge of running a casino or an aspect of it.

Checks – An alternative name for casino chips. 

Chip – The small clay or plastic discs used to represent money at casinos. They are placed on tables in order to place bets.

Colour for Colour – When a dealer pays a winning player using the same chip value as those that were bet.

Comp – This is an abbreviation of complimentary. It suggests a free product or service offered by casinos to loyal customers. 

Countdown – In a tournament, when the casino counts players’ chips after a predetermined number of hands.

Dealer – The casino employee whose job it is to deal the cards at a game table.

Deck – A standard deck of 52 cards. 

Edge – This is the percentage of a bet that players may win or lose. 

Eighty-Six – A term used when a person is banned from a casino. 

Expectation – What a player may expect to win or lose in the long-term.

Eye in the Sky (EITS) – The cameras, usually housed in glass domes, which are placed on casino ceilings. They record all of the action for the security staff to monitor and review.

Heat – When a player comes under careful scrutiny from the casino staff while playing.

High Roller – A player with a large bankroll who bets large amounts of money.

Host – A casino employee that is assigned to a player who bets significant amounts of money to ensure that they are receiving satisfactory service. 

House – Another name for the casino.

House Edge – The percentage of the money bet by a player that the casino theoretically expects to win or lose.

Marker – This is a bank draft, which has the same legal status as an enforceable debt or IOU, which is signed by a player requesting chips.

Nickels – These are the red coloured casino chips that are usually worth $5.

Quarters – These are the green coloured casino chips that are usually worth $25. 

Reds – These are the red coloured casino chips that are usually worth $5.

Risk of Ruin – The chance that a player may lose his or her entire bankroll. 

Session Bankroll – The amount of money a player has put aside for a session of play.

Shoe – This is a device that is used to hold four or more decks of cards in place. The dealer deals the cards from the device.

Suits – People who work at a casino, such as a floor person, a shift supervisor, or a pit boss.

Toke – A tip given by a player to the dealer.

Trespassed – This is a term used when a casino bans a player and if they return, then they run the risk of being arrested.