To get a deeper understanding of blackjack, you should first be familiar with the terms used in the game. This list of terms should help you increase your overall blackjack gameplay experience when you encounter them at an online casino.
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Full Glossary of Blackjack
Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned player, understanding the language of blackjack is essential for success. This comprehensive guide offers concise explanations of key terms, rules, and strategies, empowering you to navigate the world of blackjack with confidence. Let’s embark on this journey of knowledge and skill together!
Ace: A card that counts as either 1 or 11, which makes it a very important card in a game of blackjack. An Ace in a hand counts as 11 if your hand total does not exceed 21.
Ace Rich or Ace Poor: In counting, the term Ace rich means that more Aces have been dealt. On the other hand, an Ace poor game is one in which fewer Aces have been dealt.
Advantage: An advantage refers to the theoretical statistical edge the player or casino has. Casinos are usually advantaged, but players can use strategies to gain an edge.
Advantage Player: This is a gambler who takes advantage of a gaming strategy to gain an advantage over the casino. A good example is a player who counts cards in a blackjack game.
Action: The amount of money that has been wagered at a particular point or during an entire blackjack session. It can apply to one player at the table or to all players.
Anchor/Anchorman: The anchor player is the last person to take action, just before the dealer acts. This person is usually seated close to the dealer’s right side at the table.
Back Off: The casino wants you to stop playing a certain game if you are told to back off. This is normally done by one of the casino’s employees, such as the supervisor.
Balanced Count: A card counting system where positive and negative cards are equally valued. A balanced count occurs if the running count amounts to zero in the end.
Banker: The player who serves as the bank or dealer in blackjack and other banking games. This role is usually alternated between players when playing blackjack at home.
Bankroll: Your bankroll is the amount of money available in your casino account for gambling. It can increase or decrease depending on whether you are winning or losing.
Barred: When you are barred from a casino, it means that you are permanently prohibited from visiting the casino. You cannot come back and play as before.
Basic Strategy: A set of betting rules that players can follow to optimise their gaming strategy by taking the right actions. They help you know when to stand, hit, or split.
Bet Spread: This refers to the difference between the player’s lowest and maximum bets in blackjack. Players expect to win more when counting cards if the ratio is high.
Big Player: In card counting, the big player is the person who places big wagers when the count is good. This player acts after receiving a secret signal from a card counter.
Blackjack: A casino banking game played with 1 to 8 decks of 52 playing cards. It also refers to a hand total of 21 featuring one Ace and one 10, or a picture card.
Box: The box is the area where gamblers can place their cards and chips at a blackjack table. There’s a designated box for your cards in both land-based and online casinos.
Burn Card: The first card dealt and placed face down on the discard tray. It’s discarded after shuffling to make sure that players don’t know the first card.
Bust/Break: A bust occurs when the dealer’s or player’s hand total exceeds 21. You lose your bet in a blackjack game if you bust and win if the dealer busts.
Buy-In: Buying in is the act of exchanging your money for casino chips before playing a game. You only need to place your first wager in online blackjack to buy in.
Camouflage: Any action taken by skilled gamblers to prevent the casino from noticing their activities. This includes making the casino believe that you are betting casually.
Card Counting: A strategy used to track all high and low cards that have been played. Card counters increase their bet sizes if the remaining cards offer favourable odds.
Card Sharp: A term used to describe a casino player who is considered to be skilled. Such a gambler knows how to handle cards and can use this power to their advantage.
Cold Deck: The shoe is termed as cold in a game of blackjack if it issues several unfavourable hands in a row. This is not what you want to happen as a player.
Colour Up: Asking the dealer to colour up means that you want them to give you high-value chips. This is important if you have many low-value chips at the table.
CSM: This is an acronym for continuous shuffling machine. It refers to a machine that land-based casinos use to shuffle used cards and add them back to the deck, making it difficult to count cards.
Cut Card: A plastic card used in casinos to cut the deck when a new shoe with shuffled cards is introduced. When dealing the cards, the dealer has to reshuffle the cards upon reaching that card.
D’Alembert System: A betting system that encourages players to increase wagers if they lose and lower their bets after a win. This negative progression betting strategy helps players manage their bankrolls when playing blackjack and other games.
DAS: In blackjack, DAS stands for Double After Split, which means you can double your bet after splitting a pair. This rule gives you another chance to double a hand to see if you can create a better hand and beat the dealer.
Deal: The act of issuing cards to the dealer or players after shuffling the deck. This is usually done by the dealer or banker to distribute the cards among the players at the table.
Dealer: This is the person responsible for shuffling and dealing the cards in blackjack and other card games. The dealer also acts as your opponent when playing brick-and-mortar blackjack or live dealer blackjack.
Deck: A pack of 52 cards used to play blackjack and other casino games that require cards. Depending on the blackjack variant or casino, the shoe may contain one to eight 52-card decks.
Dicards: These are cards that players at a blackjack table, particularly in land-based casinos, have already received and used. They are kept aside and can be reshuffled and reused if a new shoe is needed.
Double Down: A betting term that means increasing your wager to double its initial value and getting another card. You cannot hit after doubling down, but your win is doubled if you beat the dealer.
Draw: Drawing means receiving an additional card and adding it to your blackjack hand. You draw another card or hit if you have a low-value hand and want to increase its value.
Early Surrender: Giving up after the player is dealt the first 2 cards and before the dealer checks for blackjack. The player has to forfeit half of their bet if they choose the early surrender option.
Elimination Tournament: A blackjack tournament where the only players with the highest number of chips on the table advance to the next round. The rest of the players are eliminated and not allowed to proceed.
Even Money: A betting proposition with even odds, meaning that the payer is paid 1:1. In blackjack, you can opt for an even money payout on your wager if you get a blackjack and the dealer has an Ace.
Expectation: The amount of money a blackjack player can expect to lose or win in the long term. If the house edge is 2% and you place a $100 bet, then your wager has an expected value of $98.
Eye in the Sky: A term used to describe cameras installed on the ceilings of land-based casinos. Their purpose is to capture the action and help casino employees monitor everything that’s happening in the casino.
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Face Cards: The three cards with faces on them, which include Jack, Queen, or King. Each of these cards is counted as 10 when playing a blackjack game.
Face Down Game: In a face-down blackjack game, the first two cards dealt to players are placed face down. This is especially common in blackjack games that are played with a single deck of cards.
Face Up Game: A type of blackjack game in which the initial two cards issued to players are placed face up. In this case, players are not permitted to handle the cards.
First Base: The first base player in blackjack is the first person to receive cards. This player is always seated on the dealer’s far left side at the blackjack table.
Five Card Charlie: A 5-card blackjack hand where the hand total does not exceed 21. Depending on the game, a 5-card Charlie may be considered more valuable than another equal hand with a smaller number of cards.
Flat Betting: Placing a flat bet means consistently wagering the same amount of money on every blackjack hand. This betting strategy allows you to stay in control of your bankroll at casinos.
Green Chip: A green-coloured chip that players can use to play a game of blackjack. The value of a green chip in the vast majority of casinos is $25.
Hand: The term “hand” in blackjack simply refers to the cards dealt to the player or dealer. Usually, the dealer has to shuffle the cards before dealing them to start the game.
Hand Spreading: This is the act of playing two hands simultaneously in a blackjack game. It does not increase your chances of winning, but it makes it possible to play many hands in a short time.
Hard Hand: A blackjack hand created with no Ace, or where the Ace is counted as 1 to avoid busting. Such a hand gives you a hard total with only one possible value.
Heads Up: This is a blackjack game in which one player plays against the dealer. The majority of blackjack games found at online casinos use this format.
High Roller: Any player who is known to deposit and spend large amounts of money at the casino. Such a player is most likely to place the biggest bets in a blackjack game.
Hi-Lo Counting System: This is one of the easiest methods used to count cards while playing blackjack. Each card from 2 to 6 counts as +1, while an Ace, 10 and face cards count as -1.
Hit: When you ask the dealer to hit, you are simply asking them to give you an additional card. You only hit if you have a low-value hand that you need to improve to form a better hand.
Hit 17: A blackjack rule where the dealer must hit or draw another card if they have a soft 17. This means that the hand must be worth 17 points and must include an Ace counted as 1 or 11.
Hole Card: The hole card in blackjack refers to the dealer’s face-down card. In the most common variants, the dealer gets one hole card and one face-up card at the beginning of the game.
Hot Deck: A blackjack deck becomes hot when many favourable hands are dealt consecutively. Players who use card counting techniques tend to raise their bet sizes when the deck is hot.
House Edge: Also known as the casino advantage, the house edge refers to the edge the casino has over the player. The standard house edge in blackjack is about 2%, but you can lower it to about 0.5% using the basic strategy.
Illustrious 18: A group of 18 types of blackjack strategies or indices created by Don Schlesinger, a well-known gaming mathematician. You can use them to adjust your strategy and boost your chances of landing a win.
Index Number: When using card counting systems, index numbers tell you the best time to deviate from the basic blackjack strategy. Players can find the numbers on deviation charts for quick reference.
Insurance Bet: A blackjack side bet placed if the dealer’s upcard is an Ace to protect you from losing against the dealer’s blackjack. The bet amount is half your initial bet and usually pays 2:1.
Junket: A casino junket is a complimentary trip that casino operators offer to the most active players. Blackjack fans may enjoy junket rewards by joining VIP programmes in both online and land-based casinos.
Kelly Betting: A casino gambling strategy based on the Kelly Criterion, a formula used to size bets. Players are advised to size their wagers based on their estimated edge over the casino to minimise risks.
Knockout Count: This is one of the simplest unbalanced card counting systems that focuses on a running count. It can be helpful if you want to advance from basic card counting strategies in multi-deck blackjack.
Late Surrender: Some blackjack variants allow players to surrender a hand after the dealer has checked for blackjack. This also means forfeiting half of the player’s bet.
Live Dealer Blackjack: The online casino version of blackjack hosted by real dealers. The action is captured using HD cameras in a physical studio and streamed over the internet, allowing players to interact with dealers.
Martingale System: A casino betting strategy whose origins can be traced back to France in the 18th century. The idea here is to double your bet if you lose and place the initial wager if you win.
Mechanic: In card games, a mechanic is a person who has mastered sleight-of-hand techniques. Such a person has the power to manipulate a deck of cards and engage in cheating without others noticing.
Monkey: When you call for a monkey in a game of blackjack, you are simply telling the dealer to give you a 10 or face card (Jack, Queen, or King). This term is mostly used in Asian casinos.
Multi-Deck: Most blackjack games available at casinos today are played with several decks, each with 52 cards. There can be as many as 8 decks, depending on the variant.
Natural: This occurs when the first two cards comprise an Ace and a ten, creating a hand total of 21. This is also known as blackjack and is an automatic win for the player unless the dealer has blackjack.
NDAS: An acronym for No Double After Split. As the name implies, you are not allowed to double down after splitting a pair of cards.
Negative Count: When using a card counting strategy, a negative count occurs when the count is below zero. The casino is favoured at this point, so you should consider placing smaller bets.
NRSA and RSA: These terms stand for No Resplitting Aces and Resplitting Aces in blackjack games. If the game allows you to split Aces, your chances of hitting more blackjacks are good.
Paint: If a player is asking for some “paint”, they are simply looking for face cards that count as 10. These include Jack, Queen, and King, which are worth many points.
Pair: A pair in blackjack consists of two cards with equal values. You can form a pair with number cards, Aces, and face cards, and you may be allowed to split certain pairs to play two separate hands.
Pat Hand: A hand with values ranging from 17 to 21. When you get such a hand, the best thing you can do is stand because your chances of busting when you hit are significantly high.
Penetration: The percentage or number of cards or decks that will be dealt by the dealer before shuffling the cards. It depends on where the cut card is placed and varies from one casino to another.
Perfect Pairs: A blackjack side bet you can make if you think that the first two cards dealt will make a pair. Perfect Pairs consists of cards with matching numbers, the same suit, and the same colour.
Pit: This is the area where casino dealers and other employees, such as managers work. The person responsible for supervising a particular pit is known as the pit boss.
Ploppy: An average blackjack player with no or very little knowledge of the game. Such a player is inexperienced and, therefore, most likely to lose hands for playing blackjack without using a strategy.
Positive Count: When counting cards in blackjack, a positive count occurs when the count is greater than zero. The odds of winning are in favour of the player, so a card counter would increase the bet.
Preferential Shuffling: This is when casino dealers choose to shuffle the cards at their discretion. Dealers opt for preferential shuffling to lower your chances of winning if you have an edge in counting cards.
Progressive Betting: A betting strategy in which you increase or lower your wager size based on whether you win or lose. You increase your bet after winning and decrease it after losing to minimise losses.
Push: A push in a game of blackjack occurs when the player and the dealer have the same hand total. When this happens, you will get your money back, so there’s no winning or losing.
Ratholing: A technique used to carefully remove chips from a casino table to make others think that you are not winning. Ratholing also involves reducing your bet size after a win to maximise your winnings.
Rated: If you are a rated blackjack player, it means you are a very skilled gambler who attracts the casino’s attention. Casinos value such a player and will thus monitor your gameplay to determine your comps.
Rebuy: The option to buy additional chips and re-enter a blackjack tournament if you have been eliminated. This is usually available in online blackjack games, where the rules determine the amount you can rebuy.
Resplit: A blackjack rule that allows you to split a pair of cards after the initial split. You can split as many as three or four hands, depending on the rules.
Risk of Ruin: The probability of losing all the money you have in your gambling account. If your Risk of Ruin is 10%, you have one chance in 10 to deplete your entire bankroll if you don’t change your bet.
Round: A round in a game of blackjack begins when players place their bets at the table before the cards are dealt. It ends when the cards are dealt and played, which marks the beginning of the next round.
Running Count: The total value recorded at any given moment when counting cards in blackjack. It’s calculated based on the cards dealt at a particular time without considering the number of decks.
Side Bet: A side bet is a bonus bet that allows you to wager on the cards you and the dealer will receive. The most common side bets include Perfect Pairs, 21+3, Easy Match, Royal Match, and Super Sevens.
Shill: A term used in brick-and-mortar casinos to describe a player who is employed by the casino to work incognito. This player helps to fill empty seats and attracts other players by playing and winning.
Shoe: A device that the dealer uses to hold cards when playing multi-deck blackjack games. The shoe used in a blackjack game can hold four or more decks, and the dealer uses it to deal the cards.
Shoe Game: This refers to a blackjack game with multiple decks from which the cards are dealt. It’s the opposite of single- and double-deck blackjack games, where the cards are normally dealt by hand.
Shuffle: The act of mixing playing cards or decks to make sure the cards are randomised before a blackjack game. This is usually done by the dealer as the players watch to avoid doubts.
Single Deck: As the name suggests, a single-deck blackjack game is played with only one deck containing 52 playing cards. This is the easiest game for any player who wishes to use card counting techniques.
Soft Double: Soft doubling means doubling down on a soft hand.
Soft Hand: In blackjack, a soft hand has an Ace in it, and the Ace counts as 1 or 11, depending on which outcome favours the player. For instance, you will have a soft 19 if you have an Ace and an 8.
Split: Splitting is the act of separating your first two cards and placing a second bet to play two separate hands. This is allowed if the cards you are dealt by the dealer form a pair or have the same value.
Spooking: This is a hole-carding technique where one player spots the dealer’s face-down or hole card. That player tries to share the collected information with other players in an attempt to cheat.
Stand: Standing during a blackjack game round means not taking additional cards from the dealer. You only stand if you are satisfied with your current hand total, and hitting is likely to lead to a bust.
Stand 17: A common rule used in both online and land-based blackjack casinos to force the dealer to stand. The dealer must stand if their hand total is 17 or higher, regardless of the player’s hand total.
Stand-Off: A stand-off in blackjack happens when both the player and dealer have the same hand total. This is also known as a push, and your bet is refunded.
Standing Hand: If you have a standing hand, it means that you should not hit or draw another card. A hand total of 17 and above is considered a standing hand because hitting can be disastrous.
Stiff Hand: Your hand becomes stiff if its value is likely to reach 21 if you draw another card. Any hand total ranging from 12 to 16 is stiff, and choosing to hit or stand is the hardest decision to make.
Surrender: Surrendering in blackjack means giving up your hand if you know your chances of winning are extremely low. If you decide to surrender, you must also agree to forfeit half of your wager.
Tell: A term used to describe the physical behaviours of the dealer at a casino table. Players usually follow the dealer’s gestures, hoping to predict the cards and gain an edge by using this information.
Third Base: This is another term used to describe the anchorman in a game of blackjack. The third base or anchor player is the last person to receive cards and act just before the dealer plays.
Tie: A tie is another term for a push or standoff when playing blackjack in land-based and online casinos. It occurs when you and the dealer have the same hand value in a round, so your bet is returned.
Toke: The act of tipping the dealer in a casino, which is normally applicable in brick-and-mortar casinos. This term also refers to the amount of money players give to the dealer as a tip.
Trespassed: If you are trespassed by a casino, it means you have to leave the table for good. You may receive a warning before you are officially pulled out, and you can even be arrested if you come back.
True Count: When counting cards, the true count gives you useful information about the decks used in a blackjack game. It is determined by dividing the running count by the remaining number of decks.
Two-Round: A casino may require the dealer to shuffle the cards in the shoe after every two rounds. Casinos use this technique to influence the edge and make things harder if you were counting cards.
Unbalanced Card Counting: The opposite of a balanced card count when counting cards in blackjack. An unbalanced count occurs when all card counting tags are not equal to zero, unlike a balanced count.
Unit: A predetermined betting amount that you can set based on your bankroll and increase or decrease during gameplay. If your betting unit is $5, then you must wager $20 if you choose to bet 4 units.
Upcard: The dealer’s face-up card, which every player can see at the beginning once the cards are dealt. It plays a crucial role in helping you decide whether to stand or hit, depending on the value of the card.
Variance: A statistical measure of how much the outcomes deviate from the actual results. Variance can either be low or high and can be affected by the number of decks, the strategy used, and the game rules.
Wager: A wager refers to your bet or the amount of money you are betting in each round. Different blackjack games come with different betting limits to accommodate both low and high rollers.
Whale: This is another term used to describe a high roller in any casino game. High rollers are valuable players because they place the biggest bets and take huge risks.
Win Rate: A percentage that indicates your chances or odds of winning a particular casino game. The win rate is 42.22% when playing a blackjack game with a strategy.
Wonging: A betting technique that blackjack players can use to only bet when the count is in their favour. Players who use this strategy normally wait and back count before joining the table.
Zen Count: A balanced card counting system where the running count always begins with a value of zero. It can help blackjack players make better decisions for the following bets while using basic strategy.
Some of these terms in blackjack are only applicable to land based casinos, but you may still encounter them at online casinos. Aside from knowing the general rules of blackjack, it is also important for you to be familiar with these terms in order to progress in your game at our recommended online casinos.