Blackjack is fairly easy-to-follow, as far as card games go. But as with any sport/game/activity, it comes equipped with a unique language that is entirely its own. Players hoping to beat the dealer must speak this language. Gambling City’s Blackjack Glossary can help. Click the link below and you’ll be “talking the talk” in no time.
For those of you who have just begun playing blackjack, Gambling City has developed a comprehensive online blackjack glossary to help you learn more about the terms that go with the game. Refer to this guide for blackjack definitions of unfamiliar terms.
Blackjack A to Z
21: A different name for the game of Blackjack. Also, the highest possible hand value in Blackjack.
5 (or 6 or 7) Card Charlie: 5 (or 6 or 7) cards with a total score of 21 or less.
Action: an all-purpose gambling term which denotes the entire sum of money wagered in a particular time period. Ten bets of $10 each makes $100 of action .
Anchorman: The player nearest the dealer’s right-hand side. This seat receives its cards last, just prior to the dealers receiving his. As a consequence, if you’re unaccustomed to Blackjack, you may wish to stay away from this seat. Some players will chide the anchorman for handing the dealer an advantage. If you do sit in the anchorman’s seat, follow the chart and don’t allow other players to get you off of your game. In fact, if you’re counting cards, this is the best seat. See Third Base.
Back Counting: Engaging in card counting though not dealt into the game. A counter who’s back counting typically holds off until a favorable time to enter the game. Casinos deter this practice by not permitting new players into the game until the dealer reshuffles the deck.
Back Line: A bet between players instead of between the player and the house. The players are called “back-liners” and the activity is known as “back-lining.” Many casinos dissuade this activity since the house does not see a profit.
Backing Up: Replaying a hand to establish the total score. If a player suggests the dealer has made an error, the dealer may exhume the hand from the discard tray, display the hand in questions and recalculate the score.
Bankroll: The money a player has set aside specifically for gambling. Within a playing session, this term typically refers to the amount of money a player puts in a game and not to the money in his wallet. Bankroll is occasionally used as a synonym for a player’s buy-in. The casino’s bankroll is the sum of chips in the dealer’s rack. Used as a verb, to “bankroll” a player is to supply them with cash with which to play.
Bar: To expel (blackball) a player from a game or a casino.
Basic Strategy: Simple casino and online blackjack tactics used by players to enhance their game performance and, ideally, increase winnings.
Betting Limits: The lowest and highest bets permitted by the casino at a particular game. When pertaining to a casino, this could concern the lowest and highest betting limits on hand at all casino games.
Blackjack: A hand composed of an Ace and a 10-value card (10, Jack, Queen or King) with a total score of 21. Generally pays off 3 to 2, with the exception of making such a hand with split Aces. Casino regulations deviate on the payoff on a Blackjack. A payoff of 3-2 translated to a $15 payoff on a $10; a $20 bet wins $30, etc. You’re receiving 1.5 times (150%) your successful bet, rather than the standard 1.0 (100%).
Break/Broke: Accepting cards (“hits”) and causing your score to exceed 21 points. See Bust.
Breaking Hand/Breakable Hand: A hand that can break (exceed 21) with a single card, e.g., a hard 16.
Burn Card(s):The first card(s) in a freshly shuffled deck (or shoe) that is (are) instantly placed in the discard rack before the first deal. Dealers rarely show burn cards to players. This move can impact the count if you are counting cards. If cards are dealt in the wrong order or uncovered, they could likewise be burned.
Bust/Busted: A blackjack hand whose value exceeds 21. This hand loses instantly. A player “busts” after “hitting” if the next card drives the player’s total score over 21.
Bust Hand: A hand with a total score of between 12 and 16 that can “bust” with another card. Also denotes a hand that will probably bust with another card.
Buy In: The sum of money (typically cash, but occasionally chips) with which a player sits down at a game.
Charlie: See 5 (or 6 or 7) Card Charlie.
Chip: A small plastic or fired clay disc applied rather than money for the purpose of betting. Chips normally occur in denominations of $1, $5, $25, $100, and $500.
Counting Cards / Card Counting: Blackjack card counting is a skill wherein a player maintains a precise mental record of the cards that have appeared during the course of a blackjack game. Blackjack card counting may provide players with a comparatively effective estimation of which cards are still in the shoe. Card counting is a scheme applied to increase the player’s advantage. The player ascribes “weights” to each card’s value and adds the card weights while the dealer turns each new card face up. The “count” can tell a player the most opportune time for entering the game. The player follows up on the count by making larger bets and/or devising modifications in playing schemes. While blackjack card counting is legal, numerous casinos will evict players caught in the act.
Counter: A player who uses card-counting techniques.
Cut: To divide the deck prior to the first deal.
Cut Card: A colored card, usually plastic, which the dealer gives to a player for the use of cutting the deck(s).
D9: Double Down bets allowed only on 9, 10 or 11 (hard hands only).
D10: Double Down bets allowed only on 10 or 11 (hard hands only).
Deal: To distribute the cards before a hand.
DOA (Double on Anything): Double Down bets allowed on any two cards.
Double After Splitting (DAS): Double Down bets allowed after splitting pairs.
Double Down: An action wherein a player may double his first bet and receive only one more card. No more additional cars can be dealt to that hand after Doubling Down. Double Down bets typically follow only a player’s starting cards. Yet, a few casinos permit players to Double Down after splitting a pair. Rare games let players Double Down with hands that have more than two cards. You may indicte this bet by plainly doubling your first bet. The dealer interprets this to mean that you would like to Double Down. In the event that you are Doubling Down on a pair that may be Split, you may be required to define out loud which option you are choosing.
Double Down Rescue: This action is allowed solely in non-regulation variants of Blackjack, such as Spanish 21. Double Down Rescue provides the option of returning the doubled part of the bet, giving up the other half, and finishing the hand. Analogous to surrendering.
Double Double Down: Allowed solely in non-regulation variants of Blackjack, such as Spanish 21. Double Double Down lets a player take additional cards after the first Double Down, by doubling the bet once more for another hit.
Double for Less:Doubling Down for less money than the first bet amount. Usually, when doubling is allowed, the player is not compelled to actually double his bet, but may add any amount equal to or less than (but not greater than) the original bet.
Double On Anything (DOA): Double Down bets allowed on any two cards.
Draw: Taking another card for your hand in order to get your score closer to 21, without going higher. See Hit.
Early Surrender: This rule allows players to surrender their hand even if the dealer has a Blackjack.
Even Money: This betting option is extended when the player has a Blackjack, and the dealer shows an Ace, presenting a possible Blackjack. Even Money implies that the dealer will pay your blackjack 1:1 rather than 3:2. It assures a win for the player, although at a lower payout than usual.
Face Card: A King, Queen or Jack. Also called a Picture Card or Paint Card.
Face Down Game: The dealer places your first card face up and your second card face down.
Face Up Game: The dealer places both of your cards face up.
First Base: The first seat at the Blackjack table, next to the dealer’s left hand. The player in this seat is the first to act on his or her hand.
Five Card Charlie: See 5 (or 6 or 7) Card Charlie.
Full No Peek: The dealer won’t look into their hand for a Blackjack until all players have acted, no matter the dealer’s up card. See also “No Peek” and “Peek”.
H17: Dealer is forced to take a card on Soft 17.
Hard Count: The true score of the hand.
Hard Doubling (HD): Double down bets allowed on first two cards if neither card is an Ace (hard hand).
Hard Hand: A hand with no an Ace, or a hand with an Ace that can only be scored as a 1. For instance, an Ace+5+8 can only be counted as 14. If you attempt to calculate the Ace as 11 rather than 1, the hand will have a total score 24 and will lose.
HC (Hole Card): See Hole Card.
HD (Hard Doubling): See Hard Doubling.
Head On (Heads Up):To play at a Blackjack table with only the dealer and no other players.
Hit/Hit Me: To call for additional cards in an effort to approach a score of 21 without exceeding it. The call is typically made by telling the dealer “hit me”, rapping your forefinger on the tabletop, or in the case of single-deck or double-deck blackjack, scratching the cards on the tabletop.
Hole Card: The face down card in front of the dealer.
Insurance: When the dealer shows An ace, you may make a side bet of up to half of your main bet. In doing so, you are wagering that the dealer has a Blackjack. Insurance bets pay off at 2:1. If the dealer doesn’t hold Blackjack, you lose the side bet, and finish out the rest of your hand as usual. If the dealer holds a Blackjack, your insurance bet pays out 2:1. The net result is that you break even, unless you also have a Blackjack. If you also hold a Blackjack, your hand ties the dealer’s. You hold on to your main bet and win 2:1 from the insurance bet, which is half of your main bet. The outcome is that your Blackjack wins 1:1, which is the same result as if you had chosen Even Money. For instance, your main bet is $20 and you place a $10 insurance bet. Both you and the dealer hold Blackjacks. Your $20 bet results in a tie, but you win 2:1 on the $10 insurance bet, for a total win of $20. $20 is a 1:1 payoff of $20. A standard Blackjack payoff of 3-2 would have won you $30. See also Payout Ratios.
Late Surrender: This rule allows Surrendering only after the dealer has looked at his hand for a blackjack. If dealer holds Blackjack, the player loses their full bet. If dealer doesn’t, the player loses half of his main bet.
Mid-Shoe Entry: Entering a blackjack game already in progress. In order to keep card counters from getting into a game when the cards turn in their favor, casinos will not permit mid-shoe entries. To put it another way, the players who want to get in the game will have to hold off until the dealer shuffles prior to their entry into the game.
Natural: When the first two cards a player receives give a total score of 21. Such a hand consists of an Ace and a 10-point card (10 or Face Card).
No Peek: The dealer will not look for Blackjack if his face up card is a Ten; occasionally “No Peek” means the dealer will also not look if his face up card is an Ace. See also “Full No Peek” and “Peek”.
Over/Under: A pre-deal side bet on a player’s starting cards totaling over or under 13, where aces are worth 1 point. Generally thought of as a losing bet unless the player is using card-counting schemes.
Pair: When the first two cards a player receives have the same rank. 5-5 is a pair. 9-9 is a pair. J-J is a pair. K-Q is NOT a pair.
Pat Hand: A starting hand with a total score of between 17 and 21. Pat hands are considered strong hands and players should “Stand” on these hands.
Payout Ratios: A normal win pays out at 1-1, Blackjack wins ordinarily pay out at 3-2, and insurance wins typically pay out at 2-1. For instance:
1-1 signifies that a $20 bet pays out $20. You win $20.
2-1 signifies that a $20 bet pays out $20. You win $40.
3-2 signifies that a $20 bet pays out $30. You win $30.
6-5 signifies that a $20 bet pays out $24. You win $24.
Peek: The dealer looks to see if he has Blackjack prior to the player’s decision to take more cards. This rule is advantageous for the player since it prevents him from splitting and doubling down (i.e. raising his bet only to learn that the dealer holds Blackjack). Variations of the Peek rule include allowing the dealer to look for Blackjack with an Ace showing and allowing him to look with either an Ace or 10 showing.
Push: A tie between the player and the dealer. The player neither wins nor loses money.
Rich Deck: A portion of a deck or shoe with a remarkably high number of ten point value cards and Aces.
RSA: Re-splitting of Aces is allowed. This is a rare rule that is advantageous to players.
S17: Dealer is forced to stand on all 17s, soft or hard.
Scare Card: A high-value (ten or ace) up card in front of the dealer.
Scratch: To request a hit. Also, the act of scratching a card on the tabletop to request a card. Used in single-deck and double-deck blackjack.
SD (Soft Doubling): See Soft Doubling.
Second Base: The seat directly across from the dealer.
Settlement: The payoff of winning bets at the conclusion of a hand. Either the dealer scoops away your chips, pays you your winning, or in the instance of a push, taps the table and leaves the chips alone.
Seven Card Charlie: See 5 (or 6 or 7) Card Charlie.
Shoe: A box (typically made of wood or plastic) that contains up to eight decks of cards, and lets the dealer slip out one card at a time; usually applied in multi-deck games.
Shuffle: The operation of randomizing the cards, normally handled by cutting and thumbing through the deck.
Single Deck: A blackjack game using only one deck of cards.
Six Card Charlie: See 5 (or 6 or 7) Card Charlie.
Soft Doubling (SD): Double down bets allowed on soft hands.
SME10: Only tens of the same rank can be split. For instance, K-K can be split, but splitting K-Q is not allowed.
Soft Hand: A hand with an ace that can be valued as either a 1 or an 11. For instance, an Ace+4 can be scored as 5 or 15. The 15 is thought of as a “soft” 15, since if you were to take another card and it came up a 10, you will not go over 21. In that case, your score would be a “hard” 15.
Ace+4 = soft 15 (the Ace can be a 1 or 11 without going past 21)
Ace+4+10 = hard 15 (the Ace only counts as a 1, or else you’ve gone past 21)
Spanish Deck: A deck of 48 cards. Same as the standard deck, but with no tens. A Spanish deck has 2s through 9s, Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces, but no Tens.
SPLIT3: You may split pairs up to three times.
Split Hand: See Splitting Pairs.
Splitting Pairs: This occurs when a player’s first two cards have the same rank, and the player opts to break up the pair, producing two separate hands. 6-6 is a pair. 9-9 is a pair. K-K is a pair. K-Q is NOT typically thought of as a pair. Once you split a pair, you put down a new bet to the second hand, the same amount of money as the first bet. You play each hand separately, one after the other. The call to split pairs is typically made by plainly duplicating the bet. The dealer interprets this to mean that you would like to Split the pair. Split Aces are typically allowed a single additional card each.
Spread: Putting down multiple bets prior to the first deal. For instance, a player may place three bets and receive three separate hands to play.
Spread the Deck: To place the cards face up on the tabletop, dispersed so that potential players could look at them to insure that the decks are whole. This practice is usually performed when a new table is opened up.
Stake: A player’s gambling money, the money the player puts down on the table. See Bankroll.
Stand: A signal that the player is content with his hand and doesn’t need any additional cards. The signal is normally made with a sweeping movement of your hand, palm facing downward. In a single-deck or double-deck game, placing the cards on the table with your bet resting on your cards makes the signal.
Stay: See Stand.
Stiff: A hand that could potentially get a total score over 21 (bust) by taking an extra card. For instance, a hard hand with a total score between 12 and 16 points is a stiff. Stiffs carry lower odds of winning no matter how you play the hand. See Bust Hand.
Suit: One of the four types of decorations on cards – Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts and Spades. Suits are irrelevant to hand values in blackjack.
Suited Blackjack: A Blackjack wherein the Ace and 10-value card are of the same suit. These hands do not carry any extra value and do not win or lose any additional bets.
Surrender: In a few casinos, the player is permitted to give up one-half of his primary bet if he doesn’t wish to bet against the dealer’s hand. This rule is processed prior to asking for additional cards. For instance, the player bets $20 and receives a 7 and an 8 card for a total score of 15. The dealer shows a King. If the player “surrenders”, the dealer will take back the player’s hand and half of the player’s primary bet. The player is left with $10. The player has given up half his bet, and not acted on his hand. He is taking for granted that his hand is a loser, and opts to lose merely half the bet. This rule is not on hand in all casinos.
Early Surrender– The choice to surrender prior to the dealer’s verification of his Blackjack.
Late Surrender– The choice to surrender only after the dealer’s verification of his Blackjack. If the dealer holds a Blackjack, the choice to surrender is not provided.
Third Base: The final seat at the Blackjack table, next to the dealer’s right hand. The player in this seat is the last to act on their hand. Also called Anchor or Hot Corner.
Twenty-One: A different name for Blackjack.
Up Card: The card face up in front of the dealer. Players usually factor the dealer’s up card into their decisions to hit or stand.
We hope you found this collection of online blackjack terms helpful and will better understand the action the next time you are playing blackjack. As always, have fun, play smart and win big!
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While it is true that the game’s house edge is generally lower than it is in other casino card games, the chances of winning consistently are only as good as your understanding of its rules and your employment of a solid strategy. We provide both and throw in comprehensive articles on blackjack tips, history and terminology, so you’re equipped to win.
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The above summaries each address an aspect of the game you should familiarize yourself with before playing. Simply click on the links provided and let the betting begin.