Like all table games, a blackjack game comprises of many specific terms and words. You could say it has its very own language! Understanding the words and phrases unique to the game will make your blackjack playing experience easier and more enjoyable, whether you win or lose.
To ensure you completely understand the game (and what’s happening), here’s an extensive blackjack glossary terms and words associated with blackjack!
21: Refers to a blackjack, which requires a total value of 21 to be made. The term is also used in reference to blackjack in general.
21+3: Refers to a side bet in blackjack that features the player’s two cards and the dealer’s face-up card. The bet pays if the three cards form the following poker hand combinations: three-of-a-kind, straight or flush.
Ace: The ace card can be worth either one or 11, depending on the blackjack hand. An ace is the foundation of a soft hand due to its flexibility.
Ace poor: In a card counting system, this refers to a situation in which fewer aces have been dealt than anticipated.
Ace rich: This refers to the situation in which more aces have been dealt than anticipated.
Action: The total amount of money a player has wagered during a playing session. It may also refer to the decisions made during a session — hitting, standing, etc.
Advantage: Refers to the advantage players can have over one another. This is also a casino term that refers to the house edge.
Advantage play: This refers to a careful play style that capitalises on opportunities when the odds are in the player’s favour.
Advantage player: Refers to a player who incorporated advantage play in their play style. An advantage player is capable of sensing when a clear mathematical advantage is present.
Anchor: Also known as ‘third base’, this term refers to the last player at a blackjack table acting before the dealer. The advantage or disadvantage of the anchor within the game is debated since the game is played between the player and the dealer.
Back Counting: Counting cards without playing, usually so that the card counter can decide pn a good time to jump into the game or call in another player to join the game.
Backed Off: The casino can prohibit players who count cards from playing a particular game without barring them from the premises if they feel the player has the edge over the house.
Balanced Count: This is part of a card counting system that equally values positive and negative cards. If the running count at the end of a deck of cards is zero, it’s a balanced count.
Bankroll: The designated amount of funds the player has allotted to gambling.
Bankroll Management: Setting boundaries and limits to manage your bankroll and avoid the risk of ruin.
Barred: When a player is permanently prohibited from playing at, or entering, a casino.
Basic Strategy: A fundamental methodology and collection of actions that will offer the best odds off the top of the deck. Strategies usually look to pursue the best odds possible to preserve the player’s bankroll. Using the basic strategy involves following a mathematical set of decisions that dictates when a player should stand, hit or split. These actions vary when different rules are applied to the game.
Bet: The sum the player chances on a hand of blackjack.
Bet Sizing: Betting higher when your hand has a greater probability of winning.
Bet Spread: The ratio between the player’s smallest and largest bets. For example, a bet spread of 1-6 would mean that a player bets six times their minimum bet as their maximum bet.
Big Player: A member of a card-counting team who makes large bets when the count is favourable.
Black Book: The casino’s list of players barred from the premises.
Blackjack: The best possible hand in the game of blackjack, made up of an ace and a card valued at 10 (namely, 10, J, Q, K). Most casinos pay blackjack at 3:2.
Box: In the context of land-based casinos, this term refers to the area on a blackjack table where players place their bets. This area is usually specified by outlines around the players’ cards and chips.
Burn Card: The top card on the deck is a burn card that is discarded before a dealer starts managing a new shoe or when another dealer assumes control over the table. A burn card will prevent a card counting system from being used.
Bust: When a hand surpasses 21, the person holding that hand goes bust and loses.
Bust Card: This is the card that pushes the player over 21. So, if the player has 16 and draws a seven, that is the bust card.
Buy-In: The exchange of cash for gambling chips at the table.
Card Counting: A card counting system will keep track of the cards played and discarded by counting cards left in the deck. Card counting systems give players an advantage over the house because they allow card counters to understand the probability of the next cardbeing drawn. Card counting is not permitted in most casinos, and a card counter will be removed from the venue if caught. Card counting is also unavailable when playing a blackjack game online.
Cashier’s Cage: The area in the casino where chips are exchanged for cash.
Chips: Tokens exchanged for cash used to make wagers in table games.
Chip Tray: The tray used to hold chips for the dealer.
Cold Deck: Refers to decks of cards that have dealt several poor hands in a row. A cold deck doesn’t necessarily affect a player’s win rate if a good strategy is followed. The inverse is called a ‘hot deck’.
CSM: An acronym for a Continuous Shuffling Machine. In the context of land-based casinos, this machine automatically shuffles used cards to insert them back into the deck.
Cut: Refers to when the dealer divides the cards into two after having shuffled them. This action is done by wedging a plastic card in the middle of the deck. This procedure helps prevent cheating.
Cut card: Refers to a blank plastic card used by the dealer after shuffling the deck.
DA2: Refers to the games where doubling can be done on soft and hard hands.
DAS: An acronym for Double After Split. This refers to the act of doubling down on a bet after having an initial split.
Dealer: The casino employee who deals cards, dishes out chips and ensures the game is running smoothly. In the context of online blackjack, the dealer is automated, which means that there is no human being operating the role of the dealer.
Deck: A set of 52 cards.
Deck Penetration: The number of cards that has to be played out of a deck or shoe before the dealer reshuffles.
Discard Tray: A clear plastic device used to hold discarded cards.
Discards: In the context of land-based blackjack, the term refers to the cards dealt in previous rounds that have since been discarded in the discard tray.
DOA: An acronym for Double on Any. This refers to games in which doubling can be done on any of the first two cards, including doubling after splitting.
Double-Deck Games: Any type of blackjack game that uses two decks.
Double Down: A player can ‘double down‘ by placing an additional bet equal to their original wager, subsequently drawing one other card only. It can only be used on the first two cards. If the player wins, they will receive double the payout of their original wager.
Edge: The percentage of each bet a player stands to win or lose.
Even Money: The odds of winning and losing being at 1:1. Therefore, a bet that pays even money can be said to pay out an equal amount to the wager placed.
Face Card: Cards with pictures on them — jack, queen, king — which are valued at 10.
Face-Down Card: All cards dealt face-down.
Face-Up Card: All cards dealt face-up for everyone to see.
First Base: The seat located to the dealer’s left. This player is first to receive cards.
Flat Bet: Flat betting is betting the same amount, hand after hand, regardless of the cards dealt.
Hand: The cards held by the player or dealer.
Hard Hand: The value of the cards in hand, with aces counting as one.
High Roller: Refers to players who bet a large amount of money for gambling. Also called a ‘whale’, they often enjoy special treatment at their venues of choice.
Hit: To ask the dealer for another card.
Hit 17/H17: Refers to the rule in specific games whereby the dealer receives another card if their blackjack hand value is 17, including hard hands. The player wins if the dealer busts.
Hole Card: This is a card that is hidden from view and remains face down. Not only the dealer has one in blackjack, but the player too. The dealer’s hole card is revealed when players have resolved their hands.
Hot Deck: Refers to a deck of cards that have dealt several strong hands in a row.
House: Another term for the people running a casino.
House Edge: The percentage of the money wagered by a player that the casino theoretically expects to win (or lose). In games like blackjack, knowledgeable players can use specific strategies to lower the house edge.
Insurance Bet: When the dealer shows an ace, the player can choose to place a side bet of up to half the value of the original bet. If the dealer has a blackjack, an insurance bet pays 2:1.
Kelly Betting: Also known as Kelly Criterion, the name refers to a blackjack betting system based on a formula created by J.L. Kelly Jr, aiming to determine the ideal bet size at any point in a game.
Late Surrender: Refers to the rule where you may discard a hand after the dealer checks for blackjack and lose half your bet. However, the dealer’s upcard must be a 10-value card or an ace to opt for it.
Martingale system: A betting system involving doubling bets after each loss and returning to the initial wager after a win. This system must be used with caution since losing streaks can prove to be very damaging to a player’s bankroll.
Minimum Bet: The minimum amount of money a player can bet when playing blackjack.
Maximum Bet: The maximum amount of money a player can bet when playing blackjack.
Multi-deck: Refers to blackjack games that feature multiple decks. Multiple decks help counteract card counters, but players are disadvantaged when playing with more than one deck of cards.
Natural: Refers to a hand where the first two cards are an ace and a 10 card (either a 10 or a picture card), which makes a natural blackjack.
NDAS: An acronym for No Double After Splitting. This refers to the opposite of DAS blackjack tables, where the act of doubling down on a bet after having split a pair is not allowed.
Pair: Two cards, including face cards, of the same amount in value.
Perfect play: Refers to a player abiding by the basic strategy.
Picture Card: Another term for a jack, king or queen card.
Pit Boss: The casino supervisor for table games.
Push: Refers to a tie; when the player and dealer have the same hand value. In many games, the player has their wager returned, neither winning nor losing money.
Quarters: Green-coloured denomination chips that are generally lower-value chips.
Resplits: Refers to splitting twice: once when two cards of the same value are dealt and another when an additional card of the same value is dealt again. Resplits can only be possible if permitted by the house rules, and they also entail placing an extra bet.
ROR: This is an abbreviation for Risk of Ruin — the mathematical chance of losing your entire bankroll.
RSA: Refers to a rule that allows players to resplit aces. This means several aces can be resplit, making for potentially numerous unnatural blackjack hands. RSA blackjack tables are not common for that very reason.
Running Count: Used when counting cards, card counters count low and high-value cards for a negative or positive count, respectively.
Shoe: The device containing the decks of cards to be used in a game.
Shoe Game: A blackjack game dealt from a shoe refers to games in which a shoe is used to distribute cards. Shoe games use several decks — as opposed to single or double-deck games, which are usually dealt by hand.
Side Bet: Refers to a type of bet offered over and above the standard bets. Insurance bets are one example of a side bet.
Single-Deck Game: Refers to a game played using a single deck. In this case, deck penetration will vary, which is why the dealer shuffles periodically.
Soft Hand: A hand with an ace. Since the ace is flexible, a soft hand with an ace and a five can be valued at either six or 15, for example.
Split: When the player receives a pair, they can split into two separate hands. Each hand is played separately.
Stand: To stop receiving cards from the dealer.
Stand on 17: Refers to the rule that the dealer cannot be dealt additional cards if their total is 17 or over. When the dealer’s cards total to 17, this is their standing hand, regardless of the player’s hands.
Surrender: To forfeit your hand and recover half your initial bet.
Third Base: The position is located to the dealer’s right, the last spot to bet.
True Count: The remaining cards in a deck of cards is called true count. Card counters divide the running count by the number of decks left to deal, to calculate the true count.
Upcard: The dealer’s card that is face up.
Whale: Another term for a high roller found in any local casino.
CONCLUSION — BECOME A PROFESSIONAL PLAYER IN A BLACKJACK GAME
How does a glossary of blackjack terms factor into the equation for success? Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran, everyone needs a blackjack glossary to refer to whenever an unfamiliar word pops up.
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✅ Are all terms used at a blackjack table during a game?
Whether you play online or land-based blackjack, phrases and associated blackjack words are generally the same. However, not all terms may necessarily be used at online tables, as there are terms in this glossary that apply strictly to land-based games since online blackjack does not have a physical setup.
✅ Is blackjack terminology the same in online casino and land casino games?
Brick-and-mortar blackjack requires more terms as more physical components make up the experience than games played at online casinos.
✅ Does knowing the blackjack glossary make it easier to play live?
Yes! While you don’t need to memorise every single one of these terms, it is always helpful to know how things are referred to and communicated in a game. That way, you can ensure you know exactly what’s going on at the table and can follow the gameplay easily. This is good table etiquette and better for your chances — and bankroll — in the long run.
✅ What is card counting in blackjack?
The practice of ‘card counting’ is when a player tracks the flow of individual cards to gain an advantage. When a player has an idea where a specific card or cards may be, it enables them to better guess (or even to know for sure, if they’re good at it) what cards might be dealt to them — or to others. This makes it more likely that they will end up with a winning hand.
For obvious reasons, casinos don’t like card counting as it provides an unfair advantage over other players and dealers. Card counting isn’t illegal, but if a casino suspects a player is doing it, they may ban them from the premises and inform other casinos in the area.
✅ Should I use the blackjack basic strategy in online blackjack?
Blackjack may seem like a simple game at first glance, but there’s much more to it. Blackjack has an incredibly low house edge, and that edge can be reduced further with correct play. Utilising the basic blackjack strategy is how to make the most mathematically advantageous decisions.
Nothing will remove the element of chance, but playing the game correctly will make your blackjack gaming experience all the more fun. We highly recommend looking into the basic strategy and relevant blackjack charts, as the suggested moves will differ depending on how many decks are in play and the rules for the blackjack variant. Ensure you understand every action you can take and the optimal scenarios for each step. Keep the charts handy, manage your bankroll well and play responsibly — you’re guaranteed to have a great time.