Blackjack Glossary

If you’re new to blackjack, you may be unfamiliar with certain terms and jargon used in the game. By recognizing the most common words and phrases used at the table, you can become a more knowledgeable player and better understand how each move you make could alter your hand. To ensure a satisfying gaming experience, we have compiled a list of the most commonly used blackjack terms to learn.

Anchor: The last seat taken at a blackjack table on the dealer’s right side. 

Bankroll: Total amount of money that a player has the intention of gambling with.

Break: Also known as ‘bust,’ this is a hand total exceeding 21.

Basic Strategy: Playing system based on the concept of a player optimizing his or her edge over the house in the long-term.

Card Counting: Keeping track of cards that have been played since the shuffle to establish a conditional probability advantage of the remaining cards in the deck.

Case: The last card of a specific rank in the deck – e.g. the case five would be the last five in a deck.

Cut Card: Faceless, colorless plastic card used to cut the cards after the shuffle.

Deal: To distribute cards during a hand.

Discard Tray: A tray that holds the cards that have been played or discarded, located on the dealer’s right side.

Double Down: To double your initial bet following an initial two-card deal, but you can only hit one card. 

Draw: To add a new card to your current hand.

Early Surrender: A player’s option to surrender half his or her bet while the dealer checks for blackjack.

Edge: To have an advantage over the house or an opponent, or the advantage that a casino has on a given wager.

Even Money: When a player takes insurance while holding a blackjack, resulting in a clear net gain of one bet.

Face Cards: Refers to kings, queens, or jacks in a deck of cards.

Face-Down Blackjack: A version of 21 where cards are dealt face down which prevents players from seeing the dealer’s cards until all the cards have been dealt.

Face-Up Blackjack: A version of 21 where all dealer and player cards are dealt face up, giving players the ability to examine cards throughout the game and plan future moves on what they observe.

First Base: Position on the left of the dealer at the start of each hand and the first position that is dealt during gameplay.

Get Down: To make a wager.

Going Down: To lose a wager or a series of wagers.

Hand: The cards that a player holds.

Hard Hand: A hand without an Ace or a hand with an Ace valued at 1.

High Roller: A player who consistently places large bets.

Hit: Also known as draw, a hit is when you ask to receive another card.

Hole Card: The dealer’s unseen card.

House: The entity which sets the rules and controls the game of blackjack.

Insurance: A side bet of up to one-half of the original bet, offered only when the dealer’s up-card is an Ace. 

Limit: The maximum wager that is accepted in the game.

Natural: A two-card hand of 21 points in blackjack.

Pat: An unbusted hand that is worth at least 17 points.

Push: When a player and dealer have the same hand total and the player keeps the bet.

Rank: The numerical value of each card in a deck, as opposed to its suit.

Shoe: A device used for holding and dispensing cards to be dealt.

Shuffle: When a dealer mixes up the order of the cards. In online casinos, a shuffle is done by a random number generator to ensure fairness. 

Soft Hand: Any hand that contains an Ace and is valued at 1 or 11 points. With a soft hand, you can’t bust with one additional card.

Split: When your initial two cards are of the same value and you double your initial bet and play each card as a separate hand.

Spread Limit: Betting structure where a player can bet any amount on every betting round within a set range.

Standoff: A tie between players or between one or more players and the house.

Stay: To refrain from taking another card.

Stiff: Hand in blackjack that is not pat and may bust if hit once.

Tapped Out: Experienced by a player who is broke.

True Count: The running count divided by the number of decks that are yet to be dealt.

Under the Gun: The position of a player who is first to act on a betting round. 

Unit: The money amount of a basic bet.

Upcard: The dealer’s first card dealt that is placed face up for all players to see.

Void: Means invalid or with no result. 

Blackjack Terminology

Joining a blackjack table as a newcomer can be a little overwhelming. If you’re not familiar with the game, you may not understand some of the terminology being used. This is why it’s important to familiarize yourself with the most common words and phrases used in blackjack. By learning the language, you can become better at the game and have a more enjoyable session. 

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