For those looking to start playing and enjoying Blackjack, there are several terms and phrases to get to know before you jump right in. Some of these terms and phrases will be used and called out in the middle of a game, by getting to know a few of the key terms and phrases beforehand can help and lead you to a smoother blackjack experience.
Below is a list of words and phrases that complete an A – Z word guide of the most common terms and topics that are associated with blackjack.
Before we run through our A – Z list of the blackjack terminology that we have compiled, more and more words and terms have been added over the past few years to the industry, especially with many of the blackjack live dealer casinos out there. Blackjack is an easy and simple game to follow and play, but the terminology is something to understand all on its own. These blackjack terms and phrases are in a special language of their own and are filled with a few slang words that players should know.
By going through our A-Z guide of blackjack terms and phrases, you can become professional overnight and ace through those blackjack games. You will also be provided with a lot of terminology that is used at some of the free online blackjack sites.
Blackjack Terms and Phrases
After doing some extensive research, our experts have finally revealed a list of blackjack terms and phrases that will be useful for the players who head on over and play at the best online blackjack casinos.
- Ace – The most useful card in the deck.
- Anchor / Anchorman – The last player at a table to act before the dealer.
- Basic Strategy – Playing strategy that gives players the best odds of winning.
- Blackjack – An automatic winning hand containing both an Ace and a 10 value card.
- Cut Card – The card used to mark the point where the dealer should stop dealing cards from the shoe.
- Counting Cards – Tracks the ratio of high to low cards in the deck.
- Dealer – The person who manages the game and deals the cards at the blackjack table.
- Double Down – Double your bet for one additional card.
- Even Money – Player’s opportunity to take a guaranteed ‘even money’ or 1 to 1 payout.
- Face Cards – A card that is a Jack, Queen, or King of any suit. Each face card has a value of 10.
- Flat Bet – Betting the same amount on every hand, whether you win or lose.
- Hard Hand – A blackjack hand without an ace or with an ace counting as 1.
- Hit – Requesting another card from the dealer.
- House Edge – Mathematical advantage that the casino has over the player, often expressed as a percentage.
- Insurance – A side bet offered when the dealer’s up card is an ace, which pays 2-to-1 if the dealer has a blackjack.
- Money Management – Managing your bankroll.
- Natural – A total number of 21, comprising an ace and a 10 value card, dealt immediately as the first two cards.
- Pair – A hand with two cards of equal value.
- Push – A draw between the player and the dealer.
- Pat Hand – A hand which is worth 17 or more, where you are likely to stand.
- Payout – The amount of money paid to the player for a winning hand.
- Running Count – The count that does not account for the number of decks left in the shoe.
- Re-splitting Aces Allows / No Re-splitting Aces Allowed – This is where players can split their aces or not.
- Shoe – The container that holds multiple decks of cards.
- Shuffle Up – The process of mixing the cards before a new round of play.
- Split – When you have two of the same card, you can split them into two separate hands.
- Third Base – The last seat to the left of the dealer and the last player to act before the dealer.
- True Count – The running count converted into a count that takes into account the number of decks still in play.
- Up Card – The dealer’s first card, which is always dealt face up.
- Win Rate – The percentage denoting how likely a player is to win a game.
Gambling Terminology Explained
Now that we have given you a quick overview of the most popular, well known blackjack terms, let’s take the next step and have a look into each one and provide you with some examples along the way.
A Ace is the most useful card when playing blackjack. An ace card counts as both values of 1 and 11. Players must land this card with a ‘face card’ or 10 in order to win.
Anchor / Anchorman
The anchor is the last player at a table to act before the dealer. This is also known as the ‘third base’.
A basic strategy is the optimal playing strategy that will give players the best odds of winning and a perfect play. You can find out more about blackjack strategies in our advanced blackjack strategy guide.
A hand containing an ace and a 10 point card (10, jack, queen, or king). Such a hand is also called a natural, and it’s an automatic winner unless the dealer also has a blackjack, in which case it’s a push.
A blank plastic card, usually colored red, is used to cut the deck between the shuffle and the deal, this is known as the cut card. The cut card tells the dealer when it’s time to shuffle again. Cut cards are usually placed near the end of the shoe. In single deck games dealt by hand, cut cards are sometimes placed at the bottom of the deck to show that dealers cannot deal from the bottom, and to prevent players from catching a glimpse of the bottom card.
Counting cards are used to track the ratio of high to low cards in the deck so that you can adjust your bet based on the edge you have over the casino. When the deck is rich in high cards (aces and 10s), you must bet more. When the deck is rich in low cards (2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, and 6s), you should bet less.
In blackjack, you play against the dealer as opposed to other players. This means the dealer has two functions, to deal the cards and to be your opponent.
Double down options are most effective if your hand has a value of 9, 10, or 11. One of the 4 main options you face when playing your first 2 cards is you have the option to double your bet and receive only 1 more card. Some tables allow you to double on any starting hand, while other tables limit you to doubling only on starting hands worth 10-11 or 9-11. Doubling down is usually recommended when you have 11, or when you have 9 or 10 and the dealer up card is lower.
The even money rule gives you the opportunity to take a guaranteed ‘even money’ or 1 to 1 payout now and muck your cards. If you don’t accept the even money, you can play the handout as normal and get paid 3 to 2 if the dealer does not make blackjack too. The mathematics and outcomes for even money are identical to those of insurance.
Kings, Queens and Jacks are all face cards, as they feature a picture with a face. The term ‘face card’ is also used when referring to all cards worth 10.
Flat Bets are betting strategies that involve betting the same amount on every hand, whether you win or lose. Flat betting is the most common approach to blackjack stake size found at the best online casinos.
This is any hand without an Ace, or where the Ace counts as 1, not 11. Usually when we refer to hard hands, it is hands with a value of 12 or more which could bust by taking another card. For example, 9-8 is Hard 17, but A-6 – which could be valued as 7 or 17 – is Soft 17.
To hit when paying blackjack, is the act of taking or requesting for another card, whose value will be added to your existing cards to determine the total value of your hand. In live blackjack, players tap the table to indicate that they want to hit.
The mathematical advantage that the casino has over the player, often expressed as a percentage. Can be anywhere between 0.5% and 2% depending on the player’s skill level. House Edge is known as the mathematical advantage a set of blackjack game rules gives the casino over the player. The house edge is expressed as a percentage, for example 0.59%. If a player bets $100 in a game where the house has an edge of 1%, the player will get $99 back on average. This is also known as the Return To Player or RTP rate. A game with a house edge of 0.59% has a return to player of 99.41%.
Insurance is a side bet that is offered when the dealer’s up card is an Ace. To take insurance, you must place an additional bet worth half of your original bet. If the dealer’s second card is worth 10 and they therefore make Blackjack, your half-bet will be paid out at odds of 2 to 1. The outcome of the insurance side bet does not affect the outcome of your main hand, which is played independently. The insurance side bet has a house edge of approximately 7%.
Money management is a strategy of managing your bankroll to minimize your losses and maximize your winnings. It usually involves setting win goals and loss limits and quitting when you’ve achieved one or the other.
Natural numbers are a total number of 21 comprised of an ace and a 10 value card that is dealt immediately as the first two cards. Many blackjack games will give a higher value win for a natural blackjack (e.g. 3 to 2).
A starting hand which uses 2 cards of the same value. While 2-2 is obviously a pair, a hand such as K-10 is also a pair as both cards are worth 10. When you are dealt a pair, the split rule will come into play.
The term push in blackjack, determines a draw or tie when your hand is worth the same as the dealer’s. In some new variations of blackjack, the player will push if the dealer makes a hand worth 22 points.
A pat hand is known as a hand that does not require a ‘hit’ (another card). This usually contains a value between 17 to 21. They are also known as a ‘Standing Hand’.
This is the amount of money paid to the player for a winning hand. For most hands, this is even money, but in the case of a blackjack or a five-card Charlie, the casino pays out more.
This is when you are counting cards and the running count is just the count before it’s been converted to a true account. It’s the count, but it doesn’t account for the number of decks left in the shoe.
Re-splitting Aces Allows / No Re-splitting Aces Allowed
If you are dealt a pair of Aces and split them, and are then dealt another Ace, you may be able to split them again. Although you will still only receive 1 more card and therefore you can’t double, re-splitting Aces is a good rule for players as it reduces the house edge by a small amount.
A shoe is known to be the plastic or metal container used to house the decks of cards at a live blackjack table. The shoe always sits to the left of the dealer and is designed to make dealing easier, faster and more transparent. After decks are shuffled, they are placed in the shoe and the dealer removes one card at a time from the front. Shoes are usually designed to accommodate up to 8 decks.
Shuffling up is the randomizing of the order of the cards in the deck. In land-based casinos, shuffling is done by the dealer, by hand or by an automatic shuffling machine.
When you’re dealt a pair, you may be allowed to split the 2 cards. Each card becomes the first card of 2 new starting hands, and the dealer adds a 2nd card to complete each hand. As you double the number of hands you’re playing, splitting will cost you another bet of the same size as your original bet. In some games you can split up to 3 times, while in others you can split only once. Splitting in blackjack is a good rule for players as it allows you to increase your overall stake in situations where the dealer has a weak up card. It also converts a bad starting hand such as 8-8 into 2 starting hands with 8 as their first card, which both have a good chance of making 17 or more.
Third base is also called seat 1 or the anchorman. This is the last player to act at the blackjack table who sits to the far right of the dealer.
When counting cards, the true count is the running count converted into a count that takes into account the number of decks still in play.
An up card is known to be the dealer’s first card, which is always dealt face up for everyone to see.
The win rate is a percentage denoting how likely a player is to win a game. When blackjack is played with strategy, the win rate is 42.22%, while a push occurs 8.48% of the time.