Blackjack Glossary of Terms

There are quite a few different terms used in blackjack. Among the essentials to know are the different options you have during a hand. Most of the other terms are not as important, but they are still useful – particularly if you are planning on playing blackjack in a live casino.

We have compiled this glossary to help you learn the key words and phrases used in blackjack. It contains explanations for all the common terminology you are likely to encounter.

A

Anchor: The position held by the player who must act last before the dealer.

B

Basic Strategy: The set of rules for what plays to make in order to maximize potential returns. Basic strategy rules define which decision should be made in any given scenario.

Blackjack: Not only the name of the game, but the term blackjack is used to describe a specific hand containing an ace and any card valued at 10. It is usually paid out at 3:2.

Burn Card: A card removed from the top of the deck before a deal.

Bust: Any hand that exceeds the value of 21 is bust.

C

Camouflage Play: A style employed by skilled players to hide the fact that they are skilled. It typically involves deliberately making mistakes.

Card Counting: A style of play which involves keeping track of the value of cards dealt to potentially establish when the remaining cards are advantageous to the player.

CSM: An acronym for a continuous shuffling machine used by some casinos so that the decks in the game are constantly being shuffled. These machines are used primarily to prevent card counting.

Cut: Splitting the decks of cards after they are shuffled and before they are dealt.

Cut Card: A plastic card used to cut the decks of cards after they are shuffled and before they are dealt.

D

Dealer Peek: A rule where the dealer will check for blackjack if their up card is an ace or a ten.

Deck Penetration: The percentage of the deck that is dealt before the deck is shuffled.

Discard Tray: A tray on the table on which the dealer places cards that have already been dealt from a deck.

Double: An optional bet where a player may double their initial stake and receive one (and only one) further card. This bet can only be placed immediately following the initial deal.

Double Down: See Double.

Draw: An alternative term for hit; to have another card dealt to a hand.

E

Early Surrender: A rule which allows the player to surrender before the dealer has checked for blackjack, at the cost of half the initial stake.

Even Money: If a player has a blackjack in their hand, and the dealer is showing a ten or ace, he can guarantee an even money return on his hand by taking the insurance bet. This is known as taking even money.

F

Face Cards: A collective term for jacks, queens, and kings.

First Baseman: The player immediately to the dealer’s left, and thus first to act after a deal.

H

Hard Hand: Any hand that has no ace, or has an ace that must be counted as a one and can therefore only have one total. A ten and a seven is a hard 17. A ten, a five, and an ace is a hard 16.

Hit: To have another card dealt to a hand.

Hole Card: The dealer’s face down card received on the initial deal.

House Edge: The advantage that the casino has over the player, expressed as a percentage of money wagered. The house edge in blackjack can vary depending on the exact rules being played.

I

Insurance: An optional bet of up to half the initial stake, which pays 2:1 if the dealer has a blackjack. The insurance bet is only available if the dealer’s up card is an ace.

L

Late Surrender: A rule which allows a player to surrender after the dealer has checked for blackjack at the cost of half the initial stake.

N

Natural: An alternative term for a blackjack; a hand containing an ace and any card valued at ten.

P

Paint: A slang term for any face card.

Penetration: See Deck Penetration.

Push: A tied hand, where the player receives their initial stake back.

R

Resplit: To split a hand following an initial split.

S

Shoe: The container on a blackjack table that holds the cards. Dealers deal from the shoe.

Soft Hand: Any hand that counts an ace as 11. An ace and six is a soft 17.

Split: To create two new hands from a hand that has two cards of equal value by matching the initial stake.

Stand: To receive no more cards from the dealer.

Standing Hand: Any hard hand totaling 17 or higher, meaning the correct decision is always to stand.

Stiff Hand: Any hard hand valued at 12-16.

Surrender: To forfeit a hand and half the initial stake after the first two cards have been dealt.

T

Third Base: The position held by the player who must act last before the dealer.

U

Up Card: The dealer’s exposed card received on the initial deal.

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