50 Blackjack Terms to Know for Beginners

A blackjack dealer image

📖 Published on: March 19th, 2024

✍️ Updated: April 1st, 2024

⏳ 9 mins read

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The first number that comes to mind when someone says blackjack is probably 21, and this makes sense since the game aims to build a hand of 21. But while this might be a prominent pop culture reference, it’s not usually the case if you’re new to casino table games like blackjack.

 

Learning critical blackjack terms can make a difference if you’re starting at a high-stakes blackjack table, enjoying a virtual game, or playing in an actual casino. Read on as we show you the blackjack jargon you could pick up to help you improve your blackjack skills.

 

A

Ace poor or rich - This is typically used when counting in blackjack. When fewer aces are dealt than statistically expected, ‘ace poor’ is used. ‘Ace rich,’ on the other hand, is used when more aces are dealt than players anticipated.

 

Action - When players are ready to bet a specific amount of money, ‘action’ places a wager in a certain period.

 

Advantage - When one side statistically has more to gain over the other, it is commonly represented as a percentage of the wager. Although card counting can give the player the advantage, the casino usually has the upper hand.

 

Anchorman - The name given to the player who is last to make a move before the dealer stops placing wagers.

 

B

Balanced Count - This is a method of counting cards in which the total of the negative cards equals the total of the positive cards. A balanced count occurs when the running count at the end of a full deck equals zero.

 

Bankroll - The funds you have for placing bets.

 

Bet Spread - The total amount of the player's minimum and maximum wagers placed in one round of blackjack.

 

Big Player - A participant in a card counting team who, when the count is favorable, places a large wager.

 

Bust/Break - One of the blackjack slang terms used when a hand goes over 21.

 

C

Card Counting - A blackjack tactic often discouraged by casinos that involves keeping track of the proportion of high cards to low cards that have already been played in order to gain an advantage.

 

Chips - Used in common casino table games like roulette and blackjack. Players use this as an alternative to the amount they bought to play in the game.

 

Chipping Up - The act of lowering wagers based on bets in the last round. 

 

Color Up - This is when players exchange all the low-denomination chips for higher-denomination ones.

 

Cut Card - A plastic card dealers use when cutting the deck in half after shuffling cards for players.

 

D

DAS - This is an action in blackjack that stands for ‘Double After Split’ which means splitting a pair of cards and then doubling down on existing hands or on a new hand based on their value.

 

Double or Double Down - One of your four primary choices when dealing with your initial two cards. You can increase your bet at almost every table and get just one more card.

 

Double Exposure - One of the terms in blackjack that describes a version of blackjack where the dealer’s cards are dealt face up.

 

Deck Penetration - Also known as ‘pen,’ which is the percentage of cards Deviations - When a player alternates basic strategies based on the count.

A game of blackjack image

 

E

Early Surrender - This is the act of giving up after a player gets their first two cards, only before a dealer checks for a blackjack.

 

Even Money - This is one of the blackjack terms and rules where you can muck your cards and receive a guaranteed "even money" or 1 to 1 payoff.

 

F

Face Cards - Either Jack, Queen, or King of any suit which equates to a value of 10.

 

First Base - The seat to the farthest left of the dealer.

 

Five-Card Charlie - This hand comprises five cards that make up a hand of less than 21.

 

Flat Bet - The most popular strategy used in blackjack, where the same amount is wagered on every hand, regardless of whether you win or lose.

 

H

Hard Hand - This is what you call a hand without an Ace card or a hand with an ace that only equates to the value of one.

 

Hard Total - is one of the blackjack terms meaning the sum of any number of cards, which includes Aces, to be counted as one.

 

Hit - The act of taking another card if your current hand isn’t good enough to beat the hand of the dealer.

 

Heads Up - A game between the player and the dealer.

 

Hole Card — Also referred to as a face-down card, a hole card is held by only the dealer in a table game like blackjack.

 

House Edge - This is a casino’s technical and monetary advantage over the player, which is usually fixed but can vary based on the rules and the player’s skill level.

 

I

Insurance Bet - This blackjack term describes a side bet handled separately from the primary stake and based on the dealer having a blackjack.

 

N

Natural - This is another term for ‘Blackjack’ typically used in American casinos.

 

NRSA - A term that stands for “No Resplitting Aces.” Depending on the casino, you can land more blackjacks if you can split your aces.

 

A live casino game of blackjack image

 

P

Paint - Another term for ‘face cards’ used when players want to ‘see some paint’ to indicate they want to see the whole card for Jack, Queen, and King to get more points.

 

Pair - A blackjack term that describes a hand comprising two cards with equal value.

 

Peek - The act of checking a hole card if their up card is equivalent to an Ace. Blackjack dealers typically do this.

 

Preferential Shuffle - An action done by the casino when they choose to mix things up, which normally happens when you push a bet.

 

R

Risk of Ruin (ROR) - The mathematical chance of losing a player’s bankroll.

 

Round - This occurs at the beginning of a game when no cards are on the table, but the players' bets are being placed.

 

Running Count - This term describes the total count’s value, which can be positive or negative.

 

S

Shoe - This is a device used in casinos to carry multiple decks of cards for live table games.

 

Soft Hand - Described as a hand that holds an Ace, which can double as 1 or 11. If a player hits with this hand, they’re not able to bust in any way.

 

Soft Total - This is the total of any number of cards in a hand, up to and including an Ace, that can only be worth 11, but never more than 21.

 

Split - This is a blackjack option that players use when the first two cards have an equal value.

 

Stiff - This term describes a hand that is close to exceeding 21 but allows players to bust if they draw another card.

 

W

Win Rate - The percentage of a player’s likelihood of winning. The blackjack’s typical win rate is 42.22% to 49.02%.

 

Wonging - When players only bet when they have an edge.

 

Y

Yellow/Orange/Pumpkin Chip - A blackjack term used to describe a $1000 chip.

 

Blackjack like a Boss!

Mastering the language of blackjack isn't just about sounding savvy—it's about wielding the knowledge to sharpen your game. From "ace poor" to "Wonging," this lexicon unlocks the secrets of the table. So, whether you're eyeing the anchor spot or aiming to color up, these blackjack terms are your passport to the high-stakes realm of 21. Embrace them, and let the cards fall where they may.

 

Learn more about popular table games and the terms needed to play roulette or poker from our resources at GambleSpot, and spice up your betting journey with us today!

 

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