blackjack terms

We have compiled a listing of common blackjack terms and definitions to assist you get a better idea of what regular blackjack players are talking about when they use certain slang phrases relating to blackjack. It seems each casino game comes with its own unique lingo, called the perennial players, and as you’ll notice, blackjack terms are no different!


‘21’ – This refers to the second best hand in a blackjack game in which a hand of 3 or more cards adds up to the score of 21.

Blackjack Terms

Anchor – The seat to the right of the dealer is typically referred to as the ‘anchor’. If you play blackjack, you’ll be able to notice that this is the seat which is normally the last to be taken due to the fact that cards are usually dealt from left to right.

Banker – The person who is responsible for the money and betting throughout a blackjack game is known as the banker. Essentially, the banker collects the winnings and losses.

Bankroll – A bankroll is the amount of money that a player chooses to dedicate to playing a casino game/ blackjack game.

Basic Blackjack Strategy – The simple strategy a player uses throughout a blackjack game.

Betting Limits – Normally, each casino game has both minimum as well as maximum betting amounts that you’re able to place on a blackjack table. For example the minimum you can choose to wager is $1/$5 and the maximum amount usually varies from $10/$50.

Betting Ratio – A ‘betting ratio’ is a system which is employed by casinos to spot card counters who increase their wagers when they have a favorable hand.

Bottom Dealing – This term relates to a technique which is used by a dealer in order to cheat. In this case the dealer deals one : two cards from the bottom of the deck rather than the top provided that the cards on top are unfavourable.

Blackjack – A ‘natural blackjack’ is the best hand a player is able to acquire throughout a game of blackjack. Usually, this type of hand would consist of two cards; an Ace and a 10/King/Queen/Jack.

Burn Cards – During a game of blackjack a dealer burns cards in performing this manoeuver he removes cards from the deck.

Bust – A busted/ broken hand typically occurs when a player has managed to acquire a hand of 2 or more cards which exceeds the total score of 21.

Buy – Commonly used in the Blackjack variant ‘Pontoon’, the term ‘buy’ points to when a gambler chooses to double his/her bet.

Camouflage – This term suggests that a blackjack player is trying to cover up or hide what he/she is doing from the casino. Typically, a gambler who is playing at a brick and mortar casino may choose to disguise his/her strategy, act drunk etc. in order to confuse the dealer and other players at the table.

Card Counting – This bears reference to a strategy which is employed in blackjack which refers to when a gambler chooses to take account of which cards have been played and discarded in order to help you figure out the probability of the next card to be drawn out of the deck.

Card Sharp – This term is used to imply that a person is very handy with cards.

Cut – In blackjack, the phrase ‘cutting cards’ alludes to a method of splitting cards after shuffling has been completed by the dealer.

Cut Cards – This phrase is applied to colored plastic cards which are commonly used to cut a deck of cards after it has been shuffled by the dealer.

D’ Alembert System – The d’alembert system is a progressive betting strategy which is employed by blackjack players. It is known as one of the safest systems you can use in order to increase your bets after a loss or if your bankroll is quite low. Read more about it in CasinoTop10’s Blackjack Betting Strategy Page.

Deal – A dealer hands out cards to the blackjack players at the table.

Dealer – A person who is hired by the casino to be responsible for the smooth running of the blackjack game and giving out cards to the players is known as a dealer.

Deck Penetration – This phrase is one which is used in order to describe how many decks of cards the dealer is using before he goes ahead and shuffles the together. Normally, in the classic version of Blackjack about 6 – 8 decks of cards are used.

Discard Tray – This phrase specifies where discarded cards are generally laid.

Double Down – A blackjack player can choose to ‘double down’ by choosing to place a second bet on the table. This decision is usually based on the hand the player manages to acquire during the game.

Draw – The word ‘draw’ is another way of saying ‘hit’. Hence, if a player chooses to draw, he/she would receive another card from the dealer.

Early Surrender – During a blackjack game, a player can decide whether to surrender their initial bet before the dealer looks for a blackjack in his/her own hand.

Even Money – If you manage to acquire a natural blackjack during the game and the dealer’s face card reveals an ace, you can choose to take your winnings before the dealer looks at his other cards. The payout in this case is typically 1:1.

Face Cards – Face Cards are cards which have pictures on them. These include jacks, queens and kings. In each deck of cards, you’ll find that there are 4 of each present.

Face Down Game – In some variants of blackjack, one card is dealt face up whilst the second card is given out face down. This is known as a face down game.

Face Up Game – In blackjack game which are described as a Face Up Game, cards are typically dealt face up for all players to see.

First Base – The phrase ‘first base’ serves to indicate the particular seat around a blackjack table. In essence, this is the seat to the left of the dealer. If you’re in first base, you’ll be the first one to get the card.

Flat Bet – This is a term which is used to describe when the same amount is bet on each and every hand throughout a blackjack game.

Hard Hand – The ace is what fundamentally differentiates a hard hand from a soft hand. In a hard hand, an ace is counted as a ‘1’, whilst in a soft hand it is counted as an ‘11’. A Hard hand is also sometimes referred to as a ‘hard total’.

Heads Up or Heads On – In this type of blackjack, you’ll find that there’ll be only a dealer and a player at the blackjack table.

Hit – When a player would like the dealer to give him/her another card, the player opts to use ‘hit’ as a manoeuver.

Hole Card – The dealer’s first card which is put face down is known as the ‘hole card’.

Insurance – Normally, insurance on a bet is taken out if a dealer has an ace card face up. In essence, it’s a secondary bet to the overall game in which the player takes a guess as to whether the dealer has a natural blackjack. If the player is right, he/she could win double his/her initial bet.

Late Surrender – This is a term which is used in some games when the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack.

Pat Hand – This suggests that the player’s hand in blackjack is at least 17 points. Typically, if a blackjack player manages to acquire a 17 he’d stand pat.

Perfect Pairs – In blackjack a player can acquire a pair of cards of equal value. These of course can be a mixed pair, a colored pair, or a perfect pair. A perfect pair is when you have 2 cards which belong to the same suit and are of equal value.

Point Count – This phrase refers to a card counting strategy where the card counter would choose to take the net value of the card at the end of the hand.

Preferential Shuffling – This is a term which is used to describe when the cards which remain in the deck or shoe are desired by the players.

Push – A push occurs when both the dealer and the player end up with the same amount of points. In this case, the player does not lose their bet or gain any winnings.

Resplit – Following a split, a player can choose to ‘resplit’ provided that he/she acquires another hand in which there is a pair. Hence, after the player opts to replit, the 2 hands he/she already has will in effect become 4 different hands.

Running Count – In card counting, the ‘running count’ is the card at the beginning of the deck in which the card counter would change the value on the running count following each hand, by point count.

Shiner – The word ‘shiner’ alludes to the device which is used to cheat in a blackjack game in order to find out what the dealer’s hole card is.

Shoe -The term ‘shoe’ is attributed to the place which a deck of cards is held.

Shuffle: Shuffling is a system which is used in order by the dealer as to mix the cards together in a random way.

Shuffle Up – A dealer shuffles up before it is needed in order to prevent gamblers from counting cards during a blackjack game.

Soft Hand – This phrase refers to an instance in which a blackjack hand consists of an ace which is valued at 11 and another card. However, if the player chooses to hit, the value of the card will be changed to 1 instead.

Split – The term ‘split’ bears reference to a move which is employed by a blackjack player in order to split a hand of two cards of the same value into two hands. This is known as a ‘split hand’.

Spooking – This is a method of cheating which is not allowed in any way at a casino and can in effect get a player banned, whereby a person stands behind the dealer in order to watch the game and peek at the dealer’s hole card. The person would then go on to transmit the information to a gambler playing at the table.

Standing Hand – A ‘standing hand’ is one in which the player has a total hand value of 17 and higher. In this case, it is not considered wise to take another card.

Stand-off – The term ‘stand-off’ is another word for the term ‘push’.

Stand or Stay – This term is used to refer to a manoeuver which is used by a player in order to indicate that he/she will be stick to his/her own hand. Thus, in this case the player does not require any other cards from the dealer.

Stick – This is a term which is used in the Blackjack variant ‘Pontoon’ and means stand.

Stiff Hand – A ‘stiff hand’ is a hand which is not ranked as a great hand. Typically, the total score of the hand in this case is quite low, so you in hindsight the player does not have much of a chance to winning. Nonetheless, if the player chooses to hit, he/she might bust as a result.

Surrender – This is a manoeuver is blackjack in which the player folds and gets half of his/her bet back as a result.

Tell Play – The phrase ‘tell play’ is characterized as the act of observing the opponent’s / dealer’s moves in order to be able to determine what he/she has in his hand.

Third Base – The phrase ‘Third Base’ is another term used to say ‘anchor’.

Tie – Push and Standoff are synonymous with the blackjack term ‘tie’.

Twist – A word which is used in the blackjack variant ‘Pontoon’ instead of ‘hit’.

Unit – A blackjack ‘unit’ is the minimum bet or wager that a player chooses to bet.

Up card – An up card is one which lies face up on the table and is often a dealer’s first card. Players are able to see his/her card and determine whether or not they’d like to continue to play the game.

Wager – This is another way of saying bet. In order to play blackjack for real money a player must place a bet during the initial phase of the game.

Wonging – The term ‘wonging’ is used when a player ‘back counts’ cards until he/she thinks that the table is ‘favorable’ to him. Once, he/she determines that the odds are in his/her favour, the player will then join the game and bet.