Blackjack Terms

Blackjack Terms


Learn Blackjack Terms

From "Action" to "Whale," we're going to go over a bunch of Blackjack and casino terms in part one of our Blackjack terms series today. I've spent some time coming up with a listing of fun terms I think you'll want to know. They're listed in alphabetical order, so scroll around if you want.

Blackjack and Casino Terms

Action - It means almost what you think. When a bet is "live" it has action. This term is commonly used when someone puts actual cash in the betting area.
Back Counting - A back counter is someone who isn't sitting at the table and who is counting the cards. An example would be two friends that walk up to play. One sits down and the other stands around the table.

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Blackjack Terms

Bankroll - Ah, this one is a classic. A bankroll is the amount of money you have to gamble with. It's the key ingredient in money management and the better you are at managing a bankroll, the better off you are. A bankroll can be for a session of gambling, a calendar month, a season in sports or whatever other time term you want.

Bar - No, not the kind that serves you drinks. If you get barred, you're out of luck. A barred player is one who gets removed from the casino for good. It's also called "being 86ed."  

Basic Strategy - In Blackjack, this is your garden-variety strategy that's designed to help you have a good time and stay in the game.

Blackjack - This is the game we're talking about. If you don't know how to play, check out the quick-start Blackjack guide on this site.

Burn Card - After the deck is shuffled and cut, the first card is "burned," which means it is discarded. This is an old anti-cheat mechanism and it's still used today in brick and mortar casinos.

Bust - When your card count in Blackjack goes over 21, you've busted. When you bust, you lose. Ideally, you hope this happens to the dealer often and not you.

Card Counting - It's a strategy to try and figure out what type of cards are left in the deck. Players who employ this strategy will bet bigger when the remaining cards in the deck are larger and bet less when the remaining cards in the deck are smaller. There are many card counting techniques and we talk about card counting in Blackjack more on this site.

Cold Deck - Cold deck is the same thing as a cold table in Craps. It just means that the deck sucks for players. If you're counting, you know when the deck is cold, because it's overloaded with smaller cards.

Color Up - When you're ready to leave the table, you can color up. Let's say that you have 20 red chips ($100), you could color up for one black chip. Casinos try to color up players, because it keeps them from having to constantly fill tables with extra chips. As a player, it's easier to walk around with fewer chips.

Comps - This is the main reason for playing for many people. A Comp is basically anything you get for free from the casino. It could be food, rooms, cash, travel, drinks and so forth. Here's a tip. Most casinos comp players based on the data from a player's card. Whenever you walk into a new casino, ask about their player's card and get one-they are free.

Cut Card - When you cut the deck in Blackjack-at real live tables-you use a cut card. This card is the same size as a regular card in the deck and it's usually red. It's also plastic. Slide that baby in the right place and let's win some hands!

Discards - These are the cards that have already been played. In a real live game, you'll see the discards off to the side of the table.

Double Deck - A Blackjack game typically uses 1-8 decks of cards. A Double Deck game of Blackjack uses two decks of cards. In a real live game, this game is hand shuffled and dealt from hand. Shoe games start with four or more decks.

Double Down - You're so money! Even non-gamblers know this phrase. When you double down, you double up your original bet and take one final card. You can double down on your first two cards only. While online casinos typically make you double your bet on a double down, live casinos will allow you to "double for less," which means you can put any additional amount down-up to the amount of your original wager.

Double Exposure - This is a variant of Blackjack. You'll find that there are various Blackjack rules that a casino may or may not use-like surrendering. In this variant, both dealer cards are dealt face up. Sounds like easy money right? Not so fast. These games also have additional rules-usually something like dealer wins all ties. You may like this type of game though, so check it out. Make sure you ask about the rules differences before playing.

Draw - Most everyone says, "hit," but draw is the same thing. When you draw a card, you're not getting out a pencil and sketch paper to make an art masterpiece; you're taking one additional card for you hand.

Edge - Do you have an edge? The edge just means who has the best ability to make money over the long haul. As a gambler, you take steps to reduce the house's edge and increase your chances of winning. A Blackjack example of this would be card counting. Another example would be playing only certain types of Blackjack games, such as single deck.

Even Money - When the dealer has a potential Blackjack-and you were dealt a Blackjack-you can ask for even money. If you take even money, your Blackjack is paid 1:1 instead of 1.5:1. So, a $15 wager is paid $15. If you don't take even money and the dealer has Blackjack, you just push.

Expectation - I won't get too technical with this one. Basically, it means the amount of money you can expect to win or lose over a period of time.

Face Cards - Real simple here. Face cards are the Jack, Queen and King. They are all worth 10 point in Blackjack. There's no real difference in these cards unless you're playing a side game like Royal Match.

First Base - This is the seat that gets the cards first. The dealer deals clockwise, so first base is the first seat on the dealer's left.

Flat Betting - When you flat bet, you're just betting the same amount on every hand. This really isn't idea. Unless you're just playing for a little fun and free drinks, you want to alter your bets some now and then.

Heads Up - This happens usually in online play. It's when you're the only one at the table. You're playing with the dealer only. In real casinos, some players like this and they'll move around looking for empty tables. When someone else sits down, they get up and find another empty table. You'll see some big-time players request an empty table. If they are playing enough, the casino will rope off a table for them.

High Roller - We just talked about one in our Heads Up description. A high roller is someone who bets a lot. The real high rollers will walk into a casino with millions to wager if they so choose. They are also called whales.

Hit - Take a hit to get another card for your hand. It's also called a draw.

Hole Card - This is the magical card that the dealer gets that you can't see-unless you're playing a double face up game of Blackjack.

Hot Deck - It's just the opposite of a cold deck. A hot deck is in your favor and hopefully you're betting big.

House Edge - We talked about this in our Edge description. All casino games have a house edge. The casino always has the advantage over you. Some games are better than others. For instance, Blackjack has a much lower house edge than Roulette.

Insurance - Many call insurance a sucker's bet. When the dealer shows an Ace, you can take insurance. It costs half your wager and if you take it, you want the dealer to have a Blackjack. If not, you lose your insurance bet and now if you win, you only win a profit of 50%, which isn't fun.

Las Vegas Strip Rules - Las Vegas is split into two main gambling regions-Downtown and the Strip. The Strip has different Blackjack rules than Downtown. A major rule to check on before you play is whether the dealer must hit or stand on a soft 17.

Money Management - It's no secret. Losing players rarely have any money management skills. Money management goes beyond just knowing how much money you have to play with. It involves knowing how much to bet and when. There are many money management systems out there.

Money Plays - A command barked out by a dealer when a player puts actual cash in the betting area.

Natural - When you're dealt a Blackjack.

Paint - Want to see paint? If so, you're asking for a face card. It's called this, because face cards are graphical in nature.

Pat Hand - No, it's not the hand of someone named Pat. When you have a pat hand, you want to stay. An example of a pat hand is a hard 17. A hard hand is one in which there isn't an Ace counting for 11 points.

Point Count - If you're counting cards, you always know what the count of a deck is.

Push - This is another name for a tie. When you have a bet that pushes, you don't win or lose. Your money is returned. If you're playing a double face up game, it's possible that there aren't any pushes, because the dealer wins all ties.

Resplit - When you get two cards of the same rank, like two 7's, you can split them. If your first card on a split is also the same rank, you can resplit then hand. Some casinos only allow one split and others may allow up to four. Check with the casino to be certain. While you always want to split Aces, some casinos don't allow you to play split Aces like a regular hand. Instead, they'll just give you one card per hand.

Running Count - It's the same thing as a Point Count. At any given hand, a card counter knows the count of the deck and bets accordingly. If the count is favorable to the casino, the bet is reduced. If the count is favorable to players, the bet is increased.

Session - This term is used most when talking about money management. A session is a period of time spent gambling.

Shill - These guys are casino employees. To facilitate action, a shill will go up to a table-usually an empty one-and play. The idea is that if you're walking around and see action, you'll play. Shills are more likely to be used at a Craps table, because not many people like being the only player in Craps.

Soft Hand - This is any hand where an Ace is being used as an 11.

Stand - When you're happy with your hand, you can stand, which ends your turn.

Surrender - Some casinos allow you to surrender. When you surrender, you throw in your hand and get half your wager back. A common surrender situation is when you have a hard 16 and the dealer has a face card showing.

Third Base - It's the opposite of first base. Third base is the last seat to get cards. If the table is full, it will be the seat immediately to the dealer's right hand.

Toke - Also called a tip. Dealers work for tips, so they love players who tip them. One common way to tip in Blackjack is to place a bet for the dealer. You do this by placing your tip bet above your wager on the layout. Let the dealer know it's for him/her, so they can make sure the placement is right. This is a good way to get the dealer to root for you.

True Count - It's another card counting term. When there are multiple decks, you take the running count and divide it by the number of decks being used. This gives you a more accurate picture.

Up Card - The dealer gets two cards in Blackjack to start with. The Up Card is the card that you can see. The bottom one you can't see is called a hole card.

Unit - A measurement of betting. For instance, a unit could be $5, $10, $1 or whatever.

Vig - This is the money that goes to the house. A popular vig in sports betting, for example, is 10%.

Whale - This is the big-time player-the high roller. Casinos-and dealers-love to see a whale coming. It usually means there's a chance for a nice payday.

And there you have it. We've come to the end of our Blackjack terms series. Do you feel like a Blackjack terms expert now? We've covered a lot of ground in this series.

Good luck at the tables!

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