Blackjack Glossary: Terminology, Definitions, and Common Slang

Blackjack Glossary

How good are you at Blackjack terminology? Do you know all the terms in our glossary? Check out this full Blackjack glossary before you play to learn all you need to know!

Blackjack Glossary: Terms and Definitions

Blackjack is undoubtedly the most traditional card game. It was played for hundreds of years and it has become a staple in commercial casinos, internet gambling sites, and other establishments. The gameplay is fast, the rules are simple, and above all, the wagers can pay off big time. Overall, most players know that the rules are quite straightforward, but, that can lead to some misconceptions.

Namely, players can misunderstand a lot of Blackjack terms and thus underestimate this entertaining game. So, it’s important to learn the terminology and get familiar with as many definitions as possible before you play. When you do so, your confidence at tables or online casinos will increase immensely.

That’s why we created this comprehensive A–Z glossary of Blackjack terminology, definitions, and common jargon. You will be able to use this glossary to find out about the game elements, the main rules, the strategies, and the many lesser-known aspects of Blackjack. So, just take a look at our glossary before you play and we guarantee that you will become a Blackjack master!

Blackjack Terms


21 — Denotes the best hand in the game. The player’s will get the winning hand if the cards in one hand are added together and are equal to 21. Also called a “Blackjack.”

21 Game — This term is used to refer to Blackjack games and its variants, for example, Spanish 21, Super Fun 21, etc.

86’d — Slang term for getting thrown out and banned from a casino. It can often occur if the player cheats or takes part in advantage play.


A-J Bonus — Signifies a specific bonus payment in case the player gets an ace and jack of spades.

Ace — The Ace card has the value of 11 or 1. During the game, it’s usually assumed that the card has a value of 11 except when the hand total goes over 21. In that case, the value of the ace is 1.

Ace Adjustment — Denotes the action of changing the bet size depending on how many aces have stayed in the card deck.

Ace Five Count — In card counting, this term signifies the technique when the player only counts fives and aces. See “Card Counting.”

Ace Side Count — When players count the number of aces that were played. It is called a side count due to the fact that it is independent from the main card count.

Ace Natural Count — In card counting, this term denotes a strategy in which players do not count aces. Thus, they are counted as 0.

Ace Poor — Signifies a card deck that contains less aces than statistically possible. Therefore, it’s an ace poor deck.

Ace Rich — Opposite of “Ace Poor.” Denotes a deck that contains more aces than statistically possible, i.e., an ace rich deck.

Action — General casino term applying to the number of funds that have been wagered. It can be used to signify the total bet size over time or total wager size during one bet in a game.

Advantage — Denotes a theoretical advantage of one side, the house or the players. It is often given in the form of a percentage. See “Edge.” Additionally, the advantage can shift towards the player if certain techniques, like card counting, are utilized.

Advantage Player — An advantage player is someone who uses tactics and strategy like card counting to obtain a mathematical edge over the house.

Anchor Player — Describes the player who is sitting at the far left side of a Blackjack table. The anchor player is the last to act in the game due to the fact that the dealer hands out the cards from left to right.


Back Counting — A card counting tactic in which the spectator counts cards while usually observing the table from behind.

Backed Off — When the player gets told by a casino manager or supervisor to immediately stop playing.

Balanced Card Count — Another card counting trick in which the count is 0 every time. The card number is equal and the values are + and −.

Bankroll — General casino term referring to the total size of funds a player can use for betting. In some cases, a bankroll may also signify the available amount per game session.  

Bar — When the casino bans a player for various reasons. The term is most commonly used in Blackjack when the casino bans someone due to card counting.

Barber Pole — When the player uses chips of different colors (denominations) in one wager. Usually a pile of chips. It is also called a rainbow.

Barneys — A slang term for purple chips ($500).

Basic Strategy — Basic strategy is the most favorable Blackjack tactic. It applies when players do not count cards. Instead, they rely on their cards as well as the upcard of the dealer.

Bet Sizing — When gamblers play Blackjack for real funds, they have to make a bet at the beginning of the game.  

Bet Sizing — When players estimate the size of their bets according to the casino’s mathematical edge.

Bet Spread — In a game session, the bet spread refers to the min and max amount that the player wagers. For example, when the player uses a 1 to 5 spread, their minimum bet is 1 per hand while the maximum is 5 per one hand.

Betting Efficiency — This term is used to denote the efficiency of a card counting system compared to the theoretical advantage.

Betting Ramp — A card counting term designated to the action of making a bet for each value of a true count.

Betting Spot — The designated field (circle or square) found on the table layout. Blackjack players place their chips in the betting spot.

Big Player — In card counting, the big player is someone who makes a high wager depending on the efficiency of the count.

Black Chip — Denotes the type of casino chip which is usually valued at $100. The color of these chips is black, hence the name.








Blackjack — It’s the name of the 21 game, but it also signifies a natural 21 total when the player gets it in the first two hands. In general, Blackjack is usually made up of a ten or a face card and an ace. Additionally, the payout is better for a Blackjack than for even odds. Also, the most typical payout for a Blackjack is 3:2. However, in some games with a single deck, it can be 6:5. In rare instances, some casinos pay 2:1 for a Blackjack. You could also hear the term “natural,” which is used to denote a Blackjack.

Blackjack Variants — Variants of Blackjack are card games played with similar or modified rules. Some examples include Double Exposure, Blackjack Switch, Double Attack, French Blackjack, European Blackjack, etc.

Break — Another term for busting. See “Bust.”

Burn Card — After a new deck gets shuffled and cut, the burn card is the first card. The dealer removes it from the game and puts it in the table’s discard tray.  

Bust — Signifies any total that is larger than 21. When the total goes over, it is considered an instant loss. Sometimes called the bust hand.

Buy-In — When players offer their money in exchange for casino chips.


Cage — The cage refers to the location of the cashier in a casino due the fact that it is enclosed with security bars.

Camouflage — Card counters can use camouflage tactics to conceal their actions.

Card Counting — Players use card counting strategies to get the statistical edge over the casino and ultimately win. Usually, counters keep track of the high/low ratio on all cards that were played. If the odds are better for the player, the counter ups their bet. Consequently, the bet is lowered when the odds are not favorable for the player. Card counting consists of many various techniques. It is generally not illegal, but most casinos will kick the counters out if they get spotted.

Check — A term for “chips.”

Chip — The type of casino token that players use to make bets.  

Chip Counting — In tournaments, players can attempt to count others’ chips in order to find the value of a chip stack.

Chip Tray — Usually located in front or close to the Blackjack dealer. This tray holds all the chips that the Blackjack dealer keeps or distributes depending on the game outcome.

Cold Deck — This is a deck with an unfavorable card ratio for the players.

Color for Color — Refers to an action by the dealer in which they make a payout on the winning wager with the identical chips as those that were placed during the bet.

Color Up — When players swap multiple chips with a low denomination for those with a higher denomination.

Comp — Comp points are essentially complimentary points which players receive depending on how much they have played or wagered. The casino will then offer them free benefits like meals, drinks, discounts, etc.

Continuous Shuffling Machine — Often abbreviated as CSM, this machine randomly adds the discarded cards to the cards that are left at the end of a every round.

Correlate — When a player uses the same bet size like their opponent during a tournament in Blackjack.  

Count — Signifies a value that one count has, depending on the specific card counting method.  

Cut Card — After each shuffle, the dealer uses a plastic cut card to cut the deck.

Cutoff — Signifies the cards that were not played and are found at the back of the cut card in the Blackjack dealing shoe.


DAS — “Double After Split.”

Dealer — The dealer is the employee of the casino or a gambling establishment. The dealer is seated at the Blackjack table and hands out the cards. The term also applies to other casino games with tables like poker.

Dealing Seconds — A tactic used by dealers who cheat. If the dealer sees that the card at the top of the deck will benefit the player, they will deal the second card.

Deck — Signifies a deck in which there are 52 playing cards.

Deck Penetration — Deck penetration actually refers to the cards handed out prior to the shuffle. This is expressed as a percentage.

Discards — Denotes all the cards that were played during the game and then discarded.

Double Deck — Signifies a Blackjack game played with two decks. The decks of cards are joined together and shuffled.

Double Down — When the initial wager is doubled. Then, the player will get an additional card. In most cases, players can double down only after the dealer gives out the first card pair. Many casinos can also DAS, but some may only allow it if the first card pair is equal to 11 or 10.

Double Exposure — Signifies a common variant of Blackjack. In Double Exposure, the dealer’s two cards are placed face up. In this case, the players will not win any pushes. And, the variant has an even payout for a Blackjack.

Down Card — Denotes a face-down card during play.

Draw — The act of drawing is the same as hitting. When players ask to get an additional card in order to get a higher score.


Early Surrender — A surrender on the player’s behalf. The early forfeit means the player surrendered before the dealer checked their cards for a win.

Edge — A percentage of each wagger that players can either win or lose.

Even Money — Refers to a Blackjack bet that will pay out the same in case of a loss. For example, if a player wagers $5 in order to gain $5.

Expectation — A percentage of the money players can expect to lose or win over their entire gaming session.  

Eye in the Sky — Slang term for the surveillance camera in the casino which is turned towards a dealer and aims to detect cheaters.


Face-Down Card — When the card is placed with its face turned to the table. The face of the card is hidden.

Face-Down Game — The game type in which the dealer gives two face-down cards to the players.

Face Card — Denotes the King, Queen, and Jack cards. These cards have a point value of 10.

Face-Up Game — Opposite of the face-down game. The players get their cards dealt face up.

False Shuffle — This is a tactic of cheating used by the dealers in which they “fake” a shuffle, meaning that the card order will not be random.

First Base — This term is actually used to describe a specific seat at the Blackjack table. It’s a seat found on the far left side of the dealer. The player who is seated here gets to act first.

Five Card Charlie — In certain games, it signifies an automatic win or a bonus only if the player is holding five cards that did not bust.

Flat Betting — When the player uses the same bet size with each hand.

Flasher — Refers to a dealer who accidentally exposes or “flashes” the player by showing them their face-down card.

Floorperson — Usually signifies the attendant in charge of supervising several Blackjack tables in the casino pit.

Front Money — The player can go to the cashier and deposit front money before joining a blackjack table.


Greens — Denotes the type of casino chip which is usually valued at $25. The color of these chips is green, hence the name.

Go for the High — During a tournament, to go for the high means to wager a large amount of chips. That way, if all the players win the bettor will get the highest number of chips.

Go for the Low — During a tournament, to go for the low means to hold back chips. Then, if all the players lose, the player who went for the low ensured that they had the highest number of chips.

Griffin Book — Land-based casinos often keep a Griffin Book which contains the names of cheaters, counters, and other fraudulent players. The book is compiled by Griffin Investigations and is shared between major casinos.


Hand — Signifies the dealt cards that the players or the dealer get during a blackjack round.

Hand-Held — This is a type of Blackjack game in which the dealer keeps the cards in their hand. In a standard Blackjack game, the dealer usually puts the cards in a shoe.

Hard Hand — The hand that does not contain an ace. It can also be called a hard hand if the ace is in it but it is valued as 1.

Hard Total — The term signifies the total in a hard hand.

Heads Up — Slang for the game where there is only one player at the table and they play against the Blackjack dealer. Sometimes, it is known as “Heads On” or “Head-to-Head.”

Hi-Lo Count — A typical card counting technique. It is also referred to as plus/minus.

High Roller — General casino term for gamblers who wager large amounts of money.

Hit — The same as “Draw.” When players ask to get an additional card in order to get a higher score.

Hit 17 — Or H17 signifies a special rules in which the dealer must hit 17 for all of their totals. Additionally, this includes soft 17.

Hole Card — The face-down card of the dealer. In the European Blackjack variant, the hole card is not offered.

Hot Deck — This is a deck which gives the players an advantage or edge.

House Edge — This term is always expressed as a percentage. It signifies the casino’s advantage over the player.


Index Number — Used to denote how much the player is straying from the basic strategy (total count).

Insurance — A kind of optional side bet in which the player will wager on whether or not the dealer is holding a Blackjack. Players can choose this bet when an ace is the face-up card of the dealer. In case of a max insurance bet, it is worth 50% of the player’s wager. And, if the casino dealer wins the Blackjack, the bet pays off 2:1.


Kelly Betting — A logarithmic betting technique in which the bankroll growth is maximized while the risk is minimized.


Las Vegas Strip Rules — This term refers to the rules used in casinos on the famous Strip. Often, they are not as favorable as rules in Downtown Las Vegas, they may differ a bit and the games could use more Blackjack decks.

Late Surrender — An optional forfeit on the player’s behalf similar to an early surrender. However, the late surrender means the player will give up after seeing the hole card of the dealer.

Lifetime Risk of Ruin — Denotes the total amount of funds players designate in order to play Blackjack during their lifetime with the smallest risk of losing. See “Risk of Ruin.”

Live-Money Tournament — This term signifies a Blackjack tournament with a specific rules. Namely, the players need to buy betting chips during each tournament round.

Long Term — The notion of long play means that the longer you play Blackjack, the results will be closer in percentage to what you expected to achieve.


Martingale System — A type of progressive betting that requires the player to double their bet after losing. After a win, the player then goes back to their original bet.

Mid-Shoe Entry — When players join a table and place a bet following the culmination of the first Blackjack round (after the shuffle), but until the cut card appears. The usage of this term warns the pit attendants and the dealer that the player will make a cash bet, instead of using chips.

Money Management System — A type of system which players use to manage their bankroll. Some examples are Stop Loss Limits and Kelly Betting.

Money Plays — A rule which entails the players will use real cash for their bets rather than chips.

Multiple Deck Game — Any Blackjack game that utilizes multiple decks as opposed to only one. See “Single Deck Game.”


Natural — This is another expression term for scoring a Blackjack (21 points). Sometimes it is used if player gets a Blackjack during the initial two hands.

Negative Count — Used by card counters. If the count falls under zero, it means the casino has the advantage on the game.

Nickel — Describes the type of casino chip which is usually valued at $5. The color of these chips is red.


Paint — A slang term for any picture card.

Pair Splitting — Denotes the option that allows the players to split their first two-card hand. The card must contain a pair. When split, the pair is separated into two hands. Players have to put up a second bet that matches the first on order to use this option.

Pat Hand — This type of hand contains a 17–21 total. When players get a pat hand, they are not advised to take a hit. It is also called the standing hand.

Peeker — Sometimes, casinos can use a tiny mirror directed towards the deck. It allows the dealers to peek and see the hole card.

Penetration — This term actually signifies a percentage of Blackjack cards that were dealt before shuffling.

Pit — The pit is the area on the gaming floor which contains table games.

Pit Boss — Used to describe the casino supervisor who monitors the games and dealers in the pit.

Pitch Game — Signifies the type of Blackjack game in which the dealer deals by hand with one or two decks.

Playing Conditions — It’s possible to see this term used by many casinos. Essentially, playing conditions are variations in the rules that take place in the specific casino. Examples of such conditions are if the casino allows the double down after splitting options or how many decks the games will use.

Playing Conditions — This slang term is used to refer to players who do not know anything about basic strategy.

Point Count — In card counting, the term signifies the count’s total value.

Progressive Betting — There are many progressive betting systems. Mostly, they are determined by whether the player loses or wins during the round.

Pumpkins — A slang term for orange chips ($1,000).

Push — When the dealer and the player get the same score. Typically, in case of a push, the house returns the player’s initial wager.


Quarter — Another term for greens or $25 chips.


Rat Holding — A slang term for a player who hides chips in their pockets so that the casino staff can’t see how much the player has won.

Rating — The rating can mean two things. Firstly, the casino can rate a player according to how much they have lost or won and then, the house can award comp points. On the other hand, ratings are used for professional players.

Rainbow — See “Barber Pole.”

Reds — Another term for nickels ($5 chips).

Resplit — This rule can apply following a split. Players can split again in case they have another hand containing a pair. Ultimately, the two hands become four following the split.

Rider Bet — When a player bets on another player’s hand.

Risk of Ruin — Refers to the player’s chance of losing their total bankroll.

Rule of Six — A special rule that applies to single-deck Blackjack games. It’s a technique of estimating the amount of rounds before a shuffle. That number is 6 but the number of players seated is subtracted from it.

Running Count — See “Point Count.”


Session — The session refers to the time players spend while gambling.

Session Bankroll — The bankroll used for one Blackjack session.

Shill — A slang term for an employee of the casino disguised as a player. Mostly, shills join empty Blackjack tables to attract attention and bring in more players.

Shuffle Master Machine — A machine which automatically shuffle cards in order to stop card counting.




Shuffle Tracking — This is a technique used by players in which they count cards through a sequence of shuffles.

Shoe — This card-dispenser device is found on all Blackjack tables. It holds multiple card decks, often over four, and the dealer deals from it.

Shoe Game — The type of Blackjack game in which the dealer deals all cards from the shoe. In most cases, a multiple deck Blackjack is a shoe game. On the contrary, single deck variants are mostly dealt by the dealer.

Sit and Go — In online Blackjack, sit and go is a type of fast-paced tournament.

Soft 17 — The soft 17 is a typical Blackjack rule. In it, the dealer has to stand on all their 17 totals, including the soft 17. See “Soft Hand.”

Soft Hand — This is any Blackjack hand in which the ace is valued as 11.

Soft Total — The term signifies the total in a soft hand.

Split — See “Pair Splitting.”

Stand — One of the main Blackjack actions. When the player stands, they choose to stop receiving new cards. Additionally, casinos can have a rule in which the dealer stands. That means that the dealer does not draw new cards for their hand.

Steaming — A slang term for when a Blackjack player loses consistently and nervously bets even more.

Stiff Card — A card which is valued at 2–6.

Stiff Hand — The stiff hand is a hard hand with a 12–16 total. It’s highly likely to bust if the player chooses to draw a new card.

Surrender — A forfeit from the side of the player. See “Early Surrender” and “Late Surrender.” Many casinos will not offer these surrender rules.

Suit — The card suit indicates the category and color of the playing cards (hearts, diamonds, spades, clubs).

Suited Blackjack — A 21 hand with a card worth 10 points and one ace. The combination has the same suit (i.e., diamonds, hearts, etc.), hence the name.


Team Play — A form of card counting or advantage playing practiced by multiple players who share a bankroll.

Ten-Poor Deck — The deck which contains less cards valued at 10, meaning that more of them were dealt in the game.

Ten-Rich Deck — The deck which contains more cards valued at 10, meaning that less of them were dealt in the game.

Ten-Value Card — Refers to any card that is valued at 10 points. It can be a King, Queen, Jack, or 10.

Third Base — Refers to the final player who gets the cards at the table. The player is seated at the far left side.

Tie — When the dealer and the player get the same score. See “Push.”

Toke — A tip intended for the dealer or casino staff member.

Trespass — Casinos can “trespass” a player in case some rules are broken. Then, the player is not permitted to return and they may even face arrest them if they do so.  

True Count — When the running count is split according to the deck number.


Up Card — Signifies a face-up card during play. The dealer will play this card first.

Unit — Sometimes used to refer to the bet size. One unit may also signify the minimum bet.

Unbalanced Count —  A type of card counting system in which the negative and positive number of cards is not identical.


Vingt-Un — A predecessor of Blackjack with similar rules from 19th century France.

Vig — Another term for the house edge applied to a single bet.


Wager — Another term for a bet. When gamblers play for real funds, they have to make a bet at the beginning of the game.  

Whale — A slang term for a high roller who is at the top of their caliber.

White Chip — Describes the type of casino chip which is usually valued at $1. The color of these chips is white, hence the name. Sometimes, the casino may use silver for the color of these chips.

Blackjack Terms Summary

The list of Blackjack terms is quite extensive, but if you learn most of these terms, you will have the upper hand. So, try to memorize them or bookmark this article for later use. With knowledge and some luck, you will become a true Blackjack wizard!

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