Blackjack Terminology 101: Must Learn Blackjack Terms

Do you love Blackjack or interested in learning more about the game? We’ve got you covered with the latest blackjack terminology you need to know when playing the game.

This term is important to know and understand, especially when you want to play like a master and take control of the blackjack table. It’s always clear that when playing any game, the more you know, the better advantage you’ve to win the game.

Without further ado, let’s get straight to the point and explain some of the basic blackjack terminologies.

Blackjack Terminology 101: Must Learn Blackjack Terms

#21: 21 is an alternative name for Blackjack. Also, as a player, your hand needs to total close to 21 without going over the number to win.

21 + 3: In a blackjack game, a bet wins when your two cards and the dealer’s upcard form three of a kind, a straight, a flush, or a straight flush.

Ace: In blackjack, an ace is 1 or 11. If you manage to have a combination of a 10-card value with an ace, then that’s blackjack.

Ace poor: Ace poor means having a few cards that are required for an ace.

Ace rich: Ace rich means having higher cards than what’s required for an ace.

Action: This means the amount of money that has been bet by you or all of the players at the table.

Advantage: The edge that one player has against another player.

Anchor / Anchorman: Blackjack is a game between a player and a dealer and the anchor or anchorman is the last player at the table to act before the dealer.

Bankroll: A bankroll is the money you intend to use for gambling.

Basic strategy: The term basic strategy is used for players who know what to do and when to do it when playing blackjack.

Bet sizing: Bet sizing is all about adjusting the amount you are wagering while playing blackjack with a specific strategy.

Bet spread: Bet spread is the difference in the amount a player bets

Blackjack: When a player has an ace and any 10-value card, it’s blackjack.

Box: The box means the area of the blackjack table where the player places their bet which may consist of cards and chips.

Burn Card: The burn card term is the top card the dealer discards before dealing.

Bust/Break: This term is used when your hand is over 21 and you have lost your bet.

Buy-in: In blackjack, this means to make your first bet. There’s often a minimum buy-in amount in the blackjack game, it’s left for you to check this before playing.

Camouflage: This is a strategy used in the blackjack game, which involves the player counting cards and raising their bets while decisively playing recreationally.

Chip down: Chip down to lower the amount you wager on each bet.

Chip up: Chip up to increase the amount you wager on each bet.

Cold deck: A deck of cards that has dealt several awful hands in a row.

Color up: To exchange your lower chips for high-valued ones.

Count / Counting cards: This is a strategy in blackjack that involves counting cards to gain an advantage when playing blackjack.

CSM (Continous Shuffling Machines): This stands for the Continous Shuffling Machines used in casinos.

D9: This term means doubling on hands with the value of 9, 10, or 11.

DA2: This term means to double any two cards.

DAS: This term means to double your bet after splitting a pair.

Dealer: In the blackjack game, you along with other players play against the dealer.

Deck penetration: This means the number of hands which has been dealt before the dealer reshuffles the deck.

Discards: These are the cards you have discarded in your previous hands.

(DOA) Double on any: This means that a player can double their first two cards.

Double down: To double your bet for one additional card.

Double exposure: This is a situation where the dealer’s cards are dealt face up which makes it easy for the player to make a decision — however, surrender and insurance options are not available in these types of blackjack games.

Early surrender: This term is when the player forfeits their hand and halves their bet before the dealer checks for blackjack.

Even money: If you have blackjack and the dealer has an ace, you can take a 1:1 payment on your bet.

Face cards: This means the card with faces on, such as Jack, Queen, King, etc.

Five-card Charlie: Five-card Charlie is a five-card blackjack hand that does not exceed 21.

Hand: The hand is the card you are holding for a round of blackjack.

Heads up: This term means a game between one player and a dealer.

High roller: This is a term used for players who spend big while playing.

Hi-Lo counting: This is a card-counting strategy in blackjack.

Hit: When you don’t believe that your hand will not beat the dealer and you decide to take a card.

Hole card: This term is used to refer to a face-down card.

Hot deck: Hot deck is the opposite of a cold deck and it’s about a deck that has seen several excellent, consecutive hands be dealt.

House edge: House edge is the advantage the house has over the player, which can be a small amount of percentage in most cases.

Index number: This term is used to define the variable number that card counters use to change their strategy when necessary.

Insurance bet: This term is only useful when the dealer’s upcard is an ace. An insurance bet secures your loss against a potential blackjack from the dealer — in the case that the player will take half of their original wager and pay 2 to 1.

Late surrender (LS): A player can surrender their hand and half of their bet when the dealer checks for blackjack.

Loaded deck: A loaded deck is a deck that is filled with high-value cards.

Martingale system: The Martingale System is a strategy that players use which includes doubling their bet after each loss to win back their losses and initial wager.

Money Management: This is a strategy that involves the player carefully managing their money — thereby desisting from betting what they cannot afford to lose.

Monkey: This term is regularly used in the Asian culture for a face card in blackjack.

Multi-deck: When playing blackjack, there is often more than one card deck to help prevent players from counting or using any related form of strategy.

Natural blackjack: A natural blackjack is when a player is a 21 gained with an ace and a 10-value card dealt immediately.

No Win: This term is used when the player didn’t win and the dealer might have won or it’s a push and the player gets bet back their money.

Paint: The term paint means a face card with a value of 10.

Pair: A pair is a two-card hand containing equal-value cards.

Ploppy: Ploppy is a term used to describe people who don’t know how to play but will always be at the casino.

Poor: A poor deck is a deck that’s filled with low-valued cards.

Positive count: When the card at the table goes over zero, players who are skilled at counting cards will take advantage of this because there is a potential to win. 

Progressive betting: Progressive betting is a strategy where you double your bet every time you lose intending to win it back.

Push: When it’s a draw between you and the dealer, you’ll get your stake back and that’s a push.

Risk of ruin (RoR): The risk of ruin is similar to the return to player percentage  — which means how likely you are to lose.

Shoe: The shoe is the box on the blackjack table where cards are placed and dealt from.

Soft Hand: If your hand contains an ace that can be valued at either 1 or 11 — then you have a soft hand. 

Soft Total: This is the value of your hand with an ace in it.

Split play: When you have two cards of equal value, you can split them into two and add a bet to each of them.

Stand: If you think you have a good hand and taking a new card will decrease your chances of winning against the dealer, you can choose not to take a new card. 

Stand-off: This can also be referred to as push or no win because it’s when you have the same hand value as the dealer.

Stiff: When your hand is close to exceeding 21. 

Surrender: When you feel like you don’t have a good hand, you can use surrender to forfeit half of your bet and get the other half back.

Third base: This term is similar to an anchorman because it’s the last player who is dealt cards and makes a decision before the dealer does.

Unbalanced card-counting system: This is referred to as a card-counting system where different values are attached to the positive and negative cards — so, even if you count the full deck, you won’t end up at zero.

Upcard: The dealer’s one visible card is referred to as an upcard.

Variance or volatility: Variance or volatility describes whether a game will pay out less or huge amounts frequently.

Whale: Whales are a term used in blackjack to define high-rollers who bet a huge amount of money every time because they are super rich.

Win rate: This is the percentage you are likely to win in a blackjack game.

Zen count: This is a card-counting system where the positive and negative values that don’t match are split in a way that means counting a full deck would end up at zero.

Blackjack is more than just playing with luck on your side, you need to have a core knowledge of the game, and that includes learning the blackjack rules and terminologies whenever you can!


Blackjack has its own language. While advanced and professional players might know these words, new players will need to learn and understand these Blackjack Terminologies to be able to keep up. Above are the terms you’ll often hear when you are playing Blackjack game.

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