Blackjack Glossary


Ace – The highest ranking card in the standard 52-card deck, valued as either 1 or 11; also see “Hard Ace” and “Soft Ace.”

Ace Adjustment – Increasing or decreasing the size of one’s bet depending on how many aces remain in the deck.

Ace Five Count – A card counting strategy that counts only Aces and fives.

Ace Neutral Count – A card counting system that ignores Aces or counts them as 0.

Ace Poor – A deck with fewer Aces remaining in it than the statistical average.

Ace Rich – A deck with more Aces remaining in it than the statistical average.

Ace Side Count – A count of how many aces have been played, maintained separately from the point count.

Action – Amount of money bet, either the total amount of bets made over a period of time or the amount in play on a single wager.

Advantage – An expected win rate expressed as percentage of total money wagered.

Advantage Player – One who uses strategy to gain a mathematical advantage over the house.

A-J Bonus – Blackjack variation offering a special payout for the Ace and Jack of spades.

Anchor – Last seat occupied to the dealer’s right, also known as “Third Base.”

Anchorman – The player sitting last to the dealer’s right, who is last to act; also known as the “Third Baseman.”

Back Counting – Counting of cards by spectators or non-players.

Balanced Count – A card counting strategy with an equal number of cards valued at plus and minus, so that the sum of the values of all cards in a deck is 0.

Banker – The person at the table who accepts wagers and distributes payouts; in casinos, the dealer is the banker, while in party games, a player may assume the role.

Bankroll – The total amount of money a player has for wagering.

Bar – To ban a player from a casino’s tables, most often applied to card counters.

Basic Strategy – The optimum strategy for playing blackjack when not counting.

Bet Spread – The difference between a player’s minimum and maximum bets.

Big Player – On a card counting team, the player who makes big bets when the count is favorable.

Black Chip – A $100 casino chip.

Blackjack – May refer to either the game of 21 or a two-card hand containing an Ace and any card valued at 10; also known as a “Natural.”

Break – A hand total exceeding 21; also known as a “Bust.”

Burn Card – An unexposed card removed by the dealer from the top the deck and discarded, usually following the shuffle and cut, or else upon a change of dealers or following an irregularity at the table.

Bust – A hand total exceeding 21; also known as a “Break.”

Cage – The location of the casino cashier, where chips can be purchased or cashed in.

Camouflage – Any tactic used to hide card counting, such as acting drunk.

Card Counter – A strategy used by skilled players or “card counters” to gain an advantage over the house by keeping track of the cards as they are played in order to predict what remains in the deck.

Card Sharp – An expert at playing cards.

Charlie – See “Five Card Charlie.”

Chart – A written summary of optimum plays for every possible hand.

Chips – Tokens used in place of cash in casinos.

Cold Deck – Any time the deck contains a poor ratio of Aces and cards valued at 10.

Color Up – Slang for exchanging lower value chips for higher value ones.

Comp – Free meals, room, beverages, travel, and entertainment provided to regular players or high rollers by casinos to encourage wagering.

Cut – To split the deck of cards after the shuffle and before the deal.

Cut Card – A faceless plastic card used to cut the deck.

Deal – Used as a verb or noun to refer to the act of distributing the cards.

Dealer – The person, usually a casino employee, who distributes the cards and against whom the players compete.

Dealing Seconds – A cheating method whereby the dealer gives the second card from the top of the deck to a player if it will improve the hand better than the top card would.

Deck – The standard 52 cards used in blackjack.

Deck Penetration – The percentage of cards played from a deck or shoe before the dealer reshuffles, also known as “Penetration.”

Discard Tray – A receptacle on the dealer’s right that holds all of the cards played or discarded.

Discards – All of the used or burned cards removed from play.

Double after Split – Doubling down on a hand created after splitting a pair.

Double Deck – Blackjack played with two decks shuffled together; also see “Single Deck” and “Multiple Deck.”

Double Down – To double the original wager and receive just one additional card.

Double Exposure – Blackjack variation in which both of the dealer’s cards are played face up.

Down Card – The dealer’s unexposed card, usually referred to as the “Hole Card.”

Draw – To add a card to a hand; also known as “Hit” and less commonly used as an alternative term for “Push” or “Tie.”

Drop – The total amount of money wagered in a casino during a certain period of time.

Early Surrender – Folding a hand to reclaim 50% of the original wager before the dealer checks the hole card for an Ace; also see “Surrender” and “Late Surrender.”

Edge – Another term for “Advantage.”.

Even Money – A bet that wins the same amount as was bet originally, most often applied to taking an automatic 1-to-1 payout for a blackjack when the dealer shows an Ace.

Expectation – The amount a player can expect to win or lose on a bet, expressed as a percentage.

Eye in the Sky – Video surveillance conducted from above the casino floor.

Face Card – Any Jack, Queen, or King, all of which are valued at 10; also see. They all have a value of 10.

Face Down Game – Method of dealing where the player’s first card is placed face up and the second is placed face down.

Face Up Game – Method of dealing where both of the player’s cards are placed face up.

False Shuffle – A cheating method whereby the dealer does not truly randomize the deck of cards.

Favorable Deck – When the cards remaining in the deck are to the player’s advantage; see also “Hot Deck.”

First Base – First seat occupied to the dealer’s left, where the first card is dealt.

First Baseman – The player sitting first to the dealer’s left, who is first to act.

Five Card Charlie – A hand containing five cards without going bust, also known as “Charlie.”

Flat Betting – To wager the same amount on every hand, without variation.

Floorman – A casino supervisor who oversees the dealers.

Green – A $25 casino chip, or sometimes in the U.S., “folding money.”

Hand – The original two cards dealt to each player.

Hard Ace – Any hand containing an Ace that can only be used with a value of 1; also see “Soft Ace.”

Hard Hand or Hard Total – Any hand that contains a hard Ace or no Aces at all.

Heads Up, Heads On, or Head-to-Head – A single player seated alone against a dealer.

Heat – Pressure applied by a casino on a winning player who is suspected of card counting or cheating.

High Roller – A player who bets large amounts of money in the casino; also see “Whale.”

Hi-Lo Count – Sometimes referred to as “Plus/Minus,” a card counting strategy that assigns cards 2 through 6 a count of +1 and face cards, tens and Aces a count of -1.

Hit – To add a card to a hand; also known as “Draw.”

Hole Card – The dealer’s unexposed card, sometimes referred to as the “Down Card.”

Hot Deck – Another term for “Favorable Deck.”

House – The casino or operator of the game.

House Edge – Usually expressed as a percentage, the mathematical advantage over players that the rules of the game give a casino.

House Rules – The set of regulations governing the game at a particular table, including how the dealer’s hand must be played, when doubling down is allowed, etc.

Insurance – Limited to half of the player’s original wager, this is a side bet that the dealer has a blackjack; it is available only when the dealer’s up card is an Ace.

Kelly Betting – Refers to the practice of wagering a percentage of a bankroll equal to the percentage advantage.

Las Vegas Strip Rules – The rules most commonly used on the Las Vegas Strip, generally less favorable to the player and involving multiple decks and a shoe.

Late Surrender – Folding a hand to reclaim 50% of the original wager after the dealer checks the hole card and does not have a blackjack; also see “Surrender” and “Early Surrender.”

Limits – Minimum and maximum amounts that can be bet per hand at a given table.

Marker – Outstanding casino credit or an IOU, signed by a player.

Mechanic – A dealer or player who uses sleight-of-hand to cheat at cards.

Money Management – The way a player handles a bankroll, for better or worse.

Money Plays – A wager made with real cash instead of chips.

Mucking – A method of cheating by adding favorable cards in a multiple deck game.

Multiple Deck – Blackjack played with two or more decks shuffled together, typically four, six or eight decks; also see “Single Deck” and “Double Deck.”

Natural – A two-card hand containing an Ace and any card valued at 10; also known as a “21” or “Blackjack.

Nickel – Slang for a $5 casino chip, also known as a “Red.”

No Double after Split – A rule prohibiting doubling down after splitting a pair.

Paint – A face card—the Jack, Queen, or King; also called a “Picture.”

Past Post – A method of cheating by adding money to the original wager after the result of a hand is already known.

Pat – A hard hand valued at 17 points or more without breaking.

Penetration – How deep into the deck or shoe a dealer goes before shuffling.

Perfect Pairs – A form of side bet, wagering that the first two cards dealt to a player will form a pair; payouts very by the type of pair, such as mixed pairs, colored pairs, and “perfect” identical pairs.

Picture – A face card—the Jack, Queen, or King; also called “Paint.”

Pit – The area within the casino surrounded by table games.

Pit Boss – A casino employee stationed in the pit to oversee the table games and dealers.

Playing Conditions – An alternative for “House Rules.”

Plus/Minus – An alternative for “Hi-Lo Count.”

Point Count – In card counting systems, the current net value of the card count at the conclusion of each hand.

Preferential Shuffling – Shuffling when the cards remaining in the deck or shoe are deemed favorable to the players.

Push – Noun or verb to describe the player and dealer hands being of equal value, also known as “Tie” or “Draw” or “Stand Off”; the player’s wager is returned.

Quarter – Slang for a $25 chip, also known as a “Green.”

Rat Holing – The practice of hiding chips in a pocket or purse to keep the casino from seeing how much is being won.

Rate – To observe a player’s playing habits, including amount of chips purchased, minimum and maximum wagers, average bet, time spent playing, winnings, losses, etc.; at many casinos, player must ask to be rated if the want to qualify for comps.

Red – A $5 casino chip, also called a “Nickel.”

Resplit – After splitting a pair, to split a second pair formed in resulting hand, which is often disallowed (especially for pairs of Aces), depending on the House Rules.

Rider Bet – A bet made by one player on another player’s hand; the chips are placed behind the original bet.

Round – One complete deal, in which all players have acted on their hands, wins have been paid off, and losses collected.

Running Count – In card counting, the point count at the star of each deal.

Session – A period of time spent playing without interruption or prolonged break.

Shill – A person hired by the casino who pretends to be a player to attract others to a table.

Shiner – A reflective device, such as a mirror, used to cheat by getting a glimpse at the dealer’s hole card as it is dealt.

Shoe – A special container that holds up to eight shuffled decks and is used by the dealer to dispense cards in a multi deck game.

Shuffle – The process of randomly mixing up the cards prior to play.

Shuffle Master – A brand of automated shuffling machine that continuously mixes up the cards of multiple decks.

Shuffle Tracking – Watching the shuffle to determine where a high concentration of Aces and face cards are positioned, and then cutting the deck so that those cards are put in play.

Shuffle Up – Premature shuffling by the dealer to prevent card counting.

Side Count – Tracking a particular card, often Aces, with a count maintained separately from the point count.

Single Deck – Blackjack played with just one deck of 52 standard playing cards.

Snapper – Slang term for a “Natural” or “Blackjack.”

Soft Ace – Any Ace that may be played with a value of either 1 or 11; also see “Hard Ace.”

Soft Double – The act of doubling down on a soft hand.

Soft Hand or Soft Total – A hand that contains an Ace counted as 11 without breaking.

Split, Split Hand, or Splitting Pairs – To separate a pair of equal cards and play them as two independent hands; this play requires making an additional wager equal to the initial bet, and special House Rules may apply.

Spooking – A cheating method whereby a person peeks at the hole card by standing behind the dealer and then conveys its value to an active player.

Stand – To take no further action on a hand and play with what has been dealt.

Standing Hand – A hand with a hard total of 17 or more, to which no more cards should be drawn.

Stand-off – Another term for “Push.”

Stay – Another term for “Stand.”

Steaming – Used to refer to a losing blackjack player who has lost emotional control and begins betting wildly.

Stiff Card – Slang term for a dealer’s up card valued from 2 to 6.

Stiff Hand – Slang for a player’s hand valued from 12 to 16.

Surrender – Folding a hand to reclaim 50% of the original wager, offered only before drawing and not available at all tables; House Rules apply.

Team Play – Two or more people sharing a single bankroll and organized to help one of more of them win; it can be cause for getting barred.

Tell Play – Observing the dealer’s expressions and body language in an effort to determine what hole card is held.

Ten-Poor Deck – A deck containing a statistically low number of cards valued at 10.

Ten-Rich Deck – A deck containing a statistically high number of cards valued at 10.

Ten-Value Card – Any card worth 10 points—a 10, Jack, Queen, or King.

Third Base – Last seat occupied to the dealer’s right, see “Anchor.”

Third Baseman – The player sitting last to the dealer’s right, who is last to act; see “Anchorman.”

Tie – Alternative term for “Push” or “Draw.”

Tip or Toke – A gratuity given by a player to a dealer or other casino employee, either in chips or as cash.

True Count – For card counting, this is an adjusted version of the running count that takes into account the remaining number of cards left to be played in the deck or shoe.

Twenty-One – Alternative term for “Blackjack.”

Unfavorable Deck – A deck in which the remaining cards favor the casino, not the player; see also “Cold Deck.”

Unit – A standard bet, often the table minimum.

Up Card – One of the dealer’s cards, exposed face up to be seen by all players.

Vigorish or Vig – Alternative term for the “House Edge.”

Whale – Slang term for the highest level of high roller.

Win Rate – The average amount a player wins per hour.