Blackjack Terms

Glossary of Casino Words & Phrases | Terminology


Understanding the terminology of online blackjack is crucial for learning rules of the game and comprehending different strategies. Blackjack terms, although not as numerous as say, blackjack tips, are often very specific and if you don’t know their exact meanings, you can easily get befuddled as to what a particular expression stands for.

It won’t take you a long time to assimilate the entire blackjack glossary and this article offers in-depth explanations for some less known terms to make sure you know exactly what is what. Blackjack rules often refer to many terms explained within, so if you ever find yourself wondering what a particular expression might mean, just check this article and you are guaranteed to find an answer to any dilemmas you might have.

Blackjack Terms: Talking the Talk

What follows is the list of many well known and some lesser known blackjack terms, expressions, and phrases. After reading this, you will never find yourself in a position where you have no idea what other players at the table are talking about.

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The term is commonly used to refer to a player who was banned from the casino. Although one can be 86’d for many reasons, the expression was first used for banned Blackjack card counters.



The player sitting in a position closest to the dealer’s right. Since the cards are dealt from left to right, the anchorman is the player who receives his or her cards last.


Balanced count

A term used by card counters to denote a counting system in which there is the perfect balance between positive (plus) and negative (minus) cards. In such a system, if all the values were to be added and subtracted, the result would always be zero (0).

Basic strategy

A fundamental system for playing blackjack. The basic strategy is based upon mathematical simulations and it offers the optimum solution for every possible situation, based on players’ cards, dealer’s up-card, and the number of decks in the shoe. By following the basic strategy, a player can maximally reduce the house edge.


The name of the game and the combination of cards containing one ace of any suite and another card with the value of 10 (all 10s and all picture cards).


To bust means to go over 21. When a player draws a card and the total count of his hand exceeds 21, he busts and automatically forfeits his bet regardless of what happens later in the hand.


Card counter

A person who actively keeps track of cards that have already been dealt to determine how (un)favorable the deck is for the player and adjust their bets accordingly. When possible, card counting is by far the most effective blackjack strategy.

Cut card

A plastic card commonly used to mark the point in the deck(s) at which the dealer will reshuffle the shoe.



The person in charge of distributing cards, paying out the bets, and keeping track of all the action that goes down at the table.

Double (down)

When a player’s total for the first two cards is 9, 10, or 11 (usually), they are allowed to double down. The player can, if he so chooses, place another bet of the same value next to his original bet. They will then receive just one more card and if they end up with a better hand than the dealer, they will be paid the full amount on both bets.


Even money bet

A bet that pays one to one, i.e. for every unit wagered, the winning player receives one extra unit.

Exposed card

Another name for the up-card, i.e. the dealer’s visible card.

Eye in the Sky

In blackjack terminology, this expression is used to describe high-tech casino cameras used to follow the action at the tables from the control room. Although these cameras are used to keep track of everything that goes down, they are particularly useful for catching card counters.


Face card

A card with a picture on it (also, a picture card), i.e. Jacks, Queens, and Kings.

First base

A player sitting in the position closest to the left of the dealer, receiving the first card on every deal.

Five-card Charlie

 In the blackjack glossary, a five-card Charlie is a situation where the player draws three additional cards, bringing his total hand to five, without busting. Sometimes, casinos will offer a special bonus for these rare situations. To find out everything you need to know about particular blackjack rules of different online casinos, check out our online casino comparison guide.


Hard hand

A hand that doesn’t contain an Ace that can be counted as one; in other words, the hard hand is the one that can bust on the next draw.


Ask for another card to be dealt. In live casinos, the term “hit me” is commonly used by gamblers to request another card.

Hi-Lo count system

One of the simpler blackjack card counting systems, where cards 2 through 6 are counted as +1, while 10s and all face cards are counted as -1. The rest of the cards in the shoe is neutral (the value of 0).

Hole card

Although this expression is primarily used in poker, in blackjack it stands to describe the dealer’s undiscovered (down) card.



The insurance bet is the bet a player can place when the dealer is showing an Ace as his exposed card and it amounts to the half of the original bet. If the dealer turns over blackjack, the player is paid 2 to 1 on his insurance wager. If there is no blackjack, the insurance is automatically lost. The original bet still plays as usually.


Multiply deck

 Term used to describe a blackjack game with more than one deck of cards. Most casinos will deal from the shoe containing between six and eight decks.



The synonym for a blackjack, i.e. a hand with only two cards adding up to 21 (a 10 or a paint + an Ace).



Same as a face card. Paint includes all Jacks, Queens, and Kings. Sometimes, players will also refer to a 10 as a paint.


A term sometimes used the hand totaling at least 17.


Refers to a number of decks/cards to be dealt before reshuffling the shoe. The deck penetration is a very important fact for card counters; deeper the penetration, more effective the counting.

Pit boss

A casino employee supervising the games, making sure there is no cheating going on, the game plays according to rules, and also keeping his eye out for card counters.

Pitch game

A game of blackjack using only one or two decks in which the dealer deals out of his hand instead of using the shoe.


 A blackjack-specific term used to describe a tie. When both a player and the dealer have exactly the same hand, they “push,” meaning the player receives his bet back.



A casino device used to hold the decks used for the game. The dealer takes cards out of the shoe one at the time and deals them out to players and himself.

Soft hand

A hand containing an Ace which can be counted as either one (1) or eleven (11).


When a player receives a pair (two of the same cards) as his first two cards, he is allowed to split them. He has to place the bet matching the original wager in order to do so and then he proceeds to play both cards as two separate hands. A player will usually not be paid the blackjack bonus after splitting Tens or Aces.


When a player doesn’t want to take any more cards, he “stands,” meaning he is happy with the value of that particular hand.


The expression used to describe a person who loses his cool at the blackjack table and starts to play recklessly for any number of reasons. To find out how you can protect yourself from steaming and preserve your bankroll, check out our blackjack tips & tricks section.



Same as push. The tie happens when both a player and the dealer hold the hand of the same value.


Zen count system

A rather complex Value 2 count system, where Aces are counted as -1, all 10s and picture cards as -2; all 2s, 3s, and 7s are counted as +1, while 4s, 5s, and 6s are counted as +2. 8s and 9s are neutral (+0).


Blackjack Terms Are Player-Friendly

This article contains pretty much all blackjack terms you can expect to encounter in live and online casinos. There are some strategy-specific terms which are explained in our different strategy guides, so make sure to check those as well to round up your knowledge. The majority of expressions do make sense once you learn the game, so you should have no problems memorizing them.

Armed with your new knowledge, all you need to do now is check out our casino bonus comparison section to see where you can get the most for your money. Bigger your bankroll, smaller the chance for you to go bust so make sure to take full advantage of as many free money offers as you can!