Blackjack Terminology & Lingo

21: The original name for blackjack, coming from French Vingt-et-Un.

21+3: A popular variation of blackjack that was created from a combination of Blackjack with Three Card Poker.

5 (6,7) Card Charlie: A hand of 5, 6 or 7 cards with value of 21 or less. A special winning hand in certain variations of blackjack, such as Pontoon (British). Also referred as Five Card Trick. Usually pays 2:1.

Anchor: Player sitting on dealers right and the last to play. Considered to be the best spot for card counters. Also referred as Third Base.

Atlantic City Blackjack: A version of blackjack originated in Atlantic City. Based on classic American blackjack with the addition of surrender option. At start the casinos offered early surrender, but it was later on replaced by late surrender.

Balanced Count: Card counting systems where the total count of the deck is 0.

Blackjack: Ace plus a 10 value card. Also referred as Natural.

Blackjack Switch: a version of blackjack invented by Geoff Hall in 2009, where the player bets on two hands simultaneously and has the option to switch the second cards between his hands.

Burn Cards: The cards placed in the discard tray after shuffling.

Bust: A hand exceeding 21.

Card Counting: Remembering played cards to establish a statistical advantage over the house.

Cut Card: A plastic card that is placed by the dealer usually in the last quarter of the shoe. Shows the dealer when to reshuffle the cards.

Deck: Most blackjacks use 1 to 8 standard decks of 52 cards. In Spanish blackjack (Australian Pontoon) the decks are of 48 cards, 10s are removed. Higher number of decks increases the house edge.

Deck Penetration: The percentage of cards dealt before the cut card is reached and the cards reshuffled. Important for card counting and one of the reasons why you can’t count cards online.

Double / Double Down: the option to double your bet after seeing your initial cards. Rules regarding double down vary between different casinos and games. Common ones are: on any 2 cards; on hands of total value of 9 and 10, or 9 – 11. In most cases after doubling down you will receive only one additional cards. Some games, such as Super Fun 21, allow to double at any number of cards.

Double Exposure: A version of blackjack where both dealer cards are exposed. Also referred as Face Up.

Early Surrender: An option to surrender your hand before the dealer checks for blackjack. Was common in Atlantic City, but now rarely to be found.

Even Money: another variation of insurance. When you have a blackjack and the dealer shows an Ace, the dealer might offer you even money ; meaning you will be paid immediately 1:1, instead of risking a push vs. dealers blackjack. Considered a sucker bet.

European Blackjack: a common/basic blackjack game where the dealer doesn’t check for blackjack. See also American blackjack / Hole Card.

Face Cards: J, Q, K.

Hard Hand: Any hand that doesn’t include an Ace as 11. The opposite of Soft Hand.

Hi Lo Count: The most common card counting system where 2-6 are valued as -1, 7-9 ignored and 10-A as +1.

Hi Lo 13: Blackjack variation where you can place a side bet on whether the value of your first 2 cards will be below 13, 13, or higher.

Hit: To ask for another card. Also Draw.

Hole Card: A face down card dealt to the dealer. In European blackjack the dealer doesn’t get a Hole card which means that he cannot check for blackjack. American blackjack is usually referred as Hole Card game.

House Edge: a number which represents the statistically expected loss. For example a house edge of 0.3% means that statistically after betting $1,000, the player is expected to lose $30.

Insurance: When the dealer shows an Ace, you might be offered an Insurance. That means that you place a similar bet on dealer having a blackjack. If he does, you are paid 2:1, but lose your original bet. If he doesn’t, you lose the insurance. Bottom line: don’t!

Late Surrender: an option to surrender your hand after the dealer checks for blackjack at the price of losing half of your bet. Unjustifiably considered a sucker bet. Check also Early Surrender.

Perfect Pairs: one of the most common blackjack side bets where you can place a bet on whether your first cards will be a pair. There are three payout options: mixed pair, coloured pair or perfect pair (same suit).

Progressive Blackjack: blackjack with a progressive jackpot that grows with every placed bet. The combination to win the jackpot vary between casinos. For example 4 suited Aces (from your first card).

Push: A tie in which the player gets his bet back.

Resplit: the option to split your hand for the second time.

Soft Hand: A hand which includes an Ace as 11. For example A+6 = Soft  17. The face whether the dealer stands or hits on 17s highly influences the odds. Dealer hits 17s decreases players odds by approximately 0.2%.

Spanish 21: A popular game played with unusual  48-card decks (10s removed). Extremely popular in Australia and Far East under the name Pontoon.

Split: the option to split similar or equal value cards to make two separate hands.

Stand: To stop the dealer from giving more cards.

True Count: Used in card counting to adjust the count per remaining decks. For example Running Count of +15 with 3 decks in the shoe = True Count of +5.

Vegas Strip Blackjack: Classic hole card game. Usually played with 4 decks and dealer stands on all 17s.

Zappit Blackjack: Another game invented by Geoff Hall (the guy that created Blackjack Switch). Here you can throw away  (once) your hand if the total value is 15-17 (or 15-18). Currently available online only in Bovada and Ignition casinos.