Following are some of the most common terms used in playing blackjack that are good for beginners to learn before they start playing in casinos. Players will learn many more terms, especially slang, the longer they play blackjack in casinos.
Ace Tracking – When a player tries to “guesstimate” when an ace will be dealt based on the cards that are seen around each ace.
Advantage – How much mathematical edge the casino has over the player, or the probability that the house will win and the player will lose. This is often shown as a percentage. This term can also apply to a player, if for example, he or she applies strategies to give more of an advantage or to reduce the house’s edge.
Anchorman – Player on the dealer’s far right in the last seat of the table, who is last to act.
Barring a Player – When a casino refuses to allow a player to play in any game, or even to be present in the casino. Reserved for identified or suspected cheaters, or those who disrupt casino players.
Basic Blackjack Strategy – A mathematical system that players use to redcue the house edge as much as possible. Often available as a pocket-sized chart that can be used at the tables while playing.
Beat the Dealer – The ultimate goal of playing blackjack.
Blackjack – Traditionally, a hand containing both a Jack and an Ace of spades; today a hand containing an Ace and a 10-point card; automatic winner. Also known as “21″.
Bust – A hand totaling more than 21 points, an automatic loser.
Card Counter – Player who tracks cards as they are dealt.
Card Counting – Tracking card values as they’re dealt, usually by any one of dozens of complicated mathematical calculation methods requiring great concentration.
Dealer – Casino employee who deals the cards at the blackjack table.
Deck – A standard collection of 52 playing cards in four suits (spades, diamonds, hearts, clubs) ranging from numbers 2 through 10 with Jack, Queen, King and Ace cards.
Double, or Double Down – An option to double a bet with only one card to come.
Draw a Card – Receive additional cards after the initial deal.
Early Surrender – A player’s option to surrender half his or her bet while the dealer checks for blackjack.
Even money – A betting option for the player when the dealer shows an ace and the player has a blackjack, to be paid immediately at 1:1. A version of insurance.
First Baseman – Player on the dealer’s far left, who is first to act.
Flat Bet – Betting the same amount consistently in each hand.
Floorman – Casino supervisor.
Hand – First cards dealt to each player.
Hard Hand, or Hard Total – Any hand where there is no ace, or the ace counts as one.
Head-to-Head – Playing the dealer one–on–one.
High Roller – A player who bets large amounts of money.
Hit – Drawing an additional card on top of the original hand.
Hole Card – The dealer’s unseen card.
House – Another name for the casino.
House edge – The mathematical advantage a casino has over players, often expressed as a percentage of projected losses; also called “advantage.” Varies according to many factors such as game rules, etc.
Insurance – Betting option for players when the dealer shows an ace. Not recommended by most experienced players, as it simply increases the house edge.
Marker – A chit promising to pay money, signed by a player who has established a line of credit with the casino.
Mucker – A cheater who adds favorable cards to a multiple deck game.
Multiple-Deck – A game consisting of more than one deck of cards dealt from a box called a “shoe”.
Natural – Slang for a blackjack (21) on the first two cards (a hand containing an ace and a 10).
Pat Hand – Standing on a “hard hand” totaling 17 or higher; taking no additional cards.
Pit Boss – Casino supervisor in charge of blackjack tables.
Push – A tie between the dealer and the player; no one wins or loses, so that hand is discarded and a new hand is dealt.
Round – Complete series of play in which each player has acted on his or her hand.
Shoe – A box holding multiple decks of cards, used to deal cards one at a time.
Shuffle – Mixing up cards before dealing.
Single-Deck – A game of blackjack using only one deck of cards.
Soft Hand, or Soft Total – Any hand containing an ace, in which the ace is given a value of 11.
Split – Option to separate identically ranked cards to play as two hands. Always recommended with A-A and 8-8 pairs because of the high potential to achieve a total that will beat the dealer.
Stand, Stand Pat – A player’s choice to not receive any more cards.
Stiff Card – Any 2 to 6 card requiring a hit.
Stiff Hand – Any hand totaling 12–16, likely to bust on a 10-value card hit.
Surrender – Option of a player to forfeit half his bet after the dealer checks for blackjack.
Ten-Value Card – Any card worth 10 points, a 10, Jack, Queen, or King.
Third Baseman – Player on a dealer’s far right, who is last to act.
Tip or Toke – Gratuity a player gives to a dealer.
Twenty-One (21) – Another name for blackjack, derived from the French game Vingt-et-Un (21 in French), which is believed to be the modern forerunner of today’s game.
Unfavorable Deck – A deck with remaining cards favoring the casino, not players.
Unit – A standard bet size.
Upcard – A dealer’s exposed card, visible to all players.