Blackjack Glossary

Have you ever been playing a game of live blackjack when out of the blue the dealer says something you’re unfamiliar with? Don’t worry, it happens all the time – you would be surprised by how many different blackjack terms there are. That’s exactly why we put together this extensive live blackjack glossary.

Check out all our blackjack guides and strategy pages

The A to Z of live blackjack

With the help of various blackjack experts, we have created this useful guide that defines each term and offers you quick access to helpful resources, adding context to each definition. The list of terms and definitions is always growing so make sure you check this live blackjack glossary regularly. Of course, if you think that any terms have been overlooked, please do let us know!Your journey to mastering live blackjack starts here!



The second best hand in a blackjack game in which a hand of three or more cards add up to a total of twenty-one.


The act of being removed, or banned from a casino, as a result of being suspected of using advantage play.



The best possible card to be dealt in a game of blackjack. This card has two values: an 11 if the hand total does not exceed a count of twenty-one and a 1 if it would exceed twenty-one.

Ace Neutral Count

A card counting approach where no value is assigned to the ace cards.

Ace Rich

A scenario where there are far more aces than possible present in the deck or dealing shoe.

Ace Side Count

The act of keeping a side count of aces on top of the main count when counting cards.


Either the cumulative amount bet over a period of time or the amount bet in a specific wager.

Advantage Player

An individual who uses betting strategies to gain a mathematical advantage over the casino.


The seat to the far right of the dealer. Also referred to as third base.


The player sat at the last seat of the blackjack table, on the dealer’s far right. This individual is last to act in each round and is sometimes referred to as an anchor player or a third baseman.


Back Counting

The act of counting cards from behind the blackjack table as a spectator with the intent of joining the game once it is favourable to do so. This is sometimes referred to as wonging.

Back Off

When a casino asks an individual to stop playing blackjack specifically.

Balanced Card Counting

A card counting approach in which the sum of negative or minus cards is equal to the sum of positive or plus cards. If the running count at the end of a full deck amounts to zero, then it is a balanced count.


The individual responsible for the money and betting throughout a blackjack game. He or she also collects the winnings and losses.


The amount of money an individual sets aside to place bets with. This may referred to as either the total or session bankroll.

Barber Pole

A wager that consists of different-coloured denominations of chips.

Barring A Player

To be permanently prohibited from a casino, usually due to adopting some advantage play tactics.

Basic Blackjack Strategy

A simple blackjack betting system adopted by a player throughout the game based solely on the player’s cards and the dealer’s upcard.

Bet Sizing

Setting the value of your bet in proportion the player’s mathematical advantage over the casino.

Bet Spread

The ratio to the maximum and minimum bet an individual makes throughout a playing session.

Betting Efficiency

The percentage of time that a counting system will recognise an individual who has a betting advantage.

Betting Limits

Restrictions set by the casino on both the minimum and maximum amount players may bet on the blackjack table.

Betting Ramp

The amount of money a card counter should wager at each value of the true count.

Betting Ratio

A system used by casinos to identify card counters who increase their bets when they have a favourable hand.

Betting Spot

The allocated area of the betting layout in front of each seat. It’s either denoted by a square or circle, and is where the chips are placed.

Big Player

A member of a card counting team who waits for a signal from a spotter (another team member) and then enters the game to place large wagers.

Black Chips

Black-colored casino chips that usually have a value of $100.

Black Book

A slang term referring to the list of banned players


An automatic winning hand made up of an ace and a ten-value card such as a 10, King, Queen or Jack. This hand totals twenty-one, pays at odds of 3:2 and is sometimes referred to as a natural blackjack.

Bottom Dealing

A cheating technique used by the dealer where two cards are dealt from the bottom of the deck rather than the top, should the cards on top be unfavourable.

Burn Card

The first card that is removed by the dealer faced down and placed into the discard rack, after the decks have been shuffled and cut. This typically happens after a dealer change.


An automatic losing hand where two or more cards exceed a count of twenty-one. Sometimes referred to as a break, a busted hand or a broken hand.

Bust Card

A specific card that causes a player’s or dealer’s hand to exceed a count of twenty-one.


A term commonly used in Pontoon, a blackjack variant, to refer to when an individual chooses to double their bet.


The act of exchanging money for casino chips.



Any action performed by a skilled gambler to conceal their advantage play activities from the casino. These may include mixing in playing and betting behaviour that mimics other players, among many other approaches.

Card Counter

A player who keeps track of certain cards as they are dealt to ascertain when the deck is in his favour.

Card Counting

A blackjack strategy where a player tracks the ratio of high to low cards that have already been played. An individual adopting such a system will raise their bet when the odds are favourable, and lower them accordingly.

Card Sharp

A person who is very handy with cards.

Cashier’s Cage

Area in a casino where a player converts casino chips into cash.

Casino Manager

Casino executive responsible for the operation of a casino.


A synonym for casino chips.


Tokens used by players to place a bet.

Chip Counting

Determining the value of a stack of chips by eyeballing the stack, primarily in tournaments.

Chip Tray

The plate where the dealer keeps and distributes casino chips to players.


An instance where a player receives a bad card or a bad run.

Colour For Colour

When a dealer pays off a winning bet with the same denomination chips as those wagered.

Continuous Shuffling Machine (CSM)

An automatic shuffling machine that randomly mixes the discards in with the remaining cards after each round.


The act of betting the same amount as an opponent in a blackjack tournament.


The value of the tally in a card counting system.


When the casino counts all the chips of tournament players after a specified number of hands.


Any unplayed cards that are behind the cut card in a dealing shoe.

Cutting Cards

The act of splitting cards once shuffling has been completed by the dealer.


D’Alembert System

A progressive betting strategy where players increase their bets after a loss or if their bankroll is quite low. It is one of the safest betting systems which may be adopted by blackjack players.


The action when a dealer hands out cards to the players at the blackjack table.


The player-facing individual who is responsible for dealing the cards to the players and ensuring each round of the blackjack game runs smoothly.

Deck Penetration

The number of decks of cards the dealer removes from the shoe before reshuffling.

Discard Tray

The area where the cards that have been played are placed.


Cards that have already been used in a shuffle that have been placed in the discard tray.

Double Down

The act of placing a second bet, equal to the player’s original wager, based on the hand the player has received so far and receive one additional card. This action may only be taken on the first two cards.


The decision to receive an additional card from the dealer on top of the original hand. Players typically request an extra card by saying hit to the dealer.


Abbreviation for the term doubling after pair splitting.


A standard deck of fifty-two playing cards.


The act of changing from the basic strategy based on the count.


Abbreviation for the term Double On Any first two cards.

Down Card

The dealer’s hole card, or any other card that is dealt face down.

Dealing Seconds

A cheating method where the dealer takes the second card from the top. This method sometimes benefits the player.


A computerised device such as a calculator or PDA which players use to gain an edge over the casino.

Double Exposure

A blackjack game where some rules have been changed or removed completely. Here both the dealer’s cards are revealed to all the players before they play the game.


Early Surrender

A player decision to forfeit half of their bet before the dealer checks for a blackjack.

Elimination Tournament

A blackjack contest where the players with the most chips on each table after the game advance to compete at another while, while others are eliminated.

End Play

A blackjack playing style where the player may take advantage of knowing the last unplayed card at the end of the deck.

Entry-level Card Counting System

A simple card counting strategy that’s straightforward to learn but has less power than traditional systems.

Even Money

If a player manages to obtain a natural blackjack and the dealer’ upcard is an ace, they player can opt to claim his winnings, before the dealer shows the other cards, at a payout of 1:1. This is another version of insurance.


What the player, or the casino, can expect to win or lose during a game. This is based on prior statistics and is usually given as a percentage estimation.

Expected Value

The predicted value of your hand based on the number of varying possibilities of winning, losing or pusing multiplied by the chance of each occurring.

Eye In The Sky

The cameras mounted in glass bubbles, on the ceiling in casinos, used to observe both the player and dealer. Sometimes abbreviated to EITS.


Face Cards

Picture cards, that is the Jack, Queen and King, in any standard deck of playing cards. They are valued at 10 points each in a game of blackjack.

Face-down Blackjack

A version of 21 where all cards are dealt face down, adding an extra element of difficulty as the players are unaware of what cards the dealer or the other players have.

Face-up Blackjack

Also known as Double Exposure. This version of 21 plays the opposite of face-down blackjack in the sense that all dealer and player cards are dealt face up. This allows players to strategize their moves, however, the rules are altered to make up for this advantage.

False Shuffle

A scenario where a cheating dealer pretends to shuffle cards in a deck, but has actually pre-arranged the actual order of it.

Favourable Deck

When the cards remaining in the deck are in the player’s favour.

First Base

The first seat at a blackjack table, located to the dealer’s far left side. This individual is the first to act on their hand.


The ability to spot the dealer’s hole card from the first base position.

First Baseman

The player sitting to the dealer’s far left and the first to take an action during each round.

Five-card Charlie

A scenario where a player is dealt a five-card hand without going over 21. Some versions of blackjack payout at odds of 1:1, irrespective of what the dealer has.


A dealer who carelessly exposes their down card to the players at the table.

Front Money

The specific amount of money that a player deposits at a land-based casino before heading to the tables.


Going For The High

Betting a high amount of chips so that if every player wins the hand, you will end up winning the most out of everyone.

Going For The Low

Being conservative with the amount of chips bet in the hopes that the dealer’s hand will beat the table.

Griffin Book

A book of suspected card counters and casino “cheaters” provided to casinos by Griffin Investigations.



The cards that the player or the dealer is holding. A hand can be either a soft hand, a hard hand or a neutral hand, depending on the cards held.

Hand-held Game

When the dealer holds the cards in their hand as opposed to placing them in a dealing shoe.

Hand Spreading

A technique used by card counters to increase the number of hands they play per round when the game is in their favour.

Hard hand

When a hand has a value higher than 12 or more and doesn’t contain an ace. This can also apply to a hand that has an ace that is forced to be valued at 1 to avoid a bust. Also referred to as Hard Total.

Heads Up

When there is only the dealer and one player at the table. Also referred to as Heads On, Heads Down, or Head to Head.


A popular card counting system that takes a balanced approach.

Hit 17

When the dealer has a soft 17, this rule requires them to take a hit.


This is when you ask to receive another card. When you choose to hit, you are increasing the value of your hand with an additional card.

Hole Card

This is a dealer card that is placed facedown so as to hide the card’s value from the view of the players.


The house sets the rules and governs over how a game is played. This is usually the casino itself.


Illustrious 18

Group of eighteen card counting variations from the basic strategy that will allow the player to achieve between 80% and 90% of the available gain.

Index Number

A number that is calculated based on the value of the true count. A card counter will veer from the basic strategy for a certain hand at this number.


When the dealer’s first faceup card is an ace, the player can place an optional bet if they think the dealer will have a natural blackjack. If the player is right they can double their initial bet, covering their loses.


Kelly Betting System

A betting strategy that optimises logarithmic bankroll growth while minimizing risk.


Late Surrender

A rule that allows the player to forfeit half of their bet after the dealer checks for a natural blackjack. If the dealer does have a blackjack, the player will still lose their entire bet.

Lifetime Risk Of Ruin

The total monetary value a player would need for a lifetime of playing blackjack with a minimum risk of ruin.

Long Term

The process of closing the gap between your actual results and expected results, percentage wise, over a long period of time playing the game.



A dealer who cheats at the game by tampering with a multiple card deck by adding favourable cards to it.

Mid-shoe Entry

Joining a game and making a bet between the end of the first round and the appearance of the first cut card.

Multi-parameter System

A card counting system that tracks two counts at the same time. These are usually the main count and a side count of aces.


When a shoe has more than one deck of cards in it for a game of blackjack.


Natural Hand

A two-card hand totalling twenty-one points, otherwise known as blackjack. The four examples of such a hand are: a 10 and an Ace, a Jack and an Ace, a Queen and an Ace or a King and an Ace.


Abbreviation for the term no double after split.

Negative Count

When the count is below zero and the game is in the casino’s favour.



Any picture card in the deck – Jack, Queen or King.

Pair Splitting

The act of splitting a hand that contains a pair into two hands. Pair splitting requires the player to make another wager equal to their initial bet.

Pat Hand

When the original hand dealt to the player totals between 17 and 21. The player will typically stand pat when this happens.


A device that the dealer uses to check the value of their face-down card. If they have a 10 or an ace, then the round will end.


A number that represents the total amount of cards that are dealt out before the dealer shuffles the deck. It is sometimes represented as a percentage of the total cards.

Perfect Pairs

When the player has a pair of cards from the same suit that are of equal value.

Pit Boss

The person who supervises the blackjack pit.

Pitch Game

A game with 1 or 2 decks of cards that are dealt straight from the hand of the dealer.


A slang term to describe someone who plays blackjack without any strategy or ability to count cards.

Point Count

A card counting strategy where the player takes the net value of the card at the end of the hand.

Positive Count

When the game is in the player’s favour due to the count being greater than zero.

Preferential Shuffling

When cards that the player needs still remain within the shoe or the deck.

Progressive Betting

A betting system where the outcome of the game influences how the player will bet in the next round.


When the dealer and the player have the same total number in their hands at the end of the game. In this case, the player’s bet is returned to them with no profit. Also referred to as a stand off.



If a player chooses to split their hand and gets another pair, they can then choose to resplit it.

Rider Bet

The act of riding on the wager of another player.

Risk Of Ruin

The mathematical probability of a player losing their whole bankroll.


When every player acts on their hands during a complete series of play.

Rule Of Six

A method of determining the number of rounds there are before a shuffle. This is generally done by subtracting the number of players at the table from the number 6.

Running Count

In card counting, this is the sum of the values of each card at any giving stage. Following each hand, the value of the running count will change.



The period of time that a player spends at the table.

Session Bankroll

The amount of money that the player assigns to play with for a single session.


A device that players use to cheat at blackjack by revealing the dealer’s hole card.

Shoe Game

A game of blackjack where to dealer uses a shoe to deal the cards. It’s usually used when more than two decks of cards are in play.


When the dealer mixes the cards in a random fashion before dealing.


When only one deck of cards is used in a game of blackjack.

Sit And Go

Online tournaments that are generally quick to play.


A slang term for blackjack.

Soft Hand

A hand that includes an ace that is valued at 11 instead of 1 and another card. If the player chooses to hit, the ace change its value to 1. Also referred to as soft 17 and soft total.


The act of splitting a hand that contains two cards of the same value into two hands.


This is a method of cheating where a person stands behind the dealer and tries to see their hole card. They then communicate this to a player at the table. This method will get players banned from a casino if they are found out.

Stand 17

When the dealer has a soft hand, this rule requires them to stand.


When the player chooses not to be dealt any more cards.

Standing Hand

This is when a player has a hand that totals 17 or above. It’s not recommended that the player takes another card in this situation, so are left only with the choice to stand.


When the player and the dealer have the same value cards at the end of a round so no one wins or loses. Also referred to as a push.

Stick (Stay)

This is a term specific to the blackjack variant ‘Pontoon’. It means stand.

Stiff Card

Any card that forces the dealer to take a hit. These cards range from 2 to 6 in value.

Stiff Hand

A hand that has a value between 12 and 16. This is not a good hand to have as it is rather low in value and will result in a bust on a 10-value card hit.

Sucker Bet

A wager where the expected return is considerably lower than the original bet. Insurance and surrender bets are sometimes considered sucker bets.


Team Play

This is a group of players whose money comes from the same bankroll, normally pooled by the players themselves or some other investor or benefactor.

Tell Play

The act of observing the dealer’s body language or expression in hopes of gaining an advantage in the game.

Ten-poor Deck

A deck in which more 10-value cards have been dealt.

Ten-rich Deck

A deck in which less 10-value cards have been dealt.

Ten-value Card

Any card worth 10 points, that is a 10, Jack, Queen or King.

Third Base

The last seat at a blackjack table, located to the dealer’s far right side. This individual is the last to act on their hand.

Third Baseman

The player sitting to the dealer’s far right and the last to take an action during each round.

True Count

The count per deck calculated by dividing the running count by the number of decks left to be dealt.


Push and Standoff are synonymous with the blackjack term ‘tie’.


A gratuity given to a dealer, or any individual who works in the casino, by a player. Also referred to as a toke.


A term used to refer to an individual who is not allowed on the casino’s premises anymore.


Another term for blackjack.


A word used instead of hit in the blackjack variant Pontoon.


Unbalanced Card Counting System

A card counting approach in which the sum of negative or minus cards is not equal to the sum of positive or plus cards. If the running count at the end of a full deck does not amount to zero, then it is a unbalanced count.

Unfavorable Deck

When the cards remaining in the deck that are in the casino’s favour.


The minimum wager that a player chooses to bet.


The dealer’s exposed card which is seen by all players such that they may examine their own playing options.



Another term for bet.


A term used to refer to a high-roller.


The act of back-counting cards until a player believes that the table is favourable. Once the player believes they have an edge, they’ll join the game. This approach is named after Stanford Wong.


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