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Blackjack Terminology

21 -- Another name for the game of Blackjack. Also, the desired total in Blackjack.

5-6-7 Card Charlie -- 5 or 6 or 7 cards totaling 21 or less.

Action -- A general gambling term which refers to the total amount of money bet in a specific period of time. Five bets of $10 each is $50 of action.

Anchorman -- The player closest to the dealer's right. This position is dealt last, just before the dealer. As a result, if you are new to Blackjack you may want to avoid this position. Other players will sometimes blame the anchorman for giving the dealer an advantage by not hitting or standing in the same way they would. If you do play in the anchorman's seat, stick to the chart and don't let other players fluster you. In fact, if you're card counting, this is the best place to sit.

Automatic Shuffle Machine -- A machine that shuffles the cards when the penetration point or cut card is reached. Do not confuse this with a Continuous Shuffle Machine (CSM).

Back Counting -- Counting cards while not involved in the game. A counter who is back counting is generally waiting for an opportune time to join the game. Casinos discourage this by not allowing anyone into the game until the deck is newly shuffled.

Back Line -- A wager among players (player-vs-player rather than player-vs-house). The bettors may be called "back-liners" and the practice "back-lining." Some casinos discourage this practice (because there's nothing in it for the house).

Back of the House -- Areas of the casino where players are unwelcome, such as the vault, cashier's office, and other areas. This also includes the area inside the tables (the pit), which is reserved for casino personnel.

Backing Up -- Reconstructing a hand to prove the total. If a player suggests a mistake is made, the dealer may back up the hand from the discard rack to show him his original hand and re-count it.

Banker -- In a card game, the person in charge of the money. The dealer or the players who book the action of the other bettors at the table.

Bankroll -- A player's starting money, the amount the player walks up to the table with, money available to bet with. At the table, this typically refers to the amount a player invests in a game rather than the money in his pocket, and is sometimes treated as a synonym for his buy-in. The house's bankroll is the amount of chips in the dealer's rack. As a verb, to "bankroll" someone is to provide them with funds to bet with.

Bar -- To exclude (banish) a player from a game or a gaming establishment.

Barber Pole -- A bet that contains chips of varying denominations. Sometimes used to describe a stack of differently-colored chips that are improperly stacked (interspersed denominations). Sometimes known as a Rainbow Bet.

Basic Strategy -- A computer-developed method for playing Blackjack that may be easily memorized by a player without counting cards.

Batch Shuffle Machine -- A machine that uses two sets of cards. One is used for the shoe, and the other is continuously shuffled. When the first batch runs out, the second batch is inserted into the shoe, and new discards are put into the shuffle side and shuffled until needed. Do not confuse this with a Automatic Shuffle Machine.

Betting Limits -- The minimum and maximum wagers allowed by the house at a specific table. When referring to a casino, this could refer to the lowest and highest limits available at all tables in the casino.

Betting Ratio -- A comparison of the highest and lowest bets placed by a player. Used by the house to identify possible card counters, who increase their bets dramatically when the deck is in their favor.

Betting the Count -- The practice, among card counters, of betting a number of units equal to the current value of the "count."

Blackjack -- A hand consisting of an Ace and a 10-value card (10, Jack, Queen or King) totaling 21. Usually pays 3-2, except after splitting Aces. Casino rules vary on the payout of a Blackjack. A payout of 3-2 means that a $5 bet receives $7.50, a $10 bet receives $15, and so forth. You are getting 1.5 (150%) payout of your winning bet, instead of the normal 1.0 (100%). See also Payout Ratios.

Bottom Dealing -- A technique, generally cheating, when the dealer delivers one or more cards from the bottom of the deck.

Break - Broke -- Taking "hits" (additional cards) that cause your total to go over 21. An immediately losing hand.

Break Down -- Dividing a stack of chips to facilitate counting. A stack consisting of multiple colors is broken down by color, then individual stacks of a single color broken down into amounts that can be easily totaled at a glance.

Breaking Hand - Breakable Hand -- A hand that can break (go over 21) with a one-card draw, such as a hard 12 to 16.

BSE -- Basic Strategy Edge

Burn Card(s) -- The first card(s) of a newly shuffled deck that is immediately discarded, without being dealt. Burn cards are rarely shown face up to players, which can affect the count if you are counting cards. If cards are misdealt or improperly exposed, they may also be burned.

Burned -- Discarded; often done to the first card after the deck is cut so that the player can't see it's value.

Bust - Busted -- When a hand's value exceeds 21... an immediately losing hand. A player "busts" after "hitting" if the new card causes the player's total to exceed 21.

Bust Hand -- A hand totaling 12 or higher, that can "bust" with the next hit. Also refers to a hand that is likely to bust if hit.

Bust Out -- To leave a game because of losing one's entire stake.

Buy In -- The amount of money (usually cash, but sometimes chips) with which a player enters a game.

Cage -- Short for cashier's cage. This is where chips are redeemed for cash, checks cashed, credit arranged, etc.

Card Sharp - Card Shark -- A person who is an expert at cards.

Charlie -- See 5-6-7 Card Charlie

Cheque -- Another term for chip.

Chip -- A small plastic disk used instead of money, to bet with. Chips typically come in denominations of $1, $5, $25, $100, and $500. Other denominations are sometimes used.

Comp -- Short for complimentary. If you wave lots of money around, the casino may give you things like a free room or free food, hoping you'll keep losing money at the tables in their casino.

Continuous Shuffle Machine (CSM) -- A machine that continuously shuffles the cards and acts as the shoe as well. Discards are put into the machine after every couple of hands. They will be shuffled back into the deck in various ways, depending on the machine. Many machines use a series of slots, often 9 or 19, and randomly insert the discards into the top or bottom of a slot. A random slot is added to the deck. There are many different types of CSM's and they do not all work the same. Do not confuse this with a Automatic Shuffle Machine. There is controversy as to the actual randomness of these machines.

Count Cards - Card Counting -- The ability of a player to keep an accurate mental record of the cards that have been played. Counting can allow players to have a relatively good idea of which cards remain in the shoe. Card counting is a system used to improve the player's edge. The player assigns "weights" to each card face, and then sums the card weights as each new card is turned face up. The "count" indicates when the game is favorable for the player. The player acts on the count by placing larger bets and/or making changes in playing strategy. Although card counting is legal, many casinos can take players out of the game if caught.

Counter -- Someone who counts cards.

CSM (Continuous Shuffle Machine) -- A machine that continuously shuffles the cards and acts as the shoe as well. Discards are put into the machine after every couple of hands. They will be shuffled back into the deck in various ways, depending on the machine. Many machines use a series of slots, often 9 or 19, and randomly insert the discards into the top or bottom of a slot. A random slot is added to the deck. There are many different types of CSM's and they do not all work the same. Do not confuse this with a Automatic Shuffle Machine. There is controversy as to the actual randomness of these machines.

Cut -- To split the deck of cards before they are dealt.

Cut Card -- A solid colored card, typically plastic, which is given to a player by the dealer for the purpose of cutting the deck(s) after a shuffle.

D9 -- Double on 9, 10 or 11 only, hard hands only.

D10 -- Double on 10 or 11 only, hard hands only.

DAS (Double After Splitting) -- Double after splitting is allowed

Deal -- To give out the cards during a hand.

Dealer Peek -- See "Peek".

Discard Tray -- A tray on the dealer's right side that holds all the cards that have been played or discarded.

DOA (Double on Anything) -- Double down on any first two cards

Double After Splitting (DAS) -- Double after splitting is allowed

Double Down -- Doubling the initial bet and receiving exactly (AND ONLY) one more card. No more hits can be taken after Doubling Down. Double Down is often restricted to the player's first two cards. However, some casinos allow players to Double Down after splitting a pair. Many Northern Nevada casinos require a two-card total of 10 or 11 in order to Double Down. It is the rare game that allows doubling of hands that have more than two cards. The request is usually made by simple doubling the bet. The dealer understands this to mean that you want to Double Down. In the event that you are Doubling Down on a pair that could be Split, you might have to specify verbally which you are doing.

Double Down Rescue -- Available only in non-standard variations of Blackjack, such as Spanish 21. Double Down Rescue is the option to take back the last doubled portion of the bet, forfeiting the other half, and ending the hand. Similar to surrendering.

Double Double Down -- Available only in non-standard variations of Blackjack, such as Spanish 21. Double Double Down allows a player to take hits after the initial Double Down, by doubling the bet again for one more hit.

Double for Less -- Doubling Down for less than the original bet amount. Typically, when doubling is permitted, the player is not required to literally double his bet, but may raise it by any amount up to (but not more than) the original bet.

Double On Anything (DOA) -- Double down on any first two cards.

Draw -- Adding a card to your hand (taking a hit) in an effort to come closer to 21, without going over. Also called a "hit".

Drop Percentage -- How much the casino expects to win because of the house percentage. The amount of a player's initial stake that he or she will eventually lose. This number is usually around 20%. Joey Gambler will lose $20 of every $100 he begins with.

ESR -- Early surrender.

Early Surrender -- Being able to surrender even if the dealer has a Blackjack.

Even Money -- Offered when the player has a Blackjack, and the dealer has an Ace showing, representing a potential Blackjack. Taking Even Money means the dealer will pay your blackjack 1-1 instead of 3-2. It is a guaranteed payout for the player, though less of a payout than expected. The alternative is a 50-50 chance that you will be paid 3-2 if the dealer does not have a Blackjack, or will be paid NOTHING if the dealer does have a Blackjack. See also Payout Ratios.

Face Card -- A King, Queen or Jack.

Face Down Game -- Your first card is placed face up while the second one is placed face down.

Face Up Game -- Both your cards are placed face up.

First Base -- The first seat at the Blackjack table, immediately to the left of the dealer. The first player to act on his/her hand.

Five Card Charlie -- See 5-6-7 Card Charlie

Flat Bet -- A bet which you never change. Betting the same amount on every hand, regardless. The opposite of Flat Betting is Progressive Betting.

Foreign Chip -- A chip that is issued by one casino and honored by another as cash. A casino is not necessarily obligated to accept foreign chips.

Full No Peek -- The dealer will not check for Blackjack until all players have taken their turn, regardless of the dealer's up card. See also "No Peek" and "Peek".

Grinder -- Someone who bets small.

H17 -- Dealer must hit on Soft 17.

Hard Count -- The true face value of the hand.

Hard Doubling (HD) -- Double down allowed on first two cards if there is no Ace (hard hand).

Hard Hand -- A hand without an Ace, or a hand with an Ace that can only be counted as a 1. For example, an Ace+6+9 can ONLY be counted as 16. If you try to count the Ace as 11 instead of 1, the hand will total 26 and will bust.

HC (Hole Card) -- Dealer has one card face down (American rules).

HD (Hard Doubling) -- Double down allowed on first two cards if there is no Ace (hard hand).

Head On -- To play one on one at a Blackjack table with the dealer, with no other players.

Heads Up -- To play one on one at a BlackJack table with the dealer, with no other players.

Heat -- The pressure a casino puts on a winning player, typically someone who is suspected of being a card counter.

High Roller -- Someone who places large bets.

Hit/Hit Me -- To request another card. To add a card to your hand in an effort to come closer to 21, without going over. The request is usually made by saying "hit me", tapping your forefinger on the table, or in the case of being allowed to hold your cards, scraping the cards on the table.

Hole Card -- The dealer's face down card.

House -- The casino itself

House Percentage -- The casino's advantage in a particular game of chance.

Insurance -- When the dealer's upcard is an ace, you have the option to make a side bet of up to 1/2 your original bet. You are betting that the dealer DOES have a Blackjack. Insurance bets pay 2-1. If the dealer does not have Blackjack, you lose the insurance bet, and play out the rest of your hand normally. If the dealer DOES have a Blackjack, your insurance bet pays out 2-1, the net effect being that you break even, unless you have a Blackjack too. You would lose your original bet, but gain 2 times the insurance bet, effectively breaking even. If you also have a Blackjack, you tie with the dealer. You keep your original bet, and gain 2-1 from the insurance bet, which is 1/2 of your regular bet. The effect is that your Blackjack gets paid 1-1, the same as if you'd taken Even Money. For example, your original bet is $10 and you place a $5 insurance bet. You and the dealer have Blackjack. Your $10 bet ties, but you collect 2-1 on the $5 insurance bet, for a total profit of $10. $10 is a 1-1 payout of $10. A normal Blackjack payout of 3-2 would have paid you $15 profit. See also Payout Ratios.

Junket -- An organized group of gamblers that travel to a casino together. Junkets are usually subsidized by a casino to attract players.

LS or LSR -- Late surrender.

Late Surrender -- Surrendering allowed only after dealer has checked for blackjack. If dealer has Blackjack, player loses entire bet. If dealer does not, player loses 1/2 of his bet.

Marker -- An IOU. A line of credit provided by the casino to a player.

Mechanic -- Someone who manipulates the cards, typically for illicit purposes. This can include false shuffling to "stack" the deck in a particular order, or peeking at the cards secretly, or the ability to deal chosen cards from the deck. In other words, a mechanic is a card cheat, no matter which side of the table he is on.

Mid-Shoe Entry -- Joining a blackjack game in progress. To prevent card counters from entering a game just when the cards become favorable to the player, casinos will not allow mid-shoe entry. In other words, the players wanting to join the game must wait until the dealer shuffles before they can enter the game.

Natural -- When the first two cards dealt to a player total 21. This would be an Ace and a 10-point card (10-Jack-Queen-King).

No Peek -- The dealer will not check for Blackjack if the upcard is a Ten, and sometimes if the upcard is a Ten or Ace. See also "Full No Peek" and "Peek".

Nut -- The overhead costs of running a casino.

OU -- Over/Under 13 side bets are allowed.

Over/Under -- Player makes a side bet before cards are dealt, that his first two cards will total Over 13, or Under 13. Aces count as one. Usually considered a sucker bet unless player is Counting Cards.

Pair -- When a player's first two cards are numerically identical. 7-7 is a pair. 10-10 is a pair. Q-Q is a pair. 10-Q is NOT a pair.

Pat Hand -- A hand with a total of 17 to 21.

Payout Ratios -- A regular win pays out 1-1, Blackjack usually pays out 3-2, and insurance usually pays out 2-1. What does this mean, exactly?

1-1 means that a $10 bet pays out $10. Profit = $10.

2-1 means that a $10 bet pays out $20. Profit = $20.

3-2 means that a $10 bet pays out $15. Profit = $15.

6-5 means that a $10 bet pays out $12. Profit = $12.

Peek -- The dealer checks to see if he has Blackjack before the player's start taking hits. This is good for the player because it prevents you from splitting and doubling down, increasing your bet only to find the dealer has Blackjack. Variations to the Peek rule are whether the dealer checks for Blackjack with an Ace showing, or sometimes an Ace or Ten.

Pit -- The area inside a group of gaming tables. The tables are arranged in an elliptical manner, the space inside the perimeter is the pit.

Pit Boss -- An employee of the casino whose job is to supervise Blackjack players, dealers, and other floor personnel. The person in charge of the Blackjack games.

Point Count -- Only relevant to card counting. The net value of the card count at the end of a hand, for the cards that were played in that hand.

Preferential Shuffling -- Shuffling when the deck is favorable to the players, or not shuffling when the deck is unfavorable to the players. In other words, if the players appear to be winning a lot, the dealer would shuffle the deck prematurely, with the intention of making the deck less favorable to the players.

Press -- To increase the size of your bet. See Progressive Betting.

Progressive Betting -- A system where a player increases the size of his bet. For example, betting $5 on the first hand, $10 on the second, and $15 on the third. For example, a player may double a bet after each win, or cut a bet in half after a loss. Or in the event of 3 wins in a row, go back to the original bet. Changing the amount of the bet for each hand is known as Progressive Betting.

Push -- A tie between the dealer and player in which no money changes hands; a standoff.

Rainbow Bet -- A bet that contains chips of varying denominations. Sometimes used to describe a stack of differently-colored chips that are improperly stacked (interspersed denominations). Sometimes known as a Barber Pole.

Red/Black -- This is a side bet similar to Over/Under except that you are betting on whether the dealer up card will be Red or Black. Place this bet in the "R" or "B" circle.

Rich Deck -- A partial deck with an unusually high percentage of ten point cards and Aces.

RSA -- Re-splitting Aces is allowed.

Running Count -- Only relevant to counting cards. The count from the beginning of the deck or shoe. The running count is updated by the value of the point count after each card is exposed. Cards are not counted until they are actually exposed.

S17 -- Dealer must stand on all 17's, soft or hard.

Scare Card -- The dealer's up card, if it has a high value.

Scratch -- To request a hit. The act of scratching a card on the table to request a hit.

SD (Soft Doubling) -- Double down on soft hands allowed.

Second Base -- Any player seated between other players (neither first nor last). Also used to refer to a player who is sitting dead center, directly across from the dealer.

Second Dealing -- A technique, generally cheating, when the dealer deals the second, rather than the first, card.

Settlement -- The payout of the bet at the end of a hand. Either the dealer takes your chips, pays you, or in the case of a push, no exchange of chips occurs.

Seven Card Charlie -- See 5-6-7 Card Charlie

Shill -- A house employee who bets money and pretends to be a player to attract customers. Shills typically follow the same rules as the dealer which makes them somewhat easy to spot (they don't Double Down or Split).

Shiner -- A reflecting device used to try and glimpse the dealer's hole card.

Shoe -- A box (usually wood or plastic) that holds up to eight decks of cards, and allows the dealer to slide out one card at a time; typically used for multi-deck games.

Shuffle -- The process of re-mixing the cards. Typically done by cutting and riffling the deck.

Shuffle Up -- Prematurely shuffling the cards to harass a player who is suspected of being a card counter. Shuffling the deck before the cut card appears. Typically done to eliminate a counter's advantage (and drive him away). See also Preferential Shuffling.

Silver -- Refers to silver dollars or metal gaming tokens. Some casinos use silver instead of $1 chips.

Single Deck -- Using one deck of 52 cards.

Six Card Charlie -- See 5-6-7 Card Charlie

Size Into -- To use a stack of chips that has already been counted, as a measure for another stack that has not.

Soft Doubling (SD) -- Double down on soft hands allowed.

SME10 -- Only same tens can be split.

Soft Game -- A game in which many of the players are unskilled.

Soft Hand -- A hand an ace that can be counted as a 1 or 11. For example, an Ace+3 can be counted as 4 or 14. The 14 is considered a "soft" 14, because if you take a hit and draw a 10, you will not bust. At that point, you would have a "hard" 14.

Ace+3 = soft 14 (the Ace can be a 1 or 11 without going over 21)

Ace+3+10 = hard 14 (the Ace can only be counted as a 1, otherwise you're over 21)

Spanish Deck -- A deck of 48 cards. Identical to the standard deck, without the tens. A Spanish deck includes Twos thru Nines, Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces, but no Tens.

SPLIT3 -- You may split hands up to 3 times.

Split Hand -- Same as Splitting Pairs. An option the player has when holding a pair, to split the two cards and play each hand individually.

Splitting Pairs -- When a player's first two cards are numerically identical, and the player chooses to split the pair, creating two individual hands. 7-7 is a pair. 10-10 is a pair. Q-Q is a pair. 10-Q is NOT generally considered a pair. When you split a pair, you add a new bet to the second hand, the same amount of the original bet. You play each hand individually, one at a time. The request is usually made by simple doubling the bet. The dealer understands this to mean that you want to Split the pair.

Split Aces are usually only allowed one hit each.

Spooking -- The act of standing behind the dealer to peak at the hole card and then secretly convey the information to a partner player sitting at the table. An illegal form of cheating.

Spots -- The areas on the table designated for bets.

Spread -- Placing more than one bet before the cards are dealt. One player may place 3 bets for example, and be dealt three individual hands to play out.

Spread The Deck -- To lay the cards face-up on the table, spread out so that prospective players may inspect them to ensure the decks are complete. This is typically done when a table is opened.

Stack -- A stack of 20 chips in the rack.

Stake -- A player's starting money, the amount the player walks up to the table with, money available to bet with.

Stand -- An indication that the player is satisfied with his hand and does not want any more hits. The request is usually made with a sweeping motion of your hand palm down, or when holding the cards in your hand, by placing the cards on the table with a corner tucked under your bet.

Stay -- Same as Stand.

Steaming -- Said of a player who is making mistakes because he is upset.

Stiff -- A hand that could go bust (total over 21) by adding one more card. For example any hard hand totaling 12-16 is a stiff. Stiffs hold a small chance of winning regardless of how the hand is played.

Straighten The Rack -- To arrange the chips in the rack, placing them into 20-chip stacks so that the pit boss can easily count the total value.

Strategy -- Any playing strategy that minimizes the house edge as much as possible without card counting, shuffle tracking, or dealer tells.

Stripping (the deck) -- A method of shuffling that consists of dropping a few cards alternately from the top and bottom of the deck.

Suit -- One of the four categories of cards - Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs and Spades.

Suited -- Of the same suit.

Suited Blackjack -- A Blackjack in which the ace and ten-value card are of the same suit.

Surrender -- In some casinos, the player is allowed to forfeit half of their original bet if the player does not want to play against the dealer's hand. This is done before taking any hits.

For example, the player bets $10 and is dealt a 7+9 card for a total of 16. The dealer's up card is a 10. If the player "surrenders", the dealer will take the player's cards and half of the player's original bet, leaving the player with $5. The player has forfeited half his bet, and not played his cards. He is assuming that the hand will lose, and chooses to lose only half the bet. Not available in all casinos.

Early Surrender - The option to surrender before the dealer checks for Blackjack.

Late Surrender - The option to surrender only after the dealer has checked for Blackjack. If the dealer has Blackjack, the option to surrender is not offered.

Sweeten (a bet) -- To increase a wager (when it is permissible to do so).

Tell Play -- Observing the dealer's body language and expressions to determine his hand of cards.

Third Base -- The last seat at the Blackjack table, immediately to the right of the dealer. Also known as Anchor or Hot Corner. At a table, the last player to act on his/her hand.

Toke -- To "toke" the dealer is just another word for tipping the dealer. The tip or gratuity given to dealers from players.

Tough Player -- A player who can hurt the casino monetarily with his or her intelligent play. A superior Blackjack player.

True Count -- Relevant only to card counting. The true count is the running count adjusted to account for the number of cards left in the deck or shoe that have not yet been played.

Twenty One -- Another name for Blackjack.

Unit -- The dollar amount of the basic (original) bet.

Up Card -- The face up card in the dealer's original hand. Players typically take into account the dealer's up card when determining the best course of play.



ABOUT THE GAME OF BLACKJACK AND POKER

The History of Gambling

The History of Blackjack

The History of Poker

Blackjack Tutorial

Blackjack Terminology

Counting Cards

The Odds of Winning

The Men Who Beat Las Vegas Blackjack

Gambling Inventions

Blackjack Legends and Strange Casino Tales







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