Popularly Used Blackjack Terminology

There are quite a few terms, or blackjack terminology, you will come across when you play black jack. If you are new to the game, these terms can be confusing and even discouraging as nobody likes to be left in the dark. Most of the black jack terminology on this page is easy to learn if you associate the meaning with the actual work or phrase.

1st Base – The player seat located directly to the left of the dealer.

5, 6 or 7 Card Charlie – Getting five, six or seven cards while staying under 21. Five Card Charlies are instant wins in many casinos. Some casinos offer special rewards to players who achieve 6 or 7 Card Charlies.

21 – Another name for blackjack. Also represents the points total players try to achieve without going over.

3rd Base – The player seat located directly to the right of the dealer. This is the last player to receive cards. New players may want to avoid this seat because other players often blame the 3rd Base player for bad luck if he stands or hits at “bad times.” In reality the 3rd Base player doesn’t affect the outcome of a hand so if anyone gives you trouble, tell them to mind their own business.

Action – Used to describe betting activity at a table. “Is there a lot of action?” asks if there are a lot of big bets being placed.

Anchor – See 3rd Base.

Bankroll – The total amount of money a player has set aside specifically for playing blackjack.

Blackjack – A hand that totals 21 after the first two cards have been dealt. Accomplished by having an Ace and another card that has a value of 10.

Bottom Dealing – A cheating method employed by the dealer. If the bottom cards are known to be strong or if the top cards are known to be weak, the dealer quickly deals cards from the bottom of the deck.

Bust – To go over 21 and lose the hand.

Chips – Small round chips that represent money at a blackjack table.

Color Up – When a player exchanges lots of small-denomination chips for ones of larger denominations.

Comps – Free drinks, rooms, meals and other perks given to players by casinos.

Cut – After the deck has been shuffled, it is split in two with the bottom half placed on top of the top half.

Cut Card – Plastic cards used to cut the deck after it has been shuffled.

Deal – The process in which the dealer hands out cards to each player.

Deck Penetration – Describes how long a dealer uses a deck before reshuffling. If a dealer is said to have 50% deck penetration in a 6 deck blackjack game, that means the dealer is going through 3 decks before shuffling again.

Draw – To take another card in the hopes of getting closer to 21.

Double Down – To double your original bet after seeing your first two cards. The catch is that you must take exactly one more card after doubling down. No more, no fewer.

Early Surrender – Allows you to forfeit half your bet and end the hand before the dealer checks for blackjack.

Even Money – If you are dealt a natural blackjack and the dealer has an ace showing, you can opt to take an even money payout on your hand and end it now. With the ace showing, the dealer could also have a blackjack, which would result in a push. You are trading an iffy 3 to 2 blackjack payout for a guaranteed 1 to 1 payout.

Face Cards – All jacks, queens and kings.

Hard Hand – The point total of a hand is firm because there are no aces in that hand. If there is an ace, it can still be a hard hand if the total is higher than 10 because in that case, the ace may only be counted as 1 point.

High Roller – Describes a blackjack player who makes large bets and has a large bankroll.

Hit – To draw another card.

Hole Card – The dealer’s face down card.

House – Another word for the casino or establishment hosting the blackjack game.

Insurance – If the dealer is showing an ace, you can place a bet equal to half your original bet that the dealer has a blackjack. If you are correct, that bet will be doubled and returned to you. If you are wrong, the bet is lost.

Late Surrender – The option to forfeit half your bet and end the hand after the dealer checks for blackjack.

Natural Blackjack – Getting a hand worth 21 points without drawing any cards. Consists of an ace and a card worth 10 points.

Pit Boss – Casino employee who watches over the gaming area in a group of tables.

Paint – Word used to describe the face cards jack, queen and king.

Push – When the dealer and player tie. The player’s bet is returned to the player.

Resplit – To split your hand after already having done so once.

Shoe – Plastic or wooden box that can hold several decks of cards at a time. Used by the dealer to easily deal the cards.

Soft Hand – A hand total that is not firm because there is an Ace in that hand.

Split – When dealt two cards of equal value, a player may split those cards and play each one as a separate hand with separate bets.

Stand – To stop drawing cards.

Suited – Two or more cards of the same suit.