Blackjack Glossary

Blackjack Glossary

Heads up and don't go bust: Blackjack terms to know.



The total amount of a wager.


The last taken sit to the right of the dealer.



The total sum of money a player brings to the table for wagering purposes.


Also known as Twenty One, the object of playing Blackjack is to form a hand of cards that counts as close as possible to 21, ideally exactly that sum, beating the dealer's hand.

Alternatively, a winning hand of 21 formed with only two cards is called Blackjack.


Same as Bust. Exceeding 21 in Blackjack, automatically losing the game and the pot.

Burn Card

A card removed by the dealer after shuffling the cards, which is placed on the top of the deck.


Exceeding 21 in Blackjack is a bust, eliminating the player from the game. This is a losing hand in any case, even if the dealer busts as well.


Card Counting

As Blackjack is played from a limited number of cards, a deck, two decks or even more, by keeping track of the cards that have already been played the player puts himself in better position to know when the remaining cards give him an advantage. The player may then make larger bets, choose to double down, or other actions, based on the situation.

Card counting may not necessarily assure winning, but it can bring the house advantage to a minimum, especially when playing with a single deck. While legal, card counting may be grounds to have the player removed from a casino table. This is not a concern when playing online.

Card Sharp

A nickname for a seasoned blackjack player, one who is experienced with cards.


Term for a player who is experiencing a losing streak.


Splitting the deck of cards before they are dealt, usually done with the help of a plastic cut card.



The distribution of cards during a blackjack hand.

Discard tray

A plastic tray storing all cards which were used or dealt.

Double Down

A betting option in Blackjack allowing the player to receive one card, and only one card, to try to beat the dealer. The potential winning is greater in this bet. Would the player's hand beat the dealer's, the player would receive double the original wager placed.


Early Surrender

An early surrender allowed before the dealer checks for an Ace in the hole, resulting in only 50% of the player's bet lost. 

Even Money

An alternative to insurance when the player has been dealt Blackjack and the dealer's face-up card is an Ace.


Face Card

A Jack, Queen or King. These all have the value of 10.

Face Down (Game)

A type of blackjack where the player's first card is up and the second is down.

Face Up (Game)

Similar to Face Down above, only with both cards placed face up outright.


Placing high wagers on the table.

First Base

The nearest player sitting to the left of the dealer, first to be dealt his hand.  

Five Card Charlie

A variation of blackjack where a player who gets five cards without busting wins the hand.

Flat Bet

Betting the same amount as that in the starting bet with no varying. 

Free Roll

A riskless situation in which the player's hand cannot bust.



Nickname given to players who only put down small bets.



The cards held by the player/dealer, also the name of a complete blackjack round, common in many other card games.

Hard Total

A hand in which aces only count as 1 (also called "Hard Hand"). A hard total needs at least 3 cards.

Heads Up

Term for a situation when only one player is competing against the dealer.

High Roller

A player who makes high wagers on a blackjack table.

Hit (Card Game)

Asking to be dealt another card in Blackjack, Poker or other card games.

Hole Card

The card the dealer receives face down in Blackjack, or the term for any card dealt face down.



This is a good bet only if card counting is in place. Otherwise, the house edge is too great to consider the insurance option. Insurance is the case in which the player puts aside a sum, up to half the original bet, betting on the dealer receiving a natural 21. This is done before the dealer checks the hole card, only in case the face up card revealed to all is an Ace. Insurance pays the player 2:1, thus winning the same amount as the Blackjack wager.


Late Surrender

Similar to Early Surrender (see above), only difference is that the player can surrender only after the dealer has shown he doesn't have blackjack.

Low Bet

A bet equaling the minimum bet allowed. Usually used by players who await better player odds at the table.   



A word for blackjack when a player is dealt an ace and a ten card. 



Another name for any Face Card (see above).


Two cards identical in number or two identical face cards.

Pat Hand

Blackjack hand which was won with a value of 17 points at least.

Perfect Pairs

An optional bet in Perfect Pair blackjack where the player can make a wager on whether his first two cards will be paired.

Pays the Table

Slang used to describe a situation when the dealer busts and all table players win. 


The English variation of Blackjack is called Pontoon. Pontoon is also played in Australia, where the rules are like the American variant called Spanish 21.


A situation in Blackjack in which player and dealer have equal hand values, thus neither winning.



Betting the same amount wagered on the previous round.

Round Term for a complete game of blackjack when everyone played their hands.



Term for blackjack when the player is initially dealt a ten and an ace.

Soft Hand

A hand in Blackjack containing an Ace that may be counted either as 1 or as 11.

A Soft 17, for example, is a hand in Blackjack that can be counted as 7 or 17 points by adding a 6 and an ace. Blackjack game rules vary in whether the dealer must hit or may stand on a Soft 17. The dealer standing is to the player's advantage.

Spanish 21

A variant of Blackjack, more liberal in its rules. One can double down any number of cards while surrendering only one wager; Spanish 21 offers special payouts for special hands of 21, such as 6-7-8 and 7-7-7; a player's Blackjack always beats the dealer's; and no 10 cards are included in the deck.


If the cards in a hand of Blackjack are of equal value, the player can split. This results in doubling the wager and receiving each card as the first card in a new hand. This is usually limited to 2 hands, but may happen a third time as well.


Stay with the current hand and be dealt no additional cards.


Remain with the current hand, the same as 'stand', and be dealt no additional cards.

Stiff Total

A blackjack hand which is probable to bust if the player takes a hit.


Retiring from the round giving in 50% of your bet (relates to low/late surrender seen above).


Up Card

Also called an 'upcard', it is the dealer's face up card in the initial stage of Blackjack. The other card of the two is dealt face down, and is called 'hole card'.



Term for the house advantage on any given bet.  



Placing bets during positive counts only.

See also

Yes! I want to know about exclusive bonuses, promotions, and news.