Blackjack Terms Glossary – Terms In Blackjack Explained

Keen to start playing blackjack? Understanding the many blackjack terms remains crucial for a seamless gaming experience, and knowing them along with the rules, can make or break your game.

Get ready as we decode essential blackjack terminology, from basic terms to blackjack slang – consider this as your go-to blackjack glossary. But, before we get into it, let’s have a quick look at the main blackjack terms and rules so you can play with confidence.

Blackjack Terms

blackjack bovada
Source: Bovada

If you’re totally new to this casino game, you may be wondering “what’s blackjack?” Blackjack is a classic card game that has been one of the most popular games in casinos for generations. Between 2021 and 2028, the global online blackjack market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.7%.

The game itself is relatively straightforward. Players aim to get a hand that totals 21 or come as close as possible without exceeding it, all while beating the dealer’s hand. But while the game is easy to pick up, there’s a layer of complexity introduced by the blackjack terminology used at the table.

Whether you’re playing online or at a live dealer blackjack casino, familiarizing yourself with blackjack terms is a must. Understanding the definition of these terms serves as mastering the game’s own language, filled with specific terminology and even some blackjack slang terms that regular players use. Let’s have a look at the following blackjack glossary and rules explained.

A Glossary of Blackjack Terms

We’ve done our research to present you with a detailed blackjack glossary list of terms and phrases with a short explanation of each. This list will come in handy when you’re playing at blackjack casinos online, so we recommend that you bookmark this page for easier access when needed.

  • 21: The best possible score you can have in blackjack without having a ‘natural’ blackjack.
  • Ace: The most versatile card in a blackjack deck, counting as either 1 or 11 points. Essential for a natural blackjack.
  • Anchor / Anchorman: This player is the last to act before the dealer. Also called the ‘third base.’
  • Bankroll: The total amount of money you have set aside specifically for playing blackjack.
  • Basic Strategy: A set of rules that offer you the best blackjack odds of winning. It’s the optimal way to play each hand.
  • Blackjack: The best hand you can get — an Ace and a card valued at 10. It beats all other hands except another blackjack.
  • Burn Card: The first card in a new deck or shoe that the dealer removes and places in the discard tray.
  • Bust: When the total value of your cards exceeds 21, you lose automatically.
  • Camouflage: Blackjack glossary term for a tactic used by advanced players to hide the fact that they are counting cards.
  • Dealer: The individual who deals cards and represents the house. You play against the dealer, not other players.
  • Deck Penetration: The percentage of cards that are dealt before a reshuffle. More penetration is generally better for card counters.
  • Discard Tray: A tray on the blackjack table where the dealer places all the cards that have been played or discarded.
  • Double Down: To double your initial bet for one additional card. Most effective when holding 9, 10, or 11.
  • Double Exposure: A blackjack variant where both of the dealer’s cards are exposed.
  • Draw: A term in blackjack to receive another card, also known as a “hit.”
  • Even Money: Taking a 1:1 payout on your bet when you get a blackjack and the dealer shows an Ace.
  • Face Cards: The King, Queen, and Jack, all of which are worth 10 points.
  • Flat Bet: Betting the same amount for each hand, regardless of the outcome of the previous hand.
  • Hard Hand: A hand without an Ace or with an Ace valued as 1.
  • Heads Up: Playing one-on-one against the dealer.
  • High Roller: A player betting a large amount of money per hand.
  • Hit: Requesting another card to add to your hand.
  • Hole Card: The dealer’s face-down card.
  • House Edge: The statistical advantage the casino has over players in a game like blackjack.
  • House Rules: The specific rules that a casino has for blackjack, which can vary between establishments.
  • Insurance: A side bet that the dealer will have blackjack when their up card is an Ace.
  • MultiDeck: A blackjack game using more than one deck of cards, usually 2, 4, 6, or 8 decks.
  • Natural: Another term for a blackjack—getting 21 with just two cards (an Ace and a 10-value card).
  • No Hole Card: In some blackjack games, the dealer doesn’t take a hole card until after players have acted, affecting when you can surrender.
  • Pat Hand: A hand with a total of 17 to 21, which is generally strong enough to “stand.”
  • Perfect Pairs: A blackjack side bet where you win if your first two cards are a pair.
  • Push: A tie between you and the dealer. Your bet is returned.
  • Resplit: The act of splitting a second pair after you’ve already split your first pair.
  • Shoe: The device from which multiple decks of cards are dealt.
  • Soft Hand: A hand with an Ace that can be counted as either 1 or 11 without busting.
  • Split: When dealt two of the same card, you can separate them into two individual hands, each with its own bet.
  • Stand: Choosing not to take any more cards.
  • Stiff Hand: A hand with a total between 12 and 16, which could easily bust if you choose to hit.
  • Surrender: An option to forfeit half your bet instead of playing the hand you’ve been dealt.
  • Up Card: The dealer’s card that is dealt and appears face-up.

Blackjack Terminology Explained

Now you have a good idea of these terms and rules as explained in the above glossary list. However, we wanted to provide you with a deeper meaning for a solid understanding of the game rules and language used. Here are the most important terms in blackjack explained in more depth:


In blackjack, 21 is the golden number you aim for. It’s the highest score you can achieve without getting a “natural” blackjack. Reaching 21 with more than two cards doesn’t qualify as blackjack, but it’s still a strong hand that will likely win, unless the dealer also hits 21. In a blackjack game that revolves around the number 21, understanding its importance is crucial.


The Ace is a powerhouse in blackjack, valued at either 1 or 11 points. This flexibility allows for strategic moves; for instance, you can opt for a low value to avoid busting or go high to get closer to 21. Getting an Ace and a 10-value card is a “natural” blackjack, the best hand possible.

Anchor / Anchorman

The anchor or “anchorman” is the player seated last, acting right before the dealer. This position holds a lot of responsibility as their actions can influence the outcome for everyone at the blackjack table. The anchorman must be well-versed in blackjack strategy to maximize the table’s chances of winning.


Your bankroll is the sum of money you’ve allocated for playing blackjack. Effective bankroll management means gambling responsibly and can extend your playing time and increase your chances of winning. Knowing your bankroll limits helps you make educated bets and keeps you from chasing losses recklessly.

Basic Strategy

A basic strategy is a set of mathematical guidelines that offer you the best odds in blackjack. It tells you when to hit, stand, double down, or split based on your cards and the dealer’s up card. Following the basic strategy rigorously can lower the house edge and improve your chances of winning.


Blackjack is not just the name of the game; it’s also the best hand you can get. A “natural” blackjack consists of an Ace and a 10-value card (10, Jack, Queen, or King). This hand usually pays 3:2 and automatically wins unless the dealer also has a blackjack, in which case it’s a “push,” and your bet is returned.

blackjack hand
Source: Bovada

Burn Card

The burn card is the first card the dealer draws from a freshly shuffled deck or shoe, placing it in the discard tray. This is done to ensure the integrity of the game, making it more difficult for card counters or cheats to predict which cards will come next.


To “bust” means that the total value of your cards has exceeded 21, resulting in an automatic loss. Once you bust, the dealer will collect your bet, and you’re out for that round. Understanding the risk of busting is crucial when deciding whether to hit or stand. In contrast, some variants like “No Bust Blackjack” offer alternatives to this rule, lessening the penalty for exceeding 21.


This term refers to various tactics used by players – or card counters – to conceal the fact that they’re counting cards. Such tactics could include inconsistent betting, intentionally making “wrong” plays, or engaging in distracting behavior. The idea is to blend in with typical, non-counting players to avoid detection by casino staff.


In blackjack, the dealer is the individual who manages the game, distributing cards to the players and themselves. Players don’t compete against each other; they aim to beat the dealer. The dealer must also follow specific rules for drawing or standing, which can vary from casino to casino.

Deck Penetration

Deck penetration refers to the percentage of cards dealt from a deck or a shoe before it’s reshuffled. A high percentage of deck penetration is usually favorable for players using card counting strategies as it provides a more accurate count.

Discard Tray

The discard tray is a designated area on the blackjack table where used or “burned” cards are placed. Keeping track of the discard tray can be helpful for card counters, as it provides a visual indicator of how deep into the shoe the game is and when a reshuffle might be imminent.

Double Down

Doubling down allows you to double your initial bet after receiving your first two cards, with the caveat that you can only draw one more card. This move is often recommended when you hold a total of 9, 10, or 11 and you believe that a single additional card will get you close to or at 21.

Double Exposure

Double Exposure is a variant of blackjack where both of the dealer’s cards are revealed from the start. This gives players a significant advantage, so other rules are often tightened to balance the game. For example, blackjacks may pay 1:1 instead of the usual 3:2.


In blackjack terminology, to “draw” means to take another card from the dealer to add to your current hand. This is also commonly referred to as a “hit.” Drawing can be risky, as it increases the chance of busting, but it can also be necessary if you have a low-value hand.

Even Money

Taking “even money” means accepting a 1:1 payout instead of the standard 3:2 when you have a blackjack and the dealer’s up card is an Ace. This is essentially a type of insurance against the dealer also having a blackjack, which would result in a push.

Face Cards

Face cards refer to the King, Queen, and Jack in a deck. In blackjack, these cards are valued at 10 points each. Knowing the value of face cards is essential for quick and accurate play, as well as for strategies like card counting.

Flat Bet

Flat betting is the practice of wagering the same amount for each hand, regardless of whether you win or lose the previous hands. This betting strategy is considered less risky but also offers less potential reward compared to progressive betting systems.

Hard Hand

A “hard hand” in blackjack is any hand that either doesn’t contain an Ace or contains an Ace that can only be counted as 1 point in order to avoid busting. For instance, a hand containing a 10 and a 7 is a hard 17.

Heads Up

Playing “heads up” means you’re in a one-on-one blackjack game with the dealer. This is an advantageous situation for experienced players, as it allows for faster play and potentially a better read on the single deck in use, if applicable.

High Roller

A “high roller” is a player who bets large amounts of money. Casinos often provide special treatment and additional perks to high rollers, but it’s crucial to understand that higher bets also mean higher risks.


To “hit” means to request an additional card from the dealer to add to your hand. The objective is to get closer to a total of 21 without going over (busting). Deciding when to hit is a crucial part of your overall strategy.

Hole Card

This is the dealer’s face-down card. In classic blackjack, the hole card isn’t revealed until all players have acted. Knowing when the dealer checks the hole card can influence strategies like surrendering and insurance.

House Edge

The “house edge” is the casino’s statistical advantage over the player, expressed as a percentage. In blackjack, the house edge varies depending on the specific rules and strategies employed, but it’s generally one of the lowest among online casino games.

House Rules

“House rules” are the specific sets of rules an online casino has for its blackjack games. These can vary significantly from one establishment to another and affect the house edge. Understanding the house rules is crucial for determining your best strategy.


“Insurance” is a side bet offered when the dealer’s up card is an Ace. The bet pays 2:1 if the dealer has a blackjack, effectively allowing you to break even for that round. However, it’s generally considered a bad bet in terms of odds.


“Multi-Deck” refers to blackjack games that use more than one deck of cards. Multiple decks make card counting more challenging and generally increase the house edge slightly.


A “Natural” in blackjack is another term for getting an Ace and a 10-value card as your initial two cards. This hand is also known as a blackjack and usually pays 3:2. It’s the best hand you can get, beating all other 21-point hands.

No Hole Card

The dealer doesn’t take their second card (the hole card) until after all players have acted. This can affect your decision-making, especially when it comes to taking insurance or surrendering.

Pat Hand

A “Pat Hand” is a hand with a total value between 17 and 21. In most scenarios, it’s advisable to “stand” on a pat hand as the risk of busting is high if you decide to “hit.”

Perfect Pairs

“Perfect Pairs” is a side bet that you can place at the beginning of a round. You win if your first two cards are a pair., although the payout varies depending on the pair, such as mixed suits, the same color, or perfect pair (same suit).


A “push” occurs when you and the dealer have hands with the same total point value. In this case, your bet is returned, and neither you nor the dealer wins or loses.


“Resplitting” is an option that comes into play after you’ve already split a pair. If you receive another card of the same value, you can choose to split again, forming a new hand and doubling your bet once more.


The “Shoe” is a device that holds multiple decks of cards, typically 2, 4, 6, or 8, and is used in multi-deck blackjack games. The shoe makes it more challenging for card counters as it increases the number of cards in play.

Soft Hand

A “Soft Hand” refers to a hand with an Ace that can be valued as either 1 or 11 without causing the player to bust. This flexibility makes soft hands advantageous, as they offer more strategic options when deciding whether to hit or stand.


The term “Split” applies when you’re dealt two cards of the same value. You have the option to divide them into two separate hands, each with its own bet. This can increase your chances of winning, but it’s essential to know when to split optimally.

blackjack split
Source: Blackjack Apprenticeship


To “Stand” means to stick with your current hand and not request any more cards. This is generally the best strategy when you have a strong hand or suspect that the dealer might bust.

Stiff Hand

A “Stiff Hand” refers to a hand with a total point value between 12 and 16. These are tricky hands to play because hitting might cause you to bust, but standing could result in a loss if the dealer has a stronger hand.


The term “Surrender” means you have the option to forfeit half your bet if you think you’re likely to lose against the dealer. This choice is generally made right after the initial deal before taking any other actions.

Up Card

The “Up card” is the dealer’s face-up card. This card plays a significant role in influencing players’ decisions. Knowing the value of the dealer’s up card can help you determine whether to hit, stand, double down, or split based on basic strategy guidelines


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