Common Blackjack Terms

Casino blackjack is one of those games where there is a ton of slang and jargon used at the tables particularly by experienced players.  While it's not necessary to know all of the terms thrown around in the game, it's definitely helpful to understand the basic phrases and what they mean.  This is because you are going to want to know what's going on in the game and also it can make you a more knowledgeable blackjack player which is useful if you are playing in a high limit game with veteran players.  On this page you'll find a list of common phrases related to blackjack that you can expect to hear in a casino.  We've listed the terms alphabetically to make them easy to find and have covered as many terms as possible.

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Full List of Blackjack Related Terms

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z

Ace Rich - A phrase used to describe a show that is rich (or full) of aces since no many have been dealt.

Action - Used particularly for large wagers made by players, someone might call out "action" if a player places an unusually large wager right before the dealer begins dealing that particular hand.

Advantage Player - In the case of blackjack, a player who uses card counting to increase the odds of the game in their favour and gain an advantage over the house during the game.

Anchorman - The player sitting to the right of the dealer who is last to have their cards dealt before the dealer - the anchorman is an important position since they make the last move before the dealer acts.

Back Betting - When another player at the table or and observer places a wager on your hand, they are back betting, essentially they are playing the hand with you but you make all hand decisions.

Back Counting - The process of using a second player to count cards by having them stand behind the table during play and keep track of the count, which is then relayed to the player at the table.

Bankroll - The total amount of money you have to gamble with, referred to as your bankroll.

Basic Strategy - The best way to play blackjack, a set of rules that gives the player the smallest house edge meaning that they reduce their chance of losing to the smallest percentage against the house.

Blackjack - When the player is dealt a 10, Jack, Queen or King with an Ace this is known as blackjack and pays 3/2 on most games, so if you bet $100 and got blackjack you would win $150 over your bet.

Burn Card - A card that is discarded from the shoe right before a new shoe begins, done to ensure that the dealer does not tip off the player as to what the first card dealt is going to be in that round.

Bust - When a player takes another card and goes over a total of 21, this is known as a bust or busting and when this happens the player will lose their bet and must wait until the next round of play.

Cage - The area in the casino where money is dispensed to players, also referred to as the cashier.

Card Counting - A method of tracking cards that have already been dealt and using this information to determine when there is an advantageous situation for the player to increase their wagers.

Casino Credit - The department in a casino that looks after extending credit to players including lines of credit and markers, as well as check cashing and other financial instruments offered by the casino.

Cold Deck - An expression used when a particular deck or shoe is full of losing hands for the player.

Color Up - When a player exchanges smaller denomination chips for chips of larger value.

Comps - Free gifts also known as complimentary that the casino gives players to increase loyalty.

Cut Card - A plastic card that is used by the player to cut the decks in a shoe of blackjack.

Dealer - The casino employee who is responsible for overseeing the game and dealing the cards.

Deck - The cards used to play blackjack, one deck consists of 52 cards and a traditional game of blackjack is played with between 1 and 8 decks, depending on the casino and rules for their games.

Degen - Slang term for the word degenerate, refers to a player who loves action and is usually a compulsive gambler, i.e. "That guy Matt is such a degen, he lost $10,000 last night at blackjack".

Discard - Refers to the cards that have already been dealt and are discarded until the next shuffle.

Double: Also referred to as "double down" this is a move where the player places up to the amount of their first bet as an additional wager, for which they receive only one more card for their hand.

Edge - Most commonly referred to as the house edge, the edge is the statistical advantage that the casino (or player) has over one another in terms of winning over the long term in a given game.

Even Money - Requested by players when they receive blackjack and the dealer is showing an ace, even money is a 1:1 payout for the blackjack and is taken to avoid a push if the dealer has blackjack.

Face Cards - The cards in the blackjack with a value of ten including the 10, jack, queen and king.

First Base - The first position at the table where the player is the first one to receive his/her cards.

Flat Betting - The process of betting the same amount each hand and not changing your bet, this may be enforced by casino floor persons on players who are suspected of using card counting while playing.

Griffin Investigations - The largest casino fraud investigator in the world, responsible for tracking casino cheats, particularly card counters and infamous publisher of the black book; originally a book now a computerized tracking program of "cheats" that uses facial recognition software for identification.

Heads Up - Refers to a blackjack game where a sole player is playing against the dealer.

Heater - A successful run of winning beats is often referred to as a heater.

Hi Lo Count - The most popular and easy card counting system that uses a series of minus, neutral and positive values to track the cards that have been dealt to calculate optimal betting strategy.

High Roller - Also called a whale, a player who bets huge amounts (over $10,000/hand) while playing and usually has a casino credit line of over $1 Million that they use exclusively for gambling.

Hit - A player action, hit or hitting means the player wants to add another card to their current hand.

Hole Card - The dealer's second card which is dealt faced down and not exposed during the deal.

House Edge - The % of advantage that the casino has over the player in a given game on the floor.

Insurance - A bet offered to players when the dealer's up card is an ace - the players may purchase insurance against a blackjack up to 1/2 of their original wager, insurance pays out 2:1.

Jargon - Slang often used back and forth by blackjack players when discusses hands at the table.

King Kong - Degen slang for explaining that one has received a blackjack, formed on a cruise in 2007 - ex. "The first card out was a ten and then like a gent he dealt me King Kong on the next card".

Las Vegas - The home of blackjack and gambling in general, located in Nevada, United States.

Late Surrender - An option in some forms of blackjack like Spanish 21 whereby the player is allowed to surrender their hand and receive back 1/2 of their original wager even after hitting.

Marker - A financial instrument used by casinos to issue chips against a line of credit with the casino, markers are borrowed money and must be paid back once extended as per the casinos marker rules.

Money Plays - Rare these days, however an old rule where you were allowed to actually bet cash for your wager instead of exchanging your cash for chips at the blackjack table.

Monkey - A card that improves or wins your hand, you might hear players calling for a "monkey" when they double down or receive an ace on the their first card, they are basically calling for a winning card.

Multi-Deck - Refers to a blackjack game that utilizes more than one deck in the shoe during play.

Natural - Another way of saying you got blackjack, can also refer to getting a ten and a jack dealt.

Novice - A way of describing a blackjack player with little to no experience playing the game.

Opening Hand - The first hand dealt from a fresh shoe which has just been shuffled.

Paint - Refers to a card with a value of ten so in blackjack a 10, Jack, Queen or King - sometimes a player will yell "paint it" if the first card they are dealt is an ace since they are hoping for blackjack.

Past Post - A popular method of cheating where the player increases their original wager once they have played the hand if the hand has gone in their favour and they are likely to win the bet.

Pit - The area in the casino where are the table games are located is referred to as the pit.

Pit Boss - The casino employee who manages the dealers and games that are active within the pit.

Push - When your hand total is the same as the dealer's you push, basically meaning you tie the dealer.

Quarter - Refers to a casino chip with a denomination of $25, ex. "This is a quarter and up table".

Rat Holing - A method of hiding chips after you have won a hide to deter the casino from tracking how much money you are winning, usually a tactic used by people using unethical methods in games.

Resplitting - The process of splitting your hand after an initial split, allowed in most blackjack games.

Risk of Ruin - The chance that your bankroll will be entirely used exhausted during a playing session.

Session - A session refers to a period of time you were gambling, ex. "Had a great session today".

Shuffle Master - A large company that develops automatic shufflers for casinos which ensure random cards are dealt each hand allowing for a continuous game as well as deterring card counters.

Stand - A player action in blackjack where you essentially tell the dealer you don't want anymore cards.

Stop Loss Limit - A limit set by a player of where they will stop player after losing "x" amount of $.

Surrender - An option in some blackjack games to give up your hand and receive 1/2 your bet back.

Team Play - A group of gamblers that work together out of a shared bankroll when playing, these groups are usually comprised of card counters who have a backer funding the bankroll for the group.

Toke - The casino jargon for a tip, when you tip the blackjack dealer you might hear them say something like "Tokes for the crew" - basically it's just a way to let the pit boss know those chips are for employees.

Up Card - The first card that is dealt to the dealer is known as the up card since it's exposed for all players to see - this is the card that you will be making a lot of your decisions based on when playing.

Variance - Refers to fluctuations in winning and losing according to the statistics of the game played.

Vig - A term used by gamblers who are loaning money which refers to interest or point rates offered.

Win Rate - When a player tracks their win rate it's usually how much they are winning per hour.

Whale - Another name for a high roller, a whale is a player who bets over $10,000 per hand.

Zen Count - Another card counting system that can be used to reduce blackjack house edge.