Blackjack Terms - Blackjack Acronyms

This page provides a summary and explanation for a number of blackjack terms, definitions and acronyms which should help answer the "What does this mean?" or "What does that mean?" when it comes to blackjack. Our list is not complete, but we do think it's a good one with more than 100 different blackjack terms covered. If you think a term is missing and would like it listed, please email info AT gamesblackjack.org. Please include a definition of the term and how it applies to the game.

Blackjack Terms - Blackjack Definitions Menu

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Blackjack Terms 0 - 9

6:5 Blackjack 5,6,7 Card Charlie Rule 2 - 6 Blackjack

6-5 Blackjack Rule - The 6-5 rule in blackjack is an increasingly popular payout that some casinos have adopted at their tables. Instead of being paid the long-time standard of 3 to 2 for a natural blackjack, players are paid 6 to 5 instead. This adds up to be a monetary difference of $3 for every $10 hand of blackjack played.

Most casinos will market this heavily on their single deck tables. The reason being is that players will think that the advantages of playing on a single deck will far outweigh the disadvantage of being paid much less for a natural blackjack. It does not. The 6-5 rule will give the house an extra advantage of approximately 1.4%.

5,6,7 Card Charlie Rule - 5 - 6 - or 7 Card Charlie is a term used when a player has hit five, six or seven cards without going bust. When this happens, the player automatically wins. This rule favours the player over the casino and you will find most casinos won't offer a five card, six card or seven card charlie table.

2 through 6 Blackjack Bet -  A 2 through 6 in blackjack is a side bet that players can participate in and only has a house edge of approximately 7.5%.

This side bet will pay off when the dealers' up cards consist of a 2 through 6. The odds paid out will depend on the following criteria:

  • If a player has a blackjack consisting of an ace and a king of hearts with a wager on the 2 through 6 side bet, odds of 40 to 1 are paid out. All other natural blackjacks are paid out at 8 to 1.
  • When the dealer has an ace through 7 and the player a blackjack, the player will earn 2 to 1. This should be in addition to your 3 to 2 payout for a natural blackjack.
  • When the player has a hand that totals 9 to 11 (includes soft 19s and 20s), the player will be paid odds of 5 to 1. Cards totalling 17 to 20 will pay odds of 2 to 1.

Blackjack Terms A


A-J Blackjack Bonus-  This bonus stems from the game "Bonus Blackjack" where players are paid a little extra for having a natural blackjack with an ace and a jack.

Odds will vary from casino to casino, but any ace/jack combo will pay out 2 to 2.5 to 1, a suited ace/jack will pay approximately 25 to 1 and an ace/jack of spades will pay out 50 to 1. These payouts are all on top of the standard 3 to 2 payout for natural blackjacks.

This bonus game is a spinoff of the 10 to 1 bonuses that players were given back in the day for having a blackjack with an ace/jack of spades.

Ace Tracking - Ace tracking is similar to shuffle tracking where the player will try to guesstimate when an ace will be dealt based on the cards that are seen around each ace.

Ace Adjustment - Adjusting for aces or an ace adjustment is a term used for players that are increasing or decreasing their bet sizes in conjunction with how many aces they believe are left in the deck. You might increase your bet size when the deck is "ace rich" because being dealt a blackjack is more likely to happen therefore earning more when it does. On the other hand, you might want to decrease your bet sizing when the deck is "ace poor" seeing as how being dealt a blackjack is less likely to happen.

Ace - Five Count - The ace five count is a simple card counting strategy that players can use to gain a little bit of an edge against the house without having to worry about coming across as a "card counter."

The idea behind this count is that generally the more aces there are left in the deck, the better our chances for a natural blackjack and a 3 to 2 payout. Five point cards are known more to help dealers when the dealer has a hand valued at 12 to 16. It keeps the dealer from having to hit their hand and bust and it can make b hands that will often have us beaten.

To use this count yourself, you will want to start with a fresh shoe and count of '0.' For every ace that you see, you want to subtract 1 from your count and for every 5-point card you see, you will want to add 1 to your count. Increase your bet with counts of +2 or more and decrease your bets with a count of +1 or less.

Ace Side Count -  The term Ace Side Count refers to a player keeping a separate count from the main count for aces. The reasoning for doing this is to have an idea of how "ace rich" or "ace poor" the shoe may be so players can adjust their betting strategies accordingly.

Ace Poor Count-  When a deck or shoe is said to be "ace poor," it's being implied that there are fewer aces in comparison to the other cards. Strategies and bet sizing will differ for an ace poor count. Players will want to bet less with an ace poor count simply because the chances of being dealt a natural blackjack are less likely to happen.

Ace Neutral Count - An ace neutral count refers to aces being "neutral" or not being assigned a value when using certain counting strategies. Ace neutral counting strategies is said to be better for single and double deck games while not as optimal for games using 3 or more decks.

Ace Rich - Ace Rich is a term used for decks or shoes that are "rich" in aces in comparison to the other cards. An ace rich deck is of benefit to the player because this increases the possibility of being dealt a natural blackjack. Many strategies suggest increasing the size of the wagers a player makes in attempt to take advantage of this.

Advantage -  In blackjack games, an advantage generally refers to how much of a mathematical edge the house has over the player. This is often shown as a percentage. This term can also apply to the player, if for example, they are applying strategies to give them more of an advantage or lessen the edge of the house.

Blackjack Terms B


Bonanza Side Bet- A Bonanza side bet is a bet that is no more or no less than $1 made on the outcome of a player being dealt a hand valued at 20 points and the dealer being dealt a 10 point card face up. Payouts will vary and range from as little as 10 to 1 for having a 20-point hand of a different rank/suit than the dealer's 10 point card to as high as 25,000 to 1 for having two cards with the same suit and rank as both the dealer's cards.

Bonus Spin Blackjack Bet - Bonus Spin Blackjack is a small side bet that pays out when a player is dealt a blackjack. The payouts are determined by a wheel that is spun before and cards are dealt. On this wheel are 5x, 15x, 25x, 20x, 10x and 100x payout multipliers. All hands dealt with at least on ace in them will payout 1 to 1.

Back Counting - Back counting is a term referring to players who stand behind a table in play counting cards. When the count has reached a point where the player has an advantage, he or she will sit down to play. This is also known as "Wonging" since the idea was introduced by Stanford Wong. It may also be said that a player has "wong in" when sitting down to play and they have "wong out" when they get up to leave.

Balance Count - A balanced count is when there are an equal number of cards (+ or -) left in the deck. For example, if you were using the Ace-Five count, you would subtract (-1) for every ace you see and add one (+1) for every 5-point card. If you saw one ace and one five-point card, you would have a balanced count (-1 +1 = "0").

Blackjack Bankroll - A blackjack bankroll is no different then a poker bankroll, craps bankroll or slots bankroll. A blackjack player's bankroll is the money they have set aside to play blackjack. The bigger the bankroll you have for playing blackjack, the less risk of ruin, or going broke, you have. Additionally, if there is money needed out of your bankroll for other expenses (maybe you play part time or for a full time income), the bigger the bankroll you will need to cover the losses you will encounter while still being able to play and capable of paying your bills.

Basic Blackjack Strategy - Basic Blackjack Strategy is a mathematical system that players can utilize to minimize the house's edge as much as possible. A basic strategy is generally used when players do not use any other form of strategy to gain an advantage such as card counting. Examples of basic strategy may be, but are not limited to always doubling down on dealt hands valued at 11 except when the dealer shows an ace, always split aces or eights or always stand on a pair of tens. Basic Blackjack Strategy is often available as a chart that can be used at the tables while playing.

Bet Spread -  A bet spread refers to a player's minimum and maximum bets while playing blackjack. For example, if a player were to have a bet spread of 2-10, this player would make bets of at least $2 per hand but as high as $10 per hand (but no higher).

Buster Blackjack -  Buster Blackjack is a side bet made by the player in hopes of the dealer busting. Payouts are made based on how many cards it takes for the dealer to bust with the more cards equaling the better odds. So, if the dealer took 3-4 cards to bust out then the player would receive a 2 to 1 return on their wager, 5 cards would be 4 to 1, 6 cards 12 to 1, 7 cards 50 to 1 and 8 cards would earn the player odds of 250 to 1 on their bet.

Burn Card - The burn card is the top card after the deck has been reshuffled and cut. It is removed and placed at the bottom of the deck and is not used when dealing cards. Burn cards generally refer to cards that are discarded and not used in almost any card or casino game.

Bust / Busting -  When a player and/or dealer busts, it is being said that their hand has gone over the value of 21 which is automatically a loss. When a player busts, the house automatically wins and if the dealer busts, those who are still in the hand will win 1:1 on their wager(s). An example of busting would be being dealt a 4 and a 9, taking a hit and receiving a 10-point card (ten, jack, queen or king) for a hand valued at 23 points, 2 points over the 21 point maximum in blackjack.

Blackjack Terms C


Caribbean 21 Blackjack -  Caribbean 21 Blackjack is a blackjack variant called Pontoon. It uses eight 52-card decks with each card being valued the same as in a standard blackjack game. The key difference is that aces are always "hard" and count as one point. Other notable differences include the dealer only being dealt one card before the player acts, being able to double with any two cards even after a split, the insurance payouts and that dealers win all ties. The name "Caribbean 21 Blackjack" comes from a "Caribbean 21" which is an ace and two 10-point cards. A Caribbean 21 beats all other 21-point hands and Caribbean 21s made after a split still payout 3 to 2.

Chinese Blackjack -  Chinese Blackjack is a variant of blackjack that uses the same rules in terms of hand values and the same objective of beating the dealer without going over 21 points. The exception is that aces will carry a different value depending on how many cards a player has. For two cards, aces are counted as 10 or 11, 3 cards 1 or 10 and 4 or more cards aces will be counted as 1.

Chinese Blackjack has a few different hand combinations that can earn players more on their wagers:

  • Ban-Ban: 2 aces. This will earn a player triple their wager unless the dealer has a ban-ban or free hand. The same applies to a dealer having a ban-ban.
  • Ban-Nag: A traditional blackjack. A ban-nag will earn a player double his or her wager automatically unless the dealer has a ban-ban, a ban-nag or free hand. The same applies for dealers.
  • 15 Point Hands: 15-point hands are referred to as "free hands" which gives the player the option of whether to continue with their hand or not. Dealers will have the same option - if they choose not to continue the cards are reshuffled and the hand is over.
  • Players will earn double their wager automatically if they don't bust after receiving 5 cards. Triple their wager is given for 5 cards dealt totaling 21 points. The same rules apply for the dealer.
  • Chinese Blackjack is also known as Ban-Nag, Ban-Luck or Kampung deriving from Cantonese, Hokkien and Malaysian languages.

 

Card Counting - Card counting in blackjack is a strategy practiced by intermediate to advanced players in order to lessen the edge the house has on the game. There are several blackjack card counting strategies, most of which consist of counting the aces, 10-point or 5-point cards left in the deck. Many players will adjust their bet sizing due to how many cards are left in the deck that will help them.

Cold Deck -  Cold decks in blackjack are decks consisting of fewer cards that can help the player make a good blackjack hand. Cold decks will consist of fewer aces and 10-point cards. Another way to look at it is having a bad run of cards.

California Blackjack -  California Blackjack is a blackjack variant available in brick and mortar casinos only. The game uses six decks with 53 cards in each. The 53rd card is a joker which is used as wild card and a means to making a natural blackjack. Blackjacks with a joker will pay out 2 to 1 while all other 21s (A-Ten combo) will pay even money. California Blackjack also utilizes a player banking system with each player at the table acting the part of banker. Aside from the banking system and 53-card decks, most of the California Blackjack rules will mirror that of traditional blackjack games.

Cheating -  Cheating in general is to find an unethical way to win or come out ahead. In blackjack specifically, players may cheat by marking cards, tag teaming with someone else while relaying information or trying to add/deduct from the initial wager depending on the strength of one's hand.

Color Up - To color up is to exchange chips for another denomination - generally from a lower dollar amount to a higher dollar amount.

Camouflage - Camouflage is a term used to describe a player trying to hide the fact that they are counting cards. One way of doing this is to not adjust the size of your wager based on the count, but to increase your wager on next hand after you win and lower the amount you wager after you lose.

Comps - Comps are given to players as a "thank you" for spending money at their casino. Comps can be free food, drinks or room and board. It also acts as an incentive for players to play more.

Blackjack Terms D


Dare Any Pair Bet -  Dare Any Pair is a side bet that is very much like Perfect Pairs that pays out when a player's first two cards are a pair. Dare Any Pair will typically pay out at 11 to 1 and has a house edge of 11.25% to 29.41% depending on the number of decks used. Six decks are the most common (11.25%).

Discards -  Discards are the cards that are not in play anymore. These can be either burn cards or cards that were dealt and used to make a hand.

Double Deck -  A double deck refers to a game of blackjack being dealt and played from two decks shuffled together. This is opposed to the table using a single deck, 4, 6 or 8+ decks.

Deck Penetration - Deck Penetration is a term used to describe how much of a deck is used before the dealer reshuffles. For example, if the dealer used 6/8 decks, it could be said that the deck was penetrated 75% before the dealer reshuffled.

Double Down / Doubling Down -  Doubling Down is placing another bet that is no more or not less than the initial wager in exchange for one more card. For example, say you were dealt 2-9 and wagered $5. To double down, you'd have to match that $5 bet ($10 total) and you'd be given one more card and would be forced to stand. Some casinos will only allow players to double down on hands that total 9-11, double down on any two cards or double after splits. These rules will vary based on the casino you're playing at and the blackjack variation you're playing.

Downtown Vegas Blackjack -  Downtown Vegas Blackjack is a variation of blackjack that uses almost all of the same rules as traditional blackjack. The biggest difference in rules is that players can split hands up to 3 times making 4 separate hands and all hands can be doubled down on even after being split.

Double Exposure Blackjack -  Double Exposure Blackjack is a blackjack variant with a substantial difference from that of your normal blackjack game - both of the dealer's cards are dealt face up. To maintain the house edge and offset such a huge player advantage, this game has a few differences in rules from your standard blackjack game. The two biggest differences in rules include only being able to split hands once and all pushes are considered player losses.

Dealing Seconds - Dealing seconds is a term that refers to a method of cheating at blackjack or any card game for that matter. A dealer is dealing seconds when they deal from the second card from the top instead of the top card. Dealers will do this to avoid dealing a card that could potentially help a specific player or to keep a needed card for themselves.

Deviation - Deviation in blackjack describes a strategy "deviating" from basic strategy. Players may want to deviate from basic strategy if they have the basic strategy down pat, are well versed in card counting and have found a situation where an action other than what basic strategy suggests doing is more profitable.

Deviation can also be used to describe a mathematical formula to calculate how much variation there is from the "mean" or "average" of specific data being collected. In blackjack, you can figure out how much you expect to win or lose in a so many hand session and then use standard deviation to figure out how often you might "deviate" from your average session.  

Double After Split - Double after split refers to a player's ability to double down after splitting a pair. The rules enabling players to do this will vary from game to game, but a few games that allow players to do this include Spanish 21, Blackjack Switch and Doublet Blackjack.

Draw / Drawing - When a player is said to be on a draw or is drawing, it is meant that he or she is "hitting" their hand in attempt to obtain a hand with a value as close to 21 points as possible.
Draw - This term means the same as drawing or hit. A player is on a draw when they are taking another card in order to make a hand with a value of as close to 21 points as possible.

Drop - A drop in a casino typically refers to a deposit made into a box in exchange for chips. For example, you might give the dealer $100 in exchange for $100 in chips - the cash you give the dealer is dropped into the "drop" box for later collection.

Blackjack Terms E


Early Surrender - An early surrender is a player forfeiting half of his or her wager as opposed to possibility of losing the whole thing to a dealer natural 21. If the game gives the player the option to surrender early, it's before the dealer checks his cards for a blackjack.

Edge - The blackjack term edge describes the mathematical advantage the player or house has in a given situation. This term can also be used in sports and other card or casino games such as poker or slots.

End Play - The term end play refers to the last few hands dealt and played before the deck is reshuffled. Depending on the perceived count up until that point, a player may or may not decide to play.

EV / Expected Value - Expected value, or EV for short, refers to the long term expected outcome of any given action. In skill games such as blackjack and poker, it's best to make plays with long term positive expected value in mind because although these plays may not show profits in a short time span, they are mathematically proven to be profitable over a large sample.

Even Money - Even money refers to a payout of an equal amount to the wager made - also referred to as one to one, 1 to 1 or 1:1. For example, if you made a $5 bet and won your hand, you would receive your $5 back plus a 100% (1:1) match on your money of $5 for a grand total of $10.

Expectation - Expectation is the same as expected value. It refers to how much a player will tie, lose or win. Expectation is usually expressed in a decimal or percentage.

Eye in the Sky - Eye in the sky is a term used referring to cameras (eyes) placed on the ceilings (skies) of a brick and mortar casino. Casinos have cameras to ensure everything is going smoothly including their employees following protocol and to spot cheaters.

Blackjack Terms F - G


Face Cards - Face cards are kings, queens and jacks. In blackjack games, they are worth 10 points each. Face cards are also referred to as paint or picture cards.

First Base - "Bases" refer to the different seats at a blackjack table. First base indicates the first seat which is located at the very right if you are standing behind the blackjack table. 

Face Up Card - A face up card is a card (or cards) dealt face up. In a traditional blackjack game, both the player's cards and one of the dealer's cards are face up. This may change depending on the blackjack variant you're playing. 

Flat Betting - Players who flat bet or are flat betting are wagering the same amount of money each hand that they play. This is the opposite of a bet spread where a player might fluctuate his or her betting to coincide with card counting or other blackjack strategies.  

False Shuffle - In addition to dealing seconds, a false shuffle is another method used by dealers in order to cheat. A false shuffle is meant to avoid randomizing the deck as much as possible.

Griffin Book -  The Griffin Book is a list of players who are blacklisted from casinos because of their edge from counting cards or for outright cheating. This book is published by Griffin Investigations and its information is used widely within the gaming industry.

Griffin Investigations -  Griffin Investigations consists of private investigators that specialize in the gaming industry locating and exposing cheaters and card counters. They're known most for playing a key role in stopping the MIT blackjack team's winning streak and for promoting a face recognition system that scans and helps identify gamblers faces to later compare to mug shots. Griffin Investigations later filed for bankruptcy (2005) because of legal costs stemming from a lawsuit filed against them for improper detainment based on information they provided.

Blackjack Terms H - I


Heads-Up- Heads up is a term referring to someone playing the dealer only - no one else is at the table.

Hard Hand -  A hard hand is any hand that doesn't contain an ace. It also refers to a hand that can only total a value of 1 point in order to keep the player from busting. For example, a 5-7 would be a hard hand seeing as it totals 12 points and contains no ace. A hand with 5-6-A-6 would also be a hard hand totalling 18 points because the ace needs to be counted as 1 point to avoid being counted as 28 points and busting.

Hard Total - A hard total is the total of any hard blackjack hand that does not consist of an ace or an ace being used as an eleven. For example, a hand such as K-9 would have a hard total of 19 points. A hand such as 5-6-A-9 would have a hard total of 21 points because the ace (although normally apart of soft hands) can only be used as 1 point to avoid busting.

Hi-Lo - The term Hi-Lo in blackjack refers to a popular card counting system. Players assign a value of +1 for cards 2 thru 6, 0 for cards 7 thru 9 and -1 for all face cards and aces.

Hi-Opt I - The Hi-Opt I count is very much like the Hi-Lo count with the exception that 2s are given no value (+0) as are aces (+0). Also known as the Einstein count which derives from the name of the developer of the system, Charles Einstein.

Hi-Opt II -  The Hi-Opt II counting system is a much more complicated version of the Hi-Lo and Hi-Opt I card counting strategies. In the Hi-Opt II, cards 2 and three have a value of +1, 4 and 5 have a value of +2, 6 and 7 +1, 8 and 9 +0 and all face cards have a value of -2. Aces are also counted as neutral (+0). The Hi-Opt II is a bit more advanced because of the different values each card has and the side counts (8s, 9s and aces) that need to be kept track of to be successful.

High Stakes- High stakes is a word used for the games that are more expensive to play - generally much higher than what your common player can play. In blackjack, high stakes are generally in the neighbourhood of $500 a hand online and can be as much as $50k per hand in brick and mortar casinos. This term can apply to all casino games, not just blackjack.  

High Roller - A high roller is a player who plays high stakes games. High rollers are also known as whales.

Hit - To "hit" is to ask the dealer for another card. For example, if you were dealt a 5-7, you would say, "hit" or "hit me" and the dealer would then give you another card.

Hole Card - Hole cards are the cards that are dealt face down. In most blackjack variants, the dealer always deals themselves one hole card.

House Edge - The house edge is the mathematical advantage that the casino has over the player in a particular situation. This is often expressed as a percentage. For example, one common (yet arguably poor) strategy that many players use is the "assume the dealer has a ten in the hole." This strategy results in a house edge of more than 10% over the player.

House - House is another word for casino. A common phrase in the gambling industry is "bringing down the house" aka "bringing down the casino."  

Index Number -  Index numbers are used in correlation with the true count. These numbers will tell players when it's ok to deviate from basic blackjack strategy.    

Insurance - Insurance is a wager made on whether the dealer has a blackjack or not. It costs about half the amount of the player's wager and will protect the player from losing his or her whole bet in the cases that the dealer does have a blackjack. Other than when you're using advanced card counting strategies, taking insurance is generally a long-term losing proposition.

Blackjack Terms J - K



Junket - Junkets are travel packages put together and paid for by casinos for large groups of gamblers.
Kelly Betting - Kelly betting is a strategy that implies that gamblers should bet a percentage of their bankroll equivalent in size to the edge they have in the game they're playing. The Kelly betting strategy focuses on maximizing a player's profits over an extended timeframe. 

Kelly Criterion - The Kelly Criterion is the mathematical formula based off the Kelly betting strategy. The basic formula looks like this: f = (bp - q) / b. The "f" stands for the fraction of the player's bankroll that should be wagered. The "b" stands for the odds given on a wager ("b" to 1). "P" is the probability of winning and "q" is the probability of losing.

For example, if you had a 75% chance of winning a hand with 1 to 1 odds you should wager 50% of your bankroll. This is what the formula would look like: f = (1*.75 - .25) / 1.

Knock Out - The term knock out in blackjack refers to a card counting system introduced by Olaf Vancura and Ken Fuchs. In this system, 2s thru 7s are counted as +1, 8s and 9s as 0 and ten point cards as -1. This is almost identical to the Hi/Lo count other than the fact that 7s are counted as +1 in the KO system. This system was designed to be much easier for players to use but will be slightly less accurate in comparison to other counting systems.

Blackjack Terms - L - M - N


Late Surrender - A late surrender is a rule adopted by some casinos and/or blackjack variants than allows the player to surrender after seeing the dealer's hole card.

Level - The term level refers to the amount of values used in card counting. A level 1 card counting system would use +1/-1. Level 2 systems would use +1/-1 and +2/2. Level 3s would use +1/-1, +2/-2 and +3/-3 and so forth. The higher the level, the harder the system is to use. 

Mechanic - A mechanic is a player who cheats at card games using sleight of hand techniques.
Money Plays - A money play is a player using real cash to wager with as opposed to chips.

Multi-Deck / Multiple Deck - Multi-deck blackjack is a blackjack game that uses multiple decks as opposed to a single (1) deck. Most casinos will use anywhere from 1 to 8 decks at once. 

Natural- A natural is another word for a "21" or "blackjack." A natural blackjack will consist of two cards dealt, one being an ace and the other being a ten-point card.

Blackjack Terms P


Paint - A paint card is a jack, queen or king. Paint cards are also referred to as picture cards or face cards. They're all are worth 10 points in blackjack.

Past Post - Past posting is the act of adding money to the initial wager after seeing the results of the hand. This is after the betting has been completed and is a form of cheating in any casino game where a player wagers using chips.

Pat Hand - A pat hand in blackjack is a hand that totals 17 points or more. Pat hands can also be referred to made hands.

Pit - The pit is an area that is surrounded by all the casino games. This is where you can find casino personnel including the pit boss.

Pit Boss - The pit boss is a casino employee who oversees the dealers and action on the floor. If there is ever a problem such as a dispute about a rule or a general complaint, the pit boss is normally the one to handle it.

Playing Efficiency - Playing efficiency refers to how accurate a card counting system may be. The efficiency of a counting system is expressed in a fraction or percentage.

Plus Minus - Plus minus is a nickname used for the Hi/Lo card counting system.

Point Count - Point count refers to the total value of the count at any time. It does not matter if the count is positive or negative.

Positive Count - A positive count is when the count is "+x" when using a card counting strategy. In many counting systems, a plus count will mean that deck is rich in 10-point cards in comparison to little cards such as 2s thru 6s.

Preferential Shuffle - A preferential shuffle is shuffling a deck prematurely (before all the cards are used) in order to lessen the advantage had by card counters.

Progression Betting - Progression betting is changing the size of a bet based on the outcome of previous hands. A player may bet smaller when losing and higher when they are winning. Several betting systems such as the Martingale or Paroli progression betting system consists of several levels of progressive bet sizes.

Progressive Blackjack -  Progressive blackjack is a blackjack game that has a side bet. The money from the side bet is put towards a "progressive jackpot" which continues to grow or "progress" until it is paid out when a special hand value or combination has been made. Only players who pay the side bet are capable of winning the jackpot. Jackpots can be as small as a couple hundred dollars and as high as several million dollars.

Proportional betting - Proportional betting is to make a bet proportional to the size of your advantage in a game. This is also referred to as Kelly betting or the Kelly Criterion. 

Push - The term push means to tie with the dealer. For example, if the dealer had A9 and you had king-king, you both would have a hand totalling 20 points and would push. In most blackjack games, a push will earn a player his or her wager back.

Blackjack Terms - R - S


Rat Holing - Rat holing refers to a player taking chips off the table and hiding them in attempt to disguise how much they have won.

Red 7 count - The red 7 count is a mix between the knockout and Hi/Lo card counting systems. In this system, 2s thru 6s are counted as +1, red sevens (hearts and diamonds) are counted as +1, black sevens (spades and clubs) thru 9s are neutral and ten point cards are counted as -1. 

Re-split -  To re-split refers to being able to resplit multiple times in one hand. For example, if you were dealt 88 you could split them. If on one of those hands you were dealt another 8, some games will allow you to split them again (resplit) to make a 3rd hand. Most blackjack games allow no more than 3 splits (or one split and 2 resplits) per hand making up to 4 playable hands per round.

Rider Bet - A rider bet is a bet made on another player's hand by someone who is not involved in the game. The bet is placed behind the player's bet and the total combined cannot exceed the table's maximum. A rider bet is also known as an "over the shoulder" bet. 

Running Count - A running count is the same as a point count. While using a card counting system, it is the total number of points that has been assigned since the beginning of the deck.

Session - A session refers to the amount of time you spend playing. It can be as specific as the time you spent playing at one table, at one casino or even a whole trip.

Shill - Shills are casino employees out of uniform that sit down at empty tables to try to attract others to sit down and play. Shills are the same thing as "props" in poker.

Shoe Game - Shoe games are blackjack games dealt out of shoes. Generally, these are multiple deck tables.

Shuffle Master- Shuffle Master is the brand of a shuffling machine that some brick and mortar companies use. Shuffle machines help to speed up games and can discourage card counting and shuffle tracking.

Shuffle Tracking - Shuffle tracking is a technique where players keep track of the high and low cards that are discarded. When it comes time to cut the cards, shuffle trackers will do so in such a manner that the high cards are in play more so than the low cards.

Side Count - Side counts are counts made in addition to a traditional card counting system. Common side counts include aces or fives.

Soft Hand - Soft hands are hands that have an ace in them that count as 11 points. For example, an ace and a six would be a soft 17.

Soft Double - Soft double is a term referring to doubling down on a soft hand.

Stand - When a player stands (or stays), they are not doing anything more with their hand, be it hit, split or double down. They are keeping their current total.   

Standard Deviation - Standard deviation refers to how far or how often an outcome will "deviate" from the average. In blackjack, standard deviation is often used to determine the fluctuations one might see using certain blackjack strategies or in their bankroll.

Stiff Hand - Stiff hands are hands that can bust if drawn to. These hands are generally hands that total anywhere from 12 to 16 points since an 11 will not bust and/or make a blackjack and that in most cases it's recommended that players stand on 17+.

Stop Loss Limit - Stop losses are predetermined dollar amounts that a player is willing to lose in a given session. If a player reaches that limit, he or she must stop playing for that session.

Surrender - To surrender means to give up or not play the hand you were dealt. Players who surrender will receive half their wager back. Not all casinos and/or blackjack variants offer this option.

Blackjack Terms T


Team Play -Team play is a term referring to a group of players who are playing together against the house. Often times, blackjack teams operate on one bankroll.

Third Base - Third base refers to a position at the blackjack table. It is the seat all the way to the left when standing behind or seated at the table and is the last player to receive cards or to act.

Tipping - Tipping is a term used that refers to giving money to a dealer or server showing gratitude for his or her service. Also known as gratuity or a toke.

The Big Player - The big player is the player on a blackjack team that bets the "big" amounts when the count is in favor of the player(s).

The Gorilla - A "gorilla" is the big player on a blackjack team that plays solely based on hand signals from their teammates. This is often disregarding other advantageous techniques or at times even basic blackjack strategy.

The Spotter -  A spotter is a player who keeps a low profile by playing basic strategy all the while counting cards. The spotter will signal for the big player when the count is favorable. Once the big player comes to the table, the spotter will often leave using some sort of excuse to avoid detection and to avoid consuming favorable cards.

True Count - A true count is the running count divided by the number of decks left in the shoe. The remaining decks can be estimated to the nearest half or full deck.

Blackjack Terms U - V - W - Z


Up card - Up cards in any card game refer to the cards that are face up that can be seen by all the players. In blackjack, the up card is the first of two cards that the dealer deals to himself. 

Unbalanced Count - An unbalanced count is where the count of positive and negative cards is not equal in a card counting system.

Unit / Units - A unit is another term for a player's wagering amount. For example, if a player were betting in $5 increments, every $5 would be one unit.

Uston Count - The Uston counts are a series of card counting strategies discussed by Ken Uston including the Uston Advanced Plus/Minus Count, the Uston Advanced Point Count and the Uston Simple Plus/Minus Count. The difficulty or accuracy of these strategies range from levels one thru three.

Variance - The word variance in all of gambling refers to the swings that a player sees in the outcomes of different situations. For example, if in a particular situation you were an 80/20 favorite, the "variance" would come from the 20% that you are expected to lose. The closer a situation is to a 50/50, the more variance (ups and downs) you should expect to see.

Vig - Vig is a term that describes the house's edge in a game. It is also used to describe the money the house makes in collected fees.

Wonging -  Wonging is a term that derives from the player Stanford Wong. To "wong" or the act of "wonging" is to count cards while standing behind the table only to join when the count favors the players. Also known as to wong in, to wong out, wonging in and wonging out.

Win rate - Win rate is the amount of money someone is expected to earn per hour. This is expressed as a percentage, in dollars or in big blinds per 100 in poker. The higher the win rate the more a player is expected to win per hour.

Whale - A whale is a word that describes someone who spends a lot of money in a casino. Whales are also referred to as high rollers.

Zen count - The Zen Count is a level 2 card counting strategy made popular by Arnold Snyder. This system assigns a value of plus one to 2s, 3s and 7s, a plus two to 4s, 5s and 6s, a minus one to aces and minus two to ten-point cards.

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