up button arrow
notice icon
https://pennsylvania.stateplay.org is a privately-owned website that is not owned or operated by any government agency.

Glossary Of Terms Used In Blackjack


This is another name for the card game of blackjack. The reason for the name is that the cards in your hand must add up close to or exactly 21 without going over the limit.

21 + 3

This is a common blackjack side bet at online blackjack casinos. For players to place a wager, they need to use their two cards and the upcard of the dealer. If these cards create a straight, flush, or straight flush, the player has won his bet.


This is an eviction phrase. It occurs when a player is being told by a casino that he/she is being removed. It mostly happens due to suspected advantage play.

A to C


The "ace" is the most valuable card in the deck. It can be valued at one or eleven in the game and if a player gets an ace and a 10-value card at once, he has hit blackjack and is highly likely to win.

Ace Poor

"Ace Poor" is a term that is for counting. It refers to the fact that there have been fewer aces dealt so far than would be expected based on the statistics.

Ace Rich

As opposed to Ace poor, "Ace rich" refers to the fact that there has been an above average or high aces dealt so far than would have been expected based on statistics.


On a single hand or during a full blackjack session, "Action" means the amount of money wagered. This might apply to a single player, or it can apply to everyone at the table.


This refers to the advantage that one player has over the other in a game. In casinos, it is commonly referred to as "house edge". Card counters, on the other hand, may be able to give the player an advantage in particular situations.

Anchor / Anchorman

The player who takes an action last before the dealer is known as the"anchorman". Blackjack games are essentially player vs dealer so it is debatable whether there is any advantage or disadvantage to being the anchorman in a game.

Balanced Count

Cards that are positive or negative are counted the same in this method. A deck of cards has a balanced count if the final running tally is zero.


This is the money available to a player to gamble. However, it is advisable that the player does not confuse the bankroll with his total amount of money. Only the amount the player is willing to risk in a casino should be counted as bankroll.


This is when a player is permanently prohibited from the casino. Mostly happens to card counters.

Basic Strategy

This is a set of rules that players follow for guidance on what plays to make in order to maximize possible winnings. The "Basic strategy" rules define what a player should decide in any given situation.

Bet Sizing

"Bet sizing" in the simplest terms possible, means changing the amount of money you're betting based on the current strategy. This may be because of direct betting strategies like doubling your wagers when you're up or card counting.

Bet Spread

This term is used to describe the difference between the values of a player's highest and lowest bet.

Black Book

The “black book” is used to refer to a list of players that have been banned. It formerly existed as a book but in the modern era, it mostly exists as an online database.


Bets are placed in a space called a "box". It is located in front of each participant. A player would be able to see where his/her cards and chips fit in the layout.

Burn card

This refers to the first card the dealer places to one side, face down before commencing with dealing. The "burn card" is designed to make it impossible for the first player to have knowledge of what the first card could be. If he gets to know it, it would affect the way he bets.


This is used to describe a player who has run out of money to place bets. "Bust" is a term any player never wishes to be used to be referred to. It makes sense for a blackjack player to lose his bankroll, however, it is not a good sight to see a player lose his bankroll as well as his life savings and daily living funds.


Making a first stake is all it takes for a player to get started in an online blackjack game. The player needs to make sure he can afford the minimum buy-in fee before he/she starts playing.


The term "Camouflage betting" is a land-based casino word used to describe card counting techniques. When a player wants to camouflage his betting, he pretends to be playing for fun. However, he raises his wager when the count is favourable. When it comes to card counting, the ability to conceal your bets is just as important as being able to keep track of the count yourself.

Chip Down

This is when players decide to play safe. When a player decides to lower his bet from the amount he wagered during the previous hand is known as "chip down".

Chip Up

This is a contrast to chip down. It is when a player decides to increase his bet from the amount he wagered during the previous hand. It is usually done when a player has won some wagers and feels like he has the chance to win more.

Cold Deck

This is a term used to describe a deck of cards that has dealt a player many bad hands in a row. A player can dream that the deck will 'warm up' and become a "Hot Deck," but this is never a sure thing. Players generally never want to be the victim of a cold deck.

Color up

To "color up" means to swap your chips of lower denomination for ones with higher value. Before a player leaves a blackjack table, it is considered polite etiquette to color up as it prevents the dealer from exhausting the lower-value chips.

Count / Counting Cards

This is a method players use to gain an advantage when playing blackjack. It is a process of recording the previous cards mentally whilst maintaining a count to help work out the probability of future card trends.

If the count is done well and the player knows there is a hot deck, he raises his bets to give him the biggest chance of winning higher. However, there are a lot of card counting procedures to try.


CSM means Continuous Shuffling Machine. Brick-and-mortar casinos use this to shuffle used cards back into the deck. This makes it harder for a player who is waiting to count cards as deck penetration will drop considerably.


This is when the decks of cards are split after they have been shuffled before they are dealt to the players.

Cut Card

"Cut card" refers to a plastic card that is used to cut the decks of cards after they have been shuffled, before they are dealt to the players.


Casino Verite Chapter X (CVCX) is a sophisticated card counting software formulated by the founder (and arguably father) of "Modern Blackjack", Norm Wattenberger. Most casino counters use this software to assist bet spreads simulation and many other functions.

D to F


This is a rule in blackjack. The D9 rule means a player can only double on hands that value 9, 10, or 11. They are the most likely hands to benefit from doubling if the player lands a 10 or an ace. In a D9 game, only hard hands can be doubled.


The DA2 rule means a player can double any two cards. This means the player can double any value and both soft and hard hands.


This stands for Double After Split, This means that a player has the chance to double down on his bet after he has already split a pair. For example, if the player split two 7s, and ends up with a 7-3 hand, he has the chance to then double that hand to see if he can land a 10 value card and get the value up to a hard 20.


The "dealer" is a player's opponent in blackjack, not other players. Thus, there are two roles for the dealer. In the first place, dealing the cards, and in the second, playing against the player in the game itself.

Dealer Peek

The "dealer peek" is a rule in which the dealer will check for blackjack if their up card is either an ace or a ten.

Deck Penetration

This refers to the number of cards that are dealt before the dealer resets the game. More time between shuffles of the cards makes it easier to count them.


This is when a player changes his game tactics from the basic strategy at different times based on the count.


"Discards" refer to the cards that were dealt to a player in previous hands which have been discarded. There are no discards in free or online blackjack, although they can be available in live dealer blackjack games.

Discard Tray

When cards have already been dealt out from a deck, the dealer proceeds to put them into a tray which is placed on the table. This tray is known as a "discard tray".


“Double on Any” refers to players being allowed to double any first two cards. This also includes doubling their cards after splitting.

Double Down

This means a player can double his bet in exchange for one additional card. However, he won't be able to hit again but if he wins, he would have won double his original bet. Double down is best done when a hand has values 9, 10, or 11.

Double Exposure

This is a type of blackjack in which the dealer's cards are dealt facing up. Despite the fact that these games are simpler for the player to make decisions, surrender and insurance are not available.

Early Surrender

An "early surrender" means a player can relinquish his hand and halve his bet before the dealer checks for blackjack. The early surrender is offered if the dealer’s one upcard shows an ace or 10 value card.

Entry-Level Card Counting System

This is the most basic method of card counting, as its name implies. The player assigns each card from the deck, a positive, negative or a zero value.


EV means Expected Value. It is a mathematical equation that helps with maximizing a player's bets whilst also recognising patterns that emerge throughout the course of a game.

Even Money

By taking an insurance bet option, a player can ensure an even money return on their hand if they have a blackjack and the dealer has a ten or ace. This is known as "Even money".

Face Cards

These are cards that have faces on them. Examples are Jacks, Kings of any suits or Queens.

First Base

This term refers to the player who sits directly opposite the anchorman. He is the first player to collect cards from the shoe on a hand.

Five-Card Charlie

A five-card blackjack hand that does not surpass 21 is known as "five-card Charlie". In some blackjack games, a Five-Card Charlie is valued higher than an equal hand with fewer cards. This means that such a hand wins in the case of a draw.

Flat Betting

In the case of "flat betting", the player stakes the same amount of money for each hand regularly for an extended period of time, if not over the full course of the game.

G to I


In a game of blackjack, "hand" is used to describe the cards a player is holding.

Hand Spreading

This means playing two hands at once. The volume of hands a player can play in an hour is doubled, but his odds remain the same.

Hard Hand

There is no ace in a "hard hand". With a hard hand, there is only one possible value among a player's cards. However, with a soft hand, there are two possibilities.

Hard Total

Having no ace in a hand is called a hard hand. As a result, the hand's total value can only be one. This is known as the "hard total".

Heads Up

This is a one-on-one game between the dealer and the player. Except for live dealer choices, most online blackjack games are played in this manner.

High Roller

This is a term used to describe someone who spends a lot of money. "High rollers" are people who can afford to wager large sums of money with little fear of losing everything. They accept that they can either win bigger or lose all their money without consequences. Online and land-based casinos do everything possible to treat these gamers as if they were their own.

Hi-Lo Counting

This is a very popular method of counting cards. It is also one of the simplest. In Hi-Lo counting, a player assigns a value to each card that has been played and then proceeds to follow it as the game progresses. The Hi-Lo counting method is the basis for most of the other counting procedures.


If a player does not think his hand can trump the dealer's own, he has the choice to draw another card. However, the player must keep in mind that if his hand value goes over 21, he'll bust.

Hole Card

A "hole card" card is one that is face-down. Only the dealer has a hole card in blackjack, one of which is up and the other is down.

Hot Deck

As the name implies, a "hot deck" is the complete opposite of a cold deck. A hot deck is a term used to describe a deck of cards that has dealt a player many good hands in a row. For card counters, this is exactly the spot they want to be in. Generally, players want to be the target of a hot deck.

House Edge

This is the degree to which the house (or casino) has an advantage over the player. This is usually determined by the player's level of expertise. Individuals who are new to the game may have to contend with a 2% house advantage while more experienced players can face a 0.5% house edge when adopting a simple strategy.

Illustrious 18

Don Schlesinger, a mathematician, came up with a total of 18 alternative blackjack strategies. These strategies are known as the "illustrious 18". Variations like these allow players to make tactical adjustments in the middle of a game in order to make optimal use of their available opportunities.

Index Number

With the aid of an index number which is also known as a variable number, card counters are able to change strategy. A common approach used by card counters is the recommendation of standing rather than sitting when there are several high-value cards left in the deck.

Insurance Bet

If the dealer's upcard is an ace, an insurance bet which is a side-bet can be made. In essence, taking this decision means a player is protecting himself from a possible blackjack from the dealer. In most cases, the wager is halved and pays out at a ratio of 2 to 1.

J to L

Kelly Betting

J.L. Kelly Jr created a betting system known as the Kelly Betting or the Kelly Criterion. This system is meant for elite players as it helps them to determine the ideal bet size needed at every point in a blackjack game.

Knock Out Count

The "knock out count" is regarded as the easiest card counting system. Rather than a true count, the knock out count focuses on keeping track of a running count. Despite its simplicity, it is a wonderful approach to learn card counting because it accounts for numerous decks.

Late Surrender (LS)

The LS rule is a rule which allows a player to surrender after the dealer checks for blackjack. The said player can give up his bet and get a half-win if he takes this option.

Loaded deck

The "loaded deck" is a deck with a lot of high-value cards in it. As a result, a player gets an advantage over the dealer, who is unable to take advantage of highly likely winning combinations like doubles and splits.

M to O

Martingale System

This is a system that players use to earn back their losses and initial wager by doubling their bet after each loss. An endless bankroll is required for the Martingale system to succeed, as it can quickly become unsustainable. This system is not recommended for any player to practice in blackjack.

Money Management

A blackjack player needs to be able to practice "money management" effectively. Such player needs to avoid placing bets with money he/she can't afford to lose and keep an eye on their bank account. The player also needs to know when to stop betting and how to manage his wagers, wins, and even losses.


"Monkey" is a term that is commonly used in the Asian culture. It is used to describe a face card in blackjack games.


There is usually more than one deck in a shoe when playing blackjack. This is usually done to minimise the capacity of players to count cards. Counting cards become increasingly difficult the more decks there are.

Natural Blackjack / Natural

In a game of blackjack, a natural 21 is one that is gained with an ace and a 10-value card that are dealt at the same time. A natural Blackjack will almost always yield a larger payout in almost all types of blackjack games. Splitting 10s or aces and subsequently getting a blackjack is not considered natural in the majority of blackjack games.


This term stands for No Doubling After Splitting. This rule can put a player at a disadvantage, especially if such a player has a loaded deck.

Negative Count

Counts that are lesser than zero when card counting are referred to as "negative counts". This is the time to stake low and hold out for a long period of time.

No Win

This means the player has not won any game on that particular day. Either the dealer has been winning or it has been a back and forth push where the original stakes are won.


NRSA means No Resplitting Aces. If a player splits aces and one of them has another ace dealt onto it, the player can not split the second pair.

P to R


At the blackjack table, some players may be heard pleading to "see some paint". This means they are after face cards with a total value of 10.


"Pair" is used to describe a two-card hand that contains cards of equal value. The player may choose to split the cards into different hands. This is a strategy used by great players to maximize their bets.

Pat Hand

This is a strong hand that does not need a hit. It is a hand that usually contains a value between the range 17 - 21. Pat hand has its origins in poker but it is now used in many other card games including blackjack.

Perfect Play

This is a situation whereby a player plays his hand by using the generally established blackjack strategy while playing the game.


The "pit" describes an area at the blackjack table where players sit down for the game. It is supervised by a casino employee known as the pit boss, who is often stern-looking.


"Ploppy" is an expression that is used by elite and more experienced players to describe newcomers or those with less blackjack table experience. Ploppies are popular with the casino since they are more likely to lose hands as they do not know the various strategies utilised by the veteran players.


Card counters use the term "poor deck" to describe decks that lack enough high-value cards. There is little chance of winning doubles or splits in this situation, and the count is likely to be negative.

Positive Count

When the total count at a blackjack table exceeds zero, it is referred to as a "positive count". This is the point at which card counters begin to raise their bets. The greater a count is above zero, the more likely it is to win.

Progressive Betting

This strategy is not recommended for any player. "Progressive betting" means that when a player loses, he keeps increasing his wager until he wins. This strategy is only beneficial for players that have an infinite bankroll.


This is a game that ends in a draw between the player and dealer. The player gets his initial bet back but does not win any extra money.


This term refers to a player splitting his cards two times. For example, let’s say you have a pair of 10s, you split them, and then one of those 10s has another 10 land on it. If you were to then split this second pair of 10s, that would be a resplit. This is an important blackjack strategy that players need to learn.


This is a situation whereby the decks are highly loaded with high value cards. This is a spot that card counters want to be in and they will be staking high.

Risk of Ruin (RoR)

This term can be described as a measure of how likely it is that a player will lose. A player has a Risk of Ruin of 50% if he places his total bankroll on a coin flip.


Most casinos do not allow this rule. It is a rare rule in blackjack that allows players to resplit their aces. Unnatural blackjacks can be gotten from this strategy as it can lead to three or more potential hands.

Running Count

In a "running count", a player counts low-value and high-value cards to get a negative or positive count. The positive count means a hot deck which is the best time to place big bets. The running count is one of the best situations that can happen to a card counter.

S to U


When a blackjack game starts, the "shoe" is where the cards are put and dealt from. The box is located on the blackjack table and the moniker stems from the fact that it used to resemble high-heeled shoes when they were first introduced. Nowadays, the shoe is a little more subdued in terms of design.

Side Bet

The side bet is a term used to describe a bet that is placed on an entirely separate table from the one being played. This means that a separate bet is made on the game and not the normal bet in the game. One of the most widely known side bets is the 21+3 bet. It is played when a stake is placed on one dealer's card and a player's two cards to try creating a winning poker hand.

Single Deck

The "single deck" game allows having only one deck of cards in the shoe for players. Card counters love this situation especially when the deck penetration gets higher.

Sit and Go

The "sit and go" is one of the most laid-back and interesting tournaments available in blackjack. Ploppies and whales will find something to their liking in the variety of buy-in options in sit and go tournaments. As long as there is a sufficient number of participants, the competition can begin and its rules which include the length of play are flexible.

Soft Double

"Soft doubling" is a blackjack strategy when a player doubles a hand with an ace in it. However, it is not a recommended move. According to the rule of 9, if a player's non-ace card is added to the dealer's upcard amount up to 9 or more, such player should not soft double.

Soft Hand

This term is used to describe when a player's hand has an ace card in it. This can be valued at either number 1 or 11. This is a good position as there are two possible values in such a player's single hand. For example, if the player has an ace card and a 4 card, he simultaneously has numbers 5 and 15 in that single hand.

Soft Total

The "soft total" is the value of a hand which has an ace card in it. Using an ace card and 6 card as an example, it's a soft 17 and a soft 7 simultaneously. When a player has soft hands, he can bet with two separate hands in one.

Split Play

The "split play" is used when a player has two cards of equal value. He can choose to split them and add a bet against both of them. He can only hit once on both but if he wins, his bet would have been doubled.


When a player thinks he can beat the dealer, he takes a "stand" which means that he will not take any additional cards. Taking a stand could be done if the player sees the taking of another card as taking a higher risk of a bust.

Stand 17

"Stand 17" means if the value of the dealer’s hand adds up to 17 or over, they must stand. It is a rule that is quite popular and can be found in online blackjack games and also at brick and mortar casinos.

Standing Hand

Players should generally avoid hitting on a "standing hand". Examples are the Jack-9 (19) and 10-Queen (20). Usually, standing hands are typically hard hands that are valued at 17 or more.


A player has the same hand value as the dealer. In a "stand off" which is also known as a push or win, the player's initial bet will be returned but he does not win anything extra as profit.


A "stiff" is used to describe a situation whereby a player's hand is close to surpassing 21, especially if he draws another card which could range around the 12 and 16 mark. The stiff is the hardest hand to face in terms of blackjack strategy.


As the name implies, "surrender" is used to forfeit half of a player's bet and get the remaining half back. It is usually taken as an option if the hand is not good enough.

Third Base

"Third base" is another term used to describe an anchorman. It refers to the last player who is dealt cards and he also makes decisions before the dealer.


In the gambling industry, a "toke" is a term used to describe a tip. While tipping isn't required in brick-and-mortar casinos, it's always polite to express your thanks to the personnel who work there because they don't make a lot of money.


This is an instruction from the casino to the dealer. The dealer is told to deal only two rounds of cards before reshuffling. This instruction mostly destroys the player’s advantage.

Unbalanced Card-Counting System

This is a type of card counting strategy in blackjack. However, positive and negative cards have distinct values in an unbalanced card counting system. A full 52-card deck would not equal zero in the system, which is why it is referred to as unbalanced.


"Upcard" is used to describe the only card held by the dealer that can be seen by the player. As a player, what card the dealer is showing is critical to decision-making in some situations. Thus, it is an essential strategy for players to keep track of this information.

V to X


"Variance" or volatility is used to describe the game's behaviour. Highly volatile games will pay out less frequently but if they eventually do, the winnings are always huge. A player won't ever win 100 times his investment on a single hand by playing blackjack because it has lower variance. However, blackjack pays out frequently.


When it comes to high stakers, whales are the best of the best. These large-spending gamblers will always bet big because they have the money to do so. In contrast to games like poker, the presence of a whale at the table has no effect on the probability of a less experienced player winning.

Win Rate

"Win rate" is a percentage that shows the probability of a player winning a particular game.

Y to Z

Zen Count

This is another type of card counting strategy. In "Zen count", positive and negative values do not match, but they are split in such a way that counting a full deck would end up at zero.