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Blackjack Terms

Blackjack – Blackjack can have several meanings even within the context of the game of blackjack. It is a casino game where the player aims to beat the dealers score by achieving a score closer to 21 than the dealer, without going over 21 (bust). If he does so, he wins back double his stake, or better in the case of achieving a perfect score of 21 of an Ace and a picture card. Achieving this hand with your cards is also called Blackjack. The phrase can also refer to the jack of spades or jack of clubs, though usually in this case it is spelled as two separate words, black jack.

Bust – When a player has cards in their hand that when added together add up to a total greater than 21. When this happens, the player has gone bust.

Charlie – Charlie refers to a rule variation on offer in some games of blackjack where if the player achieves a hand of five cards, without going over 21, then they automatically win that hand. Also known as a Five-Card Charlie.

Deal – The deal button is what the player clicks when he has made his wager on the game. When he clicks this button, the software will begin the hand by dealing the player and dealer cards.

Double Down – A double down is a form of bet where the player increases their bet (up to double their initial bet) after seeing their initial cards, and then committing to stand after drawing one additional card.

Draw – When a player asks the dealer for another card to add to their hand, this is called a draw. It is also known as a hit.

Hard Hand – Any hand that is not made up of an ace (which has variable value in the game of blackjack – either 11 or 1) is known as a hard hand. The combined number that the two or more cards add up to in your hand can never change.

Hit – The process of adding another card to your hand, also known as a draw.

Insurance – If the dealers up card is an ace then players are offered the chance to purchase insurance against the dealer having a natural 21. Insurance usually costs half the original stake made by the player and is treated as an independent bet. If the dealer does have a natural 21, the Insurance bet wins and the player. If the dealer does not have a natural 21, then the insurance bet loses.

Push – If in a game of blackjack the dealer and players hands are tied on the same score, a push or tie is announced and the player receives back their initial bet, but does not win any money.

Soft Hand – Any hand made up in blackjack that consists of an Ace (other than a natural 21). An ace in blackjack can count either as one or eleven, therefore a player with an ace and a 7 is said to have ‘soft 8/18’, as opposed to a king and an eight which is ‘hard 18’.

Split – When the player receives two cards of equal value in their hand, they are allowed to split these cards if they wish to do so and play them as two separate hands. The player will then click on the split option and pay an additional stake to cover the cost of the second hand. The player then plays both hands as single hands against the dealers and is allowed to draw as many cards to each hand as they like. Part of basic blackjack strategy is to always split aces and eights.

Stand – Also known as Stay in some games, or ‘Stick’ in colloquial terms. This is the decision a player makes when they have achieved a score of close to 21 which they believe the dealer will not beat. At this point they do not draw any more cards from the pack and will compare their hands with the dealer, if the dealer does not bust, to see who wins at the end of the game.

Surrender – If you are in a weak position at the table and the dealer has a potentially strong hand, some blackjack games allow you the option to surrender. This is when a player voluntarily gives up their hand and does not contest the dealers’ cards and for doing so, only surrenders half of their initial bet.

Up Card – The card that the dealer receives which is shown face up to all the players at the table.

Advantage Player – An advantage player is a player who will use legal methods to gain an advantage when playing blackjack. This is often by using a strategy, or by using card counting or shuffle tracking systems. While card counting and shuffle tracking is not illegal, they are frowned upon in real world casinos. Online, a player can use strategy to become an advantage player, but card counting and shuffle tracking do not work in online casinos due to the packs being shuffled after every hand.

Card Counting – There are numerous card counting systems that have been developed but each relies on the player assigning a value to each card in the pack. They keep a running count of the value, starting at zero, and then due to the fact that in traditional bricks and mortar casinos, the packs are not shuffled after each hand in blackjack, players can use card counting to identify when conditions are most favourable for them to make big bets with a far better statistical chance of success. While not illegal, card counting is frowned upon in real world casinos and players suspected of using these techniques will often be asked to leave the casino. It is impossible to count cards in online game as the software shuffles the pack after every deal.

Mnemonic Techniques – These are memory-aid techniques which allow you to use a link or code that is easy to remember, and then link it to the cards used in blackjack, or other card games, in order to help you remember the cards. While not required for card counting, mnemonic techniques can be used when shuffle tracking and when learning basic blackjack strategy.

Shuffle Tracking – Shuffle tracking is an advanced technique which uses card counting skills to identify subsections within a number of decks of cards where the player has counted previously and that the cards offer him a good chance of success. He will then attempt wait until these cards are in play, or cut to them to bring them into play, and raise his bet in the hope of winning more money. Shuffle tracking cannot be undertaken in online gaming due to the fact that the player cannot see the discarded cards and that after each hand the software shuffles the pack.

Strategy Chart – A strategy chart is a table of information which details a strategy that blackjack players can use, dependent upon which value cards they hold compared to the up card in the dealers hand. The chart details which action the player should take given every possible combination of hands, both in terms of the initial two cards in your hand, and then the value of your hand when additional cards are added. After millions of hands trialling the system, many blackjack players believe it can almost eradicate the house edge in the game. There are strategy charts for basic blackjack strategy and charts for more advanced strategies for the game. While frowned upon in real world casinos, players can use strategy charts easily to help them play online.