Blackjack Terminology

Beginner or old time player, you will have noticed that blackjack players seem to hold to an unwritten code and share an understanding communicated between players through a system of specific terminology and lingo unique to the game. Let’s dive right in and demystify some of the less well known terms.

checking blackjack cards

Anchorman – this is the player to the dealer’s right and is the last to play before the dealer makes his move. While the anchorman does not impact on the result, it can certainly give that impression.

Basic strategy – a strategy developed which reduces the house advantage as much as possible.

Blackjack – a hand made up of two cards totaling 21. One of which is an ace and the other a card whose value is 10. Ideally this is the jack of spades and some variations of the game even pay different odds for a blackjack hand including the Jack of Spades.

Bust – this is what happens when the player hits and receives a card that shoots the total of the hand over 21 points.

Even money – when player wins exactly the same as the original bet. A good example of this is insurance. Regardless of whether the dealer has blackjack or not, opting for insurance will always result in even money.

Eye in the sky – these are the rotating surveillance cameras situated usually on the ceiling. Casino security uses these to monitor game play and look for card counters, cheaters and other irregularities.

Face card – also referred to as a picture card or paint, these include jacks, queens and kings. All face cards have a value of 10.

5 card Charlie – a variation of blackjack offering special payouts for a 5 card hand adding up to less than 21. Variation include 6 card and 7 card Charlie.

Head to head – playing one on one against the dealer.

Hole card – when the dealer deals himself two cards, he deals one face up and another face down. The latter is referred to as the hole card. Player decisions are often based on what they believe the hole card to be.

Insurance – this is a side bet designed to protect your bet against a dealer blackjack. Taking insurance is not recommended as it pits the odds heavily in favour of the casino.

Penetration – this is very important for card counters and is expressed as a percentage of the deck that will be dealt before the cards are shuffled. The higher this percentage the better for card counters.

Pitch game – the only thing that differentiates a pitch game is that instead of dealing from a shoe, the dealer deals the cards by hand.

Push – when the player and dealer tie.

Split – when the first two cards dealt are of the same value you are entitled to split them into 2 separate and independent hands with their own bets.

Blackjack in itself is not only potentially very profitable but also a lot of fun. Using and even recognizing the terminology used at the blackjack table can be satisfying in itself adding a whole new element to your experience.


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