FREE GAMES               
EXPERT TIPS              
ADVANCED STRATEGY                   
CONTACT US              

Blackjack Terminology

The amount of money risked by a player during an entire session.

Basic Strategy
A playing strategy that is designed to minimize the house edge as much as possible without using techniques such as card counting, shuffle tracking, or dealer tells. Basic strategy is used as a foundation for card counting, but is also used by many non-counters.

Betting Limits
Establishes the minimum and maximum amounts that can be wagered on one bet.

A hand whose first two cards total 21.

Burn Card(s)
Cards that are discarded without being dealt to the players. After the cards are shuffled by the dealer and cut by one of the players, one or more cards are "burned" before any cards are dealt to the players.

After a "hit", the player is said to "bust" if the new card causes the player's total to exceed 21.

Card Counting
A system for improving the player's edge by assigning "weights" to each card face and summing the card weights as each new card is turned face up. The "count" indicates when the game is favorable for the player, so that the player can place larger bets and/or make changes in playing strategy.

A casino term for tokens used instead of money.

Color Up/Out
To exchange smaller denomination chips for larger denomination chips.

To divide a deck into two parts.

Cut Card
A (usually colored plastic) card that is used to cut the cards after they have been shuffled by the dealer.

Double Down
To double the initial bet and receive exactly one more card. The option to double is often allowed on the players first two cards only, although some casinos allow doubling after splitting a pair. Many Northern Nevada casinos allowing doubling only with a two-card total of 10 or 11. It is very rare to find games that allow doubling of hands that have more than two cards.

Double for Less
To double down with less than 2X the original bet. Generally, when doubling is allowed, the player does not have to actually double his bet, but may increase it by any amount up to (but not more than) the original bet.

Early Surrender
Surrender which is allowed even when the dealer has a natural. Very valuable to the player, but rarely offered by the casinos.

Even Money
Taking insurance when holding a blackjack results in a net gain of one bet. Some casinos will allow the player to be paid without actually placing the insurance bet. This is called "taking even money". (See "insurance").

Expected Win Rate
The percentage of the total amount wagered that the player can be expected to win or lose over time.

Face Cards
The King, Queen or Jack of each suite.

First Base
The first player at a table to act on his/her hand is said to be sitting at "first base".

Flat Bet
To bet the same amount on each successive hand.

Hard Hand
Any blackjack hand that does not contain an ace valued at eleven.

Heads Up
Playing at a table that has no other players.

Drawing a new card to add to the player's or dealer's hand.

Hole Card
The dealer's card that is placed face down.

A side bet, of up to 1/2 the original bet, that is offered when the dealer's upcard is an ace. This bet pays 2:1 if the dealer has a natural 21. (Also see "even money").

Late Aurrender
Surrender which is only allowed when the dealer does not have a natural. If the dealer has a natural 21 (blackjack), the player's bet still loses in its entirety. If the dealer does not have a blackjack, the player loses half the bet and doesn't play the rest of the hand.

A hand that totals 21 on the first two cards. Also known as Blackjack.

A rare bet that the first two player's cards will total over 13, or under 13, when aces are counted as one.

Pit Boss
A casino employee who is in charge of all the tables in a particular area.

Preferential Shuffling
Shuffling when the deck is favorable to the players, while avoiding a shuffle when the deck is unfavorable to the players.

A tie hand, the original bet is returned to the player.

A "box" for holding the undealt cards, usually used in multi-deck games.

Soft Hand
Any hand that includes an ace that can be counted as 11 without having the value of the hand exceed 21. It is always possible to draw one card to a soft hand without busting.

Split Hand
hands that start with two cards of the same rank can be split to form two independent hands. This option is exercised by adding a new bet to the second hand, and these hands are played independently.

To place more than one bet before the cards are dealt.

To stop drawing cards.

Stiff (hand)
Any hand that has a small chance of winning regardless of how the hand is played (usually 12 - 16).

The option to give back the player's first two cards in exchange for a refund of 1/2 of the original bet (rarely allowed). Some hands, such as 16 vs. dealer's 10, are so bad that surrender is less costly than playing the hand.

Third Base
The last player at a table to act on his/her hand is said to be sitting at "third base".

The dealer's first card, dealt face up. The correct playing decision often involves some consideration of the dealer's upcard.


Card Counter Terminology

Betting Correlation
A measure of how well the card weights correlate to the change in the player's favorability when the cards are seen by the player and removed from the deck. This gives an estimate of the accuracy of the card counting system.

Back Counting
Counting cards and waiting for the count to become favorable before sitting down to play. Usually done standing in back of the players.

Balanced Count
Any counting system that has a count starting at zero when the cards are shuffled, and ending at zero when all cards in the deck(s) have been exposed. Most counting systems use a balanced count.

Bet Spread
The ratio between maximum and minimum bet size. A player who uses $20 maximum bets and $5 minimum bets is using a 4:1 bet spread.

Card Weight
The "value" assigned to each card face. This weight is added to the "count" as each new card is exposed. Weights are usually small integer values like -1, +1, or +2.

(Noun) -- a number that represents the player's estimate of how favorable or unfavorable.

Cover Bet
A bet (usually large) placed at the "wrong" time, in order to fool the pit critters into thinking that the player is not counting cards.

Insurance Correlation
A measure of how well the card weights correlate to the change in the player's favorability for placing insurance bets. This gives an estimate of the accuracy of the card counting system for predicting when to take insurance.

The number of cards that are dealt before the cards are shuffled. Penetration is usually expressed as a percentage of the cards, as in "75% penetration". Good penetration is extremely important to card counters.

Playing Efficiency
Effectiveness of strategy variations in tracking the optimal playing strategy as the deck composition changes. Efficiency is given by E = AG / PG, where AG is the actual gain from making the strategy changes, and PG is the possible gain that could be made by using a playing strategy that is "computer perfect".

Running Count
The total of the weights of all cards that have been exposed since the cards were shuffled.

Shuffle Tracking
A system to predict which sections of the deck/shoe will be favorable to the player, based on the locations of favorable sections of the previous deck/shoe, and on studying the method used to shuffle the cards.

Side Count
A count in addition to the "main" count, usually involving a single card face, as in "ace side count".

Strategy Variations
Varying from basic strategy when the count indicates that it is profitable to do so.

Ten Poor
A deck that has a lower than average density of tens and face cards.

Ten Rich
A deck that has a higher than average density of tens and face cards.

True Count
A count that is adjusted according to the number of undealt cards, usually by dividing the running count by the number of undealt *decks* (or half-decks).

Unbalanced Count
Any counting system that has a count that starts or ends on a non-zero value (see "balanced count"). Red 7 is an example of an unbalanced count.

Improving the player's edge by placing bets only when the count is favorable for the player, and "sitting out" when the count is unfavorable.