Blackjack Terminology

Blackjack terminology


This refers to the amount of money that is staked or wagered in a Blackjack game. High wagering means more action.

Advantage player:

An advantage player is a person who uses strategy/ and or card counting techniques to gain a mathematic advantage over the house.


This refers to the amount of money set aside for gambling. In order to deal with the inevitable swings that occur when playing Blackjack, a player must have a sufficient amount set aside for play.


The dealer will remove one or more cards from the top of the deck after shuffling. This is referred to as the burn.


Both the dealer and players can go bust. This means that their cards have a total higher than 21. Going bust refers is an automatic loss.

Choppy table:

A choppy table refers to a table that produces alternating wins and losses with almost no net positive or negative results.

Colour up:

Colouring up refers to exchanging chips of a lower value for those of a higher value.


Comps are complimentary rewards or bonuses given to loyal players.

Continuous shuffling machine:

A Continuous shuffling machine automatically shuffles used cards back into the deck. This makes card counting impossible.

Blackjack counter measures:

Casino tactics that are used to reduce the effects of various Blackjack strategies. Examples of these are multiple decks, continuous shuffling machines and hitting on soft 17.

Double down:

By doubling down you are placing an additional bet, which is usually an amount equal to your original wager. The dealer will give you exactly one more card and that is your hand. No further hits are allowed and doubling down is usually restricted to the first action on your original hand.

Gambler’s fallacy:

Gambler’s fallacy refers to the myth that past results affect the current contest.


Handle refers to the amount of money that is cycled through a game. Many online casinos offer handle related bonuses whereby when the player meets a specific handle amount, then the bonus will be released.

Hard hand:

A hard hand is a Blackjack hand of 12 or more that doesn’t contain an Ace or has an Ace counted as one. Hard hands between 12 and 16 are often referred to as stiff hands.


To hit is to receive an additional card.

Hole card:

The hole card is the dealer’s face down card.

House edge:

This is the financial edge the Casino has in a wager. The house edge is usually expressed as a percentage.

House odds:

This refers to the amount a casino will pay for a winning bet as opposed to the true probability or odds on the bet.


Typically, an additional bet of one half the value of the original bet. Insurance is offered to players when the dealer is showing an ace. Insurance pays out at 2:1 when the dealer’s hand is a natural.


A natural is a two card hand of a ten and an Ace (twenty one). A natural can either win or result in a push but it cannot lose.

Negative expectation:

Negative expectation refers to a game that returns more cash than it is returning over the long run. Negative expectation games have a higher house edge.

Optimal strategy:

Optimal strategy refers to the system of play that lowers or eliminates the Casino advantage.


Adding or removing chips after seeing a hand, i.e. cheating.


Penetration refers to the percentage of the deck dealt before a shuffle. Penetration of less than 60% reduces the possibility to count cards.

Positive expectation:

Positive expectation games return more money than they retain over the long run. These games have a player edge.

Progression/ Progressive betting:

This is a system of raising and lowering bets. Positive progressions raise bets after wins and negative progressions raise bets after losses.


A push is a draw. The player neither wins nor looses and their stake is returned.


The shoe is the container that holds four to eight shuffled decks. Cards are dealt from the shoe by the dealer.

Soft hand:

Any hand with an Ace counted as eleven.


The option whereby a player can choose to create two hands from their original hand if their original hand was made up of a pair. In order to split a player will have to make an additional wager. Players can hit, double, split or stand as necessary.


Refuse an additional card.


A rule that allows a player to retrieve half of the current bet and forfeit the rest. This option is generally unavailable on online Casino Blackjack variants.

True count:

When card counting, the running count is divided by the number of decks that haven’t been played which returns the true count, or a standard measure of overall advantage.

True odds:

This is the true probability of winning or losing a contest and should not be confused with house odds.


Volatility refers to the natural ebb and flow of the game, bearing in mind the swings that will occur.

If you think we should add further blackjack terms to our blackjack terminology guide please let us know.

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