Essential blackjack terminology

Essential blackjack terminologyBlackjack is not for everyone. It’s a game that requires not only an in depth understanding of how the game works but a clearly formulated approach and game plan.

From an understanding of card counting to enough knowhow to differentiate blackjack myths from the truth, it’s a game that will keep you on your toes.

Even the most experienced players are always polishing up on their strategy and looking for ways to improve. If you’re new to the game, a good place to start is with terminology. But don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. You need to accept that there are tons of things to learn and it’s going to take time.

A good place to start is with some of the essential blackjack terminology. We’ve compiled a list of the essential terms every blackjack player should know.

Insurance: This is a term which is used for a side bet which a player can make only when the dealer’s card that is showing is an Ace. With the side bet, the player bets that the dealer has blackjack (21).   A player can bet maximum half of the original amount bet. If the dealer does not have 21 the player loses the bet.

Bankroll: This is a term which is used to refer to the amount of money the player has available to bet with.  Responsible gambling often requires a good understanding of how to use one’s bankroll.

Blackjack: This is not only the name of the game but the strongest hand one can have in the game. The blackjack hand consists of only two cards the total value of which is 21 points. These two cards could be an Ace and a 10 for example. Any two cards, the sum of which is 21, is blackjack.

Box: This is the term used to refer to the area on the table where players place bets. The box is rectangular in shape and there are several of them scattered around the table. During a blackjack game, a player has the option to place bets in different boxes simultaneously.

Bust: This is a term used to refer to a hand which is greater than the desired 21 points of a blackjack hand. Other expressions used to refer to going bust include ‘burning the hand’ or ‘losing the hand’. Going bust is what a player aims to avoid.

Card counting: This is a risky and often unsuccessful blackjack strategy where a player tries to spot patterns in the cards dealt so as to determine whether the next card to be dealt will benefit the player. There are many different ways to card count but generally with this strategy a player assigns all cards a value or weight which can then be used to determine which cards remain.

Cartes Brûlées: This is a French term which in English means ‘burned cards’.  During a blackjack game the dealer ‘burns’ 5 cards. These are card which are set aside and not used during the game.

Cutting Card: This is the term used for the special card which dealers use when cutting the deck. This is also referred to as a ‘cut card’. One rarely sees such a card in an online casino game of blackjack.

Deal: This refers to the process by which the dealer gives the players their cards. The dealer gives each player two cards and also deals cards for him/ herself.

Double: This is the term used when a player decides to either double the initial bet made and as a result be dealt another card. Doubling often occurs when a player has the 11 card.

Double down: This is a term which is used to refer to a tactic similar to doubling where the player doubles the initial bet placed. The difference, however, is that this is done when the players cards are still facing down.

Draw: This is a term used to describe a situation where neither the player nor the dealer wins or loses. In other words there is a tie and players are said to have drawn.

Face card: This is a term which is used to refer to card which have a value of 10 points. The face cards include 10, the Jack, Queen as well as the King.

Hard 17: This is a term which is used to refer to a hand in which the hand either has no Ace or an Ace which counts as 1 point. The interesting thing about blackjack is that the Ace can count as either 1 or 11 points.

The player/ dealer decide on the value of this card according to what is more beneficial to the overall value of the hand. For example, a hard 17 could consist of an Ace (where the Ace counts as 1); a 7 card and a 9 card. The sum of those three cards (with the Ace counting as 1) would be 17 thus making the hand a hard 17.

Hard hand: This is a term used to refer to a hand without an Ace or where the Ace counts as 1. Such a hand is the opposite of what is known as a soft hand.

Heel: This is also known as a shoe. It’s a term used to describe the container from which cards are dealt.

Hit: This is a term used to describe when a player wants an additional card.

Natural: This is also known as blackjack. It’s used to refer to hand where the player’s two cards have a total value of 21 points.

Pat hand: This is also known as a point. It’s a term which is used to refer to a hand which has a value anywhere between 17 and 21.

Penetration rate:  This is a term used to describe how far into a pack a dealer will go before reshuffling. It’s expressed as a percentage. For example, a penetration rate of 50% means that the cutting will be placed in the middle of the pack and once the dealer gets there the pack will be reshuffled.

Shoe: This is also known as a deck. This is the container from which the dealer deals the cards. More than one set of cards can be kept in the shoe.

Soft 17:  This is the term used for a blackjack hand in which the Ace is counted as 11 as apposed to 1. A soft 17 hand, for example, could be made up of a 6 card and an Ace card where the Ace counts as 11.

Soft hand: This is used to refer to a hand in which the Ace can be valued at either 1 or 11. The player decides based on the other card/s in hand.

Split: This is used to refer to when a player decides to split his/ her hand into two separate hands. This is also known as ‘separation’.

Stand: This is also known as a stay where the player decides to remain with the cards in had and does not request more cards.

Stiff hand: This is used to refer to a hand where the value of the card is anywhere between 12 and 16.  This is seen as a weak hand with which it is unlikely that a player will win.

Surrender: This is also known as ‘abandon’. This is something a player will do when the cards dealt or not favorable. By choosing to surrender, the player is leaving the game and half the bet originally placed by the player will be returned.

Toke: This is a term used to refer to a tip which players may decide to give to the dealer or any other casino employee.  This is only relevant to real world casinos and doesn’t occur when players play online.

Regardless of your level of skill, there’s always something new to learn which can help improve your blackjack game.  Take the time to really study the inner workings of the game and you’ll soon start to see results.

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