The Glossary of Essential Blackjack Terms

min read
A player sits at a blackjack table.
BetMGM Jul 15, 2022, 9:17 AM

Are you looking to try online casino games? Well then, there’s probably no better game to start out with than blackjack. Blackjack not only boasts the lowest house edge in most casinos, but it’s also one of the easiest games to play. The only tricky thing might be understanding all the different blackjack terms. 

Don’t worry — this handy glossary will help. Keep reading to learn all the essential blackjack terminology to get you ready for your next game. 

Why Is It Called Blackjack?

Before getting stuck into important blackjack phrases, it’s interesting to find out where the game got its name. Blackjack has been played for centuries, but it was originally played under the title 21. It’s thought that blackjack was originally a special bonus within the game of 21. Casinos offered a 10:1 bonus (that’s odds of +1,000) for players whose hand contained an ace of spades and a “black jack.” That is a jack of club or spades.

This bonus was hugely successful and increased the popularity of 21. The bonus eventually fell away but 21 was slowly replaced by the name blackjack and is still how the game is referred to today.

Blackjack Glossary

Ace Poor or Rich

Ace poor or rich refers to a counting term in blackjack. Ace poor means fewer aces have been dealt than is statistically expected. An ace-rich game is one where more aces have been dealt than players expect.


The anchorman is the last player to make a move before the dealer. 


Your bankroll is the money you have set aside to play with. Your entire bank balance is not a bankroll. Whenever you play real casino games for real money, set a budget and stick to it to practice responsible gambling. 


Yes, it’s the name of the game. It’s also the highest hand you can receive with a total of 21. A blackjack is made up of an ace and a 10 or face card.


The area where players place their cards and chips. Whether you’re playing blackjack at a casino or playing live dealer blackjack online, you’ll see an outlined box for cards.

Burn Card

This is the card at the top of the deck that dealers discard after shuffling or switching dealers in the middle of a casino table game

Bust or Break

If a player or dealer’s hands add up to more than 21, they are bust. When this happens to a player, they automatically lose the hand. If it happens to the dealer, all remaining players win the hand. 


Buying into a game of blackjack in an online casino is as simple as making your first bet. 

Chipping Down or Up

To chip down in a game of blackjack is to lower your wager amount from what you bet in the previous round. Increasing it when you’re feeling lucky is chipping up. 

Color Up

If a player has many low denomination chips (low-value chips,) he can ask the dealer to color up and exchange some of them for the same value of higher value chips. It’s seen as proper blackjack etiquette to color up before leaving a blackjack table. 


When dealers split the deck of cards in half after they are shuffled.


In blackjack, DAS stands for Double After Split, and NDAS stands for No Double After Splitting. The DAS rule benefits players and allows them to double down on one or both of their hands after splitting them. 

Double or Double Down

This term refers to doubling your bet for an additional card. You can’t hit after that, but if you win, you win double your original bet.

Double Exposure

Double exposure is a version of blackjack where both of the dealer’s cards are dealt face up. This variant does not allow players to purchase any insurance or surrender.

Even Money

Normally, if the dealer has an ace, you can purchase insurance. On the other hand, if you get a blackjack hand, you will get even money. The even-money rule lets you take a 1-to-1 payout and leave your cards. If you reject the offer, the hand plays out as usual. 

Five-Card Charlie

A five-card Charlie is a blackjack hand with five cards that add up to less than 21. In most games, this hand is valued higher than an equal hand with fewer cards. 

Hard Hand

This is a hand that doesn’t have an ace or which has an ace that is only valued at one. This makes the value of the hand a “hard” total. 

Heads Up

This is a game played between one player and a dealer. Most online casino blackjack games are played this way. 


To hit is to take another card if you don’t think your current hand will beat the dealer’s. If this card takes your hand value over 21, you automatically lose.

Hit 17

A special blackjack rule where the dealer must hit if their hand value is 17. 

Hole Card

The opposite of an upcard, a hole card is a face-down card. Only the dealer has a hole card in blackjack.

House Edge

The advantage the casino (or the house) has over the player. Even though this number is usually seen as fixed, it can vary depending on the rules and the skill level of the player.


Insurance is a side bet that players make if the dealer’s up-card is an ace. It secures your loss if the dealer gets a blackjack and has payout odds of +200. This way, you only lose half your stake. 


This is where casinos use six to eight decks at a time to make it difficult for players to count cards. A game using one deck is called a single deck game. 

Natural or Natural Blackjack

A natural blackjack is a total of 21 made up of an ace and a 10-value card dealt immediately. Most games offer a bigger prize for natural wins than they do for a split blackjack win. 


This stands for “No Resplitting Aces” and “Resplitting Aces.” If splitting aces is allowed, you can split your aces and potentially land more blackjacks. 


Players who ask to “see some paint” are looking for a face card for more points.


A hand with two cards that have equal values.

Pat Hand

A hand with a total of between 17–21 that doesn’t require a hit. 


A draw between the player and the dealer. 

Side Bet

A wager made on the game, not in it. A popular side bet in blackjack is the 21+3. Are blackjack side bets worth it? Only if you’re willing to take a significant risk.

Soft Double

Doubling on a hand with an ace. 

Soft Hand

A hand that contains an ace. A soft total is the total value of a hand with an ace because the ace can be worth one or 11 points. 


Standing is choosing not to take any more additional cards. 

Stand 17

A rule where the dealer must stand if their hand is 17 or more. 

Standing Hand

This is a high hand that you should never hit. Examples are a 10–queen (20) and a jack–9 (19.)


When you have the same hand value as the dealer, you’re in a stand-off. You’ll receive your initial bet back. 


When your hand is close to going over 21 and you could go bust if you draw another card. 


Surrendering in blackjack is forfeiting half of your wager and only receiving half of it back if you didn’t receive a favorable hand. You can surrender early before the dealer checks for blackjack or later when they’ve checked.


What is Blackjack Switch? It’s simply a variant of classic blackjack where players have two hands and can switch out the second card in each hand to form a better combination.

Challenge the House in a Live Blackjack Game With BetMGM

Now that you’ve got your blackjack jargon nailed down, it’s time to discover all the different types of blackjack games you can play. Blackjack is easily one of the best games to play at a casino, and with BetMGM, the options are endless. 

Take the advice of other players on the BetMGM app and play their number one pick, Premium Blackjack Pro. Or enjoy the exciting side bets of Blackjack Pro and Infinite Blackjack. Other popular blackjack titles include Blackjack Millionaire Pro, First Person Blackjack and Blackjack Xchange. 

With multiple promotions and bonuses, there’s no better time to join BetMGM. Register with BetMGM to put your blackjack lingo to the test in a live game.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.