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When you hit the blackjack table, one of the most important things you need to get your head around, besides the rules, is the most common blackjack terminology. If you’re new to the blackjack game and haven’t quite got to grips with it, then fear not. This blackjack glossary will help you understand the most common blackjack betting and standard blackjack terms you will need to get started.
Blackjack Playing Terms
So, let’s take a look at some of the most common terms in blackjack - and how you might come across them when playing blackjack.
In blackjack, "hit" is a term used when you need to request an additional card to be dealt to your hand. You would choose to hit if you think that taking another card will improve your hand's total value without going over 21 (bust).
So, for example, if you are dealt with a hand of 6 and 4 (totalling 10), and you decide to hit, you could receive a jack, queen or king, giving you a solid hand of 20.
This is when you choose not to take any more cards and stick with your current hand. This decision is usually made if you think that your hand is strong enough to beat the dealer - or you don’t want to risk going over 21 and losing.
For instance, if you are dealt with a hand of 18, you might choose to stand, because not only do you have a decent chance of winning, but there’s a good chance you’ll get a card over 3 and bust.
When a player's hand goes over a total value of 21, this is referred to as a bust. When you bust, you will lose your bet regardless of what happens with the dealer's hand.
For example, if you are dealt with a hand of 6 and 10 and decide to hit but receive a 10, your hand is now valued at 26, resulting in a bust.
Cut simply refers to the action of splitting the deck of cards before (or after) shuffling. In a game of blackjack at a land-based casino, players can take turns cutting the deck - which is generally a standard procedure to ensure that the game is fair and random.
So, for example, at the table, you might be asked to cut the deck after the dealer has shuffled the cards by separating a portion of the deck and placing it on top of the remaining cards.
Surrendering is a rule that only some blackjack games have, and comes into play after the dealer checks for blackjack. It allows you to forfeit your hand and lose only half of your initial bet if you believe your hand is weak, the dealer has a strong upcard, and you have little chance of winning.
This is a move that can limit your losses - for instance, if you have a hand value of 16 and the dealer's upcard is an Ace, you may opt to surrender rather than risk the likelihood of a complete loss.
When the dealer's cards are dealt, they will receive one face-down card and one face-up card. The card that is face down is known as a hole card. Only the dealer is able to view this card to check what the total value of their hand is.
A burn card is a card that the dealer discards facedown at the beginning of every new shoe or deck to help prevent the possibility of cheating or card counting. This card won’t be used in the game and will normally be placed in the discard pile. Ultimately, the burn card helps maintain the integrity of the game by ensuring that no player knows what card will be dealt first.
In blackjack, a push occurs when the player and the dealer have hands of equal value, therefore resulting in a tie. As there is no winner or loser, the bet amount is returned to the player.
Terminology for Betting in Blackjack
Here are some of the most common blackjack terms you will come across when it comes to betting in the game.
A side bet is an extra bet that you can make alongside your main blackjack bet. These side bets usually offer different payout opportunities based on particular outcomes - such as getting a pair of cards of the same rank.
A common example of a side bet is the Perfect Pairs bet, where you win if your first two cards dealt are a pair. It’s worth noting that side bets often have higher house edges than standard blackjack bets
Insurance is a type of bet that is sometimes offered when the dealer's face-up card is an Ace. This bet allows you to predict that the dealer has a natural blackjack (a hand worth 21) by placing an extra bet (equal to half your original bet). If the dealer does have a blackjack, the insurance bet will pay out at 2:1. However, if the dealer doesn't have a blackjack, the bet is lost, and the game continues as normal.
Double down is a rule that lets you double your initial bet after you have received your first two cards in exchange for one extra card only. This is normally used when a player has a strong hand and thinks that one more card will be enough for them to win.
For instance, if you are dealt with a hand of 11, you might choose to double down to potentially double your winnings.
If you are dealt two cards that are the same rank (two 8s or two 5s, for example), you’ll have the option to split your hand into two separate hands. This will require you to place an extra bet that is equal to your original wager.
Once split, each hand will be played independently - and you can hit, stand or double down on each hand depending on what you get. This is great if you want to turn one weak hand into two potentially strong hands.
Buy-in simply refers to the process of exchanging cash for chips you can play at the blackjack table. You won’t be able to place money directly on the table, and you will need to buy in to play the game by purchasing chips, which you then use to make your bets. The buy-in amount can vary from one table to another and from one casino to another.
The house edge is the mathematical advantage that the casino (house) has over players in a casino game. It is shown as the percentage of each bet that the casino expects to win in the long run.
In blackjack, the house edge is one of the lowest, at around 1% to 2%, but this can vary from game to game.