Blackjack Glossary

Blackjack Glossary

What do these funny acronyms mean …

BSE = Basic Strategy Edge
H17 = Hit soft 17 (dealer must hit)
S17 = Stand on any 17 (dealer must stand)
DOA = Double On Any first two cards
D10 = Double on 10 or 11 only
DAS = Double After Splitting is allowed
RSA = Re-Splitting Aces is allowed
ESR = Early Surrender
LSR = Late Surrender
O/U = Over/Under 13 side bets are allowed

21 = Another name for the game of blackjack. Also, the winning total in blackjack.

Action = This is a general gambling term which refers to the total amount of money bet in a specific period of time. Ten bets of ten dollars each is $100 of action.

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.

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.

Bankroll = The stake (available money) a player plans to bet with.

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.

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.

Black Chip = A $100 chip.

Breaking Hand (Stiff) = A hand that will break (go over 21) with a one-card draw, such as a hard 12,13,14,15 or 16.

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.

Bust = After a “hit”, the player is said to “bust” if the new card causes the player’s total to exceed 21.

Cage = Short for cashier’s cage. This is where chips are redeemed for cash, checks cashed, credit arranged, etc.

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.

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.

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

Comp = Short for complimentary. If you wave lots of money around, the casino may give you things like a free room or free food, hoping you’ll keep losing money at the tables in their casino.

Count = A number that represents the player’s estimate of how favorable or unfavorable.

Counting = The ability of a player to keep an accurate mental record of the cards that have been played. Can allow players to have a relatively good idea of which cards remain in the shoe.

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.

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.

Drop Percentage = That portion of the player’s money that the casino will win because of the house percentage. It is a measure of the amount of a player’s initial stake that he or she will eventually lose. On average this number is around 20 percent. That is, on average, Joe Gambler will lose $20 of every $100 he begins with.

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”)

Face Card = The King, Queen or Jack

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.

Foreign Chip = A chip that is issued by one casino and is honored by another as cash. A casino is not necessarily obligated to accept them.

Green Chip = A $25 chip.

Hard Count = The true face value of the cards being played with.

Hard Hand = Any hand that is not a soft hand.

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

Head-On = To play alone at a BlackJack table with the dealer.

Heat = The pressure a casino puts on a winning player, typically someone who is suspected of being a card counter.

High Roller = A big bettor.

Hit = 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.

House Percentage = The casino’s advantage in a particular game of chance.

House = The Casino of course.

Insurance = 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”)

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.

Junket = An organized group of gamblers that travel to a casino together. Junkets are usually subsidized by a casino to attract players.

Late Surrender = 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.

Natural = A hand that totals 21 on the first two cards.

Nut = The overhead costs of running the casino.

Marker = An IOU. A line of credit provided by the casino to a player.

Mechanic = A manipulator of the cards, typically for illicit purposes.

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

Pair = When a player’s first two cards are numerically identical (ie, 7,7).

Pat Hand = A hand with a total of 17 to 21.

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”.

Penetration = 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.

Pit = The area inside a group of gaming tables. The tables are arranged in an elliptical manner, the space inside the perimeter is the pit.

Pit Boss = An employee of the casino whose job is to supervise BlackJack players, dealers, and other floor personnel.

Point Count = The net value of the card count at the end of a hand.

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

Press = To increase the size of the subsequent wager

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

Red Chip = A $5 chip.

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

Settlement = The resolving of the bet. Either the dealer takes your chips, pays you, or in the case of a push, no exchange of chips occurs.

Shill = A house employee who bets money and pretends to be a player to attract customers. Shills typically follow the same rules as the dealer which makes them somewhat easy to spot (ie, they don’t Double Down or Split).

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

Shoe = A “box” for holding the undealt cards, usually used in multi-deck games.

Shuffle Up = Prematurely shuffling the cards to harass a player who is usually suspected of being a counter.

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.

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.

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

Stand = To stop drawing cards.

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

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

Surrender = 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.

SWAG Player = Scientific Wild Assed Guessing player.

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

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).

Toke = To “toke” the dealer is just another word for tipping the dealer.

Tough Player = A player who can hurt the casino monetarily with his or her intelligent play.

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

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.

WAG Player = Wild Assed Guessing player.

Wonging = 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.