Blackjack Jargon and the Rules

We tried to separate the blackjack jargon from the rules but they are so intertwined that we gave up and put them both together in alphabetical order.

Lasseters - Play Blackjack?


a hand containing an ace and a ten value card. This hand automatically wins at the rate of 3 to 2 bet for the player and even money for the dealer (house). You should immediately turn up your blackjack hand. It has nothing to do with the color or suit of the cards. On those rare occasions where the dealer also has a blackjack neither side wins. You are said to push. In Nevada, when the dealer's face up card is a ten, the dealer must check to see if his or her face down card is an ace (the hand is a blackjack) If this is the case all player bets are lost. As far as I can ascertain, everywhere else in the world, the dealer does not check the face down card in these circumstances until all players have played their hands.

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Burn Card

- after the dealer shuffles the cards, a player cuts the cards. The dealer finishes the cut and takes the top card off. This card is called the burn card. It is placed in a box along with the cards discarded as the game progresses. If the cards are being dealt from a shoe, the burn card is placed back in the shoe somewhere near the bottom.

Busted hand

- the value of your cards exceeds 21 - also called bursting or breaking by some.

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- Blackjack is normally played with two to eight decks of cards with six to eight decks being the norm. With the exception of Nevada, very few casinos offer the single deck game.

Card Values

- aces can be counted as one or 11, picture cards as ten and all other cards are counted by their face value.


- casino betting tokens, usually of $1, $5, $25, and $100 face values although higher value chips are available in most casinos

Dealers face down card

down card and hole card have the same meaning - In some casinos the dealer takes his or her second card after all the players have made their decisions on their second card. In others, the dealer takes the second card but does not check a ten or ace face up hand to see if it is a blackjack until the play has finished. Where this play is adopted, you are at a disadvantage when you double or split as the additional money bet will be lost when on the occasions when the dealer has a blackjack.

Dealers rules

- these are the casino's rules that govern how the dealer plays. He or she counts the ace as 11 if it produces a hand totaling 17 to 21 or 1 if, with other cards it adds up to six. The dealer must then draw cards until that hand totals 17 or more

Double down

- if you decide you need a fourth card you have to double your bet. In some casinos, doubling is permitted on your first two cards and only when their combined value is between 9 and 11 and in others only if the value is 10 or 11 and in some there is a nasty surprise for the unwary - double down on an ace and an 8 and then draw a 2 - they make you count it as 11 instead of 21!


- see hit

First Base

- the first player to the left of the dealer

Hard hand

- a hand that does not contain an ace or a hand where the ace is counted as one

Hit - take another card from the dealer. If the cards are dealt face down, scrape the felt surface of the table with the cards whilst drawing them towards yourself. If the cards are dealt face up don't handle them. Simply scrape the felt on the table with your finger whilst drawing it towards yourself.

House Limits

- placards on the ends of the table indicate the house limits for maximum and minimum bets on games on that table


- a bad bet unless you have been counting the cards and you are sure that more than 33% of the remaining cards are ten cards

No Hole Card (face down card) Rule

- Where this rule applies the dealer takes the second card after all the players have played their hands. This rule disadvantages players when they double or split as the additional money bet is lost when the dealer has a blackjack.


- two cards of the same face value


- is the settling of bets at the end of each hand. The dealer collects the loosing bets and then pays any winners. Bets are settled at even money except for a blackjack which pays at the rate of 3 to 2 bet except when the dealer also had a blackjack when it is a 'push' - neither wins.


- occurs when both the dealer and the player have hands of equal value. Neither wins


- when you are dealt two cards that are a pair you have the option of splitting your pair into two hands - you have to effectively double your initial bet. To split your pair into two hands, you must immediately turn the two cards face up, separate them, place them in front of your initial bet and then place a bet equal to the original bet behind the card to be part of the second hand. If the first card dealt for either hand is identical (in value) to the cards in the original split pair, you can split that pair again. Just remember, if you split aces, you can draw only one card to the ace and if you draw another ace you most definitely cannot split again. You can double down on either or both hands after splitting if your first two cards do not exceed 11 i.e. the card from the pair that was split and the first card drawn following the split.

Stand also called standing

- play with the two cards you were dealt in the first instance


- are players not seated at a table and not having their own betting spot on the table. Some casinos allow them to place bets on the boxes of players seated at the table. They become sort of silent standing playing partners because the casino will not allow them to communicate with you regarding your play.


- There are no suits in the game of Blackjack.


- the box that holds the cards and which the dealer deals from. Cards are usually dealt face up when the dealer uses a shoe.

Soft hand

- a hand containing an ace


- if you think the dealer has an unbeatable hand you may surrender and only loose half your bet. (not available in too many casinos today).

Up card

- this is the card the dealer deals to him or herself face up.

Available Player Options

Doubling Down after splitting

- After a player splits a pair, most casinos allow the player the option to double down on one or both of the hands, that is effectively doubling the original bet on that hand and in exchange the player gets only one extra card. Depending on the value of the second card drawn to lthe second hand, the player may also have the option to double down on that hand.


- see above


- This is a bad bet! When the dealer's face up card is an ace, the player has the option to take an insurance bet which is half the players original bet. For this bet to be paid, the dealer must have a blackjack. Since a successful insurance bet is paid at 2 to 1 odds this can only be a good bet if the ratio of 10 cards to ordinary cards in the shoe is 2 to 1, a fairly rare occurrence. Generally the house has an advantage of about 8% - not good!

Splitting Pairs

- see above


- see above


- a dying if not completely dead option - a player can surrender the hand if the dealer does not have a blackjack and loose only half the bet. To surrender (if you find somewhere where the option is still available) you must put your cards face up above your bet and say 'surrender'

Game Rules

The dealer must hit

on all totals of 16 or less and stand on 17 or more but some US casinos require the dealer to hit on a soft 17.

A player may double down

when? In some casinos on any initial two card combination and in others only if the cards total from 9 to 11

Most casinos use 4 to 6 decks of cards in a shoe

Don't get caught on the Continent with an ace and an eight hand.

If you draw a two they won't pay a blackjack. They count your ace as one and call the score 11. I don't know if it applies to all combinations of ace, a number card and a hit card that can be added up to 11 but if the altercation I witnessed is any indication this appears to be the case. A bit bloody rough isn't it?

There are other quirky little rules around the world but the last mentioned one is the worst surprise I've ever had.

Avoid the nasties - check the rules before you start to play!

Good Luck Guys!


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