The A-Z of Blackjack Terminology

Ready to play blackjack? Discover the meaning behind the most popular terms.
25th April 2024

Get To Grips With Blackjack Lingo

If you’re thinking of playing online blackjack games, then it helps to know all the lingo before you get started.

We’re here to help. Check out our complete list of blackjack terms, which will give you a head start when you take your seat at one of our thrilling tables.

Introduction to Blackjack

Let’s kick off with the basic phrases - particularly handy for first-timers.

Box - The box on a blackjack table is the area where you can place your chips and your cards during a round.

Dealer - Blackjack games are controlled by a dealer, who gives each player their cards, collects betting chips and awards any winnings.

Deck - In any blackjack game, the cards come from the deck. These are made up of 52 cards.

House - The house refers to the casino that you’re playing at.  

Multi-Deck - You can play multi-deck blackjack games with us, which use more than one standard deck of 52 cards. The thrill of multi-deck tables is that it’s harder to predict which card will be produced next.

Shoe - All the cards in blackjack can be found in the shoe once they’ve been shuffled. If you play live blackjack online you can view the dealer drawing the cards one by one, which is an automatic process on our standard casino tables.

Single-Deck - As you now know about multi-deck games, you should be able to predict this one. Single deck blackjack is played using one standard set of 52 cards, and after one or two games have been played, they will be reshuffled.

Single or multi-deck blackjack - which will you play first?

The Cards at the Blackjack Table

Next, we’ll introduce you to some of the terms linked to the cards and hands within blackjack. To understand what’s unfolding at the table, this is what you need to know…

Blackjack - This is the best hand you can be dealt when you play blackjack online, awarding an instant win. It's formed of an Ace and a 10, Jack, Queen or King, and is worth 21. In most games, this will have a payout of 3/2, according to the rules of blackjack.

Bust - Make sure you never bust your hand! If the total value of your cards is greater than 21, you lose any straight-up wagers you placed immediately. This doesn’t apply to side bets.

Draw - When you draw, you will take another card from the deck and add it to your total.

Face Cards - These are the most recognisable cards in the deck. Face cards are Jacks, Queens and Kings, and they are worth 10.

Hand – The cards dealt when the game starts will form your hand. There are two to start with, though you can draw more from the deck.

Hard Hand – If you aren’t dealt an Ace, or your cards have an Ace worth one, it is known as a ‘hard hand’. For example, a 10, 3 and an Ace would be known as Hard 14, as you would go bust if the last card was worth 11. If you want to know more about this, we've already covered Ace values in blackjack

Hole Card - At the start of the game, the dealer gives each player and themselves two cards. While the players’ cards are all visible, one of the dealer’s will be face down - and this is the hole card.

Soft Hand – The opposite of hard hands. If one of your cards is an Ace valued at either one or 11, you have a soft hand. If you were dealt an Ace and a 6 by the dealer, you would have a soft 17 with the Ace worth 11. Soft hands are important because you can’t go bust when you draw your next card.

Up-Card - Only the dealer has an up-card, and this is the card shown face-up at the start of the round.

Blackjack Betting

Understood everything so far? Now, we’ll move on to the terms you’re likely to hear when it comes to placing wagers on blackjack, starting with the bankroll.

Bankroll - Your bankroll is the amount of money you have set aside to bet on live blackjack games or any of those in our online casino. It’s important to set limits when you play in any casino online – all of the information you need can be found on our Responsible Gambling page.

Buy-In - Placing your first wager on a blackjack game is called a buy-in, and it simply means you can start playing. You may find that our tables have different chip sizes available, so make sure you check out the information before you take a seat and try to beat the dealer.

Double Down - Some blackjack online games give you the option to double your initial stake during play, though you will only be dealt one more card after this point.

Hit - Want another card from the dealer? Press the ‘hit’ button in your game to do so. If you’ve played at brick-and-mortar casinos, you will have seen players tapping the table to ask for another card.

Insurance - This is another betting option that certain tables give you. If the dealer’s up-card is an Ace, you can buy insurance to protect yourself if their hole card is a 10, Jack, Queen or King, which would give them blackjack. Insurance wagers generally pay out at 2/1.

Push - If your hand is worth the same as the dealer’s cards, it will result in a push. This means you get your stake back.

Side Bet - When you play some of our blackjack online casino games, you may be able to place side bets. These are separate wagers from the main action, so even if you lose to the dealer, you could still win. In Phoenix Blackjack, the Phoenix Side Bet can trigger a bonus round where you’ll have the chance to land a progressive jackpot!

Split – There is option to split if your first two cards have the same value. This creates two separate hands, and you will have to place another bet on the new one.

Stand – Happy with the value of your hand? Hit the ‘stand’ button, which lets the dealer know that you don’t want any more cards.

Keep an eye out for the Aces in the pack.

Blackjack Slang

Now you’ve got all the basics covered, you might want to show off some more advanced blackjack terminology. Anyone using these phrases really knows what they’re talking about…

Anchorman - Any player sitting in the position furthest to the dealer’s right is known as the anchorman, and they will make the final bets of the round.

Cold Deck - If the cards keep producing bad cards for the players, with good ones for the dealer, it means there is a cold deck.

First Base - In the opposite position from the anchorman you have first base, and this is the player who receives their hand before anyone else.

Five-Card Charlie - When playing blackjack, you can win without having to beat the dealer to 21. Take a seat at a table with the five-card Charlie rule, and if you are dealt five cards without hitting 21, you will be paid out.

Hot Deck - A hot deck is - unsurprisingly - the opposite of a cold deck. In this case, you would have landed a few wins in a row, helping you to build your stack of chips.

Natural - This is a different way of referring to a player hitting blackjack, with an Ace and a card worth 10 points being dealt.

Paint - You may see some players asking for ‘paint’ in our free chat function, which means that they want a face card to boost their hand.

Unit - A standard betting size is called a unit, so this is based on your most common wager.

Play online blackjack and much more when you register with Virgin Games, with thrilling live dealer table games in our innovative live casino.