When learning how to play blackjack, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the key terms and phrases used in the game. Understanding these basic terms will help you follow the action at the table and make more informed decisions as you play. In this guide, we’ll cover the most important blackjack terminology you should know.

Essential Blackjack Terms

  • Blackjack: This term refers to a two-card hand consisting of an Ace and a 10-value card (10, Jack, Queen, or King), which is worth 21 points. A blackjack is the best possible hand in the game and typically pays out 3:2.
  • Bust: When a hand’s total value exceeds 21, it’s considered a bust, resulting in an immediate loss for the player.
  • Hit: To request another card from the dealer in an attempt to improve your hand’s value.
  • Stand: To decline additional cards and keep your current hand value, ending your turn.
  • Double down: To double your initial bet and receive only one additional card. This option is typically used when a player believes their hand has a high likelihood of beating the dealer’s hand.
  • Split: If you receive a pair (two cards of the same value), you can split them into two separate hands by placing an additional bet equal to your original wager. You then play each hand independently.
  • Hole card: The dealer’s face-down card.
  • Upcard: The dealer’s face-up card.
  • Soft hand: A hand containing an Ace valued as 11 without busting. For example, a hand consisting of an Ace and a 6 is called a “soft 17” because the Ace can be counted as either 1 or 11.
  • Hard hand: A hand without an Ace or a hand in which the Ace must be counted as 1 to avoid busting. For example, a hand consisting of a 10 and a 7 is a “hard 17.”
  • Push: When the player’s hand value equals the dealer’s hand value, the result is a push (tie), and the player’s bet is returned.
  • Insurance: A side bet offered when the dealer’s upcard is an Ace. Insurance pays 2:1 if the dealer has a blackjack but is considered a poor bet due to the low probability of the dealer having a blackjack.
  • Surrender: Some blackjack games allow players to “surrender” their hand and forfeit half of their bet if they believe their hand is likely to lose against the dealer’s hand. This option is not available in all blackjack variations.

Understanding basic blackjack terminology is crucial for new players learning the game. By familiarizing yourself with these terms, you’ll be better equipped to follow the action at the table and make informed decisions during gameplay. As you become more comfortable with the game, you can also explore more advanced strategies to further enhance your skills and enjoyment of blackjack.