The Only Blackjack Glossary You’ll Ever Need

Whether you want to play Blackjack to earn extra income or just enjoy the thrill of trying to get to 21, knowing its key terms is vital. You’ll pick up the meaning of most of these phrases quickly when you play regularly, but a little research beforehand is always a good idea.


This card can count as either 1 point or 11 in Blackjack. Bear in mind, however, that the Ace you’re holding automatically counts as 11 unless your hand exceeds 21.

Basic Strategy

Basic Strategy refers to a set of playing decisions that have been mathematically certified as the optimal way to play each hand. It deals solely with your cards and the dealer’s upcard.

Continuous Shuffling Machine

A CSM randomly mixes the discarded cards with those remaining after each round of Blackjack is played.

Doubling Down

After you’ve received your first two cards you’ll have the option of placing a second bet, to the same value of the first, and then receiving just one more drawcard.

Early Surrender

You’ll be allowed to surrender your hand, forfeiting half of your bet before the dealer checks if they have a Blackjack. See Late Surrender.

Face-Down Game

This is a Blackjack variation wherein the initial two cards dealt to players are facing down.

Hard Hand

A hand that either has no Ace or assigns it 1 point instead of 11. See Soft Hand.


In the same way that you get side bets in Aussie Bingo online games, this one wagers that the dealer has been dealt a Blackjack. You can make this stake, equal in value to a maximum of half your original bet, in certain variations, when their upcard is an Ace. If the dealer does have 21 you’ll get paid out at 2:1.

Kelly Betting

Also known as the Kelly Criterion, this is one of the best-known betting strategies in the world and was developed by J. L. Kelly, a scientific researcher, in 1956. One of its core principles is that you must have an edge over the house before you bet.

Late Surrender

You’re allowed to surrender your hand, and forfeit half your bet, once the dealer has checked if they have a Blackjack. See Early Surrender.

The Martingale Strategy

This is a Progressive Betting system in which you will double your stake after you lose and return it to your original bet when you win. You keep increasing your wager until you lose, at which point you start from the bet-level you began with.

Pair Splitting

This option lets you split your initial two cards into two separate hands if you’ve been dealt a pair. You’ll need to make a second wager equal in value to the first if you go this route.

Soft Hand

21 players have a Soft Hand when one of their cards is an Ace valued as 11. See Hard Hand.


A player’s final hand that has the same total as the dealer’s final hand. Since this is a Tie, the chips you’ve wagered remain in place for the next Blackjack round.