Gambling Tips > Blackjack

Learn The Blackjack Lingo

By Henry Tamburin

Every game has its own jargon, and blackjack is no exception. To help you understand some common blackjack terms used by players, I’ve assembled this mini-glossary. I don’t have enough space to include all the terminology associated with blackjack, so I’ve focused on some common terms that may not be familiar to most players.


Anchor Player. This is a term used to designate the player seated to the far left of the table (to the immediate right of the dealer). This is the last player to act before the dealer acts on his hand.


Barber Pole. A wager made by a player consisting of a pile of different-colored (i.e., denomination) chips.


Barring. This occurs when a casino asks a player to stop playing blackjack. Most skilled card counters have been barred from playing blackjack at one or more casinos during their playing career.

Blacks. $100 denomination chips.


Color for Color. When a dealer pays off a winning bet with the same denomination chips as wagered.


Color Up. To exchange smaller denomination chips for larger denomination chips at the table.


CTR. A Currency Transaction Report, or CTR, must be filled out for any cash transactions of more than $10,000 in a 24-hour period, including transactions in casinos. This is mandated by the federal government.


Even Money. When a player has a blackjack and the dealer has an ace upcard, the dealer will offer the player an even-money payoff, which is equivalent to the player’s taking insurance, before she peeks at her downcard.


Eye in the Sky (EITS). The cameras, usually in glass bubbles, located on the ceiling in casinos, that record all the action for surveillance personnel to monitor.


Flasher. A dealer who inadvertently exposes her downcard to players.


Front Money. Money that a player deposits at the cashier cage and then uses to draw markers.


Hard Hand. A hand that either has no ace, or if an ace is present, it counts as one (rather than eleven).


Insurance. A side bet that the dealer has a blackjack. Players can make the insurance bet (equal to a maximum of half of the amount wagered on the hand) when the dealer’s upcard is an ace. If the dealer has a blackjack, the insurance bet is paid at 2-1.


Marker. A bank draft signed by a player who is requesting chips.


Money Plays. Term used to alert the dealer and the pit staff that a player is going to wager in cash rather than casino chips.


Monkey. Slang for a ten-value card.


Natural. Another term for a blackjack.


Nickels. $5 denomination chips.


Paint. Any picture card.


Pat Hand. A hand that totals 17 through 21 that doesn’t require a hit.


Peeker. An optical device embedded in the table which the dealer uses to determine whether their downcard is a ten-value card or an ace (meaning the dealer is starting off with a blackjack, and therefore  the round is over). If the peeker doesn't register a ten-value card or ace, play continues.


Ploppy. Slang term for a player who is clueless regarding the basic playing strategy.


Push. A hand with the same total as the dealer’s hand. This is a "tie," so your chips stay where they are.


Quarters. $25 denomination chips.


Reds. $5 denomination chips.


Snapper. Slang for a blackjack.


Soft Hand. Any blackjack hand that contains an ace counted as 11.


Stiff. A hard hand that totals 12 through 16.


Suits. Casino executives—usually a floor person, shift supervisor, or pit boss.


Surrender. A rule that allows a player to give up his hand and forfeit half of his bet. Not all casinos allow the surrender rule.


Trespassed. When a casino executive "trespasses" a player, he is not allowed on the premises anymore and risks being arrested if he returns.


Toke. A tip for the dealer.


Washing the Cards. The act of the dealer’s mixing fresh cards on top of the layout without lifting them. 


Whale. Slang for the highest of high rollers.


Dealer & Executive Jargon
Dealers love to have “Georges” at their table, rather than "stiffs." A George is a player who generously dishes out tips, whereas a player who “stiffs” a dealer gives a paltry tip, or nothing at all. Meanwhile, casino executives carefully monitor the drop and hold on their blackjack tables. The drop is the amount of the players’ buy-ins (cash or markers) that wins up in the table drop box. The hold is the percentage of the drop that is won by the casino. A casino’s typical hold for blackjack is about 12 percent. (The hold is not the same as the casino’s advantage, or "edge.") When a casino offers a good blackjack game, the casino advantage will be low, and this also lowers the table’s hold.