Commonly Used Blackjack Terms
When it comes to gambling, it takes much more than just a huge desire to play a game and a fine amount of money in the pockets. Before a player sits at the table, a real or digital one, an essential step to take is acquiring a thorough knowledge of the rules and strategies, as well as basic terminology.
Our list here gives an insightful retrospective of the most commonly used terms in Blackjack, heard in both land-based and online casinos. Keep reading to find out more about house edge, side bets, shoe penetration, and other important expressions.
In BJ the house edge (HE) represents the statistical advantage the casino has over the player. A representative playing on the behalf of the venue is the dealer, and he/she gains the advantage over the other participants by observing their cards, actions, and catching potential mistakes.
The HE percentage in BJ is 0.5%, but only in a situation where punters are effectively implementing basic strategy. However, how well a strategy is executed will determine the precise percentage, but a specific variant of the game will also have an impact on the edge.
Outside the casino, this game can be played with as little as one or two decks. On the other hand, when played on the casino floor (be it land-based or digital), around six to eight decks are used. For a game of BJ, an international 52-card deck is utilized, without jokers.
The number of decks is of particular interest to players who like to implement card counting techniques. As the number of decks increases, it becomes more challenging to count, meaning- no strategies can be used, playing by the rules is the only option. The less the decks, the more advantageous situation for the punter it is.
Surrender in BJ is a strategy in which the punter may fold the hand risking only half of the bet rather than the entire amount. There are two different types of BJ surrender- Early and Late. Early Surrender is done before the dealer checks for blackjack, while Late Surrender is done after that. A game that offers surrender has a HE .08% lower than the one where similar rules are used but no surrender is offered.
A player’s decision to (or not to) surrender depends on whether the dealer hits or stands on soft 17. There are seven times a player should surrender when the dealer hits a soft 17, and only four in case the dealer stands on soft 17.
Dealer Hits Soft 17
First of all, we need to define what soft 17 represents. Any hand that features an ace valued at 11 is called a soft hand. So, there are several possible combinations such as an ace and six, or an ace in combination with two 3s.
When a hand has no aces or has one or more but they count as one, it’s called a hard hand, such as 10-7, ace-7-9. Soft and had hands are not played in the same way- soft ones should never stand, while the hard ones should always stay. However, each hub determines what a dealer will do in this situation, meaning whether he/she “must stand on all 17s” or “hit soft 17”. When this rule is in effect, it favors the casino, as it reduces punter’s net expectations by 0.20%.
When the dealer hits a soft 17, punters will surrender 15 and 17 against an ace. A pair of 8’s is split against every hand except for when the dealer has an ace, in which case, it should be surrendered.
In the other scenario, when the dealer stands on all 17’s, players should surrender 16 against a 9, 10, or an ace. The exception is a pair of 8’s, which are never surrendered. They should be split against any dealer door card. In a situation when there’s a dealer’s 10-value card versus a 15 hand, the latter one should be surrendered.
Double On Any Two
When a player doubles his/her bet in the middle of a hand and receives one more card after that- this is called Double on Any Two or Double Down. This move is both profitable and risky because if a player is dealt a low card, he/she cannot hit again. For that reason, a player needs to learn in which situations it is smart to make this move, and in which ones to avoid it.
Placing this type of bet is recommended in the following three scenarios- when a player’s cards total 11, when and a player has soft 16, 17 and 18, and when a player has a hard 9 or 10. As for “when not to”, it’s the situation when the dealer is showing an ace, and when a player is showing anything higher than an 11.
Although particular situations may not always be favorable towards a punter, this tactic can increase the winning in the long run, if properly implemented. It should, by no means be utilized all the time with all hands, as it leads to a significant loss. Only when a punter is a clear frontrunner, as implied in these three scenarios, Doubling Down makes sense.
Double After Split
Double Down After Split (DDAS) is believed to be one of the best options for players. It represents the following scenario- when a player is dealt a pair and then decides to split it, and when again dealt to those split cards he/she can place an additional wager, equal to the original, and double the stakes on whichever half of the split.
The majority of casinos nowadays allow Doubling Down on any two original cards, and most of them also allow Doubling Down after splitting. It’s very important to check out the specific set of rules for each venue before sitting at the table- a player should never feel uncomfortable inquiring about the rules before the game.
Analyzing the rules venues-wide, a player can notice that some of them even allow for re-splitting not only for 2 or 3 hands but until the player has as many as four hands. Moreover, some rules allow doubling the bet after a split. This way each hand has a bet double the original.
When it comes to specific cards, aces and eights are the ones that split, while tens, fours, and fives should never be split- these are some general recommendations. In addition to this, there are situations when splitting depends on the dealer’s up card. Again, each player should check the rules before the game begins.
Hit Split Aces
When aces are not split, one of them values as 1 while the other counts as 11. For that reason, splitting a pair of aces is a move that makes sense, as there are many cards with a value of ten.
In case they remain unsplit, only a nine as the next card can result in 21. Also, players should know that after splitting aces, one is not permitted to hit more than once.
One of the main reasons why most hubs don’t allow this is that it reduces the HE by 0.19%. Also, when this is permitted, it boosts the variance- one of the most illustrative examples would be four aces in a row, split in four hands, with the ability to hit and/or double down.
The Insurance bet is a side bet offered in the situation when the dealer has an ace as the up card. A player is then allowed to bet half of the original wager and it pays 2 to 1. In case the dealer’s second card is a ten, J, Q, or K, a dealer makes blackjacks, meaning- the Insurance bet wins.
In real life, this is not a desirable bet to place, as it is a losing proportion. Moreover, the odds depend on the number of decks being used in the game and the number of ten-point cards that have already been dealt. For example, for a one-deck game is 5.8%, while with eight decks it increases up to 7.5%.
For that reason, this bet makes sense only if a player is an advanced card counter and knows how many ten-point cards are still left in the deck. Also, this rule applies to pro-level punters in brick and mortar casinos, not in online hubs.
This is one of the crucial things to pay attention to, as the payout percentage determines whether a table is worth sitting at or not. Casinos-wide, one may spot 3:2 as the most common ratio, while there are those offering 6:5 games on single decks or low limit games.
Expressed in money, the situation would look like this- in 3:2, for every 2 dollars placed, a player would get paid 3 dollars (1.5:1 odds), for a winning blackjack hand. In 6:5, for every 5 dollars placed, a punter is paid 6 dollars (1.2:1 odds).
Dealer Peeks for BJ
When a dealer checks to see if he/she has Blackjack before the players start taking hits, this rule is called Peek or Dealer Peek. In case a dealer doesn’t check for blackjack if the up card is an ace or ten, it is called No Peek. On the other hand, Full No Peek means that the dealer will not check for Blackjack until all punters have taken their turn, regardless of the dealer’s up card.
Dealer Peeks is a fine rule from the player’s perspective, as it prevents him/ her from splitting and doubling down, increasing your bet only to find the dealer has Blackjack. In most establishments, the dealer can pay or take an insurance bet immediately after a peek at the down card, while in others, the payoff waits until the end of the play.
This possibility allows punters to place a bet on another player’s hand, in both situations- when they are already participating in the game and when they are waiting. Even though this used to be an option exclusively reserved for brick and mortar facilities, it can be found in online hubs as well.
Some players like this option because it allows them to play even when all seats are occupied, or get more action if they are already in the game, placing a bet Behind on some other player. The opponents of this option say the biggest downfall is that the one betting behind cannot make strategy decisions and is “at the mercy of the player”.
The number of seats differs from venue to venue, but in online parlors, a provider also plays a significant role in determining how many players will be allowed per table. Some of them have 7 seats and also allow Bet Behind which creates massive multi-player scalability. The newest achievement in the field sees “infinite” tables, meaning an unlimited number of participants can play.
There are three different seating positions- First base, Third base, and Shortstop position. From the dealer’s perspective, the First is the one on the far left, while the Third represents the far right (the anchor). Shortstop is the one in the middle.
Also known as deck penetration, the term refers to the percentage of cards that have been dealt before the dealer reshuffles the cards. Let’s take a single-deck of 52 cards as an example-if 34 cards have already been dealt, it means the shoe/deck penetration is 65%.
This is not as important to punters implementing basic strategies, however, it is of vital importance to card counters. The larger the shoe penetration, the situation is more favorable for the player, as it means more cards are dealt and “counted”, so the counting of the remaining part will be more accurate.
For this reason, the majority of venues will limit card counting and hence deck penetration by reshuffling when one or more decks remain undealt- this goes for id=”shoe_penetration”multi-hand variants.
As assumed from the name, this option allows one to play multiple tables at the same time. Whether permitted or not, each player should have a thorough knowledge of optimal strategies for a single table before he/she proceeds to playing on two or more simultaneously.
After mastering the skills and decision-making process on one table, a punter should then try two, then three, etc. Also, if one is interested in multi-tabling, a big bankroll is a must as well.
21+3 Side Bet
This is a type of side bet in BJ, based on the first two cards dealt to the player and the dealer’s face card. A player wins if the combination of these cards is some of the following: Suited trips (for example Q of Diamonds), Straight Flush (such as J, Q, and K of Diamonds), then Three of a Kind (J of Diamonds, J of Clubs and J of Hearts, for example), Straight (such as 6 of Diamonds, 7 of Clubs, and 8 of Hearts), as well as Flush (e.g. J, K, and Ace of Diamonds).
The odds significantly vary from one venue to another, and before deciding whether to place it or not, players must familiarize themself with the odds. Generally speaking, all the side bets are seen as sucker bets, with one minor exception- when a player is an experienced card counter. The edge depends on the number of decks and it can even go up to 13.39%.
Perfect Pairs Side Bet
The beginning of looks the same as in the standard game- both player and the dealer get two cards, but the side bet is different. In case one gets perfect pairs, one wins, but it also depends on how good a pair is.
Here are the possible combinations: different colors and different suits, same color but different suits and same color and same suit (the eponymous perfect pair). Keep in mind that the payout for each of them varies from one facility to another, which dictates whether one should or should not play it. The payout ranges between 2% and 11%.
Honey Bonus Side Bet
This type of side bets can be seen in venues powered by BetConstruct. In this one, wins are usually based on the punter’s initial two cards and the dealer’s up card. Here, a player bets on his/her and the dealer’s hands to make a poker style hand.
Those are the following: a three-of-a-kind (20:1), a straight (10:1), and a flush (5:1). The one exclusively added here is the suited blackjack bet, and what makes it particularly interesting is that it pays out 3:1 on top of a normal pay-out for a blackjack. In terms of HE, it can go as high as 15%.
Lucky7s Side Bet
One more type of side bet commonly seen in BetConstruct-equipped facilities, and it comes with the following payout: One 7 pays out 3:1, a pair of 7s (different suits) 25:1, a pair of suited sevens – 50:1, then three unsuited sevens – 100:1 and three suited sevens 500:1.
Overall, they don’t come with good RTP, and they are usually avoided by experienced players. Expressed in percentage, this bet comes with 50% HE.