Blackjack for beginners: a guide to the terminology


Whether you’re playing in a brick-and-mortar or an online casino, blackjack is one of the most popular casino games out there. If you’re new to blackjack, you may not realise that there’s a wide range of terms that are used during gameplay, which may be unfamiliar. But fear not, here we will run through a guide to the terminology involved – so next time you’re playing live blackjack from Betfair, you’ll know exactly what to do and who knows, it may even improve your chances against the dealer.


The amount of money you have to spend.


Sometimes known as ‘break’. Having a hand which exceeds 21 points.

Double down

The option of doubling your bet once the first two cards have been dealt. When doubling down, players must place an equal bet to go alongside their initial bet.

Early surrender

To surrender or give up after receiving your two cards, but before the dealer checks for blackjack.

Five-card hand

When you have five cards in your hand but haven’t gone bust. Usually, five cards is the maximum you can have in any one hand.

Hard hand

Having a hand without an ace. Or a hand with an ace which is valued as one.


Sometimes known as ‘draw’. Receiving an additional card to your hand to increase your points tally.

Hole card

The hole card is the face-down card the dealer receives.


A side bet that is usually offered when the dealer’s face-up card is an ace. Insurance is a side bet that the dealer has a natural blackjack and the pay-out is 2:1.


A natural blackjack is a two-card hand which equals 21. This hand is usually paid-out at 3:2.

Perfect pairs

Another side bet that can be placed alongside the main game. A wager placed on whether your first two cards are going to be a pair. There are three possibilities: a mixed pair (two cards alike in face value, but differ in suit or colour); a coloured pair (two cards alike in face value and colour, but differ in suit); and a perfect pair (two cards which are exactly the same in face value, colour and suit).

Point count

The value of the cards at the end of a hand.


Sometimes known as a ‘tie’ or ‘stand-off’. A Push is when both the dealer and the player have the same value hand.

Soft hand

Having a hand with an ace which is valued as 11.

Split hand

When you receive your two-card hand and decide to split the cards and play the two hands separately.

Standing hand

A hand that totals 17 points. ‘Hitting’ and receiving an additional card is likely to bust your hand, so it’s best to ‘stick’ or ‘stand’.


Sometimes known as ‘stick’. When you need no more additional cards.


To give up your hand and lose half of your initial bet.


The up-card is the dealer’s first card dealt, which is placed face-up for the player to see.

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