Blackjack Glossary and Terminology

Blackjack Gameplay Terms

The terms below are all the actions a player can take during a game of blackjack. While playing at a casino, it is important to learn the hand signals for each of these actions because the casino has overhead cameras at each table and they primarily use these hand signals to keep track of the games (for various reasons). Check out this blackjack hand signals video for a comprehensive introduction. 3 Don't know when to use each action? Check out our introductory guide to blackjack basic strategy.


A hit is when you increase the number of cards in your hand in an attempt to get closer to a total hand value of 21 without going over. To "hit", double-tap two fingers on the table, which indicates to the dealer, "Yes, I would like another card".


Standing means that you are happy with your hand total and do not want any more cards. To "stand", make a subtle wave of the hand over your cards, which says to the dealer, "No, I don't want any more cards".


A split is when you take a single blackjack hand of two cards and split them into two separate hands, each with their own bets. To split, first place your chips in equal value to your original bet next to your existing chips. Then, indicate that you want to split by holding two fingers behind your cards (like a "peace sign"), which indicates to the dealer, "I would like to split".

For more, see an in-depth look at split strategies.


A double happens after you are initially dealt two cards and is a way to double down on your original bet when your hand is favorable. To double a hand, place an equal number of chips as your original bet next to your original chips and then point at the dealer with your index finger to indicate, "I want 1 more card".

For more, see an in-depth look at doubling strategies.


A surrender is when you give up exactly half of your original bet and withdraw from the current hand. While it is rare that a casino allows this rule, in the rare cases it is allowed, this is a good strategy for minimizing your loss on a hand that has a low probability of beating the dealer.

To surrender, drag your index finger in a horizontal motion, from left-to-right across the table, beneath your cards and verbally say "surrender" to the dealer.

A surrender comes in two forms:

  1. Early surrender - the player is allowed to surrender before the dealer has peaked at their second card (when the first up-card is a 10+)
  2. Late surrender - the player cannot surrender until the dealer has peaked at their second card. If that second card produces a blackjack, the surrender option is no longer available to the player.

An early surrender is much more favorable to the player than a late surrender, and therefore is rarely offered in casinos.

For more, see an in-depth look at surrender strategies.

Even Money

Even money has a slightly different definition depending on the context. In general, "even money" is equivalent to a payout of 1:1. This means that if you bet $1 and win, you get paid $1 on top of that original bet.

Even money can also represent a scenario where you, the player, have a blackjack on your first two cards. In many casinos, it is also a requirement that the dealer shows an Ace as their first card. In this scenario, the dealer may ask you if you want "even money". If you accept, you will be paid 1:1, or "even money" on your blackjack immediately. This "insures" your blackjack and makes sure that you get paid regardless of whether the dealer gets a blackjack (as opposed to "pushing" and winning $0). This comes at the cost of not getting paid the usual 3:2 payout for a blackjack (or whatever the casino pays for a blackjack.)

In general, basic strategy says that you should never take even money.


Insurance is a side-bet that is made available to the player when the dealer shows an Ace as their first card. Most casinos will allow the player to bet exactly half of their original bet at a payout ratio of 2:1. This means that if the dealer does end up with a blackjack, the player will lose 100% of his/her original bet, but recoup those losses with the insurance payout, which should be equal to the losses. In other words, if the player takes insurance and the dealer gets a blackjack, the player nets $0, hence, "insurance".

Taking insurance is never recommended in basic strategy for two main reasons:

  1. It is a side-bet, and therefore, has no effect on your original bet (you still can lose that)
  2. The likelihood of a dealer drawing a 10, Jack, Queen, or King as their second card and getting a blackjack is lower than drawing a non-10 card, which means taking this side-bet in isolation is objectively an unfavorable gamble.

Blackjack Lingo

House Advantage

This describes the 6% inherent advantage that the house has over the player. For an explanation of why this is the case, see how much does basic strategy increase your odds?


The "shoe" refers to the container that holds the multiple decks of cards used in a game of blackjack.