Words to Die By!

Words and phrases to avoid at the blackjack table

by Michael Dalton
Copyright 1996 – 2018
Originally published in the Summer 1996 issue of Blackjack Review

AAARGH!Words can indeed be our own worst enemy!  What we say and how we react to others can often mirror our intelligence, and reflect on our experience and knowledge.  At the blackjack table, card counters1)Of course, this discussion also applies to any advantage play technique for any game! don’t want to appear too bright or they run the risk of arising suspicion in the dealer and/or floor person’s eye. What’s the result of this intelligent behavior?  As a minimum, you may receive heat and gross intellectual prowess may call for unwanted counter-measures.   The heat you receive may include being closely monitored or even harassed.  Counter-measures can include everything from the dealer giving you a hard time,  moving the cut-card to provide worse penetration,  shuffling up on you when you increase your bet, to backing off your play and asking you to leave.

“…blackjack is a cat
and
mouse game…
and you are the mouse!”

Imagine a player asking a dealer, “Is double-after-splitting allowed here?” Although the question is innocent enough it announces to the pit that you are a reasonably intelligent player who is aware of the value of this rule.  Even before this player has sat down, he has given the pit reason to be suspicious.  Casinos don’t like card counters and if you are suspected of being one you will have a tough time gaining any advantage over them.  Just remember, dealers can easily communicate information about you to their superiors.  And once you are tagged it is often a long time before you can show your face without similar results.

Unlike poker where expert players are often revered by the casino and other players alike,  blackjack is a cat and mouse game… and you are the mouse!  To survive,  you have to conceal your true identity and blend in (as much as possible) with the rest of the losers casinos see every day.

The following table lists many commonly known words and phrases that experienced and knowledgeable blackjack players use.  Although some novices may also know these words, it should be your goal to avoid as many of them as possible when you are in a casino.   Rather, use the words listed on the right column… or make up your own!  If a novice term is not listed I highly recommend that you don’t even think about saying it in a casino.

 PROPER TERMINOLOGY NOVICE TERMINOLOGY
Ace-Card  (e.g., Ace-Five)Treat as hard hand (e.g., 6 or 16)
Basic strategyBlackjack strategy
Blackjacks only pay 6 to 5?Damn… this casino sucks!
Blackjack Review or the name of any blackjack publicationThem experts…
BustDamn… I went over 21
Card countingMemorizing them cards
ChecksPoker chips
Counter-measure —
Cut cardJoker
Cutoffs —
Discard trayUsed cards
Double after split —
Double ExposureFace up blackjack
Ed Thorp or the name of any blackjack expert or authorityThem experts…
Face cardTen valued card
First, second or third baseFirst, middle or last seat
Floorman (floor person)Employee (or dealer’s boss)
Hard handHand
Heat —
Hole-cardUnder the dealer’s card
Indices —
InsuranceExcuse me?
Las VegasVegas… Vegas Baby!
Location (i.e., of aces) —
LayoutGreen felt
Natural or Twenty-OneBlackjack
PackDeck
Penetration (e.g., 75% pen) —
PitBlackjack area
Pit bossDealer’s boss (or manager)
Preferential shuffleDamn… this casino sucks!
Re-split aces —
ShoeBox
Shuffle (any type)Shuffle
Shuffle upTime to take a break
Soft handHand with an Ace
SurrenderI give up!
TokeTip
True or running count —
Up-cardDealer’s card
Zone —

Any suggestions?  Leave a comment below.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1.Of course, this discussion also applies to any advantage play technique for any game!

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