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Do you speak Blackjack?

For regular Blackjack players, the terms used while playing are as familiar as old friends. If you’re new to the game, learning the lingo is a good way to get up to speed. Double down, split, surrender, if you really want to get in on all the Blackjack action, it’s better that you talk the talk.

The name of the game – and incidentally also slang for a police baton – Blackjack indicates a particular winning hand within the game. That being when the first two cards dealt are an ace and a 10-value card, totaling 21. When that happens, it’s “blackjack.

“What’s the “limit”? This refers to the largest and smallest wager that can be made at a particular table. The distance between the two is sometimes called the “spread”. A “loose” game has a large gap between the smallest and largest wager accepted and often makes the game more interesting. A “tight” game is when the spread is small. However no matter how tight or loose a game, you’ll always extend your play farther by betting the minimum wager. When your play strategy is to bet small and win small, that’s known as being a “grinder”.

The real fun of Blackjack is deciding how to act with your hand. If you end up with a “pat hand,” one with at least 17 points, you might decide to “stand” (take no more cards from the dealer). If you win that hand you may decide to “press”— wager your winnings along with your original bet. No pressure, it’s never a bad idea to pocket you’re winnings either.

After being dealt their initial two cards, some seasoned players might choose to “double down,” meaning they double their initial bet, but then take only one card from the dealer. It’s a strategy that could lead to a “crack”— when a player beats a really big hand—but since you never know what card is coming next, it’s always a risky play.

A “split” is when you’re dealt two of the same cards and you choose to play each of them separately, putting up a bet for each one. If things aren’t going a player’s way, you may hear them “surrender” or abandon their hand, while recovering half of their initial bet.

And whether you are on “first base” (the betting spot located to the dealer’s left hand side, which is first to receive cards and first to act) or ‘third base’ (the betting spot located on the dealer’s right which is last to act), you’re always happy when you get a “five card Charlie” – when you reach five cards in one hand without “busting” or going over 21.

Now that you’re up to speed on some basic terms, learn how the game really works.