So You’re About to Enter Your First Blackjack Tournament? Best You Know the Lingo Spoken at the Table

My good friend Howard likes to think he’s mastered all there is the know (at an amateur level) about blackjack.

He’s memorized the charts (like I have, incidentally).

Knows the odds.

And is a somewhat successful card counter.

When I accompany him to Vegas, he generally wins playing blackjack, although never huge amounts.

So he is going to enter a few tournaments now, he recently told me.

Fine, I said. Do you know the Lingo?


OK then, for all the Howards of the world, what follows is a pretty good rundown of lingo spoken during tournaments by senior players.

Taking the high road – Making a sizable enough bet that if all players win the hand that the amount bet will place you in the chip lead.

Taking the low road – The opposite approach. When you  suspect that the dealer’s hand will beat the rest of the table you may elect to make a minimal bet that will leave yhou with the most remaining chips.

Free Hit – When a player has a bad hand and taking another card cannot do further damage to the hand but can potentially save it. It does not cost the player any more than standing. A hard 17 is a good example of when a free hit may be a good next move.

Catch up bets (betting the gap) – When a player falls behind the leader he may choose to make a large bet that if successful will put him in the same position or higher than the current leader. Dangerous, because if the hand doesn’t work in your favor you are more likely to be eliminated.

Playing for the swing – Player attempts to play his cards and make his bet in order to move ahead of another player with the hope that the dealers’ standing will be somewhere in between.

On the button – The first baseman position where a certain player is the first to make a bet and the first to receive cards.

OK Howard. Got it?

Good luck.

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