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Across the Felt: Learning the Language of Blackjack

Sit down at a blackjack table and you’ll quickly realize that dealers, floor supervisors, and pit managers speak a language that is all their own.                                                                                                        

Some of the words and phrases are intuitive—short and snappy but obvious references to player behavior, money transfer, or cards. Other sayings are totally perplexing, and they leave even some veteran players wondering what the heck their counterparts across the felt are talking about.

“Some of the phrases can be hard to learn,” admitted Guy Renzi, Vice President of Gaming Operations.

One of the terms to master is “coloring up,” which is when a player seeks to change-up lower-denomination chips (say, red $5 chips) for higher-denomination ones (green $25s or black $100s). 

Another important word: “toke,” which is table games parlance for a tip that a player gives to a dealer.

The plastic apparatus on the table that holds the cards before the dealer distributes them? That’s called a shoe. Each shoe is designed to hold multiple decks. Here at Turning Stone, unless otherwise specified, our blackjack tables use 8-deck shoes. That means each one holds 416 cards.

Speaking of cards, the game of blackjack has lots of different phrases for cards, and they all sound eerily similar.

There’s the “up card,” which is the one in the dealer’s hand that’s showing when they finish a deal.

Blackjack tables also have a “cut card,” which is a yellow card that the dealer lends to one player to cut the shoe of cards after the cards have been shuffled. Then there’s the “burn card,” which basically is the first card in a new shoe. Dealers place this card face-down with the discards before play begins. Nobody sees it again until it is shuffled into a new shoe.

Even players at the blackjack table have special monikers. The person who sits closest to the shoe, in the seat immediately to the dealer’s right (when facing the dealer), is known as “first base,” while the person to receive cards last (and therefore act last) is called the “anchor.”

Try these phrases the next time you sit down at one of our tables to play!

 

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