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What does the slang term "monkey" mean in blackjack?

Profile Picture: Simon Young

February 16th, 2021

There you are, sitting at a blackjack table in your local casino, when, all of a sudden, the player next to you starts shouting: “Monkey! Monkey!”

Startled, you look around, fearing a mischievous macaque or an amorous ape is on the loose somewhere on the casino floor. There would be mayhem, with tables upturned; chairs, chips, and cash sent flying.

But then you realize no-one else seems at all concerned that there should be a monkey running amok. And the dealer at your table is carrying on as if nothing is out of the ordinary. Even the player who was shouting earnestly just moments earlier is now quiet again, draining his cocktail.

Rather than appear ignorant, you lean towards the dealer and ask what it is you’re missing.

It turns out “monkey” is a slang expression some players shout before their next card is dealt.

Blackjack Monkey Meaning

When a player calls for a monkey, he is begging the blackjack dealer to give him a ten or a face card (so, a ten, jack, queen, or king).

If, for example, the player’s first card is an ace, then he might shout: “Monkey!” as the dealer comes round to dealing his second card, hoping it will bring good fortune and a value ten-card, making a winning blackjack. Or, if the player doubles down on 11, he might shout monkey, hoping to hit a ten and make 21.

Where Did the Term Monkey Come from in Blackjack?

There does not seem to be a definitive answer for where the term monkey in blackjack came from. However, most people have fallen on the following origin, which may or may not be true.

As you know, face cards are nobility (jacks) and royalty cards (queens and kings). These can be placed under the term monarchy – and it’s believed Asian players would shout monarchy, which became monkey over time.

Whether this is true or not, many casino employees report the monkey expression is used most often by Asian players.

Other casino fans suggest monkey is a term coming from the word money, which is, of course, what we all hope for at the blackjack table. But the "monarchy" explanation sounds far more appealing. Some people report hearing it at baccarat tables, too, when a player needs a certain card to make a winning round (or coup as it is known).

With all that being said and done, the phrase "monkey" is not that common in the casino world. There are many more weird terms that you will come across. You can see a whole bunch of the most commonly used casino slang terms here.

For example, did you know that "card washing" has nothing to do with putting the deck in a bucket of soapy water and cleaning it up? Instead, this is simply the term used when a dealer spreads the cards face down on the table and mixes them up before gathering them in to shuffle.

Try Blackjack and Shout Monkey at Your Screen

If you fancy trying out blackjack, fire up TwinSpires Casino on your laptop, tablet, or mobile phone and sign up for an account. Make sure you claim the generous welcome package, then head for the blackjack tables.

Then, whenever you get dealt an ace, shout "monkey!" at the screen, imploring the dealer to make the next card a ten or a face card, giving you blackjack and a handsome payout.

Just make sure nobody else in the house is alarmed that there may be a primate on the loose.

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