What Does Monkey Mean in Blackjack?


Blackjack is the world’s predominant card casino game. In the mid-1980s, it comprised 77% of all products on Las Vegas Strip gaming floors.

Today, the percentage of blackjack games is down dramatically to 47%, with the gambling revenue contribution of twenty-one tables totaling a mere 31% of the table win total in Nevada.

However, its land-based drop in overall popularity is not because of the rise of online casino games or other table picks. It is simply due to the fact that slot machines are more profitable to run for operators. They offer faster gameplay and a better return on investment.

Blackjack remains the favorite game for most veteran players and those looking to bet big because when it gets paired with optimal tactics, it offers the best odds in Sin City. The same goes for online blackjack games.

Twenty-one betting entertainment is also unique for boasting numerous slang terms. Perhaps, many casuals have heard of snapper, paint, third baseman, mucker, anchorman, and several others. Yet, how about monkey? That is a phrase that one will not come across at a live casino offering fancy bonuses and cashback.

It is one reserved for brick-and-mortar establishments populated by experienced players. Individuals that know all about lowering this game’s house edge to 0.5%. Below, we get into this slightly controversial blackjack phrase and if it still gets bandied about at high-end casinos in the World’s Entertainment Capital, Atlantic City, and online.


Asking for a face card is the meaning of the term monkey in blackjack.

What Does Monkey Mean in Blackjack?

Whenever someone is playing blackjack games with or without various surrender options and unique rule tweaks, and that player says monkey, he is asking for a face card.

In blackjack, money is a cry for a ten-value face card, nothing more. Naturally, these are tens, jacks, queens, and kings.

The highest likelihood of hearing the term monkey uttered at high-end gambling establishments nowadays is by newbie players who don’t implement a proper strategy. They usually shout this word when they get an ace as their first up card and are praying that a ten-value one will come next, forming a blackjack, leading to a money prize.

For the uninformed, a strategy chart is nothing more than a selection detailing the best moves to make in various game predicaments. When one memorizes this info graph and puts it to use at twenty-one tables, these are the instances when the house edge of blackjack drops from 2% to 0.5%.

Where Did the Term ‘Monkey’ Originate From in Blackjack?

According to many gambling historians, the genesis of monkey is from baccarat, not blackjack. It allegedly comes from Indonesian Chinese gamblers using the word monarchy to describe face cards. They opted for this phrase because these depict members of the Royal court. A knight, queen, and king.

What is interesting to note is that in the Chinese dialect of Cantonese, mo-yair is a phrase that dealers often shout when a player loses. Mo-yair’s pronunciation sounds a bit like monyet (monkey in Indonesian). And some players suggest that when baccarat gamblers got a face card in cases when they did not wish for it, they cursed at it, calling it a monkey for playing tricks on them, messing up their winning chances.

Mo-yair still gets screamed at inside Asian casinos today, a remnant of a bygone era. So, technically, the birth of this term has nothing to do with blackjack, any betting system one can implement at it, advantage play, cheat, or anything else. It is simply something that made its way over to twenty-one games from Asia’s most popular table game, Macau’s revenue machine, baccarat.


Players should avoid yelling monkey at their dealer at high-end gaming locales.

Is Monkey Offensive & Should You Use It?

Incorporating the Martingale wagering scheme, never doubling down, standing on stiffs against high cards, and failing to split pairs of fours and fives are among multiple things blackjack enthusiasts should avoid when enjoying this game at a brick-and-mortar locale. Although most experienced gamblers know the non-offensive nature of the term monkey, it is wise to add it to this list of things to avoid.

It is natural that when someone learns how to play blackjack, they want to grasp the lingo spoken at casino tables, so they fit in more easily. However, given the culturally charged environment we live in today, it is best to stay away from any word or phrase that people can find offensive.

Yelling out – monkey, at the Bellagio or the Venetian may seem fun. Yet, in today’s modern world, it is not appropriate and definitely can get easily misunderstood by non-gambling savvy individuals, leading to potential problems. Since saying monkey should not cut into anyone’s blackjack fun, maybe it should go into the annals of history, with everyone forgetting about it, finding a more timely phrase for face cards, and concentrating on the action at hand.

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