The rules of BlackJack differ slightly from area to area and/or
from casino to casino. For example, a casino in downtown Vegas
may have different rules than one of the Vegas Strip casinos
which may have different rules from a casino up in Reno or
Tahoe. The rules in a casino in Freeport Bahamas may differ
from those in Atlantic City, etc. Therefore, it is important
to research what the rules are for the area/casinos you plan
on playing in.
The BlackJack table seats a dealer and one to seven players.
The first seat on the dealer's left is referred to as First
Base, the first seat on the dealer's right is referred to
as Third Base. A betting square is printed on the felt table
in front of each player seat. Immediately in front of the
dealer is the chip tray. On the dealer's left is the deck
or shoe and beside that should be the minimum bet sign, which
you ought to read before sitting down to play.
On the dealer's immediate right is the money drop slot where
all currency and tips (chips) are deposited. Next to the drop
slot is the discard tray. Play begins after the following
ritual is completed: the dealer shuffles the cards, the deck
is "cut" by a player using the marker card, and the dealer
"burns" a card. Before any cards are dealt, the players may
make a wager by placing the desired chips (value and number)
into the betting box.
Occasionally a player may sit out a hand or two for various
reasons. I have sat out a couple of hands at times when the
dealer was getting extremely lucky and everyone was losing.
If you attempt to sit out too many hands especially if there
are people waiting to play at your table, you may be asked
to leave the table until you are ready to play.
Once all the bets are down, two cards (one at a time) are
dealt from left to right. In many Vegas casinos, players get
both cards face down. In Atlantic City and most every where
else the player's cards are dealt face up. Should the cards
be dealt face up, don't make the faux pas of touching them!
They are dealt face up for a reason, primarily to prevent
a few types of player cheating.
The dealer receives one card down and one card up. The numerical
values of the cards are: (10, J, Q, K) = 10 ; (Ace) = 1 or
11 ; (other cards) = face value (3 = 3). Since a casino can
be very noisy, hand signals are usually the preferred method
of signalling hit, stand, etc.
The rules the dealer must play by are very simple. If the
dealer's hand is 16 or less, he/she must take a card. If the
dealer's hand is 17 or more, he/she must stand. Note that
some casinos allow the dealer to hit on soft 17 which gives
the house a very small additional advantage. The dealer's
strategy is fixed and what you and the other players have
is immaterial to him/her as far as hitting and standing is
If you have a pair that you want to split and your cards are
dealt face down, turn them over and place them a few inches
apart. If your cards were dealt face up, point to your cards
and say "split" when the dealer prompts you for a card. The
original bet will go with one card and you will have to place
an equal amount of chips in the betting box near the other
card. You are now playing two hands, each as though they were
regular hands with the exception being that if you have just
split two aces. In that case, you only get one card which
will hopefully be a 10. If it is a ten, that hand's total
is now 21 but the hand isn't considered a BlackJack
Insurance comes into play when the dealer's up card is an
Ace. If a player wants insurance, half the original amount
bet is placed on the semicircle labeled "insurance" which
is printed on the table