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Blackjack Rules

Blackjack: Everything You Need to Know About Today’s Most Popular Casino Game!

Are you interested in learning how to play Blackjack? Or in fine-tuning the Blackjack skills you already have? Either way, whether you’re a novice or an old-hand who wants to improve his game, you’ve come to the right place. Over the next few pages I will give you everything from soup to nuts on this very popular casino game, also known as 21.

If you are an international visitor, please note that when I refer to currency amounts and chip colors, I am doing so from the perspective of a visitor to a United States casino. All the other information I am providing, however, should be useful and relevant to you no matter where you’re playing the game.

The Casino

Before we get into the game of Blackjack, there are a few things you’ll need to know about the casino itself. This is basic introductory information, and if you’re already an experienced casino-goer, feel free to skip ahead.

    • The Table.
      There are three important things to check for when selecting the table you’re going to play at. One: are they playing Blackjack at this table? You can usually find the answer to that question fairly easily, as there should be a sign printed on the table felt that says “Blackjack pays 3 to 2.”

      After you’ve determined you’ve got the right game, you’ll want to check what the betting limits are, and again there should be a sign on the table-top specifying exactly what the maximum and minimum limits are. You’ll often discover that the biggest crowds are gathered around the low-limit tables ($3 or $5). Frequently you’ll see that these betting limit signs are color-coded.

      In other words: red is for a minimum bet of $5, green is for a minimum bet of $25, and black is for a minimum bet of $100. The third thing you’ll want to check is what type of game is being dealt. A “shoe” game – where 6 or 8 decks are being used – is often the best kind of game for beginners to play in, because all of the player’s cards are dealt face-up and the dealer can be helpful in answering questions.

      The downside with these shoe games is that they are ultimately advantageous to the casino, which is why I would suggest moving on to fewer-deck-games once you’ve become more experienced in playing. For the beginner I would say it’s worth giving the casino the advantage in exchange for some very important peace of mind and learning experience.

    • The Chips.
      When you find a table that suits your needs, you will need to purchase chips. There is a standard way in which this is done – a way which is commonly accepted and recognized by the dealer and which you must therefore familiarize yourself with beforehand. Basically, you’re going to put your cash down on the table in front of you, at a point when there’s a break in the action (though at some casinos you will not be permitted to join the game until the dealer shuffles).

      In any event, you can’t simply give your cash to the dealer. Though you may think of this as harmless or even more respectful of the dealer than just placing it down on the felt, he is not allowed to take the money from your hands. When you put the money on the table he’ll take it and give you the playing chips you’ve paid for in return. You should know ahead of time that you will not be getting any change back; whatever amount you give him will be the exact amount he converts into playing chips, which he’ll then push across the table to you.

      There is a slot in the tabletop into which he will drop your cash. Now, as for amounts. Across the casino industry it is pretty much universally accepted that red chips have a $5 value, green chips have a $25 value, and black have a $100 value. If you see white chips, those have a $1 value, and in some casinos there’s a pink chip worth $2.50. There’s also such a thing as a $1 token, which is silver. For amounts over $100, there’s some variation, but you will usually find the color purple representing a $500 chip. The buy-in amount usually ranges from 10 to 20 times your average bet (meaning $50 to $100 if you are a $5 bettor).

      You should always make sure you understand and can identify the values of the chips, and if you aren’t clear on something, you should feel free to ask the dealer. Though in the game of Blackjack itself he is playing “against” you, it is actually part of his job to help you learn and understand.

    • The Bet.Okay. When you are ready to make your bet, there will be a circle or box right in front of you on the table. You will put your bet into the circle in a single stack, before the game begins. The larger-valued chips must be placed on the bottom of the stack, smaller-valued chips on top of them. You may not touch the bet in the circle once the cards have been dealt, so you must be very sure of your bet before that point.

      At the end of the hand, the dealer will come around the table both to pay winners and collect chips from those who have lost. Only after the dealer has done this can you remove your chips from the circle. You can then place your next bet. Two commonly asked questions are: what if I need to know how much I bet for doubling or splitting (concepts I will explain a little later)?

      Since you are not allowed to touch the chips at that point, you’ll have to ask the dealer and he will count them for you. The other question: what if I want to let my winnings ride? In that case, after the dealer pays you, you will make one stack of chips from the pre-existing stacks on the table.

  • The Pay-Off.
    Exchanging chips for cash – or cashing in – takes place when you’re done playing. If you’ve got a lot of smaller-value chips, the dealer may want to exchange these – or “color up” – for the larger-value chips. If you are ready to cash in, you should wait until the end of a hand and then push your chips out in front of you. As you won’t want the dealer to think this is a bet, you should put these chips between betting boxes, at which point he’ll take them, count them (also known as “counting down”) and give you the equivalent in fewer but larger-value chips. These chips can either be taken to the cashier and cashed in, or they can be used to play more games at other tables.

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