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.
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 concerned.
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.