Betting limits are also posted on the table, along with what rules the dealer has to follow while playing.
Blackjack games at the casino use chips to wager. You buy those from the dealer. To play, you place your chips (your bet) in the appropriate circle on the table.
You have the following possible outcomes for each hand.
- You may lose, in which case the dealer takes your bet. You can lose by busting or having a worse hand than the dealer.
- You can win, in which case the dealer pays your bet. You win by having a better hand than the dealer.
- You can get “blackjack” or “natural”. This counts as a win, but usually features a 3 to 2 payout.
- You can tie the dealer, which is called a “push”. When this happens, you keep your bet but do not earn any winnings.
Win conditions and points
Even if you are playing at a table with several other players, you are only playing against the dealer. The other players’ results have no effect on your hand. It’s not an “us versus them”, either. You have no opportunity to “team up” with the other players to beat the dealer.
Your goal is to get a point total that is higher than dealer, but if you get a point total of 22 or more, you automatically lose. This is called “bursting” or “bursting”.
The point totals for a hand are determined by the rank cards. An ace is worth 1 or 11 points, depending on which is best for your hand. All face cards (jack, queen, and king) are worth 10 points each. And all other cards are worth their rank – for example, a two of spades is worth 2 points, a three of hearts is worth 3 points, and so on. Suits do not matter for this calculation.
Blackjack is one of the best examples of a type of card game called “banking games”. These types of card games do not involve player-versus-player competition. Instead, each player competes separately against a banker – in most cases, the casino dealer.
Banking games are not exclusive to casinos. Home card games can also feature banking games, but players have to figure out who will act as the banker. When these games are played at home, they are usually played with no money involved — my mom and I used to play blackjack for toothpicks.
The deck, the cards and the table
You play blackjack with one or more standard decks of cards. The standard deck has 52 cards and no jokers. There are 13 cards in each of 4 different suits, but suits generally have no effect on the outcome of your hand.
At some casinos, you will only play with a single deck. It is more common, however, to play multi-deck blackjack. In single-deck games, the dealer holds the deck and deals it, but in multi-deck games, the decks are placed in a machine called a “shoe”.
You will play at a specifically labeled table that includes notices about specific casino rules. For example, casinos usually pay 3 to 2 for a “blackjack”, but sometimes they only pay 6 to 5 or (even worse) even cash. In either of these cases, this payment is posted on the table.