A guide on how to deal Blackjack

How to Deal Blackjack

Table of Contents

Blackjack Dealer Rules:

  • To deal Blackjack, one up card is dealt to each player, followed by a down card for the dealer. A second up card is then dealt to each player, followed by the dealer’s up card.
  • Verify that the cards are arranged diagonally so that both numbers are unobstructed. This makes it easier for the players and the dealer to see their card
  • Players must have a score of 21 or less, with the sole goal of trying to beat the dealer’s point total.
  • If the player exceeds 21 at any point, they have busted, and therefore have lost their hand and their bet.
  • The dealer cannot take insurance
  • Dealers also cannot double down, split their hands, or surrender half of their bet.
  • Typical casino rules dictate that the dealer stands on a hand of 17 or higher.
  • The dealer does not play their hand until all players at the table have played their hands.

Blackjack Card Values

Diagram showing value of each card in Blackjack

Step-by-Step Guide to Dealing Blackjack:

Step 1: Shuffle the cards

 The first thing that you should bear in mind is to shuffle the cards. If you are playing Blackjack with multiple players, it is quite common to combine two or more decks together.

After shuffling the cards in your hand, let the players place their bets. All bets must be placed first prior to start dealing the cards. Players are not allowed to place their bet once the cards are dealt.

Always remember that players can have fundamental strategy cards on the table.

Step 2: Deal the cards 

Start the game by dealing with the first card of the player — it should be face down. First to deal is a player on your left side, moving left to the right side until all remaining players are given. Then, finish it by dealing yourself with one card facing down. After that, deal another set of cards to every player. However, the card must be facing up this time. Then lastly, deal the final card for you. Of course, it should be facing upwards too. If this card is “ace,” you should ask other players if they wish to buy insurance. When they say “yes” to your question, then take the insurance bet of each player. The insurance must be half of the amount of its original bet. Flip over the next card to know if you have Blackjack or not.

Once you have Blackjack, you can start collecting bets from the players who did not purchase insurance. However, those players who purchased insurance can have their original bets. A player with a Blackjack may receive their original bet, even though they did not buy insurance.

Step 3: Each Player Takes Their Turn

If your card facing up is not an ace, then just continue to play like normal. Start from the left side. All players must have their turn. When players opt to stand, you will move onto the next players. If they choose to hit, you will deal them with another facing-up card.

If players continue to draw cards and exceed 21 as the value on their hand, they are busted. You may start to collect their bets and move onto the next players. However, first-hand, they had a Blackjack. You need to pay them with a 3:2 bonus. For example, a $30 bet receives $45, plus their original bets.

Players may choose to double down prior to taking some additional cards. In this scenario, deal new facing-up cards once they’ve added extra bets. As a dealer, you also need to remember that those players who select doubling down can only receive 1 new card and can’t opt to hit. On the other hand, any players who have matching cards may split their hands. Once they split it and decide to match the original bet, you need to deal them two cards. These cards must be facing down. Players will then play 1 hand and followed by the next hand.

Step 4: The Dealer Takes His or Her Turn

If all players have taken their turn, then it’s now time for you to play. You may turn over your face down card. If you have sixteen points or lower, then deal another card for yourself. Just continue until it reaches 17 points or more.

Once you have 17 points in your hand, typical Blackjack rules dictate that the dealer stands. If you have an ace on your second card, consider it as 11 until the total of its value exceeds 21. On the other hand, if you do not have an ace in your hand and its value exceeds 21, you lose, and all remaining players win.

 

Step 5: Collect Bets from Losing Players and Pay Out Winning Players

If the total of your hand is below 21, you should pay those players who have higher a higher total than you. Then, collect the bets from players with lower hands than yours.

For some instances, if both dealers and players are tied (otherwise known as a “push”), then refund their bets.

 

Step 6: Collect All Cards and Reshuffle for the Next Hand

Once you are done dealing and have paid out all winning hands, you need to collect the cards and shuffle so players can place their bets for the next round of play.

Key Blackjack Terms:

Here are the core terms you’ll need to familiarize yourself with in order to deal Blackjack and understand the flow of the game. After a few practice hands, you’ll pick them up quickly.

Blackjack

Hand showing an Ace and a King which is Blackjack or 21

This isn’t just the name of the game, but it’s also the best hand in the game. A “Blackjack” hand is a two-card hand that totals twenty-one points. If a player is dealt a 21 right from the start, they win instantly unless the dealer himself also draws a 21 on the first two cards.

Bust

Example of a bust in Blackjack

When a player’s hand exceeds 21 points, they have busted. You or the player cannot bust on the first two cards, but an unlucky hit can cause the dealer or the player to exceed the 21-point limit.

When a player busts, they lose their bet no matter what happens to the dealer or the other players at the table.

If the dealer hits and his or her card count exceeds 21, they lose, and all remaining players win their bet. You can learn more about this here.

Double Down

Doubling down in Blackjack is another way of the player telling the dealer “double or nothing.” In particular, it means that the player wants to double their bet on the next card dealt to them. The player is not allowed to take another card after the double down card is drawn.

In addition, the player is only allowed to double down on the first two cards, meaning that they have to make this play based on their original hand.

Hit

Taking a hit simply means asking the dealer for another card from the deck. If the player’s hand is lower than they would like, he or she can hit as many times as allowed to try and draw closer to twenty-one. 

Hole Card

The dealer only shows one card in the face-up position. The face-down card that the players can’t see is called the hole card. The dealer is the only participant that is allowed to have a face-down card in their hand.

Insurance

When a dealer’s shown card is an ace, representing a 1 or 11, many casinos will give players the option to purchase insurance. For an additional side-bet equal to half of the player’s original bet, they can insure themselves against a dealer Blackjack. If the dealer’s downcard turns out to be a 10, the player loses their original bet, but is paid out 2-to-1 on the insurance. In simple terms, the player makes even money on their original bet.

Push

A push is a standard gambling term that means a “tie.” In 21, if the dealer and one or more of the players finish the hand with the same point total, the bet is a push and you simply give back what the player (or players) gambled.

It can also refer to a null result, which can occur if there is a misdeal during play or another interruption that forces the end of the hand. In these cases, the rule is “all bets push” and every player gets their original wager back from the dealer.

While dealing errors are uncommon, they occasionally happen. Don’t be surprised if players at the table vocally express their frustration or even disgust that the game has been disrupted.

Shoe

You’ll occasionally hear people refer to “the shoe” as the tall deck of cards used by the dealer to disperse each hand. However, the term “shoe” more accurately refers to the automatic dealing machine that most casinos use to dispense the cards when more than a single deck is being used. This confusion doesn’t mean that a player isn’t educated about the game, but rather it’s another colloquialism you’ll hear around the table particularly with the dealer and frequent players.

Split

In the event that the dealer gives a player two cards with the same value, that player may split their single hand into two separate hands. 

Stand

A stand is the opposite of a hit meaning that the player does not want to draw any additional cards from the dealer. Standing ends that player’s turn, and can be done at any time.

Surrender

If a player has concluded that their luck has run out on a particular hand, they can surrender the game before seeing the dealer’s downcard (or any other cards dealt with subsequent players, for that matter). If the player chooses to surrender, he or she gets to keep half of their bet.

The Blackjack Table

Tables don’t exactly come in a standard form, but they all share the same elements. Typically, they seat between five and seven players, but the game can go on with even a single player and the dealer. Tables are lined with soft felt, usually in the same attractive green shades of poker and craps tables. Some of them will have built-in cupholders, ashtrays, and even slots for your poker chips. Other than cards, chips, drinks, and maybe your cigarettes, you shouldn’t place anything else on the surface of the table in a casino.

Top view of a Blackjack table showing betting circle for each player, information about insurance, and casino policy about dealer must hit on soft 17

Each seat at the table will have a small frame printed on the felt where the players’ cards are to be dealt. Sometimes, this is accompanied by a circular frame where you’re supposed to place the chips representing your bet often referred to as the betting circle. If the table doesn’t have these round frames, the typical custom is to place your chips in front of your hand between the cards and the dealer. Many resorts will offer their own side bets to entice the players to throw down more money, and these are often accompanied by another circular frame to keep your primary bet separate from the side bet.

Casino-style tables often have more markings around the dealer position. To the dealer’s left (facing you) you’ll see the shoe, or deck. These days, most casinos use automatic dealing machines to dispense each card when the previous one is dealt quickly. To the dealer’s right, they’ll usually have a small slot attached to a lockbox under the table where they can securely stash the cash they collect as players join the game or existing players buy more chips. Finally, there’s another spot directly in front of the dealer where the dealer’s hand goes.

When playing Blackjack, most of the time the tables will have arched lettering between the player and dealer hands that inform the players of the table’s payout rules. Usually, this will read something along the lines of “Blackjack pays 3 to 2” meaning you get 1.5 times your bet for hitting 21 off the deal. The casino is free to use other payout schemes, but this is by far the most common payout you’ll see.

Card Counting

Card counting in the game of Blackjack is when a player simply keeps a running tally of all higher cards and low cards a player sees. By doing this, players get the chance to optimize their next bet and perhaps gain knowledge of the true count. Card Counters that play Blackjack are usually mathematically-inclined and are strategic players rather than those who rely on their “gut.”

For the record, counting cards is frowned upon by most casinos, and can get the player removed or banned if it is blatantly obvious that this strategy is being employed.