Whether you are planning a trip to Las Vegas or an off the beaten path trip to a casino in Louisiana, you should know how to play blackjack at a casino. One of the most popular game tables in a casino is the blackjack table. It is also one of the easiest games to play. The goal is to get as close to 21 as possible without "busting," or going over. Here is what you need to know to learn how to play blackjack at a casino:
- Choose your casino and table according to your budget. Minimums are posted at each table to let you know what the minimum bet is. If the minimum is $10, then that means you have to bet $10 each time the dealer passes out cards. Beginners should look for a $5 minimum as this is generally the lowest bet you will find.
- Sit down at the table. The person to the dealer's left is dealt cards first, and the person to the right of the dealer is dealt last. If you are new to blackjack, find a seat toward the middle. Blackjack players notoriously 'play together' against the dealer, and sitting in the last seat leaves you in a precarious situation if you hit and steal the dealer's bust card.
- Trade cash for chips. All casinos operate on cash and chips. When you walk up to the blackjack table, put your cash in front of you and the dealer will exchange it for chips. If you want specific denominations of chips, tell the dealer and they will be glad to oblige you. The dealer will not exchange your cash for chips if they are still dealing a hand. You must wait until the current hand is over.
- Place your bet. Put your chip(s) directly in front of you on the betting circle, remembering to bet at least the table minimum. Do not take too long because the game cannot begin until your bet is placed. If you are unsure where to place your bet, watch the other players and follow suit.
- Play the hand. The dealer will now deal each player two cards, facing up so that everyone can see them. Do not touch the cards. The dealer will also deal him/herself two cards, except that one card will always be facing down. Always assume that the dealer has a card valued at ten facing down. At most casinos the dealer must hit on sixteen, but stand on seventeen. This rule is usually posted on the table, but you can always ask. If you think that your number is too low and that the dealer has a better chance of getting to 21 before you then you hit, ask for another card. In casinos this is usually done by rubbing the table with one or two fingers. If you want to stand, simply shake your hand in the yes/no direction.
- Use a rule card. Casinos frequently sell play cards in their stores, or you can download one online to take with you. Most casinos allow players to use these "cheat sheets," which tell you what you should do on any given hand based on your cards and the dealer's card.
- Don't be afraid to ask the dealer for help. Most dealers are friendly and they want you to win, so you will keep playing at their table. If you do not know what to do on a given hand, ask the dealer. It is common to hear players at a blackjack table asking the dealer, "What does the book say?" This is just another way of asking what the rule card would say.
- Tip the dealer when you win. This is not a hard-fast rule, but if you are winning hand after hand or you win on a big bet, make sure that you provide the dealer with their dues. Most dealers work on a low hourly wage, and get most of their income comes from tips. A dealer who is tipped well is also more likely to give you tips