Blackjack is played with a normal deck of cards; there are 52 cards total. There are 4 suits; diamonds, clubs,
hearts and spades. Each suit has 13 cards. The cards are valued as follows: Picture cards (such as the king
and queen.) are all 10 value. Aces are either one or eleven. All other cards are face value.
There are different types of blackjack games; the most common one is the shoe game. The shoe game is how I am
going to teach you; later on I will discuss the difference between single and double deck in greater detail.
The shoe is the device that sits on the dealer’s left hand side that the dealer draws a card from. This device
usually holds 6-8 decks of cards.
Another term you will hear me say is “Cheques”. “Cheques” is a term used when describing a game chip that has
monetary value inscribed on it with the casinos logo and it is used on a live game. A cheque is the currency
in that casino where it was issued. It can be turned into cash at any time at the cashier’s cage.
Walk up to the table that you wish to play at and the dealer will greet you. Hand over the amount
of money you want to spend and the dealer will change it for cheques. Always place the money on the
table because the dealers are not allowed to take the money from your hands. Somewhere on the table
there will be a sign stating the table minimum and maximum; the bet you place needs to be in between
those amounts. Now, after you decide how much money you want to spend on one hand, put the bet down
in the betting circle and start playing. Once the first card comes out you are not allowed to touch
or alter your bet.
The dealer will give you 2 cards per bet. The dealer will get one card face up and one card face down.
The object of the game is for you to get closer to 21 then the dealer without going over. Each hand
is considered separately; you are only playing against yourself and the dealer; you are not playing
against the other players.
If the dealer or player goes over 21, this is called “Busting” and it is an automatic loss for that person.
Also, because the ace can be either 1 or 11, this creates a “soft” hand.
If the player’s first two cards are an ace and a 4, then the player has a “soft 15” meaning the hand can be either 5 or 15.
The opposite of a “soft” hand is a “hard” hand. A hard hand means that if you hit and receive a ten you will bust.
If your 1st two cards are a 10 and a 2 then that means that you have a “Hard 12”.
If the player has a hand with an ace in it then the value of the cards will always total the amount that favors the player.
If the player has a king and a 4 and he hits and receives an ace, then the total will automatically become 15 because the other option is 25 and that would be a bust hand.
It is your turn after the person on the right is finished with their hand. If there is no one on your
right then that means it is your turn. At this point, you have several options that you can choose from:
If your first 2 cards equal 17-21, then you want to stay. “Staying” means you don’t want another card,
you want to do nothing. Then the turn will go to the next player.
To “Stay” you need to give a hand signal indicating to the cameras what your decision is. You will hold
out your hand, palm facing down and flat. Then slightly shake the hand back and forth.
As a beginner, it is good to say “Stay” when you do this action.
If your 1st two cards equal 2-16, then you might decide to “Hit”. This means, that you add one card
to your hand adding to the total. You are allowed to keep hitting until you reach 18-21 or until
To signal that you want to hit, you will use your forefinger and middle finger to scratch the table
towards yourself. Another way to signal a “Hit” is to tap on the table with your first two fingers.
As a beginner, it is good to say “Hit” when you do this action.
If your 1st two cards equal a 9, 10 or 11 then you may choose to double down.
A double down is an optional bet of an equal or lessor amount. You will only receive one card.
When the dealer gets to you hold up only your forefinger showing the dealer you want one card. As a beginner
it is a good idea to say that you want to double down as well as give the signal. You will receive your card
and if you win you get paid for both bets but that also means that when you lose you will lose both bets.
If you decide to double down for less than your original bet then this is considered an odd move, so expect
the dealer to call it out or notify their floor. This is not a bad thing; they are required to do that.
If you decide to double down on a 12 or higher, then this is also considered an odd move. The dealer is
required to notify their floorman. They will allow you to complete this action but you can bet that they
will be watching you very closely after that. Why? Because the only people who double down on a hard 12
or higher are either completely wasted or they are cheating.
If your 1st two cards are the same face value then you may choose to split. Unlike doubling down, you
must play an equal amount to your original bet, you cannot play less.
You will then give the appropriate hand signal to the dealer and the cameras. The hand signal for
splitting is to hold your hand in a fist and extend you forefinger and middle finger in a “V” shape.
As a beginner you might want to say “Split” along with the hand signal. Your hand will then be split
into two separate hands.
After you have split your hand, you can hit, double down or split again but you can only play one hand
at a time. To split again, you must receive another card of the same face value.
Most cards can be split up to 3 times which will give you 4 hands total. When splitting aces, you will usually receive only one card.
Everything depends on what casino you are in, every casino is different. At some casinos you may be able to
double down after you split. If so, follow the same double down procedures as the shoe.
A common mistake that players make is when they want to split they want to separate the cards themselves
and the casino doesn’t allow a player to touch the cards on a shoe game.
Another common mistake is when the player splits Aces and gets a 10 on the first hit card. This is not a
blackjack. It is seen as 21, a blackjack only occurs on your original first 2 cards.
On your 1st two cards you can choose to surrender your hand. This means that you take an automatic loss on the hand
but instead of losing the entire bet they only lose ½ of your bet. Why would you do this? Some players would surrender
if they have a “hard 16” and the dealer has a 10 up card. If the player feels like he will lose the hand then he feels
that losing only half his bet is better than losing all of it.
When you want to surrender you will make a hand signal when it is your turn. The most common signal for this is to draw
a line behind your bet with your forefinger. As a beginner it is good to say that you want to surrender as you make the
If the dealer has a blackjack then you cannot surrender.
You cannot surrender if you have already hit your hand. “Surrender” can only happen on your 1st two cards. This depends
on the game, on “Super Fun 21” you can surrender at any time.
Surrender is only available in some casinos and on some games. It is a good idea to ask if it is available at your table.
Whenever you want to give your decision to the dealer it must be done with hand signals. The reason why is because the
hand signal are not for the dealer but for the cameras. The cameras can’t hear what is said on the table so if there
is ever a dispute they determine your decision by what hand signal you gave. That is why the dealer will always tell
you to give a clear and precise hand signals.
When you give your hand signal, it is good to do it behind or besides the bet. Never give the hand signal over your
cards, in front of your cards or over your bet. By doing this you will make the dealer or the floorman think you are
trying to cheat.
Remember that every casino is different so when the dealer tells you to do an action a certain way then you must follow what they say.
There is a blackjack strategy card that is available in most casino gift shops; you will usually hear people refer to
this card as “The Book”. This plastic card is a guide, especially for newbies, on how to play blackjack.
You are allowed to use these strategy cards at the table. In Las Vegas, the casino encourages it.
On the left hand side is your hand. For sections 1 and 2, add up your cards to get the total. Go to sections 3
if you have an ace in your hand and go to section 4 if you have a pair.
On the top is the dealer’s up card. Match your cards and the dealer’s up card to come up with the action that you need to take.
If your 1st two cards are a 5 and an 8, then you have a total hand of 13. Look for 13 on the left hand side. Then, Look to see
what the dealer’s up card is. The dealer has an 8 so look for an 8 at the top of the chart. Match the two up to see that you should
take a hit.