The Blackjack Table
In a casino the playing table will be a semi-oval shape.
The dealer stands behind the flat portion and the players sit around the oval
portion. The dealer's back is to a central area between a number of tables
called the "pit". This is where various casino management personnel are
located including the "Pit Boss".
The number of player's seats range from 5 to 7 and are defined by rectangles
on the felt table.
There will be a sign on the table indicating the kind of Blackjack game
being played, the table minimum bet, the table maximum bet, blackjack pays 3-2,
insurance pays 2 to 1, dealer must draw to 16 and stand on all 17s and other
table rules. Different tables within a given pit often have different rules,
but usually only the table minimum and maximum change. As the casino becomes
busier, especially evenings and weekends, the table minimum may be increased.
If you are ever not sure of the rules or what you should do, don't
hesitate to ask the dealer. The dealer will often suggest a good move
or clarify a rule for a novice.
When you place cash on the table, the dealer will exchange it for chips and
drop the cash down into a slot. The dealer cannot take cash from your hand.
He or she can only take it if you release it and drop it on the table.
On the table is a "shoe", a rectangular device made from wood or plastic, in
which the cards are deposited and from which the cards are dealt. The shoe
usually holds from one to six decks of cards.
A game will begin as soon as there is at least one player at the table.
Additional players can join anytime and sit in any vacant spot. They will
not start to participate until the current hand is finished and the player
has a bet out.
The cards are dealt clockwise from the dealers left to the dealer's right.
Many players avoid being the last player to receive as that player often
gets blamed by the rest of the players at the table by taking a card too
many or too few and causing the dealer to win. However, expert players
or card counters often prefer the last position because they can see what
other cards are being played. The first position is rushed a little more
because they have to make the first decision whether to take another card
or stay while the other players have a little more time on their hands to
look at the dealers card and their own hand.
Remember, you are trying to beat the dealer and not the other players, so
the outcome of any other hands being played is irrelevant unless you are
counting cards. Neither an inexperienced player at you table or a card
counting player will affect your play. Although every card another player
takes or does not take changes the card the dealer gets, the dealer still
has the same statistical chance of the change being for the positive or as
for the negative.
The first step is to select a blackjack table to
play at. Your first criteria should be the table minimum, maximum and rules.
If you come to the table with a 100 to 200 dollar bankroll for that session,
you should probably stick to tables with a minimum of no more then 5 dollars.
This way you can ride out at least some of the fluctuations a little longer
and get reasonable playing time out of your money.
Remember that one of the reasons that casinos
take more money then they
statistically should based on the house edge is that they have virtually an
Another important consideration is the number of players already seated
at a table. If you are the only one at a table it will be easier to count
cards and you do not have to worry about how you play and if you are taking
the "wrong card". The dealer is usually also more willing to spend time
with you in explaining the game.
If you join a table with players already seated then base your selection
on whether they are the kind you wish to play with and whether position you
prefer is vacant.