Blackjack Dealing

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games in the United States. Many maintain that it is the only game that the player actually has a fair chance of winning against the house. Whether or not this is true, the notion, along with the relative simplicity of gameplay, is enough to make blackjack more popular than craps, roulette and baccarat combined.

The object of the game is simply to make your hand add up to 21 without going over. In casino play, you start with two cards face up, and have the option to have more dealt to you one at a time until you choose to stop, make 21 or bust. Easy enough, but what if you’re dealing?

A blackjack dealer has the unique responsibility of not only running the game for the players, put participating himself.

Changing Cash to Chips

The vast majority of casinos do not allow players to bet cash, instead using a system of chips. If a player sits down at a blackjack table and doesn’t have chips, he will ask the dealer to change out his cash by laying it on the table in front of him. The dealer will take the money off the table – never out of the player’s hand – and exchange it for the equivalent amount of chips.


Bets are made using chips that represent specific dollar amounts.


In casinos, all blackjack tables should have a clear sign to indicate what the minimum and maximum bet is at that particular table. It is the dealer’s responsibility to ensure that each player puts out at least the minimum bet in order to play. These bets go into a square that is marked on the table called the betting box, where they stay in front of the player until the end of the hand.

Commonly, blackjack is played with multiple decks – usually four, six or eight. The decks are shuffled, usually using an automated shuffling machine, and then put into a receptacle called a shoe, which allows the dealer to slide out one card at a time.


Casinos use automatic shuffling machines with multiple decks when dealing blackjack games.

Shuffling and Dealing

Dealing starts to the left of the dealer and goes clockwise around the table until each player has two cards in front of him. The players’ cards will be dealt face up, while the dealer has one card down and one up.

The dealer will check the face down card – known as the hole card – but will not reveal it unless he has a blackjack.

Hitting or Standing

The play starts with the person immediately to the left of the dealer, who has the option of hitting or standing. Many casinos have a policy that requires players to use gestures to indicate whether they want to hit or stand to eliminate confusion and so the security cameras that are at every table can easily understand the action.

If a player wants to indicate that he wants another card, he may point to his cards, wave or scratch towards himself.

When he no longer wants to receive additional cards, he indicates that he wants to stand by waving a flat hand over his cards. In a face up game, the player is never allowed to touch his cards.


If a player’s first two cards are same denomination, he has the option of splitting the pair. He will indicate this by putting a second bet into the betting box. This must be equal to the initial bet.

The dealer will then separate the two cards and the player will play each card out as an individual hand. Starting with the card to the dealer’s left, he will deal a second card onto it, play that card out and then deal a second card to the card on the right.


When a player busts, or goes over 21, the dealer must immediately clear away both his cards and his chips from the betting box, and play moves on to the next player.

Standing on 17

After all of the players are done, its the dealer’s turn to play. However, the dealer doesn’t rely on instinct or gut feelings. Rather, he must play by a strict set of rules that are more or less universal to casinos across the country. Often, the dealer’s instructions can be found printed on the table: Dealer must draw to 16 and stand on 17.


A push occurs when the player and the dealer have the same total.

When it’s the dealers turn, he turns both cards face up, and deals to himself if his cards total anything less than 17. If he has 17, he must stand unless it is what is referred to as a “soft” 17. This is a 17 that contains an ace that is being used as an 11. Because aces can either be counted as one or 11, a six-ace can be counted as either a soft 17 or a 7, and the dealer must hit.

If the dealer busts, anyone still in the hand wins. If any player gets blackjack or gets closer to 21 than the dealer – if the dealer ends with 18 and a player has 20, for instance – the player wins.

For example, if there were four players in the hand and Player One busts, Player Two stands on 18, Player Three stands on 20, Player Four gets blackjack and the dealer stands on 19, players Three and Four both win.


A push occurs when any player totals the same number as the dealer. If this is the case, that player gets his original bet back.

If a player is dealt blackjack with his first two cards, however, and the dealer goes on to draw 21 in three or more cards, the player still wins, and often gets a 3-2 payoff, as opposed to a 1-1 payoff with a normal win.