We launched this blackjack tutorial because blackjack (21) is one of the most satisfying table games in the casino, assuming you know how to play blackjack 21. Like any gambling game, if you don't know how to play, then it's a frustrating and empty experience. But playing blackjack combines suspense, decisions, and skill in the perfect amounts, and on top of all that, the house edge is VERY low. But it is so important that you learn how to play blackjack correctly.
A blackjack table is a half circle with a padded edge that seats between five and seven players. The dealer stands on the other side of the players' side of the table, with the shoe full of cards and the chips stacked according to their denomination. The layout of the table is very simple--it usually consists of a betting circle on the felt for each player, and a couple of lines describing house rules, saying something like "Blackjack pays 3 to 2" and "Dealer must draw to 16 and stand on all 17's."
You'll see two kinds of blackjack games being dealt, and this guide will teach you how to play both of them. One is a hand-held version of blackjack, and the other is a shoe version of blackjack. Hand-held blackjack is played with either one or two decks of cards and are dealt out of the dealer's hands. (Hence the name.) In hand-held games, the cards are dealt face down to the players, and the players have to peek at them to see what they are. Hand held games have a better house edge than shoe dealt games.
Shoe games use multiple decks, almost always an even number between four and eight decks. The shoe is a rectangular holder next to the dealer. This game is played face up, and players are not allowed to touch their cards.
Another distinguishing characteristic between tables is the stakes. Minimum bets can range from $1 at some low rent casinos all the way up to tables with a minimum bet of $100 or more. Maximum bets can go as high as $5000 or more at a high roller blackjack table. Be absolutely sure you know what the minimum bet is at a blackjack table before you sit down. Few things in life are as embarrassing as sitting down at a table only to find that the minimum bet is your entire bankroll for your trip!
Your goal in blackjack is to beat the dealer. There are only two ways to beat the dealer: get a higher total than the dealer has without going over 21, or by having the dealer go over 21 when you don't. In either case, your bet gets paid off at even odds.
This tutorial on how to play blackjack is continued with our guide to card values and hand values.