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The Blackjack Scene

The area devoted to blackjack at any casino will usually be the largest area devoted to any of the table games, which include roulette, craps and baccarat. In fact, in many casinos the game is so popular that several areas may offer blackjack.

It’s therefore not hard to find a game when entering the casino. There will be a number of tables placed so that they surround a center area from which the casino personnel operate. This is known as the blackjack pit.

The Table

The blackjack table is a modified oval, with the seats arranged around the curved portion. There will be as many seats available as spots at the table. The number of seats available at a blackjack table ranges from 5 to 7 depending upon the casino. While the players remain seated throughout the game the dealer stands and faces them from the inside pit.

Directly in front of the dealer is the chip rack, containing the casino chips. To his right is a slot where cash is dropped when players come to the table and change cash for chips.
Also on the able there may be a shoe, which is a rectangular box, made of plastic or wood, which holds at least four decks of cards. If the game is being played with one or two decks there will not be a shoe on the table.

There may also be a small sign stating the minimum bet permitted at the table. Sometimes this sign shows additional rules other than those imprinted on the green felt covering the table.

The green felt contains boxes where each player will place his chips for betting purposes, and where usually two or three rules of the game are printed. The most common is Dealer Must Draw to 16, and Stand on All 17’s, which refers to the totals of the points the dealer holds. The next most common rule is Insurance Pays 2-1. The third is Blackjack Pays 3-2.

These are very basic rules that we need not concern ourselves with right now, for they will be fully explained at the appropriate time.

The Dealer

Unlike the players, the dealer stands throughout the game, and wears the house uniform. In these days of tighter security, there is usually some nametag and sometimes a picture of the dealer attached, so that the players can, by looking closely, ascertain the name of the dealer.

The dealer runs the game. He changes cash into chips issued by the casino; he changes color – that is, changing casino chips into smaller and larger denominations. He shuffles the cards, and deals them out. He pays off winning bets and collects losing ones. He answers questions of the players, and is there to help them, as well as run the game.

Tipping the Dealer

Tipping, or toking the dealer is not required, but is often done. Some players over tip; others never tip at all. And some, if they tip, don’t do it correctly.

A dealer should be toked if you feel he or she has been friendly and helpful, and has made your game more enjoyable. In that case, every now and then you can make a bet for the dealer by putting out a chip above your box in the area marked for insurance bets.

When you do this, if you win your bet, the dealer will win his; if you lose, the dealer will also lose. The dealers prefer this kind of toking, for it gives them the chance to double the original be, and sometimes win even more if the player is dealt blackjack.

Sometimes players tip after a blackjack has been dealt to them, but one must remember that no matter how generous you want to be, your edge at blackjack is very slight, and over tipping will erode your winnings. Strike a happy balance, but under no circumstances tip a hostile or unfriendly dealer, or one who wants you to lose and considers you a sucker for playing.

The Casino Chips

Casino personnel call chips checks, but we’re going to use the term chips throughout this site because it’s the most popular term, understood by all players.

These are issued by a casino in standards denominations, usually $1, $5, $25 and $100. Some casinos have $500 chips and sometimes higher, many casinos have 50 cent chips at the blackjack table, because payoffs are often in this amount. There are casinos that don’t bother issuing chips this small, and instead pay off with coins, either half-dollars or quarters. In some of the Northern Nevada casinos, $2.50 chips are used at the blackjack tables, saving the dealers time and trouble when payoffs for $5 blackjacks are made. A blackjack, which will be explained later, pays 3-2, and a $5 wager will be paid off with $7.50.

Players can also play with cash, but casino executives frown on this. Some players like to play only in cash, but if they win they’ll have to settle for casino chips as their payoff. Dealers will always pay off in casino chips, not in cash.

Casinos have minimum betting limits, which usually are3 #1 and $1. Some tables may have $5 or $25 or even higher minimum limits, because high rollers don’t want to be betting thousands while some other player is betting $2 at a time.

After you leave a table, you can cash in your casino chips at the cashier’s cage of the casino. If you don’t spot it, any security guard or other casino personnel will show you where it is. That’s where you get cash for chips, not at the blackjack table.

The Players

Even though there may be five to seven spots open for players at any blackjack table, the game will begin if one players shows up to play. When more than one player is at a table, additional players can take any of the vacant seats. There is no set rule where one is to sit.

The cards are dealt, as we shall see, in a clockwise fashion so that the player to the dealer’s left, facing him, is the first player to receive cards. He is known as the first baseman. The player at the other hand of the table, nearest to the dealer’s right, is the last player to receive cards, and he’s known as the third baseman or anchorman.
Where should one sit at a table if given the choice? Most experts prefer either the third baseman’s seat or the one to its right, for they get a look at the other hands before they have to make playing decisions.

But if you’re a beginner, don’t sit in the third baseman’s seat. You might feel too much pressure, for sometimes when you draw a card you’ll inadvertently make the dealer a winner. Even though you made the right decision, ignorant players may unfairly blame you for their losses. But, as you get more expert, sit as close to the third baseman’s seat as you can, for you get that little extra information playing last.

Players in casino blackjack play their hands as individuals, trying to beat the dealer, not each other When you are dealt cards, all you want to do is get a better hand than the dealer, so you can win. The other hands are immaterial to this result, and ofte4n some players at the table will win a hand while others will be losing their hands.

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