Learn how to play blackjack in a casino before you even step through the doors. On this page, we will cover the blackjack rules, the casino etiquette, and a step-by-step guide to playing 21. Keep reading to find all the details and blackjack tips that will make you look like an expert at the table.
If you are already familiar with the blackjack rules, but aren’t comfortable playing in a brick-and-mortar casino, we will go through the entire process in more detail.
First of all, you have to be of legal age to enter a casino, which is 21 in most states. Some Indian casinos can allow customers who are at least 18 years old, but these establishments aren’t allowed to serve alcohol. You will have to provide an ID to get it.
Once you are inside the casino, you can buy chips at the casino cage or directly at the blackjack table, for most establishments. Before you take a seat however, make sure to check the table limit. This is generally displayed on a small plate on the table. For example, the table limits can be $1 – $1,000, which represents the maximum bet for one round.
If you are buying chips directly at the blackjack table, take a seat and wait for the hand to be over. Then, place the amount of money you wish to turn into chips on the table. Don’t hand the money directly to the dealer as he will not take it due to casino policy. He may ask you which chip denominations you prefer, based on what bets you plan on making.
After he counts the money and the chips clearly on the table, the dealer will push the chips towards you. Each one has the respective value on it and different denominations will have different colors. Now, you can handle the chips and set the amount you wish to bet.
Placing the Bet
You can place a bet by putting chips in the designed area on the table. This is usually a fairly big rectangle or a circle. Once you place the chips down in this area, you are no longer allowed to take them back. That is the bet for the current round.
For side bets, you will have to place the chips on the corresponding positions next to the main betting area.
If the other seats aren’t taken, you can also place bets on the other positions and play multiple hands at the same time. This is available in most casinos, but some establishments may ask you to reduce the number of hands if there are people waiting.
Dealer Deals the Cards
You don’t have to worry about how to deal blackjack since the dealer will take care of everything. Each player who placed a wager will receive two cards, usually facing up. The dealer also gets two cards, but only one of them is facing up.
Playing the Hand
The dealer will then go from his left to right and allow each player to play the hand. When it’s your turn, you can say the preferred moves out loud. However, there are also some gestures here that can make you feel more comfortable and will show the table that you know how to play casino blackjack.
- Hit – Tap the table next to the cards, or scrape the table towards you.
- Stand – Wave the hand over the cards while being parallel to the table.
- Double Down – Place another bet equal to the initial one, next to it, and place one finger out.
- Split – Place another bet equal to the initial one and place two fingers out, signaling two hands.
- Insurance – Place half of the initial bet on the insurance line on the table, when the dealer starts with an Ace.
Dealer Plays the Hand
After all the hands on the table are set, the dealer will play his own hand according to blackjack dealing rules. Most tables require the dealer to draw to 16 and stand on 17 or higher. Once set, the dealer will compare his hand to the player hands and pay out accordingly.
A standard winning hand in blackjack pays even money, or 100%, while Blackjack pays 150%. If you win, the dealer will put the chips next to the bet amount and you can take them back to your stack. A new round is now ready to begin.
Casino Etiquette – Dos and Don’ts at the Blackjack Table
In addition to the standard blackjack plays, you will also need to be familiar with the casino etiquette. These are the guidelines for what to do at the blackjack table in order to not bother the staff or the other players. Let’s go through the main points that you should follow when learning how to play blackjack at a casino.
1. Dress to Impress
The dress code will depend on the gambling establishment and most casinos don’t require customers to be very elegantly dressed. Still, you may be denied access in some casinos if you are wearing flip flops or something too casual. It is best to dress somewhat nice when going to the casino or at least check the recommendations on their site.
Check out the best real money online casinos if you like playing blackjack in your bathrobe.
2. Don’t Stay on Your Phone
Most casinos will not allow customers to take video or photos, especially if these include other players. However, going even further, it is best not to stay on your phone while at the blackjack table. If you want to use a blackjack strategy and follow the chart from your phone, make sure to ask the dealer in advance if this is allowed.
3. Don’t Drink Too Much
Drinking is allowed in most casinos throughout the US and many establishments will even offer free drinks if you play for long enough. They want you to have a good time and enjoy the game. There is however a limit where drinking becomes an issue at the table. Plus, you should try to stay sober in order to make the best decisions in blackjack, see how to play the hand, and win more.
4. Buy In and Cash Out Properly
Don’t rush to the table if you are just becoming familiar and learning how to play blackjack in a casino. See what the table limits are and choose the one that best fits your bankroll. Then, wait for the current round to end before you buy in. Once you are done, ask the dealer to change the chips into bigger denominations before you stand up.
5. Tip the Dealer
On the topic of cashing out properly, casino etiquette often dictates that players should tip the dealer. You can do this after a winning hand or a winning streak, and also when leaving the table. The average amount at regular blackjack tables is around $5-$10 at the end of a session, but this can greatly depend on your profits.
6. Don’t Ask the Dealer for Tips
You should know the rules of the game and how to play blackjack before you sit down. Don’t ask the dealer for advice on what to do for your hand since this can create an awkward situation. If he tells you something and you lose, it doesn’t look great. For the best casino etiquette, we recommend making your own decisions. The only exception is at dedicated tables for beginners where the dealer can provide extra tips and advice.
7. Don’t Tell Other Players What to Do
Also, on the subject of advice at the blackjack table, you shouldn’t tell the other customers how to play. If you take a look at their hand and you know what blackjack basic strategy dictates, don’t just tell them if they don’t ask for help. Try to stick to your own hand and only look at the other hands to see the cards for a loose count of the high cards.
8. Follow Card Etiquette
In most blackjack games, players are not allowed to touch the cards and the dealer will give you a warning if you break this rule. Even at blackjack tables where players can handle the cards, there is a clear etiquette to follow. You should be gentle with the cards and don’t bend them too much. Don’t put your drink on them and definitely don’t put them under the table.
9. Don’t Keep Your Belongings on the Table
You generally aren’t allowed with bags or other big items in the casino. Moreover, when playing blackjack, make sure not to put your belongings on the table. Things like your phone, car keys, wallet, or other personal items should stay in your pockets. Even your beverage shouldn’t be on the table but in the included cup holders that can prevent spillage.
10. Have Fun!
The most important aspect to playing blackjack in a casino is having fun. Make sure you gamble responsibly and enjoy your time at the table. Don’t be afraid to celebrate some big bets that are successful or a nice blackjack hand. Of course, this doesn’t mean screaming “winner winner, chicken dinner” every time.
How to Play Online Blackjack
If this all seems a bit overwhelming, the first step should be to practice the game so that you are familiar with the rules and mechanics before you go to the casino. This is best done online and you can find blackjack at many of the best gambling sites in the US.
Plus, you can even practice for free, in demo mode, at most of these casinos online, a feature which is not available in land-based casinos. As a result, you can learn how to play online blackjack from the comfort of your own home. Then, when you are comfortable with the game, it is much easier to take those skills to a brick-and-mortar casino.
Best Online Casinos for Learning How to Play Blackjack
Below, you will find a complete list of the top 10 online casinos where you can learn the blackjack rules. Here, you can practice for free or start from very low stakes and move up. Plus, you can claim casino bonuses and other promotions for more funds.
- BetMGM – Best Online Casino with a Welcoming Interface
- FanDuel – Top Site for Playing Blackjack with Live Dealers
- BetRivers – Hosts Blackjack Games with Extra Side Bets
- DraftKings – More than 30 Blackjack Versions to Choose From
- Caesars – The Best Casino Loyalty Program for Online and Live Rewards
- WynnBET – Renowned Casino Brand with Luxurious Establishments
- PointsBet – High-End Mobile Apps to Practice Blackjack on the Go
- Bet365 – Wide Range of Accepted Payment Methods for US Customers
- Barstool – Take Advantage of the 24-Hour Money Back Welcome Bonus
- FOX Bet – Multiple Promotions and Casino Bonuses Running on the Site
Quick Blackjack Playing Guide
Blackjack is not the easiest casino game to play and it is good to refresh the rules before betting real money. For starters, the goal in blackjack is to beat the dealer by having a better hand. This is scored as the sum of the cards in the hand, with 2-10 cards having the value represented by their numbers, Jack, Queen, and King being worth 10 points, and Ace being either 1 or 11 points, depending on which is best.
If you go over 21, it is known as a bust and you automatically lose the hand. If you have more points than the dealer, without going over 21, you win the hand. You will also win when the dealer goes over 21 if you are still in the game. These hands pay even money, so you receive a win equal to the bet. If you make 21 from the first two cards, you win 1.5x of the initial bet. This is known as Blackjack.
After the initial two cards, you usually have two or more play options available:
- Hit – requests another card.
- Stand – ends the round with the current hand.
- Split – splits a pair into two hands for an extra bet.
- Double Down – adds another bet and only requests one more card.
How to Play Blackjack at a Casino Tips
With the guide almost complete, you are ready to play blackjack in a casino and win. Here are some final tips to keep in mind:
- Learn the Game – Learn how to play the game on online casinos and gaming sites. Practice for free online and then try out some of the hand gestures at home to feel more comfortable at the casino table.
- Use Basic Strategy – You will have more fun if you know the game and how to win. With basic strategy, you can lower the blackjack house edge to around 0.5% and have a better chance to make a profit.
- Follow Casino Etiquette – Dress properly and have respect for the dealer and for the other players at the table. Don’t drink too much either.
- Sign Up for the Rewards Program – Most casinos have loyalty programs where players can sign up and receive comp points. These can be used for free drinks, hotel room upgrades, and other perks just for playing.
- Play Responsibly – Set the playing budget before you leave for the casino and stick to it. Don’t use money that you can’t afford to lose in an attempt to win back your losses.