How the Game of Blackjack is Played

A game begins when all seated players make their initial bets, at that time the dealer deals out the cards to all active players. Currently there are two standard methods used by dealers to deliver cards:

“Pitch” game or method relies in two hand-held decks of cards from which the dealer issues each player’s hand
“Shoe” method, which relies on a device that holds multiple decks of playing cards. These have become popular for several reasons at casinos, first they reduce the amount of time between shuffling, and secondly they greatly reduce a dealer’s opportunity for cheating.

The dealer uses the casino’s chosen method to deliver two cards to each player. For a “pitch” game the cards are dealt face down, for a “shoe” game all cards are face up. For both types of game one of the dealer’s cards is dealt face down. The card that is not shown is called the “hole” card.

A dealer will look at their “hole” card only if their face-up card is a ten value card or an ace. This has to be done before any of the players make their next bets or plays, in case the dealer has blackjack. It the dealer should have a two card win, all players will lose their initial bets instantly. The only exception to this is if a player has blackjack as well. These players, called “push” players do not lose their initial bets.

If the dealer does not have to check their “hole” card, then each player has some decisions to make about their hand and their bets. They are trying to get as close to twenty-one as possible without going “bust”. This means that the player must assess their hand accurately for safety and risk. For example, if a player has a total of eighteen, they may want to “stand” because the likelihood of getting a two or three is not that great.

If a player decides to stay with their hand they are choosing to “stand”. Depending upon the type of game dealt, “pitch” or “shoe”, they will have to use two different hand gestures to indicate their choice.

Why hand gestures and not verbal commands? Most casinos train a video camera on every single active gaming table. Should there be some sort of confusion or disagreement about a player’s choices or decisions, the video tape will serve as proof of the hand gestures they used to communicate their decisions to the dealer.

The player choosing to stand in a “pitch” game will slide their cards under their bet; in a “shoe” game they move their hand horizontally.

If a player decides to take a card, which is a “hit” they will gesture to a “pitch” dealer by scraping their cards against the table, or to their “shoe” dealer by touching a finger to the table.

Some players often choose to “double down”, which means they are doubling their original bet and taking only one more card. For both styles of game they must place chips next to their original bit and make a “one” signal with their finger.

Another unusual option is called the “split”, which takes the two cards dealt, separates them and doubles the bet. The dealer will then issue a single new card on each of the original cards. The player indicates this choice by placing their additional wager chips next to the original bet and makes a “two” signal with their fingers.

Finally, a player can “surrender”, which means the give up half their original bet, as well as their active hand. At some casinos this option is not available at some Blackjack tables.