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This article isn't intended to warn about addiction, or to tell you to not gamble with more than you can afford to lose. Those are worthy thoughts, but not the idea behind this article. I want to give you some information that will allow a new player to go into a casino, and have some fun playing blackjack. Afterall, playing (and winning at) blackjack in a casino can be tons of fun, but nothing can be worse than standing around in a casino not knowing how to play any games.
First off, approaching the blackjack table. Each blackjack table has a placard on one end showing the table minimums, and maximums. Chances are, the maximums won't be an issue, but you want to make sure you have enough cash to play at least 6 to 8 hands. Ideally, more. For example, you really shouldn't sit at a $10 blackjack table, unless you are putting $100 into play. If that is the smallest table you can find, and you only have $50, go for it.
But please don't sit at a $10 table and throw down a $20 bill. You are just interrupting the flow of the game. Once you find your table, try to join in when the dealer is shuffling (lingo: "in between shoes"). The dealer usually deals from six to eight decks of cards mixed into one "shoe." This limits card-counting, something the casino frowns upon. It is polite to wait until the end of one shoe to join the road trip slot machine game, or at least ask the players if they mind if you join, or if you should wait til the end of the shoe.
Most players will say you can join in right away, but if they are on a hot streak, they may ask you to wait til the end of the shoe. When you are about to join in, place your cash on the table in front of you, and the dealer will take it and exchange it for chips. The dealer can not take anything directly from your hands, or they will get in trouble from security. Once you have your chips, it is time to place a bet and start playing blackjack. Place the amount of your bet, in chips, in the circle directly in front of you.
Once you place the bet, and the first card is dealt, you are not allowed to touch your chips again, until your hand is over. The dealer will deal everyone at the table two cards. Yours will generally both be face up, the dealer will have one up and one down (called the "hole card" because it is in the hole, you can't see what it is). Now for some details. You likely know what the cards are in a deck.
Suits don't matter in blackjack, only value. 2-9 count for their face value. 10s, Jacks (J), Queens (Q) and Kings (K) all count as 10 (collectively called "face cards" since most have faces on them). What the individual card is doesn't matter. Aces (A) can count as either 1 or 11. The goal is to get as close to 21 as possible, without going over. The ideal hand is an A and a face card. This is called "Blackjack." Now, if the dealer has an Ace showing, they will offer you "insurance." Insurance is a chance for you to place a side bet, up to half the amount of your original bet.
Your side bet pays even money (if you bet $5, you get that back, plus another $5) if the dealer has blackjack. You lose if the dealer has anything else. Since less than one-third of the cards are face cards (the only way the dealer will have blackjack), this is not a wise bet. The dealer will then check (electronically), if they have blackjack. If they have it, they will pay the insurance bets, and collect all the other money, since the players lost.
If the dealer does not have blackjack, he will collect the insurance bets, and the hand will proceed. Should the dealer have a face card showing, the dealer will check if they have an ace in the hole, giving him blackjack, but will not offer insurance. Assuming the hand continues, the dealer will offer each individual player a chance to hit, stand, split, or double down. To "Hit" means you ask for another card. If you go over 21, you lose automatically.
To "stand" means you are happy with your hand, and you don't want anymore cards. You can "split" if you have two cards of the same value.