Because it is such a simple game, blackjack doesn't require an elaborate setup or lots of fancy equipment. All that you really need is a standard fifty-two-card deck of playing cards. If you're going to play a betting game, you'll need money or chips to indicate bet amounts.
Understanding Card Values
Blackjack uses a standard fifty-two-card deck. It contains four suits of cards — spades, clubs, diamonds, and hearts. Each suit has thirteen cards. Numbered cards run 1 through 10. In addition, each suit has three face cards — a jack, a queen, and a king. All face cards in blackjack are valued at 10. Each suit also contains an ace, which can count as either 1 or 11. Standard card decks typically come with a joker or two, which are not used in blackjack.
The Blackjack Table
Casinos use specially designed blackjack tables for their games. These semicircular tables seat from five to seven players. Blackjack tables are almost always topped with felt. This fabric, which has a soft, nappy surface, makes it easier for dealers to shuffle the cards and easier for players to pick up their cards.
Blackjack tables don't leave anything to chance when it comes to telling players the rules of the game. Gaming laws require gambling establishments to display the following information on the felt:
What the house pays for blackjack (also called a natural)
The point total at which the dealer is required to stop taking additional cards for his hand
The insurance payout
Below this information are circles or other symbols defining the number of people who can play at any one time. These days, you will usually see six-or seven-spot tables, although there are tables that seat as few as five players.
Blackjack table layout.
Other Blackjack Gear
As mentioned, it doesn't take much to play blackjack. This doesn't mean that you won't see some other pieces of equipment when you play, including:
A shoe. This plastic contraption holds the cards after they are shuffled before they are dealt.
A chip rack. This holds the colored chips that indicate betting levels. They also hold silver coins — typically quarters — used to pay off amounts that are less than the minimum chip value (which is usually $1).
A discard tray. Usually made of red plastic, this is where the dealer places the cards after they're played.
A shuffle machine. This device, which shuffles the cards for the dealer, is becoming standard equipment in many casinos.
A peek window. This is a small rectangular device in front of the tray that dealers use to check their hole (or face-down) cards.
A player card reader. Also becoming standard equipment in many casinos, these devices accept player's club cards for rating play and determining comps.