Getting the Game Started
Now that you know more about the basic mechanics of how blackjack is played, let's step through a game. To really get the flavor of what blackjack is all about, you've got to get to a casino. But this section can give you an idea of what the blackjack experience will be like. All of the aspects of play will be covered in depth in later chapters. For now, let's take a basic look at what happens at a blackjack table.
You can't play unless you are in the game, and being in the game means putting some money down on the table. If the game you want to join is already in progress, you might have to wait for the cards to be shuffled before you can join in. If not, the dealer will cut you in on the next dealing round.
If the table you chose is between rounds, play won't start until after the cards are shuffled. After this happens, the dealer will place the pack in front of one of the players to be cut. Cutting duty rotates clockwise from player to player after each shuffle. When it's your turn, the dealer will hand you a colored plastic card, called a cut card. You place the card in the deck, and the dealer cuts the deck and places it in the shoe. Then the dealer will place the cut card somewhere near the end of the pack to indicate the point at which he will quit dealing from that shoe and reshuffle the cards.
Does it matter where I insert the cut card?
Not really. All you're doing is splitting the deck in some way. You can split it high or low, your choice. Since the two parts are then reassembled, it just means that the order will be different. Gambling laws require players to make cuts a minimum of five cards in from either end. Casinos set their own rules from here, which vary from five cards up to fifty-two-cards in from either side.
The dealer always discards the first card on top of the deck before the first deal. This is called a burn card. This move, done to protect against marked decks, is a gaming tradition. The dealer will slide the burn card across the table from his left to his right, and place it in the discard tray, which is where all used cards end up. You will sometimes hear players ask to see the burn card. If this happens at your table, the dealer will say something like “Showing the burn card,” and turn it over for everyone to see before placing it in the discard tray. However, most casinos won't let dealers show the burn card. If a player asks, the dealer will politely decline.