Understanding the Basics: The Table Layout

There are many nervous gamblers out there, people that want to get involved with a game of blackjack, but have never set foot into a casino and don’t want to make a stupid mistake that humiliates them. The truth is that no one will care what you do and whether or not you ask for assistance (although if you’re asking to be guided through every step on a busy table then a few might complain). However, some players need guidance and that’s what these articles are all about.

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In this article we’ll focus on the blackjack table — discussing the layout so you know where to place your cards and your money — and what the dealer does. All blackjack tables are laid out in the same or a very similar way, and all guidance will be given from the POV of the player.

In front of you there should be small square outlines etched in stark white against the green background. There will be one of these for each player and this tell you where your cards will go and where you need to sit. So, pull up a seat in front of one of these (assuming there is one available) and then begin.

Take some time to familiarize yourself with the table, and don’t feel like you need to jump straight in. In the middle of the table, between you and the dealer, will be the game’s rules, often written as three separate lines to include the Pay, such as “pays 3 to 2”; the Dealer rules, such as “dealer hits on 17”; and whether they pay Insurance. The minimum and maximum bets will be located elsewhere, not on the table itself, but if you are not sure, feel free to ask. You can also look at what amounts others are playing with to get an idea.

Directly in front of the dealer should be a chip tray. This will contain several lines or stacks of chips, all in different denominations. The dealer will take chips from these and pay chips into them throughout. If you don’t have any chips on you, in many casinos you can also purchase chips at this point, although you may be directed to the cashier desk in some casinos.

To begin with you need to place your bet, putting your chips in the square space or next to it. The dealer will take cards from a shoe, located to his or her left and in the top right of the table as you look, and two of these will be dealt to you. The shoe contains all of the cards that will be dealt throughout the course of play, and these will not be shuffled. Whatever order they are in inside the shoe is how they will be dealt, and no cards will be added. This is what makes card counting possible.

There is no need to move your cards or hold them in your hand. Once the hand is finished then the dealer will take the chips and add to your stack if needed (if so, then you may take your winnings, leaving your next stake where it is, if you wish to continue). The dealer will then put the discarded cards in the discard pile, which is often located to his or her right, and will be on the top left of the table as you look at it.