Whether you play blackjack in a live casino or online, a blackjack table is pretty much designed the same way. Almost everything about the way a blackjack table is designed serves a purpose in the game. We’re going to take a look at the blackjack table and break down the different elements to help you understand how the table itself is an important part of the game.
First, let’s examine a few various parts of the table:
Chip Rack—This is where chips used in the game are kept. When a player buys in to the game he is given chips from the rack. When a player wins a hand he is paid from the rack. When a player loses a hand his chips are taken and returned to the rack. Whenever a table is not in use the chip rack is kept covered and locked. The dealer stands right behind the chip rack during play.
Currency Slot—Cash is rarely used in a live blackjack game. Players use chips to buy cash. When the player gives the dealer money to buy chips, the dealer then places the money in the currency slot.
Shoe—The shoe is where the cards used in the game, anywhere from four to eight decks, are held and dealt from. The rear of the shoe holds the cards and the front of the shoe is lightly sloped to allow a dealer to slide out one card at a time. A yellow card is used to indicate the point in the show when the dealer must reshuffle the cards.
Betting Circles—The squares in front of each player seat are called betting circles. This is the area where a player places their bet and also the area where their cards are dealt. In a multi-deck blackjack game it is not permitted for the player to touch the cards or their bet once it has been placed in the betting circle. You will notice in the picture we have provided that there are five betting circles, meaning that the table can accommodate five players. Some blackjack tables can accommodate as many as seven players.
First Base—The seat at the blackjack table known as First Base is the seat to the immediate left of the dealer. This player always receives his/her cards first and is always the first to act on their hand. First Base is a great seat for a card counter because they have more time to see all the cards that come out after their own. This can be a huge advantage in maintaining an accurate count.
Third Base—The seat to the immediate right of the dealer is referred to as Third Base. The player in this seat is always the last to receive cards and the last to act on their hand. As such, it is a very strategic position. It is always preferable to have an experienced blackjack player in the Third Base seat because their actions can often affect the outcome of play. An inexperienced player sitting in Third Base may hit his hand when everyone else has stood and take a card that would have caused the dealer to bust.
How Many Players Can Sit at a Blackjack Table?
If you are playing online then you will likely be the only player at the table, but the table will look the same. You can even play more than one betting circle if you choose to do so. You can also do this in a live casino if the table is not full. In most live casinos the blackjack table can seat seven players, but some larger casinos have tables that seat nine players!
What Does the Writing on the Blackjack Table Mean?
A player will usually see three things written on the felt of the blackjack table:
Blackjack Pays 3-2. This is to remind players that a blackjack is paid off at higher odds than a total of 21 or any other winning hand. To qualify, a player must be dealt an Ace and a Ten (10, J, Q, K) with their original two cards. Making 21 by taking a hit does not qualify as a blackjack.
Dealer must stand on 17, and draw to 16. This writing will tell you the rules set by the casino for the dealer. Some casinos require the dealer to hit a “soft”17, so always pay attention to this writing on a blackjack table.
Insurance Pays 2-1. This writing is usually enclosed in an arc that sits in front of the betting circles. If a player wishes to take insurance when the dealer shows an Ace, they slide their insurance bet into the arc.
Some other writing you may see on a blackjack table. You may also encounter words such as Surrender or even betting boxes that are labeled Royal Match or some other side bet. Always pay attention to the writing on the blackjack table. It is presented in accordance with state regulations that require the casino to be transparent about the rules of the game. Also, you will typically find a small placard that will tell you the table limit.
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