Blackjack is played with one, two, four, six or eight decks of cards. Some casino are also using continuous shuffling machine. In single and double deck games the dealer holds the cards and deals them out. In multi-deck games the cards are dealt out of a tray like box that is called a shoe. The casinos are stating to look at continuous shufflers that are a shoe that shuffle as well as hold the cards.
In hand held games the cards are dealt face down and the player is allowed to pick up his cards. In a shoe game the cards are dealt face up to the player and you are not allowed to touch your cards. The basic play for either game is the same.
The objective of the game is to beat the dealer. If your cards total higher than the dealer's cards without going over 21 you win. You are not trying to get close to 21. If your hand or the dealer's hand goes over 21 you "Bust." If you bust you automatically lose. If the dealer busts and you do not you win. The player must act first. If the player busts he loses regardless if the dealer busts or not.
The suits of the cards have no affect on the game. Cards 2 - 10 are counted at face value without regards to their suit. All face cards have a value of ten. An ace can count as either one or eleven. A queen and a five would equal 15. An ace and a five would total either 6 or 16. A hand that does not have an ace is referred to as a Hard Hand because it has only one value. A hand that contains an ace is referred to as a Soft Hand because the value can change. If you draw to a soft hand and the three cards total a number where counting an ace as eleven puts you over 21 then the hand becomes a hard hand. Example: You are dealt an ace and a three. You have 4 or 14. If you then draw a ten you now have a hard 14 because if you count the ace as 11 you would have 25, which would bust you.
Blackjack is dealt on a special table that is shaped as a semi-circle. There is a separate circle or square for each player. When you sit down you must buy chips from the dealer or bring them from another table. See How to Buy Casino chips. The player puts his bet in the betting circle if front of his space. Only chips put in the betting circle count as your bet. After all bets are made the play begins.