How to Deal Blackjack: The Ultimate Guide

Written by: Heather Ferris, Las Vegas Casino & Games Content Expert
7 minute read
blog featured an image displaying the title "How to deal blackjack like a pro" beside an image of a blackjack dealer holding cards and chips.

Dealing cards like a pro at a blacjack table is an art form. As a former Vegas pro dealer, I can tell you that learning how to deal blackjack is more than handling cards. It’s about immersing yourself in the fascinating world of this classic casino game.

Whether you’re aspiring to become a professional dealer or want to host unforgettable game nights with friends, understanding the intricacies of the dealing process is key to creating a seamless and enjoyable gaming experience

This article will delve into the fundamental techniques and etiquette required to deal blackjack in any casual setting competently.

Blackjack Dealing Basics Step-by-Step Guide

Whether you’re just starting to deal blackjack or have a couple of blackjack game nights under your belt, reviewing our basics before I get into more advanced tips is best.

I can break dealing blackjack down into the following’ 5 basic actions:

1. Shuffle the Deck

A 3D icon depicting blackjack cards being shuffled by a dealer.

Start by thoroughly shuffling the deck(s) of cards. There are several variations, but a basic one you can always rely on is the Strip – Riffle – Strip – Riffle – Box – Riffle – Cut – Burn.” 

The latter might sound odd to the novice, but it’s simply a sequence of well-known card shuffling steps.

You can offer a player the cut, as this is commonplace among home players and casinos alike.

Casino insight: Many casinos use automatic shuffling machines on 4, 6, and 8-deck games for efficiency and randomness.

2. Deal the Cards

A 3D icon of a deck of blackjack cards being shuffled by a dealer

You should always deal cards from a shoe starting from the dealer’s left-hand side.

After participants place bets, everyone (including the dealer) receives two cards on the initial deal. 

Start by dealing the cards in a clockwise direction, one at a time (two total cards), to every spot on the felt that has placed bets.

Players’ cards are dealt face up, while one of the dealer’s cards is dealt face up (known as the “upcard”), and the other is face down (the “hole card”)—remember to keep the hole card private.

Side Bets Reminder: If the dealer has an Ace or Ten Value card showing, they check their hole card for a blackjack. This scenario is where insurance blackjack side bets come into the game.

3. Handling Player Actions

A 3D icon of a hand a two blackjack cards showing the handling of player actions

The most common blackjack player actions include the following:

  • Hitting (taking another card).
  • Standing (keeping the current total).
  • Doubling-down (doubling the bet and taking one more card).
  • Splitting (if they have a pair, often only allowed on specific pairs). 

In the casino, players use hand gestures and say the words, but for home games, just calling out the action should suffice.

Hands are resolved one at a time until a player either stands or busts. If a player “busts” (goes over 21), you immediately clear their bet and discard their hand.

4. The Dealer’s Turn

Player Interaction

You’ll reveal your hole card once all players have completed their actions, typically hitting until reaching a “Hard” 17 or higher and standing after that.

5. Payouts and Collecting Bets

Payouts and Collecting Bets Icon

The final step of a hand is collecting the losing bets and paying out the winners.

You should familiarize yourself with the odds and payouts of the game so this step goes smoothly. Most prizes are an easy 1:1 payout, but blackjack pays 3:2 or 6:5, depending on the table.

Rules Blackjack Dealers Must Follow

Although specific rules can vary, especially from one casino to the other, modern blackjack is a highly standardized game, and knowing the following set of rules should be general knowledge for any aspiring dealer.

  • Dealers aren’t allowed to make bets.
  • Aces always count as 11 in your first hand (subsequent aces will count as 1). 
  • As a dealer, you must hit on 16 and below and stand on 17 and above.
  • The dealer’s face-down card can only be flipped after all players finish with their turn.

What is a Soft 17 in Blackjack?

blackjack rules - hit or stand icon for soft17/hard17 rule.

In blackjack, a “soft 17” is when the dealer has an Ace and a 6, with the Ace counting as an 11. A “hard 17” is a hand without an Ace or with an Ace counting as 1.

Casino rules vary, but typically, if the dealer has a hard 17 or higher, they stand. However, on a soft 17, some casinos make the dealer hit, taking another card.

This rule impacts the overall odds of winning or busting for the dealer, as you’ll either improve your hand or bust if you hit a soft 17.

Pro Blackjack Dealer Tips for Home Players

I’ve just covered blackjack dealing’s most basic components. Below are some of the best pro tips to ensure you’ll always stay on top of your game.

Always Face the Table

overhead image of a casino blackjack table with a game being player. It shows the dealer hand as well as the hands of 7 different player all facing up.

NEVER turn your back on their rack or guests.

If something happens (drink spill, card falling off a table, etc), you must immediately stop the game to avoid any misunderstandings.

Also, never try to hide your mistakes! Blunders are bound to happen at some point and it’s better to be open about it and let everyone know as soon as they happen.

Remember that game security is paramount in maintaining the integrity and fairness of gaming either at home or on a casino floor.

This scenario plays out differently inside casinos, as dealers in this setting are instructed to call for assistance from pit masters and other floor staff.

Ensure Clear Visibility

closeup image of a casino blackjack dealer holding a deck of cards ensuring clear visibility during playthrough

A strong dealer knows that readability is a major component of game protection.

Everyone must always be able to see what is happening at the table, including observing the dealer’s physical hands.

You should “clear” your hands by clapping them together and exposing both the palms and backs when you first walk up to the table, when you leave a table, before and after touching any part of your person.

This also applies before and after touching a player (there are very few reasons you should be doing this, but I include it to be thorough!).

How Do You Become a Pro Casino Blackjack Dealer?

The most common ways to further your knowledge are using online tutorials, attending a dealer school, or being offered a spot by a casino at their in-house training program. 

While the learning methods vary, the actual process of dealing will be the same. Dealing blackjack, like all casino games, is standardized, and there will be little variance from casino to casino in the basic process. 

Each casino will have its own “House Procedures,” but these will be minor details, not major shifts in how you deal with the base game.

Additionally, you can also become an online casino dealer. This will greatly expand your employer options beyond states and cities with physical casino venues.

Casino Dealing Auditions

When you attend a dealing audition, casinos want to see if you are friendly, personable, and generally have a good personality.

Anyone can be trained to be a dealer, but you can’t teach someone to have a good personality. The casino will also look at your overall skill in handling the cards, the chips, the table, and your overall casino etiquette.

They judge your competency as a dealer, not whether you know their house rules and regulations or if you’re the fastest (this is learned with experience). 

Learn to Deal by Playing Live Dealer Blackjack

You can learn first-hand by playing blackjack with professional casino dealers. However, not everyone lives close to a casino with blackjack tables, especially those in states where casino gambling isn’t legal.

Fortunately, online casino live dealer rooms give players a chance to observe and interact with professional blackjack dealers from anywhere via HD streaming.

Below are some of our top casino picks offering this game modality.

1 DuckyLuck Casino Logo DuckyLuck Casino MIN BET $10 MAX BET $2,000 Play Now
2 Bovada Casino Logo Bovada Casino MIN BET $5 MAX BET $10,000 Play Now
3 SlotsandCasino Logo SlotsandCasino MIN BET $10 MAX BET $2,000 Play Now
4 BetUS Logo BetUS MIN BET $10 MAX BET $5,000 Play Now
5 Cafe Casino Logo Cafe Casino MIN BET $5 MAX BET $10,000 Play Now

Remember Your Role as a Blackjack Dealer

Image depicting a pro blackjack dealer holding a deck of cards with casino chips and a pair of playing cards in the foreground

The proficiency of blackjack dealers is of utmost importance for the smooth and fair functioning of the game at any level.

Competent blackjack dealers play a pivotal role in ensuring a positive experience for players.

Beyond the technical skills of shuffling, dealing, and managing chips, a good dealer understands the rules and intricacies of the game, minimizing errors and discrepancies while providing a fun and entertaining experience.

Heather Ferris

Heather Ferris Las Vegas Casino & Games Content Expert

Heather Ferris is the founder of Vegas-Aces, an online school for casino dealers, players, and game inventors. She is a Las vegas expert, adjunct professor at UNLV, a member of the NVEA e-Sports Alliance, and a consultant who helps new table game inventors break into the industry.

Learn More About Heather