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How to Deal Blackjack – Becoming a Pro Dealer

You probably have not given much thought to what is required of a Blackjack dealer. It is true that essentially they just take players’ bets, deal each one two cards, respond to their actions and then play the dealer’s hand according to the rules. However, in the context of a professional casino, there is far more to it. Dealers need to learn how to handle the chips, manage a float, pull the cards smoothly from a shoe, position them correctly on the table, and so on.  

If you are looking to apply to a dealer training school, or you want to play Blackjack with friends at home but with an air of professionalism, then here are some tips to help improve your Blackjack dealing.  

  1. Practise Working Out Payouts

  2. The vast majority of Blackjack hands result in no payout or in an even money payout. This means that if a player has bet €10 then they will win €10. This is very simple and does not require any great mathematical skill. However, if a player wins with Blackjack, an Ace and a card worth 10 points, then at most tables the payout will be 3:2 or even 6:5. This is where the maths can get a bit trickier. For instance, if a player has bet €10 and wins at a 3:2 table, then they will win €15 and at a 6:5 table they will win €12. This is a fairly easy example, but it can easily become more tricky. A slightly harder bet to calculate might be something like €25 (which would payout €37.50 or €30), but if you are playing with fun money, then a player might bet something like €1275, which may be slightly taxing on your mental arithmetic skills.  

    In order to make life a bit easier, it is a good idea to memorise the most common bets and payouts. For example, most tables pay 3:2 not 6:5, so you could learn that €10 pays €15, €15 pays €22.50, €20 pays €30, €25 pays €37.50 and €50 pays €75. If you have all of these ready, then it will be much easier to work out the big bets.  

    There are various techniques that you can use, but the most popular way is simply to halve the bet and then add it on to the original bet. For example, if the bet is €20, you halve it (€10) and add that to the original, and get a payout of €30. If you come across a huge bet, such as €1275, then halving it produces €637.50, so it pays out €1912.50. If you are not comfortable with that, then you can break it down further. For instance, you can look at it as the sum of €1000, €200, €50 and €25. If you halve of all them, and then add them all together, then you will get the same result, i.e. €1000 pays €1500, €200 pays €300, €50 pays €75 and €25 pays 37.50.  

    You do not need to be a mathematical genius to deal Blackjack, and of course, when you play with friends they may not mind if you use a calculator. But if you want to appear truly professional, then it is a good idea to become familiar with the most common bets and payouts, as being able to payout the correct amounts quickly and smoothly is vital to keeping the game going.  

  3. Practice Assessing Hands

  4. While it may sound surprising, some people find it harder to add up the card values than to work out the payouts. There can be confusion over whether an Ace is counted as 1 or 11, while others may forget to count all picture cards as 10. Some people think that as long as they can spot when a hand is worth more than 21 then that is good enough; however, at many land-based casinos and even live dealer casinos, the dealer is still required to announce the hand total, even when it has gone bust.  

    The best way to deal with this is just to practise. Take a deck of cards, shuffle them, and then start adding together two card totals over and over again. Before you know it, you will have no problem identifying what 6 and 7 is, or 8 and 4, 9 and 7, and so on. When you have mastered two cards, you can add in a third one, and that way build it up. Soon enough, you will feel as if you are just “seeing” the hand total rather than having to put any effort into calculating it.  

  5. Practice the Actual Dealing

  6. While this may be the third point on the list, the dealing of the cards is of course essential. If you are dealing at a professional table that uses a shoe, then you will be pulling the cards from a shoe located on your left before you hand out the cards with your right hand. To practise this, some people will hold a pencil with their left hand and that way they will only be able to pull out the cards with the thumb and index finger. The pencil keeps the hand gripped tight and prevents people using other fingers.  

    The entire procedure should be smooth and precise. The cards need to be placed down neatly and in the correct position first time; there should be no need to adjust them once they are down. Furthermore, the process should look good and be free of fumbling and other mistakes.  

  7. Remember Who is At the Table

  8. If you are considering going to dealer training school, then when you practise dealing, you will mostly be dealing to every box or player position at the table. However, in a real game this is not always going to be the case. If you are practising dealing at home, be sure to vary this a bit, so that when you are dealing at a real table, you will not automatically deal to every seat.  

  9. Learn How to Manage a Float 

  10. When you receive a float at a casino, it will have a certain number of each value chips, and as a dealer, it is your job to keep most of them in the float rather than let the customers collect them. Many new dealers will give out all of their chips and then ask for a fill to replace them; however, this may lead to a pit boss refusing you and telling you to manage the float properly.  

    For example, if you see that you are low on €25 chips and the customer wins a bet of €275, then an option would be to payout three €100 chips and take a €25 chip from the player’s bet. Another example may be if you are running short of €5 chips and a player has bet €25 using five €5 chips. If they win, you could pay the customer using two €25 chips and take back all of the fives. It is even possible to ask a player to colour-up the chips (swap them for high denominations); however, some players are superstitious about their chips and this may not go down well. However, by keeping a careful eye on things, you can do a lot to ensure that your float remains well stocked at all times.  

  11. Beware of New Packs of Cards

  12. New cards are notoriously slippery and difficult to handle, especially if you are dealing with eight packs of them. Many a dealer has tried to load all eight packs into a shoe only to find the cards spraying everywhere, which results in a game of 416-card pick up. All you can do is make sure that you use a firm grip and try to keep them all perfectly level on all sides.  

  13. Try to Think Like a Professional

  14. There are all kind of amateur mistakes that you want to avoid when dealing Blackjack. For instance, there is a big rectangular hole in the table and many first time dealers assume that it is where they should be. In fact, it is for the chip tray and you will definitely be laughed at if you try climbing into it.  

    While that may sound like an unlikely mistake, something everyone should be aware of is his or her posture when dealing. You do not want to slouch or hunch, keep your back straight at all times, and it will give you an immediate air of professionality. 

    Similarly, there may be some local variations or terminology that you need to be aware of. For example, in parts of Scotland the term ‘postilion’ is used interchangeably with ‘cutting card’. However, this is rare, and in most casinos, you would be laughed at for using it. Of course, if a player says “hit me”, then do your best to resist the obvious joke.  

  15. Don’t Stop Practising 


Ultimately, the best thing you can do to become a truly professional Blackjack dealer is to just keep on practising. You can practise with friends, you can practise shuffling cards at home, you can turn a surface in your home into a Blackjack table and practise dealing the cards, you can practise working out payouts, adding together card values, and so on. It may seem like hard work, but at the end of it, you will have developed an invaluable skill.