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How to Deal Cards in Blackjack

October 9, 2021

Have you ever sat down at a Blackjack table, or participated in a live online Blackjack game, and marvelled at just how precise and speedy the table’s dealer is?

If the answer is yes, you’re not the only one. So what are the key skills needed to make Blackjack dealing look effortless? Here is a breakdown of what it takes to become a Blackjack dealing ninja; someone capable of keeping even the most involved and complex games flowing and entertaining for the players involved.

If the Shoe Fits

The shoe is the device that sits to the left of the dealer and from which the dealer draws cards. It can hold anywhere between four and eight decks at a time. The shoe’s face is slanted and has a finger slot which makes it easy for a dealer to draw a card quickly.

The key to using the shoe effectively is for a dealer to draw cards from it without the need to take their eyes off the rest of the table. This skill enables the dealer to watch out for player commands as well as ensuring that chips and cards are placed correctly on the table.

The Discard Rack

Cards dealt during a hand must not be immediately reused in the following hand and are instead jettisoned by the dealer into what is known as the discard rack. Cards are stored there until it is time to shuffle the decks and refill the shoe.

It’s All About the Shuffle

Many Blackjack tables are equipped with devices called Continuous Shuffle Machines (or CSMs). Such machines are capable of shuffling cards on behalf of the dealer, giving them more time to take care of the rest of the game rather than being consumed by the laborious process of shuffling.

However, some Blackjack providers offer games where shuffling is still undertaken manually by the dealer. Where this is the case, players will see the dealer first halve the deck and then riffle it, which means that the two halves merge.

A dealer may then also choose to strip or box the deck, which are two means of cutting the deck to ensure that the cards are well shuffled. Before any actual dealing begins with the freshly shuffled deck, the top card must be discarded (or burnt as they say in the trade).

Once a fledgling dealer is able to shuffle a single deck of cards, they then must learn how to shuffle two decks simultaneously. For games where there are four, six or eight decks being used, it is important that dealers can complete the shuffle process at a lightning pace.

Giving the Deck a Good Wash

Washing the deck is a process every dealer must undertake when new cards are introduced into a Blackjack game. This involves spreading all the cards out on the table and mixing them around before beginning the shuffling process. It looks like the work of an amateur, but it’s actually the most effective way to shuffle decks!

So Much More to Think About

Of course, the handling of cards is just one of the things a dealer has to keep in mind while taking charge of a game of Blackjack, with chips, cash and bets all needing to be accounted for at the same time. It’s certainly not an easy job – there’s a reason that tipping is customary.