Blackjack is the most popular table game in the World. Any casino that has table games has blackjack. It also happens to be one of the easiest games to play. With a simple premise of "closest to 21 wins", it can be explained to a new player quickly, and easily.
Just like any new endeavor, there are things you should and shouldn't do when you start playing. You really don't want to look like a brand new player and you don't want to make a mistake that will get you in trouble.
The following do's and don'ts will apply at most blackjack tables. Even if a couple don't apply to where you will be playing, knowing them won't hurt. By coming in with this knowledge, you'll have a more enjoyable time during what will most likely be a stressful first few sessions.
This is by far the most important thing to do before playing a game of blackjack. Learning basic strategy will help you lose less money. Blackjack is a very low house advantage game and if played with the proper strategy, can be played for extended periods of time with minimal losses. You should take a few hours of your time before starting to play blackjack and learn the basic strategy chart. This can be done by just studying the chart and practicing with some cards at home, or searching online for blackjack trainer sites that help you with the correct strategy as you play.
These are going to be the people that can help you. They can help you when you have a question about the correct strategy. By simply asking "what does the book say I should do", most places will allow the dealer to tell you proper strategy. The supervisor can also help you with getting drink service when needed, give you a better rating when you are done playing and guide you to good food and entertainment choices if needed.
Tipping the dealer does two things. One, dealers make minimum wage at most casinos, so occasional tips help pay the bills. But tipping can also get you better service and the benefit of the doubt if you make a mistake or there is an issue at the table. It's just human nature to take care of someone that is taking care of you. Just like a waiter or waitress will be more attentive if they know you and know you always tip well, dealers and supervisors notice when you are tipping, even if it's just a dollar every so often.
Blackjack is a Visual Game, likely because casinos are so loud and blackjack players speak all different languages. Surveillance cameras also need to be able to see requests to hit and stay for game protection reasons. There are basic hand signals for every play choice in blackjack, so be sure tp learn the hand signals and use them..
Players cards help the casino track your play. But in exchange you will earn food and drink comps, invites to special promotions and events and you might even receive free play coupons in the mail or email. If you don't want mail, most places will even allow you to opt out of all mailings. Players cards are a great benefit when playing at a casino, and reduce your losses in the long run. Get one before you play for the first time.
Dealers are not allowed to accept hand to hand transactions. Money always goes on the table. When placing money on the table to purchase chips, wait until a hand is over and the dealer has picked up all the cards and then place the money toward the dealer where they can reach it.
Unless you are playing in a single deck game, touching the cards is usually against the rules. Don't touch them when asking for a hit, and don't touch them to split your cards. Touching the cards is one of the biggest pet peeves you will find from a dealer, since part of the dealer's job is to make sure players are following the rules set in place by the casino. Players touching the cards is at the top of the list of no-no's.
Other than your chips and maybe cigarettes and a lighter, most casinos do not want anything else on the table. Don't put your phone, keys or anything else on the table. Also, cash is usually not allowed on the table as well unless it is specifically put towards buying chips.
If you must smoke at the table, blow the smoke up in to the air. Dealers are stuck in a two foot by two foot area for anywhere between 20 minutes and 2 hours, depending on the casino. Although they are likely used to being in a smoking environment, nobody likes to have breath blown in their face, much less cigarette smoke.
If you have chips remaining when you are done playing, unless you have less than five of a color, give them to the dealer to do what is called "color up". Once a hand is complete, tell the dealer you are done playing and slide your chips toward the dealer. The dealer will convert your smaller denomination chips into larger ones. This helps the dealer not lose so many chips off the table and it will help you carry your chips to the cashier cage easier.
This probably won't happen as a new player, but sometimes players think they should help others because they've studied the basic strategy chart. Unless someone asks for help or confirmation of how they played, don't get involved. Everyone plays their own hand and risks their own money. Some players may do silly things, but that's ok. The cards are all random and what happens during one hand is impossible to correlate to what might happen in future hands. A player can't ruin a shoe by making a good or bad play. Just play your own hands and don't worry about others.
By using these basic do's and don'ts you should find your new venture into blackjack easier and more enjoyable. And a final bit of advice - have fun.
Blackjack is a fun and social game, with the key word being "game". You're not going to break the casino playing blackjack, but you can treat it like any other form of entertainment and have a good time while following the above-listed tips.