Before playing the game, you'll need to find an appropriate table at which to play. If you're a newcomer to this process, there are a few items to keep in mind. You'll want to pay attention to several details about each table that you approach. The most important item is the sign declaring betting limits. Both the minimum and the maximum allowable bets should be clearly posted on a sign on the table-top. Look around to find a table that suits your bet sizes. Often, you'll find that the lower limit ($3 or $5) tables are quite crowded. In most casinos, the signs are color-coded to match the minimum bets posted on them: Red for $5, Green for $25, and Black for $100 minimum tables. Next, you'll want to make sure that the table you have selected is actually for blackjack, and not another of the various table games offered at the casino. Blackjack tables will almost certainly have the phrase "Blackjack pays 3 to 2" printed on the table felt. The next item to observe is the type of game being dealt. Beginners are usually better off playing the "shoe" games where 6 or 8 decks are used. The advantage for beginners in this game is that all of the player's cards are dealt face-up in front of each player, and the dealer can help with playing questions and decisions. Notice: Once you become proficient at the game, you might want to switch to a game with fewer decks. The casino's advantage is lower with fewer decks in play. But for now, let's stick with the multi-deck games for the ease-of-play advantage.
Once you are seated at a table, you'll need to purchase some chips from the dealer for your bets. Wait for a break in the action, and place your cash out in front of you on the table felt. (Some casinos might make you wait until the dealer shuffles to join the game.) An appropriate buy-in amount is anywhere from 10 to 20 times your average bet. If you are a $5 bettor, this means a buy-in of $50-$100 is typical. Don't try to hand your cash to the dealer. For security reasons, he can't take anything from your hands. Simply lay the cash on the table; he'll pick it up and change it for an equal value of playing chips. You won't be getting any change back either. He'll change the entire amount, push the chips across the table to you, and then drop the cash into a slot in the table top. Chip colors are fairly standardized in the casino industry, with red chips representing $5, green chips representing $25, and black chips representing $100. You'll also see $1 value chips (usually white) or $1 tokens (silver) on the table as well. Some casinos also use a $2.50 chip that is usually pink in color. Chip colors above the $100 denomination vary widely, with purple a common choice for $500 chips. Take a quick look at the chips to make sure that you know the values, and that you were given the correct amount for your cash. If you have any questions, just ask the dealer. Part of his job is to help players learn the game.
MAKING A BET
On the table felt in front of your position, you'll find a circle or box for your bets. Before each hand begins, place your desired bet into the circle in one stack. If you are betting multiple denominations of chips, place the larger valued chips on the bottom of the stack, and the smaller value chips on top. Once the cards have been dealt, you aren't allowed to touch the bet in the circle. If you need to know how much you have bet for doubling or splitting (explained later), the dealer will count down the chips for you. Once the hand is over, the dealer will move around the table to each position in turn, paying winners and collecting the chips from losing hands. After the dealer has paid you, you can remove your chips from the circle, and place your next bet. If you want to let your winnings ride, you'll need to form one stack of chips from the two or more stacks on the table after the dealer pays you. Remember, big chips should be placed on the bottom.
When you're finished playing, you'll want to take your chips to the cashier to exchange them for cash. If you have groups of smaller denomination chips in front of you, the dealer will probably want to "color up" your chips. This simply means exchanging groups of smaller denomination chips for larger valued chips. Wait until the end of a hand, then simply push your chips out in front of you between the betting boxes, so it can't be confused for a bet. The dealer will count down the chips, and return to you a smaller stack of chips of equal value. You can take these to the cashier for cash, or to another table for more play.