At a blackjack table, player(s) sit across from the dealer in a semicircle. The dealer deals the cards clockwise, so the player who is sitting farthest to the right of the table at “first base” gets the first card, and the player to the far left at “third base” gets the last card. After the player at third base gets his card, the dealer deals himself a card. The dealer deals one card for each of the two rounds resulting in everyone receiving two cards prior to the beginning of the game.
In games with three or more decks, the dealer deals from a shoe, which is a dispenser at the right side of the table next to the chip rack. In single- and double-deck games, the dealer holds the cards and deals by tossing the cards to the players. Cards in multi-deck games are usually dealt face up, and cards in single- and double-deck games are typically dealt face down. One of the dealer’s cards is always face down. This is known as the hole card, and the dealer does not show it to anyone until every player is done acting unless it is a blackjack.
Before a game begins, the dealer shuffles the deck(s) and “burns” a card by putting it in the discard tray without looking at it or showing it to anyone. After the card is burnt, players put their cash wagers or chip wagers in their betting circles. Wagers must be no less than the table minimum, and no more than the table maximum as stipulated by the bet limits established by the casino for each table. Once the wagers are placed, the dealer starts distributing cards and players are not allowed to modify their bets unless it is to double or split.
After the initial two cards are dealt and the dealer has asked people if they want to insure their hands and/or checked for blackjack, he pays anyone who has gotten a two-card blackjack, then motions for the player at first base to indicate whether he will hit, double, surrender, split, or stand on his hand. The dealer continues across the table in a clockwise manner until the player at third base acts. After the player at third base acts, the dealer goes through the same process for himself—except he has to draw until he reaches 17 or busts. Some tables require the dealer to stay on a soft 17, and others require that the dealer hit on a soft 17. The latter is more advantageous to the house, so it is the rule you will see more frequently.
If the dealer busts, everyone who is still in the hand is paid an amount equal to whatever they have wagered. If the dealer does not bust, he pays anyone who has a higher card point total than his hand and collects the wagers of those people who had a lower card point total. After the hand has been concluded, the dealer collects all of the cards for the hand and puts them face down in the discard tray. The process is then repeated until the shoe or deck needs to be reshuffled.