In Blackjack, at the start of each hand, every player is dealt two cards face up. The dealer receives only one card face up.

What is the reason for this difference? Why aren't the dealer's cards dealt the same way as the players' cards?

  • It is not the case that the dealer receives two cards in all places. Many deal just one, the face-up card alone. The presence or absence of the face-down card has other implications, but none are relevant to this question. I have corrected the factual statements to reflect the key point of difference between player and dealer initial deal.
    – Nij
    Dec 28, 2017 at 19:48

3 Answers 3


In Black Jack, you play against the dealer, not the other players, and one of the main mechanics is deciding whether to hit or not. This decision becomes trivial and meaningless if you could know exactly what the dealer has. You hit if you have less than them; stand if you have more than them (if they have 17 or more so that they won’t hit). Hiding one dealer card is necessary to make it so that there’s a non-trivial choice to make.


The dealer cards only are relevant if there is at least one player that passed. If all players are busted or had 21, there is no need for a turn for the dealer.

Dealing the dealer cards face up influences the play of the players. For example, if the dealer has a 18, no player will pass on 18 or lower.

  • But I still don't understand why is one of the dealer cards face down? Why not simply deal two face up cards for the dealer just like for the players?
    – S. Rotos
    Dec 28, 2017 at 15:56
  • 2
    You don't want the players to have that information. For example, if the dealer has 21, players won't play. Dec 28, 2017 at 15:58
  • But when the dealer starts dealing the cards, haven't the bets been already placed? How could you "not play" at this point? If we dealt both dealer cards face up and they got 21, surely you can't withdraw your bet now that you have been dealt cards?
    – S. Rotos
    Dec 28, 2017 at 16:23
  • 1
    It's about how much More people are willing to bet against the House. There's splits and insurance to deal with, besides the initial bet. Also, instantly knowing that you aren't going to beat the house is a downer, just like when the dealer gets blackjack. Dec 28, 2017 at 18:37
  • 2
    If the dealer is showing an 8 or higher, then players have decisions to make. If a player makes 17, they need to decide if they should risk hitting and busting, or staying and risk the dealer turning over a 10 for 18 and losing. If the dealer's second card is visible, then that decision tree is gone. Either the dealer has 18 and players at 17 or less must hit, or the dealer has less than 18 and players can stay and win unless extremely unlucky.
    – Ellesedil
    Dec 29, 2017 at 1:53

Information known about other players hands is meaningless in blackjack, since it is played against the dealer alone. This also helps prevent cheating, since a player can't swap a card dealt face up. The players are free to take any action they like with their cards, hit, stand, double, split (when legal) the dealer however must follow a set of rules for their play, and if the dealer had both cards face up then the players would know what the dealer has and would know what the dealer will need to do to follow the rules for the dealer.

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