The Basics of Blackjack


Blackjack is a card game played between a dealer and one or more players. The objective is to get a higher hand total (closer to 21) than the dealer without going over 21. Suits don’t count, and aces can either be counted as 1 or 11. Blackjack is played on semicircular tables that can accommodate varying numbers of players. The player places a bet in the designated betting areas before being dealt two cards by the dealer.

A player can choose to ‘draw’ additional cards to their hand until they are satisfied with its total value. They can also’stay’, or remain with their current hand in the hope that they have a better total than the dealer. If a player’s first two cards are an ace and a picture card or 10 – giving a total of 21 in two cards – this is known as a ‘natural’ or ‘blackjack’. A player with a natural wins immediately, unless the dealer has a blackjack as well. In the case of a tie, bets are returned without adjustment.

Some games of blackjack offer side bets such as Insurance, which pays if the dealer has an ace up card. These bets usually have a house edge of about 2%.

Other rules governing the game vary from place to place. For example, some casinos will pay a 6 to 5 payout for blackjacks, which greatly increases the house’s edge over the player.

If a player’s hand totals less than 21, they can ‘push’ – or lose their bet – by asking the dealer to hit. The dealer will then collect the cards, shuffle them and start another round. The player’s other bets, if any, are then paid out according to the table’s rules.

Most blackjack games use one to eight standard 52-card decks. Generally, suits don’t matter and each card has a specific value, with number cards (2-10) counting as their respective values, face cards scoring 10, and the ace counting as either 1 or 11.

A player may split two aces if they wish to do so. They will then receive an additional card for each aces they have split, and can play them independently of each other. Generally, splitting two aces does not improve the player’s chances of making a high total.

In a blackjack game, the dealer must stand on any hand value of 17 or more, and must hit on soft 17. The only exception is if the dealer has a blackjack, which wins the player’s bet if they have a hand that is equal to or higher than the dealer’s. Otherwise, the dealer will sweep the players’ bets and start a new round.