The Basics of Blackjack


Blackjack is a casino game played with a standard deck of 52 cards. There are different variations of the game, but the basic rules remain the same. The objective is to beat the dealer by getting a higher hand value than they do. The house edge is very low, and can be brought down to almost zero if the player follows a strict strategy.

Players are dealt two cards and the dealer also gets two. The value of each hand is calculated and the goal is to get as close to 21 as possible without going bust. The dealer must also try to beat the players’ hands, but this is harder to do.

Once the players have their hands, they can either stand or ask the dealer for another card. A player may also double down or surrender (when available). Double down means that the player can increase their bet by adding a second bet equal to the original one. This option allows the player to make a stronger hand and is therefore better than standing. In addition, the player can choose to split two of the same cards. Splitting two Aces, for example, can result in a point total of 21, but this is not considered a Blackjack (in terms of payout) and pushes with the dealer’s hand when the dealer has a Blackjack.

If a player has a Blackjack, they immediately win the round. This is a better outcome than losing the hand to the dealer, but it still requires skill and practice. Players can learn a great deal about the game from watching the dealers and other players.

A good way to gain an advantage is by keeping a running count. This is done by counting the values of the cards as they are flipped over. It takes time to master this, but it is well worth the effort. Once a running count is established, it can be converted to a true count by multiplying it by the number of decks in play.

In addition to doubling down and surrendering, some games allow players to take insurance. This is a side bet that pays out 2 to 1 if the dealer has a blackjack. However, insurance bets lose money over the long run because the dealer only has a blackjack less than one-third of the time.

Blackjack is a very popular game and there are a few key things that you need to remember when playing. The first is that you should always stand on a hard 17 or higher, no matter what the dealer’s face up card is. The second is that you should only split aces when they are against the dealer’s ten or ace and not against a face card. Finally, you should never buy a blackjack with a hard total of 15 or more. This is a bad move that will cause you to lose more money than you would by simply standing on your hand.