How to Play Blackjack

Blackjack has long been considered an intellectual and mathematical pastime, making it popular with academics, mathematicians, and those looking for an edge against the house. What was once seen as an enjoyable pastime has now taken center stage as an entertaining casino classic.

Not unlike other casino games, where players bet against the house, in blackjack you bet against the dealer. Each player and dealer get two cards each and aim to beat them without going over 21. Aces count for 1-11 points while numbers 2-10 retain their face value; any hand that totals 21 using only the first two cards dealt is known as a blackjack (also called natural). Suits generally don’t matter in blackjack games.

As soon as you start playing blackjack, the first step should be placing bets. Once all bets have been placed and everyone has completed playing their hands, the dealer will deal each player two cards face up. After all players have finished, he or she will deal himself a card face down – if a blackjack occurs amongst themselves (unless they also possess one) then all bets lose but if not then each player will receive back one and one half times their original wager.

At times, in blackjack games, dealers will offer an optional side bet called “insurance.” It involves betting that the dealer has an ace with 10 underneath it, and should they turn over blackjack they will receive 2-1 returns on their insurance bet. Most dealers advise players to purchase insurance.

After all players have placed bets, the dealer will check his or her hole card through a special viewing window in the table. If the dealer possesses a blackjack with a ten beneath its Ace, all original bets (including those made through insurance contracts) will be returned; otherwise all insurance wagers will be collected and dealt as usual until something changes.

Rules for blackjack vary across casinos, though most follow similar procedures. Each table will use a set number of decks with the dealer always showing an Ace up; then she or he will check each player’s hand before placing bets or dealing cards to another table. Players whose total is greater than that of the dealer will win; the one with the highest total wins the round; all other hands lose. There may be exceptions such as split cards. Furthermore, the dealer may choose to double down any hand that contains 16 or higher cards. Allowing the dealer to enhance a weaker hand with another card is an effective strategy when the dealer’s up card is 7, so the player should always hit on 17 or higher hands; otherwise, when their hand contains 16 or fewer total points they should stand their hand and remain silent.