The Basics of Blackjack


Blackjack is a game of chance in which the player and dealer are each dealt two cards. Players can stand (stop drawing cards) or draw more based on the rules of the game, and the dealer must either stand or hit (request additional cards).

The aim is to have the total value of your hand as close to 21 as possible without going over. The best way to play is by using a strategy.

Basic Strategy

The first rule of playing Blackjack is to understand the value of the cards and how they work together. For instance, face cards are worth 10, cards numbered 2-10 are worth their printed values, and aces are valued as 1 or 11 depending on the casino.

Getting Started

Before you sit down to play, read the felt at the table to find out what rules and house rules apply. You can also learn the odds of each bet by reading the signs on the table top.

Insurance: This is a popular side bet that is offered at most casinos and is an essential part of any card counter’s strategy. If the dealer gets a Blackjack, then the insurance bet will pay out 2 to 1.

Double Down: This is the most common action taken by a player after he or she has been dealt two cards. This increases your chances of winning the hand and reduces the house edge.

Split: A player may split his or her original hand into two separate hands if the first two cards are of equal value. The second hand is then played out independently of the first and requires a second wager.

Aces are usually allowed to be split only once, but some casinos allow them to be split three times for a total of four hands.

The doubling down and splitting options are important decisions that a player must make before starting the game. A good blackjack player uses basic strategy to make these decisions, but the strategy can vary slightly depending on the house rules and number of decks used.

Busting: If a player is dealt more than two cards that total 21, they will bust and lose their bet. They can then ask for more cards or “hit” again.

Having a Natural: A player who has a hand of 21, also known as a “natural,” is called a blackjack. This is the most valuable hand in the game and is paid at a higher rate than any other.

Insurance: This is an optional bet that pays out if the dealer gets a Blackjack. This bet is a great option for players who are unsure about the dealer’s up card.

You can also double down on a hand that is not a natural by paying an extra half of your original bet. This is a great way to make extra money at the table, and it can also help reduce your losses by avoiding busting when you have a high hand.