Whether you’re playing at a brick and mortar casino, or online, you’ll need to understand the basic rules of blackjack. If you don’t, you could be at a disadvantage against the house. While the game is essentially a two-person contest, casinos try to keep an eye out for any players who aren’t playing.
The goal of the game is to beat the dealer without going over 21, or busting. You can also lose if you don’t have a hole card, and you don’t have a hand that can tie the dealer. A push occurs when both the player and the dealer have a hand with a total of 21, and neither of you busts.
A standard deck of 52 cards is used for the game. After each hand is played, the cards should be reshuffled. You may be able to play with larger decks at online casinos. When playing at a live casino, the dealer is responsible for checking the card you’re holding. The cards are flipped face up, and the dealer’s second card is slid underneath the first.
The basic strategy is to have a pair, or a hand with an Ace, King, Queen, or Jack. This is known as the perfect hand, and it beats all other hands. However, it’s a good idea to check the other hands you have before making a decision. You may also decide to double down, which will give you another card. This is not the best option for a player who’s overconfident, but it can be profitable.
Alternatively, you can take an insurance bet, which is a side bet that pays 2 to 1 if the dealer has Blackjack. This bet is usually placed on the special “insurance bar” that’s located above the player’s cards. You can bet up to half of your original bet, and if the dealer has Blackjack, the bet is returned.
If you’re playing European Blackjack, you can wager that the dealer will be dealt two cards with the same value as yours. This can pay as high as 25 to 1 if you have a pair. You can also play a “Super Match” side bet, which pays if the first four cards you’re dealt contain a pair or a three of a kind.
A third option is to split your hand into two separate hands. Most casinos allow you to do this, but there are restrictions on how often you can do it. Some casinos will only allow you to split the same rank of card in your hand, such as a pair of Aces or a pair of Kings. Other casinos will let you split any two cards, even if they are not of the same value. Depending on the casino, you may be able to take an insurance bet after splitting your hand, but you’ll need to check with the staff to make sure.
A final option is to surrender. This reclaims half of your bet, and you can do it as soon as the dealer’s up card is an ace. It’s smart to do this if you’re dealing with a bad hand, or if the dealer has shown a 10.