The Basics of Blackjack

Blackjack is a game of strategy and chance that involves the dealer and the player. Players place their chips on the table and the dealer deals two cards to each. The goal is to beat the dealer by getting a higher unbusted hand than theirs. The best hand is a blackjack (an ace and a ten value card). A player can also win by beating the dealer with a higher total than theirs, even if they don’t have a blackjack. The player can also tie with the dealer, called a push, but they will not get their original bet back.

The dealer’s card is face down and is termed the hole card. The dealer must check it after each player has played their hand. If they have an ace showing, they must offer insurance to the players. The player can either buy the insurance or decline it. Buying the insurance increases the house edge of the game as the player is essentially paying for the chance of the dealer having a blackjack. Unless the player can directly estimate or know from card counting that the dealer has a blackjack, it is generally not advantageous to purchase the insurance.

Once the player has a total of 21 on their first two cards they can either stand or hit again. If they hit again, they must take another card and their total must be at least 21. The player can also split their cards, if they have the same value, but they can only do this once. The cards are valued as follows; face cards are worth 10, cards numbered 2-10 are worth their printed values, and aces can be worth 1 or 11.

After all the players have stood or busted the dealer will look at her card. If it is a ten, she will reveal the hole card and any players who bought insurance will be paid out 2:1 on their insurance bets. If the dealer has a blackjack, she will collect all the players’ bets and will return their original stakes.

Some casinos reduce the payout for blackjack to 6 to 5, which increases the house edge significantly and makes counting cards almost impossible. If this is the case at your casino, you should avoid playing at that table. Alternatively, you should play at a table that has the same rules as the one you are used to playing at. This will help to ensure that you are not making any mistakes in your calculations. You will also have a better chance of winning. If you are unsure of what to do, you can always ask the dealer or other players for advice. They will be happy to share their own experiences and tips. Doubling down is a great way to increase your chances of beating the dealer. However, if you don’t have a good count and your cards aren’t great you should just stick to hitting. This will give you the highest probability of winning.