# The Basics of Blackjack

Blackjack is a casino card game that has many different variations, but at its simplest level the goal is to beat the dealer. Players do this by getting a higher hand value than the dealer without going over 21. It sounds simple enough but there are a lot of things to consider when playing the game.

Generally, blackjack is played on a semicircular table that can accommodate between two and seven players. Each player places a bet in the betting circle, which is called the “box.” The dealer then shuffles the deck of cards and cuts them. If a seat opens up, it is considered available for play (unless there are chips or a coat in the seat to indicate that someone is waiting to occupy the spot). The dealer then deals each player two cards face-down.

Once the players have their cards, they must decide whether to split, double down or surrender their hand. Some games also offer side bets, such as insurance or a bet that pays when the dealer’s up card is an ace. If the player has a total of 21 on their first two cards, they win immediately (unless the dealer has a blackjack as well, in which case the hand ties).

One of the most important aspects of learning how to play blackjack is understanding the rules. The game’s basic strategy is based on mathematical probabilities that maximize the player’s chance of winning and minimize his or her chances of losing to the house edge. The basic strategy is easy to learn and can be mastered with practice.

The game is played on a semicircular table with a seating area for five to seven players. The player selects a seat and makes a bet in the betting box. The dealer then shuffles the deck and cuts it. The dealer then deals each player two cards. The card values are as follows: Cards with numbers 2 through 10 have their face value; jacks, queens and kings count as 10 points; and aces can be valued as 1 or 11 depending on what will help the player’s hand the most.

The dealer’s goal is to have a total higher than the player’s, but not exceed 21. The player can win by getting a blackjack, which is any pair of aces or aces and a ten. The dealer can win by drawing a total closer to 21 than the player’s, but must continue drawing until the dealer has 17 or more. A tie is paid as 1:1, but a blackjack is paid 3:2. The house edge for the game is about 1.4%. This is lower than the average house edge for most casino games, but it can be increased by player deviations from basic strategy. Some tables even expose the dealer’s cards to increase the house’s advantage. This is known as double exposure blackjack. This is a disadvantage to the player and should be avoided.