The Basics of Blackjack


Blackjack is a casino game played by two or more players against the dealer. It is a game of strategy and card counting where the goal is to beat the dealer’s hand without going over 21. The game is played with one or more standard 52-card decks. Cards have varying values, with face cards being worth 10 and aces worth 1 or 11. Unlike many casino games, where the house has an edge, blackjack is a game that can be beaten by a smart, disciplined player. Blackjack is a favorite casino game for both amateurs and professionals, although the latter must be well-versed in basic strategy to have any chance of winning.

The game is usually played on a semicircular table that can accommodate a number of players ranging from five to seven. The dealer stands behind a chip rack and cards are dealt from a box in front of the players. Players must make a bet before they receive any cards, and there are usually rules for when the bets may be made. Some rules are specific to the game of blackjack, while others are more general and apply to all casino games.

Most casinos will allow players to split aces, but will not let them double down on any other pair of cards. In some cases, the casino will require that all splitting bets are placed at the same time. The dealer will then deal a second card to each ace and the hand is over. Some casinos will allow a player to surrender before the dealer checks for blackjack, while in others the player will be required to play the hand out until the dealer checks for a blackjack. If the dealer has a blackjack, the bets of all players except those who have naturals will be collected (called a “push”).

Some casinos have introduced 6:5 payouts for blackjack, which increases the house edge and makes it much harder to beat the dealer. These changes have caused a decrease in the popularity of blackjack, and some casinos have even stopped offering it altogether. Other casino games, such as baccarat and sports betting, have gained in popularity while blackjack has faded.

Another common variation on blackjack is the use of a side bet, which can be placed alongside the main bet and is normally equal to or higher than the player’s bet. A side bet can also be used to hedge a losing bet or increase the size of a winning bet.

Lastly, some casinos will not offer insurance when the dealer shows an ace up, or will only pay out 1:1 on the insurance bet instead of the usual 3-2. This is often a bad idea for the player, as the odds of the dealer having a blackjack are very high.