The Basics of Blackjack


Blackjack is a casino card game played between the dealer and player. The objective of the player is to beat the dealer by having a higher, unbusted hand. The best possible hand in blackjack is called a “blackjack” and it pays 3:2 to the player if the dealer also has a blackjack. If a player busts, they lose their bet and the dealer wins, regardless of whether the dealer has a blackjack or not.

Each player is dealt two cards face up and the dealer has one card face down. Before the player begins playing, they may choose to do two things: buy insurance or surrender. Insurance is a side bet that pays out 2:1 if the dealer has a blackjack. It is not recommended to take insurance unless the player has an accurate estimate (either through card counting or by asking the dealer) that the dealer has a blackjack and that doing so would significantly improve their chances of winning.

The cards in a deck of cards are assigned values, based on their suit and the number. The value of a “spot” card is 1; face cards are worth 10; and number cards are worth the figure listed on the card itself, for example, a seven is worth 7 points. Unlike most casino card games, suits have no bearing on the value of a hand in blackjack.

Once players have their initial two cards, they can decide to hit, stand or split. To hit, a player extends their palm near the cards and gently rubs it, as though they were scratching an itch. The dealer then deals one additional card from the shoe, face up, to the original two cards. The player can then choose to “stand” or “hit again.”

When a player hits, they must keep in mind that if their cards total over 21, they will lose their bet. It is important to remember that the decisions of other players at the table won’t impact their hand, according to gambling expert Frank Scoblete. It is also wise to set a limit for how much money you are willing to spend at the blackjack table and to stick to that decision, even when you are winning.

Another strategy that experienced blackjack players employ is to use the “surrender” option, if available. This allows a player to drop out of their hand before the dealer checks for a blackjack. Some casinos offer an early surrender option, whereby the player can drop out before the dealer even checks his cards; others only let you surrender after the dealer has checked. Choosing to surrender will reduce your exposure and will allow you to recover half of your initial bet. However, this is a risky strategy and most casinos do not offer it. Nevertheless, it can be an effective way to minimize your losses.