The Basics of Blackjack
Blackjack is one of the most popular card games in casinos and other gambling establishments. It is a game of strategy where players attempt to beat the dealer by accumulating a higher hand total than the dealer without exceeding 21 (also known as busting). The rules vary slightly from place to place, but most casinos use standard 52-card decks. All cards count as their face value; number cards (2 through 10) score the value indicated on them, picture cards (Jack, Queen, King) score 10 points, and aces can be either 1 or 11.
After the dealer deals each player two cards, they must then check their own hole card. If their face up card is an ace, they offer players the option to take insurance on their side bets. This side bet is half the original bet and pays 2-1 if the dealer has blackjack. Many players advise taking this bet as it protects their initial bet and can sometimes offset losses if they lose the hand.
The dealer then draws additional cards based on the rules of their game. Generally, they will hit on any hand that is valued at 16 or less and stand on all hands that are 17 or more. Some dealers, however, will draw an extra card on a soft 17. This strategy is called “soft hitting,” and it can be risky if the dealer shows a strong card.
Once all of the players have made their playing decisions, the dealer checks his or her own hand. If they have a Blackjack, the dealer immediately pays out all bets except for those of the players who also have a blackjack. Then, the dealer will collect the chips and start a new round.
If the dealer has a blackjack, all of the player’s bets push, or the player gets their original bet back. If the dealer does not have a blackjack, they collect their bets and shuffle their decks for a new round.
In the last couple of decades, Blackjack side bets have become quite popular. These bets, which are placed at the same time as a player’s main wager, cover a wide range of topics. They include doubling down on a certain combination of cards, splitting pairs, betting that the dealer’s hole card will be a certain number, and many others.
When a player has the chance to double down on a pair of cards, they should always do so. This will increase their chances of making a winning hand, especially against a dealer with a low up-card. However, it is important to keep in mind that the player must only get a single card on each hand when they double down, and they cannot split aces. In addition, they should never split 10’s, 5’s, or 4’s, and they should only double against a dealer up card of 2 to 7 (not against a ten or ace). This is the basic strategy for the game.