The Basics of Blackjack


Blackjack is a card game where players attempt to beat the dealer by getting closer to 21 than they are. The game is played on a semicircular table which can seat varying numbers of players (or “spots”). Usually the dealer stands behind a chip rack and the cards are dealt face up from the top. The player must declare their bet before the cards are revealed. The game of blackjack has many variations with special rules sometimes exclusive to one casino or another. Optimal basic strategy varies between different versions but some rules are universal and it is important to understand these to make the most of your time at the tables.

In most blackjack games the dealer receives two cards, one of which is face up and the other (known as the hole card) face down. Prior to the start of official play, the players may choose to buy insurance which pays 2 to 1 on the original bet and hedges against a dealer blackjack. They also have the option to surrender their hand in some situations.

Once all bets are placed the dealer will then reveal their hole card and check for a blackjack. If they have a ten underneath they will immediately pay out any players who bought insurance. If they don’t, the hand will continue to be played as normal.

The aim is to get as close to 21 points as possible without exceeding it, with picture cards (Jack, Queen, King) being worth 10 points and the Ace counting as either 1 or 11 depending on your preference. If the player goes over 21, they bust and lose their bet. Likewise, if the dealer gets a blackjack they will instantly win their bet and all other hands will be paid out as ties or pushes.

While the game seems simple enough, there is a lot to consider before you head to the blackjack table. Taking the time to learn the rules and the optimal strategies will help you maximize your profits while minimizing your losses. In addition to learning the game rules it is also advisable to know some basic blackjack terms so that you can talk with the dealers and other players.

Some casinos will reduce the payout on Blackjacks to 6 to 5 which increases the house edge and takes money out of the players’ pockets. This will often be advertised on the table but it is not necessarily a standard rule in all casinos and you should always check the rules before playing.

Some blackjack tables offer side bets which can be very lucrative if used correctly. These side bets can include coloured pairs which pay 10 to 1 and perfect pairs which pay 30 to 1. You should look closely at the rules of each table to see what side bets are available. It is also advisable to learn the odds of each hand before playing. If you don’t, you could find yourself chasing the wrong types of hands and making bad bets.