The Basics of Blackjack


Blackjack is a casino card game that pits players against the dealer. It is played on a semicircular table that can seat five to seven players (or “spots”). The dealer deals two cards face up to each player and one card face down to himself. The player then decides whether to hit, stand, double down, or surrender. A player wins if his hand total beats the dealer’s without going over 21. In the event of a tie, the bets are swept and the game begins again.

The rules of blackjack are relatively simple. Each card has a value; the values of the cards from 2 to 10 are their face value, while the jacks, queens, and kings are valued at 10. The ace can count as either 1 or 11, depending on what will help the player’s hand the most. A blackjack is a hand of two cards that add up to 21 points and is awarded a payout of one to one.

A player may opt to take insurance, which pays out 2-1 if the dealer shows an ace in his face-up card. A player may also choose to double down, which increases the initial bet by as much as two times, but the player can only receive one additional card. In addition, some blackjack games offer additional side bets such as a Dealer Match that pays when the player’s cards match the dealer’s up card.

Players are not allowed to look at the dealer’s cards until they make a playing decision. This is known as the “burning hole” rule. The rule is intended to prevent cheating by players who attempt to see the cards in the dealer’s face-up pocket before making a playing decision.

Once a player looks at his initial cards and determines whether to hit, stand, or double down, the dealer acts. If the player wishes to hit, he indicates this by making a beckoning motion with his finger or by tapping his hand on the table behind his cards. If the player wants to double down, he must signal this by placing a bet that is twice the size of his original bet.

If the player and the dealer have the same hand-total, this is a push and neither player nor the dealer is paid on their wagers. However, if the player has a better hand than the dealer’s, the dealer will pay him one time his original bet amount.

Blackjack is one of the few casino card games that allows players to take action before the dealer acts. This is especially helpful for players with poor starting hands. For example, a player with a weak hand of 15 can opt to hit if the dealer has an ace up, but he will lose his bet if he has a 10 and the dealer has a 7. In this scenario, the player would have lost his bet, but won his side bet of 5 chips due to the 2-1 payoff on the Insurance bet.