The Basics of Blackjack

Blackjack is a card game where players compete against the dealer. Each player is dealt two cards and can either hit (ask for another card) or stand (stop taking cards). The goal is to get closer to 21 than the dealer without going over. Face cards are valued at 10 points and aces count as 1 or 11.

The game is played with one or more standard 52-card decks. The game is governed by certain rules which all players must follow, but there are also many side bets available. These can be on pairs, whether the dealer has a blackjack, on a certain number being drawn, on a particular suit or on any other feature of the game. Some of these side bets pay very high amounts if the player has a specific combination of cards.

After the dealer has flipped his first card in most places, players are offered the chance to place an insurance bet. This is a bet that the dealer has a blackjack and pays out 2 to 1. Whether this bet should be made or not is a matter for each player to decide. In many casinos the bet is placed on an insurance bar above the player’s cards, although the exact protocol varies.

When the player is given his initial two cards, he may choose to split them and receive two new hands. This allows him to have more chances of getting a higher total. However, he will usually only be allowed to get one more card with each split hand. In splitting a pair of Aces, for instance, the player can only draw a single ten-valued card in each split hand and this will not count as a blackjack.

If he has a good hand, the player can stand on it and hope that the dealer will bust. However, this is a risky move as the dealer’s next card could well make his current hand better than yours. Doubling down is a safer option and can be done when the player has a strong starting hand.

The player can always increase his bet by up to two times the original amount if he is confident that he will beat the dealer. This is a double down opportunity and is generally only possible before the dealer has received his second card. This can be a very profitable strategy if the player is confident that his hand will beat the dealer’s, but it should never be done with weak hands. It is only recommended for strong hands like an Ace and a 6 or 7 against a dealer’s up card of 2.