The Basics of Blackjack


Blackjack is the most popular casino card game and for good reason. It’s fun, easy to learn and can be a great way to win some money. The house edge is a lot lower than in most other casino games and you can increase your winnings by learning basic strategy and counting cards.

The goal of blackjack is to get a higher total value hand, without going over 21, than the dealer. Players bet against the dealer, not against each other. Suits don’t matter, and the aces count as either 1 or 11, and face cards as 10. The game can be played with single deck, double deck, 4 decks, 6 decks or 8 decks of cards. Traditionally, only one deck of cards is used, but many casinos now use multiple decks in an effort to make it harder for skilled players to beat the house edge.

A starting hand of a ten valued card and an Ace is called a “Blackjack” or “natural”. It beats all hands other than another Blackjack. If both the player and dealer have a Blackjack, the hand is a push (tie) and neither the player nor the bank wins. A Blackjack is the highest scoring hand in blackjack and has a payout of 3 to 2.

Beginners often misplay their hands and don’t follow basic strategy. Expert players know when to split pairs and when to double down. A doubling strategy is an important part of playing blackjack because it increases the chances of making a strong hand and decreases the chances of busting. The best hands to double down on are a pair of 7’s or 8’s, because they total 16 and beat most other dealer cards.

Insurance is a side bet that the dealer can offer if he or she has an ace up. The dealer will gander at her hole card and if it is a ten, then the dealers hand is a Blackjack and everyone who has made an insurance bet will lose their original bet. If the dealer has not got a Blackjack then they will take everyone’s insurance wagers and continue the game like normal.

Some casinos will remove the 10’s from the shoe in order to prevent card counting. This reduces the payout for a blackjack to 6 to 5 and makes it much harder to be successful at the game.

Some Blackjack tables allow players to “Split” any two matching cards, except for aces. Then they will be dealt additional cards to create two new hands. If the second card of a split pair is a 10, then the hand is considered a “Blackjack” and will be paid out 3 to 2. Otherwise, it is a regular Blackjack and is only paid out 1:1. It is a very profitable strategy to split 8’s and Aces, but never split Fives or Face cards. They both total 20 and are better suited to being doubled down than a splitting of Aces or eights.