The Basics of Blackjack


Blackjack is a popular casino game where players bet on whether they have a better hand than the dealer. It is played at tables of two to seven people, with one to eight 52-card decks.

The aim of the game is to get a total card value of 21 or to come closer to it without going over 21, which is known as ‘busting’. The cards are valued from 2 to 10, with face cards scoring 10 points and aces worth either 1 or 11 points.

How to play the game

When you start playing, you choose a seat at the table and place your bets. The dealer then deals you two cards. You can then ‘hit’, which means that you ask for another card and receive it, or’stand’, which means that you continue to play with your current hand. You can also’scratch’, which means that you extend your palm near the cards and move them gently, as if you were scratching an itch.

A player can double their bet after the first two cards are dealt if they wish to do so. If they do, they can only hit again if they have already made a pair with their first two cards (this is called ‘splitting’).

Splitting of aces may be allowed in some games; this reduces the house edge by about 0.133%. In other games, a player can resplit his or her ace after a split to create two new hands. This rule is very rare and reduces the house edge by less than 0.03%.

Getting a natural or ‘blackjack’

A hand that combines an ace with a ten or face card is called a ‘natural’ or ‘blackjack’, and it pays 3:2 at most casinos. It is very hard to beat this hand, so it can be very tempting to take ‘insurance’ when the dealer shows an ace up card, but this is a losing proposition and you should always resist the temptation!

Insurance is a side bet that allows you to double your bet when the dealer has an ace up. It pays 2 to 1 if you win and loses if the dealer doesn’t have a ‘blackjack’, but it has a negative impact on your overall bankroll.

Rules and strategies

A basic strategy for playing blackjack is to’stand’ when the dealer has an ace up, unless you have a perfect hand, in which case you can hit or’scratch’. The dealer must then draw more cards and try to make a higher total than you.

Getting more cards after splitting is a good idea for many players because it can give them a better chance of making a higher total. However, some casinos have rules that restrict this option.

The first step in winning at blackjack is to understand the card values and how they affect the game. The numbers 2 to 10 are worth their face value, jacks, queens and kings are worth 10 points, and aces can be treated as either 1 or 11.

A hand that combines an ace with either a ten or face card is called ‘blackjack’ and it pays 3:2 at most casinos. This is the best hand possible, but it is also very difficult to beat and should not be taken lightly.