The Basics of Blackjack
Blackjack is a card game played between a player and a dealer. The goal of each player is to beat the dealer by having a higher, unbusted hand. If a player’s two cards total 21 points, they have a blackjack (also known as a “natural”) and win 3:2 on their bet. If a player busts, they lose their bet, even if the dealer also busts.
Players always go first before the dealer reveals their facing down card. Before the game begins, however, a player may choose to do one of two things: buy insurance or surrender. If a player takes insurance, they will place half of their original bet on the table, and the dealer will pay them 2-1 on this wager if the dealer has a face up card that is a 10, face, or Ace. Insurance should only be bought if the player has a strong reason to believe that the dealer has a blackjack, as it is generally a losing bet for most players.
After the player has placed their bets, the dealer will reveal their hole card. This is done through a special viewing window in the blackjack table. If the dealer has a ten underneath, they will have a blackjack and will take all of the players’ original bets as well as their insurance wagers. If the dealer does not have a blackjack, they will ask the players who have blackjack whether they would like to be paid even money on their wagers instead of the standard 3:2 payout.
Some casinos have reduced the payout for blackjacks to 6 to 5, which is a big house edge increase. This is especially bad for players who play on single-deck games in Las Vegas, where the house edge is already over 0.4 percent.
While there are a few legal methods of gaining a player advantage at blackjack, most rely on the fact that dealers usually expose their hole cards for a short time and can be observed and read in a variety of ways. Observing how long the dealer looks at the card and how much he bends it are particularly important factors.
The rules of blackjack vary from casino to casino, but most offer the same basic rules: a hand of 21 wins, while any other hand loses. There are a few exceptions to this rule, though: a blackjack pays 3:2; and you can double down on any pair of cards.
In addition, the rules of blackjack can vary from table to table, so you should be familiar with them before you play. This will help you make better decisions. For example, some tables allow players to surrender before the dealer checks for a blackjack, and some let players split their aces even after they have made a hand. Lastly, some games require players to hit soft 17s, while others do not. This can affect your strategy significantly. In general, it is best to play at casinos that do not change the rules too often, as these changes will give the dealer an edge over you.