The Basics of Blackjack

Blackjack is a card game that pits the player against the dealer. The objective is to beat the dealer by getting a hand total closer to 21 than his or hers without going over that number. The game is played on a semicircular table that can accommodate from five to seven players. Normally, each player selects a seat at the table, but if an empty chair is visible you can assume that it is open (unless there are chips or a coat in the spot to hold a player’s place or the dealer’s card is already facing up).

When the cards are dealt each player has the option of hitting or standing. Hitting means that you ask for another card to improve your hand. This will usually hurt your chances of making a higher hand value, so you should only hit when necessary. Standing on your initial hand is also an option. In general, it is best to stand on hands of 10 or more and to hit on hands that are less than 17 (you may need additional cards to get a better hand).

Some casinos offer different rules for splitting pairs and this is important information for you to know before playing. Some will allow re-splitting of pairs, others will only pay you once and other will not let you split at all. It can make a big difference in your winnings if you know which to do and which ones not to.

In addition, some games will have different rules for “soft” and “hard” hands. A soft hand is one that includes an ace, while a hard hand has no aces. Some dealers will hit on soft hands, while others will stand on them. It’s important to check these rules before you play as they will affect the strategy of the game.

The dealer deals each player two cards face up, and then faces herself a card that is either face up or down (depending on the casino). The players then decide whether to hit (play for an additional card) until they reach 21 or to stand (stop taking more cards). Face cards count as 10, and the ace can be counted as 1 or 11 depending on which will help the player’s total the most.

The dealer will then play for a hand, and if his or her hand has a higher value than the player’s hand, they win. If the dealer has a blackjack, it pushes the player’s bet and the game is over. If the player has a blackjack, they are paid 1:1.

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