Understanding the Basics of Blackjack

Blackjack is a casino game that involves the dealer and the player. The objective of the game is to beat the dealer by having a higher, unbusted hand. If the player busts, he loses. If both the player and dealer have the same point value, it is a “push” and neither wins. The best way to win is by having a higher than the dealer’s total without going over 21.

There are some common misconceptions about the game of blackjack but at its simplest level all you need to know is that your goal is to beat the dealer. You do this by having a higher hand than the dealer’s and by not busting (going over 21).

To make your move, you will have to ask for another card (“hit”) or stick with your current cards (“stand”). To hit, you will extend your palm close to your cards and scratch the table in front of you with it gently like you were scrubbing an itch. The dealer will then deal you one more card to your hand. If you want to continue drawing cards, you will repeat the’scratching’ action. The process continues until you either make your desired hand or you bust.

If you have two cards that are an ace and a ten-value card, this is a blackjack (also known as a “natural”). This is a winning hand that pays 3:2 on your bet. You will only lose if you go over 21, or the dealer has a blackjack as well.

In the last 20 years or so, a lot of side bets have been added to the Blackjack tables. These are big money makers for the casinos. Insurance is a bad bet for players, but some solid players can still beat the game by taking this side-bet when they recognize that there is a high number of ten-value cards in the remaining deck.

Depending on the type of blackjack table you are playing, you may be able to double your bet after you have split your cards. This is a good option if you have a hand that is weak and the dealer has a strong face card showing, or if you have a strong soft total of 16 and the dealer has a six. On the other hand, splitting a pair of fives is not a good idea because it gives you two weak hands.

In order to keep the cards appearing as random as possible, a blackjack shoe contains multiple decks that are shuffled frequently. Once around 50% of the decks have been played, a new shoe is used that is full of fresh cards. This helps to prevent counting cards, which is a key strategy in this game. Having an understanding of how the decks are shuffled will help you make better decisions when it comes to splitting and doubling.