Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games, and also one of the easiest to learn. It is played between the dealer and the player, with each person dealt two cards. The object is to beat the dealer’s hand by having a total that exceeds his, or by not going bust. The player has several playing options, including hitting, splitting, doubling down, and surrendering. In addition to basic strategy, it is possible to reduce the house edge to less than 1% with various betting strategies and card counting techniques.
The game is played using a standard 52-card deck. The dealer is dealt one card face up and the other card hidden from view (known as the hole card). The player has the option to ask for another card, or stick with his current hand. If his hand value goes over 21, he loses the hand. If the dealer has a higher score than the player or the dealer has a blackjack, the dealer wins the hand. A blackjack is a hand that contains an ace and a ten-valued card and pays 3 to 2.
Hit – To request the dealer to give you an additional card. You can only do this when you are sure that the next card will not cause your total to go over 21, or you are willing to risk losing the hand.
Split – When the player is dealt two cards of the same value, such as two aces or two tens, the player may split them into separate hands and play each hand independently. This is a great way to increase your chances of a strong hand.
Double Down – When available, the player can double his initial bet by putting up an additional bet equal to the original stake. He can do this only when he is certain that his current hand will be stronger than the dealer’s.
Insurance – The dealer will sometimes offer players the opportunity to place a side bet against them having blackjack, which pays out if the dealer does have a blackjack. This is a risky bet, and it is recommended that players avoid placing this type of bet.
Even money – When the dealer has an ace showing, she will often offer you “even money,” which is a 1 to 1 payoff on your bet before checking for blackjack. This is a good opportunity to make an extra bet that can potentially lead to a big payout, but only if you have a large enough bankroll to keep up with your winnings and losses. Continually raising your bet to this level could drain your funds, and you would quickly run out of chips. A better strategy is to stick with your initial minimum bet until the table is hot. Otherwise, walk away and try again on another table. This is especially important if you have been losing for a long period of time.