The Basics of Blackjack
Blackjack is a card game in which players compete to beat the dealer. The objective is to acquire a hand value higher than the dealer’s without going over 21. Each player has the choice to stand, hit, or double his bet after being dealt two cards. The player may also decide to split his hand, and he will then receive two new cards on each of the split hands. The rules of the game vary from place to place, and the game is played on a semicircular table that can accommodate varying numbers of players (or “spots”).
The cards in blackjack are worth their face value; the Jacks, Queens and Kings count as 10. The Ace counts as either 1 or 11, depending on which value helps the hand more. A hand with an ace and a 10 is known as a blackjack, and the player is paid 3 to 2 for this hand.
A dealer is always dealt two cards, one facing up and the other facing down. The dealer’s cards are then flipped over, and if the first card is a 10, the players are offered “insurance” which is a side bet that pays out at 2 to 1. In the case of a Blackjack, the dealer will then take any insurance wagers and continue the round as normal.
When a player has a blackjack, he will be asked if he wants even money. This is a misunderstood bet and a big money maker for casinos. The name even money was a marketing ploy because taking this bet is mathematically the same as making an insurance bet. In fact, if the remaining deck is rich in tens, taking even money is actually a bad move because you will lose money in the long run.
After all the players have made their decisions, the dealer will then check her hole card (using a special viewing window in the table) for a potential blackjack. If the dealer has a blackjack, she will pay out all of the players’ original wagers and collect their insurance bets. If she does not have a blackjack, she will sweep all of the players’ wagers and begin another round.
In some places, the dealers are required to have a minimum hand-total of 17, while in others they are allowed to hit any total under 16. This is important because if a player hits a 17 and the dealer has a 21, this is a push and neither the player nor the dealer wins any money.
There are hundreds of side bets that can be placed on a blackjack table. Some of these are quite profitable for experienced card counters. However, players should only make these bets in situations where they can expect to win. If they do not have the knowledge or discipline to be a successful card counter, they should stay away from these types of bets. Besides, the casinos are on to these techniques, and they will be able to tell if a player is counting cards.