Blackjack is a card game played with one or more decks of cards and the goal is to collect hands with a total value as close to 21 as possible without going over. The player and the dealer each get two cards and must decide whether to stand (stop drawing cards) or hit (request more cards).
Players can choose to take an insurance bet, if the dealer shows an ace. This pays even money, and the player gets paid 1 to 1 before the dealer checks her downcard.
Basic rules of blackjack
Blackjacks are ranked as follows: A 10 counts as one, any face card counts as ten, aces count either as 1 or 11, and all other cards are at their index value.
If a player receives a hand with an ace and 10 as the first two cards, this is called a natural. It is an automatic win if the dealer also has an ace and 10 as his first two cards, but it is a push if the dealer does not.
The term “blackjack” is a reference to a card of spades or clubs that was used in the game of Vingt-et-Un, which was popular in France around 1700. The game was later introduced to casinos in Las Vegas, where it was known as Black Jack and is now commonly played as a standard table game.
A computer analysis of millions of blackjack rounds has revealed that there is only one play for every combination of player hand and dealer up-card. This play is called basic strategy, and it was developed by a group of researchers in the 1950s and published in 1956.
Basic strategy is the mathematically optimal way to play for every possible hand and dealer up-card combination. It is the only playing strategy that can be guaranteed to win if the player uses it correctly.
There are 5 ways to play a blackjack hand: Surrender, split, double, hit and stand. The dealer will give you a single card after your first two cards are dealt and you have to make an immediate decision.
When a player’s initial two cards equal 21, this is referred to as a natural or blackjack, and it is an automatic win if the dealer has the same. If the dealer does not have a natural, the hand is a push and the player’s bet is returned to him.
To make a stand, the player must scrape or tap the table gently in order to ask for another card from the dealer. He can do this in shoe games by tapping the table behind his cards or using his fingers to wave towards the table.
The dealer will then give you one more card, face up. He will place it next to your original two cards and you must now decide whether to stand or hit again.
A stand in blackjack is a good choice when the player believes his total will beat the dealer’s total. It is also a good idea to stand when the dealer has busted his hand, which means that his hands are over 21.