The Basics of Blackjack


Blackjack is a casino table game where players compete against the dealer. Each player is dealt two cards, and the aim is to get a hand value closer to 21 than the dealer’s without going over. It’s important to remember that you are competing against the dealer and not other players at the table. Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of this, and this can make the game less fun and increase your chances of making a poor decision.

To begin playing, place your chips in the betting circles marked on the table. You and other players will be dealt cards; the dealer will also receive a card face up. If your first two cards add up to 21 (an ace and a ten-card, for example), this is a Blackjack and you win immediately. The dealer will then pay your bet based on posted limits and remove your cards.

If your two cards don’t total 21, you can choose to ‘hit’ (take another card) or’stand’ (keep your current card). You may also split a pair of cards of the same value, by placing an additional bet equal to your original wager and receiving one more card for each of the pairs. However, if you have two Aces, you are not allowed to split them, and can only double once.

A side-bet called insurance is available to all players, and is paid at 2 to 1 if the dealer has a Blackjack. This bet is a great way to protect your money in the event of an unlucky deal, but it’s essential to understand its mechanics before you play. Many players misunderstand the rules of this bet, and end up losing their original bet as well as the extra chips they put down for the insurance bet.

In the United States, dealers of blackjack are certified by a gaming commission or other related body, and must pass a background check before being hired by a casino. The certification process includes fingerprinting and a review of criminal convictions, to ensure that the dealer is suitable for the role. Once hired, dealers will be trained in the specifics of dealing blackjack.

When a blackjack dealer is in the middle of dealing cards to players, she will often make ‘pitch’ motions with her right hand. These signals are designed to indicate which cards she is holding and how much the player should bet. This is an area of expertise that requires a high level of mental math skills, and blackjack dealers are also taught how to communicate the status of their customers’ hands with non-verbal cues such as nodding or paraphrasing.

A dealer’s competence in mathematics also makes it easier for her to calculate the winnings of her guests and to communicate their decisions quickly. She will also use her knowledge of the numerical aspects of blackjack when she is distributing the cards to the players, so that they can start their games as soon as possible.