How to Play Blackjack

Blackjack is a casino card game that pits the player against the dealer. The player must have a higher hand total than the dealer to win. The game is played with a standard 52-card deck. Face cards are worth 10 points, number cards from 2 to 9 are worth their printed value, and aces can be worth either 1 or 11.

Unlike other casino card games where players compete against one another, in blackjack the players play against the dealer. To win, a player’s hand must beat the dealer’s without going over 21. There are many misconceptions about how to play blackjack but at its simplest level beating the dealer is the objective.

The dealer begins the round by dealing two cards to each player in turn. The player’s cards are face up so they can see them, but the dealer’s card is face down. The players then decide whether to hit, stand, or split their cards. In some casinos, the dealer will allow players to place a side wager on their hand called Insurance. This is not an actual bet on the dealer’s hole card and does not impact the final result of the hand.

Once all the players have decided their next move, the dealer checks her hole card using a special viewing window in the table. If the dealer has a 10 underneath, she has Blackjack and everyone who placed a wager on insurance will get paid out at 2 to 1. If the dealer doesn’t have a ten, she will continue playing the hand as normal.

If the player has a pair of cards with the same rank, she can choose to split them and play two separate hands. This is a good option if the cards are of high value such as two aces or two 10s. However, it is important to note that splitting pairs can reduce the player’s overall winning potential. In addition, some casinos restrict the card ranks that can be split and also limit the number of times a player may double down after splitting.

When the player has a hand of 17 or higher, she can choose to stand. This is the safest option as it will prevent her from busting and losing her bet. The player can also hit if her hand is weaker than the dealer’s, but this increases the chance of busting and losing her bet.

A dealer must have excellent math skills to manage the multiple hands at a blackjack table and determine who wins. They must be able to calculate the hand totals quickly and accurately to make decisions on whether to hit, stand, or split. They must also understand the rules of blackjack and be able to recognize when a player is cheating or attempting to defraud them. They must be able to communicate with players effectively and provide impeccable service. In some cases, a dealer must intervene when a player is upset about losing their money.