Blackjack is a gambling game that involves players competing against the dealer. The aim is to score a hand with a total closer to 21 than the dealer, without going over (busting). Players may also double down on certain hands and split pairs. Some casinos have special side bets available that can change the blackjack odds and payouts. It is important for players to understand these side bets and the impact they have on the game.
Blackjack is usually played on a table that can seat between five and seven players. When a player sees an empty spot at the blackjack table they assume that it is free to sit in, unless chips or a coat are holding it for someone else. In some cases a player may be able to join a blackjack game that is already in progress, but the rules vary by casino and the policy is often marked on the felt of the blackjack table.
The dealer in blackjack is a person who deals the cards and collects bets. The dealer must have a good understanding of the game and be able to pay out all bets quickly and accurately. They must also be on the lookout for cheaters and other players who try to take advantage of the casino or fellow players. The dealer must also be able to cut the deck quickly and correctly, so they can start dealing the next hand promptly.
There are many different variants of blackjack, but all involve the same basic rules. The game is played with one to eight standard 52-card decks. All number cards (2-10) have their specific value, while the face cards (Jack, Queen and King) are worth 10 points. The Ace can be counted as either 1 or 11, depending on the situation.
During the course of a blackjack hand, a player can hit, stand or fold their hand. To hit, the player places a bet on their desired action, and then receives two more cards. To stand, the player must not have an ace or a 10 on their first two cards. To fold, the player must withdraw their original bet from the table.
Some casinos allow players to double down on their hands, but the rules for this vary by establishment. This is usually only allowed on hands that have a total of 17 or higher, and the player must always stay at this point in order to avoid busting. Players may also double down after splitting a pair of cards, but it is important to remember that they cannot hit after doing so.
Some casinos offer insurance in blackjack, but this is a poor bet for most players. The house edge on this bet is far greater than the player’s winning probability of a blackjack, and it should never be made unless the player has card counting skills. If the dealer has a blackjack, all of the player’s bets lose except for those who had placed an insurance bet. In the event of a tie or push, all bets are returned to the players.