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The Basics of Blackjack


Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games and, at its simplest level, the objective of the game is to beat the dealer. A player’s hand competes only with the dealer’s, so other players at the table are of no concern; a player’s goal is to achieve a point total closer to 21 than that of the dealer, without going over 21, of course. Card point values are as follows: Aces count as 1; cards from 2 through 10 count as their face value; and Jacks, Queens and Kings are valued at 10.

Each player place a bet in the betting areas on the table and the dealer deals them two cards each. If the player’s first two cards combine to make a total of 21 in value (an ace and a ten-card), they are known as a “natural” or a “blackjack” and win immediately. The dealer then pays the player based on the posted betting limits and removes their cards.

In some casinos, blackjack dealers may have the option to double down with their first two cards and receive only one additional card. This can dramatically increase a player’s chances of winning the hand, but it is not available with all hands and should only be done when it is mathematically advantageous to do so.

During the hand, it is the dealer’s responsibility to inform the players of the current status of their hands and to update them on any changes in the rules of play. In addition, the dealer must be able to read nonverbal cues to know whether a player is confused about a particular rule. The dealer must also be able to explain the terms of any side bets they are taking.

After each player has stayed or busted their hand, the dealer continues to draw cards until they have a point total of at least 18 or higher. The dealer must then compare their hand to each player’s, and if they have a blackjack, all players’ bets are paid in full; otherwise, the players’ bets push and all players receive their original bet back. The dealer then collects the chips, shuffles them and begins a new round.