Blackjack is one of the most popular card games in casinos and online. It is played with a standard international deck without the jokers, leaving 52 cards. It was originally a game of chance but strategy has an important role to play in the final outcome of a hand. The most basic strategy involves knowing when to hit or stand, depending on the cards you have and the dealer’s card. In addition to knowing when to hit, a player must also understand when to double down. Doubling down allows the player to increase their bet by requesting one additional card, but only when the original two-card hand is in an advantageous situation.
The players are dealt two cards and have the option to “hit” (request another card) or ‘stand’ (stop taking cards). The dealer also gets two cards but must hit or stand according to a different set of rules. The object of the game is to create a hand that totals as close to 21 as possible, without exceeding it. The best hand is a ‘Blackjack’, which is an Ace combined with a 10, Jack, Queen or King.
After each player has finished their hand the dealer reveals their down card and checks for Blackjack. If they have a Blackjack, all the players lose their original bet, but the side bet pays out at 2 to 1. If no one has a Blackjack and the dealer has an ace, the player’s hands push.
Some tables offer the possibility to split pairs of cards in Blackjack. This is a great way to increase the number of opportunities to get a winning hand. However, players must remember that splitting pairs can reduce the value of a hand if it is not played correctly.
Many players will make a side bet, known as an insurance bet, when the dealer shows an ace. This is a bet of up to half the player’s original bet and is placed on an area called the insurance bar, which is above the dealer’s cards. If the dealer has a Blackjack, the player loses their original bet but wins the side bet at 2 to 1.
The Wizard of Odds has a large Blackjack section and an interactive Blackjack trainer. The website of Harvey Dubner, author of Million Dollar Blackjack, is an excellent resource for advanced card counting systems. Using this type of strategy can help you to increase your profits and decrease the house edge on blackjack. A number of books on the subject are available. Stanford Wong’s Professional Blackjack is a good starting point for learning how to count cards and implement team play strategies.