# Basic Rules of Blackjack

Blackjack is a game of strategy, luck, and mathematics. If you understand the basic rules of blackjack, you can significantly improve your chances of winning. In addition, blackjack is a great way to learn about personal discipline and self-control. Winning and losing streaks are normal in blackjack, but it is important to stay focused and not lose your cool. Blackjack is a fast-paced game, and failure can happen as quickly as success.

To make sure that the cards are dealt fairly, the shoe used for blackjack contains multiple decks of cards that are shuffled frequently. In live blackjack, the cards are reshuffled after around 50% of the cards have been played. This process helps to prevent card counting. In most cases, the dealer also has to remove jokers from the cards before distributing them to the players.

The objective of blackjack is to beat the dealer by creating a hand value higher than his or hers. In most cases, this will be achieved by hitting a face-up card of 7 or higher against a dealer’s face-down card of 9 or lower. If you want to maximize your chance of beating the dealer, always split against 2 through 8, double down on 11 and 10, and stand against a dealer’s ace.

If the dealer has an ace showing, you can make an insurance bet of up to half your original bet. This bet pays 2-1 if the dealer has blackjack, so you can come out even if you lose your hand. Often, dealers will offer this bet as “even money,” which is misleading because you are giving up the 3:2 payout normally paid on blackjack for a much lower payoff.

In some casinos, blackjacks are paid out at 6 to 5, which increases the house edge and makes counting cards less effective. Be sure to check the rules on the table before you play to ensure that you are getting the best odds possible.

#### The dealer’s turn

When it is the dealer’s turn, she will reveal her hole card and decide whether to hit or stand according to predetermined rules. When the dealer has a face-up card of 7 or above, she will almost always hit. However, if the dealer has an ace, she will be required to take a look at her card, and this is where observing the dealer’s actions can give you a clue as to what she may have. It is important to note how long the dealer looks at her card and at what angle she bends it.

Once the player has made his or her decision, the dealer will reveal their card and pay any insurance bets if applicable. If the dealer has blackjack, all players who hold a blackjack will win their original wagers (except for those who took insurance). If nobody has a blackjack, it’s called a push and the bets are swept up. The dealer will then deal another round of cards.