Blackjack is one of the most popular table games at the casino. It can seem intimidating when you first see it in action, but it is actually very simple. The objective is to draw cards that are closer in value to 21 than the dealer’s without going over 21 (busting). Players place their bets in the betting areas marked on the table. They are then dealt two cards each and the dealer also gets two cards. The first player to reach a total of 21 wins their bet. A Blackjack is an Ace and a card valued at 10. The cards are dealt from a standard 52-card deck.
The dealer is not required to show his or her cards until all of the players have decided how to play their hands. In most casinos, the dealer will then move left to right around the table announcing the card point totals. The highest hand wins. If your first two cards are an Ace and a 10, this is known as a blackjack, or natural.
When deciding how to play your hand, you have the option to “Stand” or “Hit”. To stand, you extend your hand towards the cards in front of you and move your palm as though you were scratching an itch. This signals to the dealer that you want another card. The dealer will then deal you one card from the shoe and place it next to your original two cards. If you decide to hit, simply “scratch” the table again with your hand and the dealer will give you another card. Repeat this process until you make your desired hand or bust.
Depending on the rules of your game, you may also be able to “Split” any pairs of cards (including any pair with an Ace) or “Double Down” after you have already received your initial two cards. A Double Down is an additional bet equal to your original wager and you are given one more card for each of the two split cards. If you split two Aces, you must hit each of them unless they are a pair of 10s in which case you can only stand.
Some tables may offer an insurance bet. This is a side wager that pays out 2 to 1 if the dealer has a blackjack. However, this can increase the house edge significantly. It is recommended to avoid this bet if you’re trying to maximize your winnings.
Many casinos have changed the rules of blackjack to reduce the 3 to 2 payout for Blackjacks. This greatly increases the house edge and makes the game unplayable for card counters. Some even remove all of the tens from the shoe! This is a huge mistake and should not be done. It’s also not a good idea to play Blackjack in places that have poor ventilation. The smoke can be very irritating to your eyes and lungs. Moreover, the air quality can cause headaches and congestion.