The Basics of Blackjack

Blackjack is a casino game that pits the player against the dealer. It is played with anywhere from one to eight decks of cards, although most casinos use six. The number of decks used affects the house’s advantage, which can be as low as 0.5% to as high as 2%. However, by learning basic strategy, players can reduce this advantage to a small percentage.

The object of blackjack is to get a hand with a total value as close to 21 as possible without going over. The cards are worth their printed values, with face cards worth 10 and numbered cards worth their numerical value. An ace can count as either 1 or 11, depending on what is better for the player’s situation. A player who beats the dealer’s hand wins the round. If the dealer’s hand is a higher total than the player’s, the dealer will pay the player one times his wager. If both hands have the same total, it is called a push and the player’s bet is returned to him.

To play blackjack, a person must first place his chips in the betting circle and then wait to be dealt two cards by the dealer. Then, the player can choose to hit, which means taking another card, or stand, which means keeping his current card. He may also double down or split pairs, depending on the rules of the particular table. In some cases, he may also make side bets such as insurance, which pays when the dealer has an ace up.

When playing blackjack, it is important for the player to be able to read the other players’ behavior at the table. This information is crucial for making wise decisions. A good way to do this is by looking for tells, which are subconscious actions a player can pick up on by paying attention to the manner in which the dealer holds his cards and how long he takes to look at them.

A blackjack dealer is generally hired by a casino or gaming commission to deal the games. He must pass a background check to be able to work at the tables. The casino then trains him to deal the game. A dealer can also work at a racetrack or other location where gambling is legal.

A dealer’s job is a stressful one and can take a toll on his health. They often work long hours and are under a lot of pressure from management to keep the house edge as low as possible. Because of these stresses, they are susceptible to stress-related ailments such as back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome. In addition, many dealers are subject to a lot of physical abuse from the players at the blackjack table. This is why it is so important for them to be fit and healthy. A good diet and exercise can help them stay in tip-top shape. A healthy body will enable them to continue doing their job well.