The Basics of Blackjack

Blackjack is a game of strategy and luck. You’re betting on your hand and hoping to beat the dealer’s. Ideally, you’re hoping to come closer to 21 than the dealer, but it’s not impossible to bust. The dealer’s hand is also subject to mathematical rules.

The best possible hand in blackjack is called a “natural,” and it’s a two card combination of an ace and a ten-card. An ace is worth one or eleven points, depending on what your hand includes, and the card’s value is not dependent on the suit.

A pair of tens is considered a decent hand, but is usually not good enough to beat the dealer. Two eights is a better bet, as it can get you into the high-value range of 18-21. In some games, such as the shoe game, you’ll need to make a beeline for the table by making a beckoning motion with your finger.

Depending on the casino and rules, you may have to double down and take a hit. There’s no limit on how many hands you can play at once, but you’ll have to wager in each betting area. As the game progresses, you can increase your bet and increase your odds of winning.

Blackjack is usually played with at least one 52-card deck, though some casinos use two. Traditionally, you’ll be dealing with the dealer and other players, but the game has morphed into a player-versus-player affair. Some casinos even offer insurance to protect against the dealer’s hand, which can be a bad bet for those without knowledge of the dealer’s hole card.

Regardless of the rules, a basic strategy should be used to minimize the house’s advantage. Basically, you’re looking to beat the dealer’s hand while accumulating as many cards as you can. This is usually done with the aid of the so-called “double up” strategy. After a split, a player can choose to draw another card and continue playing on his own, or he can ask the dealer to give him another card. Using the right hand is a good rule of thumb.

One of the most important aspects of any card game is choosing the right cards to draw. A player with an ace, ten, or six will have no trouble beating the dealer, but if the ace is in a pair, you’re in for a rough ride.

On the flip side, a king, queen, or jack in a pair can be a terrible hand. Usually, you’ll want to hit on soft hands like this, but a hard 15 can often be beaten by drawing just one more card.

If you’re new to blackjack, make sure you take a moment to look at the dealer’s hand before taking your first hit. By watching your dealer, you’ll be able to see if he has a hot or cold table. Those with hot tables will be more likely to have good advice and those with cold tables will be less willing to give you the time of day.