Blackjack is one of the most popular casino card games. Its simplicity makes it a game that can be played by nearly anyone with a basic understanding of card values and probability theory. While many people believe that Blackjack is a game that cannot be beat, there are techniques that can give you a legal advantage over the dealer. These methods are often referred to as card counting. This article will provide an overview of the basics of the game, some key terms, and how to play it effectively.
In Blackjack the object is to get a hand value closer to 21 than the dealer’s without going over. To do this you draw cards from the deck until you have a total that is closer to 21 than the dealer’s. If you get a Blackjack then your bet is paid at 3/2 if it wins (unless the dealer also has a Blackjack in which case a tie results).
All other cards have their face value; 2s through 10s count as their numbers, and the Aces can count as 1 or 11 at the player’s choice. Splitting is permitted for any two cards that have the same rank, but you can only receive one additional card for each split. You can also double down on any of your original bet, but this will cost you an extra bet.
Some casinos limit the number of cards that can be split, and they may also restrict the type of cards that can be split. Aside from these restrictions, you can choose to Hit, Stand, or Double Down as you wish. The dealer will then deal the rest of his/her cards.
Before a dealer deals any cards he/she asks players for insurance bets which are placed on an “insurance bar” above their chips. A player can place an insurance bet for up to half of their original bet and it pays 2-1 if the dealer has a Blackjack.
In some casinos, the player can also make side bets on specific events that occur during the game. These bets can include placing a bet that the dealer will bust, betting on your hand making a certain poker hand with the dealer’s up card, and many other things. These bets are paid at various odds depending on the casino and can add a lot of money to your bankroll.
In the last 30 years or so, a number of blackjack players have explored different ways to improve their chances of beating the dealer at Blackjack. Four of these players (Baldwin, Cantey, Maisel, and McDermott) wrote a book in 1957 called Playing Blackjack to Win that made explicit references to a basic strategy and to keeping track of cards as a way to tilt the game in your favor. However, it would be another decade before the birth of true card counting and the widespread popularity of this method of beating blackjack.