How to Play Blackjack


Blackjack is a casino card game where you play against the dealer. The objective is to beat the dealer by making a hand value closer to 21 than theirs without going bust. The dealer will deal each player two cards face up. The player’s goal is to make the best hand based on the value of their first two cards and the up card that the dealer shows. Each card has a specific value – 2s through 10s count as their face value, Jacks and Queens count as 10, and the Ace counts as either 1 or 11 depending on which is more advantageous to your hand.

Blackjack requires a good understanding of probability and math in order to improve your chances of winning. While it is not easy to master, there are a number of basic rules that will help you avoid some common mistakes made by novice players. In general, you should hit if your hand has a value of 16 or less and the dealer has a 7 or higher. In addition, it is usually wise to double down if you have a hard hand (as opposed to a soft one) when the dealer has a weak card. You should also know when to split pairs, as this can increase your odds of getting a better hand. Finally, you should always be aware of the table limits and maximum bet amounts as they are posted on the felt.

The first step in playing blackjack is selecting a seat. A blackjack table can accommodate up to seven players and you should always sit in a seat that is not being held by someone else (either with chips or a coat). Some tables will have a “No-Midshoe Entry” policy, so you will need to wait until that is over before joining the table.

Once you are seated, the dealer will deal everyone a hand of cards. After you look at your cards, you can choose whether to “Stand” or ask the dealer for another card. You should only request another card if you are confident that the additional card will not cause your hand to go bust, or you are willing to run the risk of losing your entire bet to the dealer.

You can also place an “Insurance” bet, which is equal to half your original stake and pays 2 to 1. This bet covers you in case the dealer has a blackjack.

Novice blackjack players will often miss opportunities to win by playing too defensively. They will stand when they should hit, and they will hesitate to split a pair of 2s against the dealer’s 7. These mistakes give up a lot of money to the house. In contrast, expert players will exploit every opportunity to maximize their wins. For example, they will hit 16 against a dealer’s 7 more frequently and they will double down and split pairs far more often than their timid counterparts.