Blackjack is a game of skill and strategy as well as luck. It involves playing against the dealer, and the player’s goal is to score a high hand total without going over 21. The highest hand wins – sometimes the player, sometimes the dealer. Regardless of the outcome, players must maintain their composure and be aware of their surroundings at all times. It is important to be able to communicate effectively with your fellow players and the dealer to ensure everyone’s enjoyment of the game.
Dealers are responsible for running the table, and how they interact with their players plays a major role in the quality of the game. Dealers must be knowledgeable about the rules and payouts of the game, and can answer any questions that players might have. They must also be able to maintain their concentration and keep the flow of play moving at a rapid pace.
Before each blackjack shift, dealers meet with supervisors to discuss any specifics of their work schedule, which table they will begin their shift on, and other details pertaining to the blackjack tables in the casino. The meeting is usually short, and the dealer will then proceed to their assigned table.
The blackjack dealer deals cards to the players seated at the table in turn, one card at a time. Each player will then look at their cards, and decide whether they want to hit, stand, split or double. The dealer will then reveal their hole card. Watching how long the dealer takes to look at the card and what angle they bend it at can help you tell if they have a good or bad blackjack.
If a player’s first two cards are an Ace and a ten-value card, giving them a count of 21 in two cards, they have a “natural” or blackjack. This is a winning hand and pays out immediately. The dealer will collect the bets of any other players who do not have naturals, but will not pay out their own bet.
Some blackjack players try to gain an advantage by counting cards as they are dealt. This requires considerable mental math skills and a great deal of practice. It can be very distracting and lead to mistakes if you are not careful, so it is important to practice in the safety of your own home.
Another way to gain an edge in blackjack is to learn the basic strategies. In general, it is best to hit a hand of 12-16 and stand on a hand over 17. Always split pairs of 8’s and 10’s, and never split 6’s or 5’s. A common mistake is to split a pair of aces when the dealer has a 10, so be very careful with this.
Lastly, a player can “insure” their bet by placing half of their bet amount on the “Insure” line before the dealer flips their card. This protects the player from losing their bet if the dealer has a 10. This option is only available when the dealer’s up card is an Ace.