Blackjack is a casino card game in which players try to beat the dealer by getting a hand that totals closer to 21 than his or hers. Cards numbered 2-10 are worth their printed values, and aces count as either 1 or 11. A player who goes over 21 loses the hand, also known as busting. Players may hit (play more cards) or stand (stop playing). The dealer must continue to hit until he or she has a hand of 17 or higher.
The rules of blackjack vary from one casino to another, but basic strategy reduces the house edge to less than 1%. This is a significant advantage over other casino games, such as roulette or baccarat.
To learn how to play blackjack, you must be able to perform mental math and follow a set procedure for each hand. It is also important to practice your concentration, as you will need to focus on each step for long periods of time. You can do this by practicing at home with friends or family members.
If you are a beginner, it is recommended that you find a local casino where you can get hands-on experience dealing blackjack. Many casinos offer a blackjack apprenticeship program that allows you to work alongside experienced dealers and gain valuable skills in the game. In some cases, these programs take up to 12 weeks to complete and can prepare you for a career as a blackjack dealer.
In a typical blackjack game, players make bets and the dealer deals two cards to each player and two cards face up to himself. Then, each player decides whether to stand, hit, split, double down, or surrender. The dealer acts last and must hit on 16 or less and stand on 17 through 21. Players win when their hand is higher than the dealer’s or when they have a total of 21 without going over (a “blackjack”) and the dealer does not have a blackjack. Players also win if their first two cards are an ace and a ten-card, a total of 21 in just two cards, which is called a natural or blackjack and pays out one and a half times the player’s bet.
Some casino blackjack games feature side bets, such as the Insurance bet that pays when the dealer shows an ace. Other side bets can include the Double Down and Split bets, which pay when a player’s two cards are equal in value. Some blackjack games even allow players to switch cards between their two wagered hands or to surrender undesirable two-card hands for no additional cost. These rules can add to the excitement of the game and increase a player’s bankroll. But they can also skew the mathematical edge of the game and can cause mistakes that could be costly for the player. For example, if a player forgets to push his or her hand when holding a four-card 22, it would cost the player over an hour of play just to break even.