Beginner’s Guide to How to Play Blackjack

Blackjack is one of the most popular card games in America, both in homes and casinos. Not only is it simple to play, it offers some of the fairest odds to the player. Following is a basic overview of this fun and rewarding game.

The object of blackjack is to be dealt a hand that equals up to twenty one without going over. The players bet against the dealer so it’s possible to have several winning hands at one time. Each player is dealt two cards, face down, while the dealer receives one card face down and the second card face up.

All players place their bets before the cards are dealt. Casinos usually have minimum bets posted at each table as well as the payoffs. If a table has a one dollar minimum and a 2:1 payoff then each player must bet at least one dollar. If they win, the dealer will pay them two dollars for each dollar bet.

In blackjack, an ace can equal either one or eleven, all face cards (jacks, queens and kings) equal ten, and the remainder equal their numerical value. For example, a jack (ten) plus an Ace (eleven) equals twenty one. This is a natural twenty one or blackjack. Another way to reach twenty one involves asking for a “hit” from the dealer at the appropriate time. To do this, the blackjack player traditionally sweeps his cards across the felt using a subtle scooping motion. Each successive card is placed face up. He may continue asking for hits until he reaches as close to twenty one as he is comfortable or until he busts (goes over twenty one).

If a player is dealt a natural blackjack and the dealer does not have one, the dealer pays him off immediately. If the dealer is dealt a natural blackjack, he collects the bets from all the players who do not have one. If one of the players also has a natural blackjack, then the player and the dealer are at a standoff meaning that neither pays nor collects.

Sometimes a player will receive two matching cards in a hand such as two jacks or two eights. If he chooses, he may split the pair into two separate hands. He will need to place a second (and equal) bet for the second hand and he will receive a second card for each. He may hit as desired for each hand. The dealer treats each hand separately and pays accordingly if either hand is a winner.

Unless rules stating otherwise are posted at the table, the dealer must stand if he has seventeen or more. If he has sixteen or less, he must continue drawing until he reaches seventeen or above at which point he must stand.

Once all cards have been played, the dealer settles up. If the dealer went over twenty one, he pays the players who have stayed in the game without going bust. If the dealer stands at twenty one or less, he pays any player who beat him and collects the bets from any player with a lower score. He is considered at a standoff with any player with an identical total and that player neither wins nor loses.

While the game of blackjack has many variations, rules, and strategies ranging from simple to complex the basic premise is easy to catch on to. Get as close to twenty one without going bust and try to beat the dealer’s hand.

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