The Basics of Blackjack

Blackjack is a card game where players compete against the dealer. The goal is to have a hand total that beats the dealer’s without exceeding 21. In a typical blackjack game, two cards are dealt to each player and the dealer also receives two cards (one face up and one face down). Players can choose to stand, hit, split, or double down.

The cards used in blackjack are from a standard 52-card deck. Number cards (2-10) score their numerical value, face cards (10, Jack, Queen, and King) score 10 points, and the Ace can be scored either 1 or 11. Suits are irrelevant in the game.

Before playing, players must make a bet. The minimum bet is typically $5. Cash is not allowed to be placed as bets; instead, players must use casino chips which are distributed by the dealer. After a player has made his bet, the dealer deals each player and himself two cards. The dealer acts last and must hit on all hands with a total of 16 or less and stand on 17 or more. If the dealer’s hand total is higher than the player’s, the dealer wins. If the dealer’s hand is lower than 21 but equal to the player’s, the player wins a push/tie and retains his bet.

Some blackjack games offer a side bet called insurance. This bet pays if the dealer’s up card is an ace. Other side bets may pay out when the dealer’s first two cards are matching in value (a pair). In a tie, the player’s bet is returned.

It is important for dealers to be friendly and respectful when dealing with the players. While it is natural for players to be unhappy when they lose, the dealer must remain calm and professional, even if the player becomes aggressive or abusive. A good dealer will recognize and report any shady behavior to the casino supervisor.

In addition to offering impeccable customer service, dealers must be able to calculate numbers quickly in their brains to determine who has won each hand and reward the appropriate payouts. They must also be able to identify any foul play, cheating, or collusion between players.

Although blackjack is a simple game, it can become complicated when a player makes the wrong decisions. A good way to prevent this is by learning the basic rules of the game and familiarizing yourself with the betting options and odds. This will help you make wise choices and improve your chances of winning. It is also helpful to know how to deal the cards correctly and understand the rules of the table. For example, if you have a soft 16, you should stay rather than draw to a hard 16. This is because the odds of busting are much higher if you draw to a soft hand than a hard hand. It is a good idea to practice before playing for real money. The more you practice, the better you will be at blackjack.