The Basics of Blackjack

Blackjack is a card game where players compete against the dealer. The goal is to build a hand of cards that totals closer to 21 than the dealer’s. Each player gets two cards, and the dealer also has one face up. Players can ask for more cards (hit) or stick with their current hand (stand). A score of 21 on the first two cards is called a “blackjack” and pays 3:2 in most casinos. The rest of the cards count according to their value, with 10s counting as 10, and Aces either 1 or 11, depending on the holder’s choice.

After all the players have acted, the dealer turns up his or her face card and compares it to the player’s hand. If the dealer has an Ace, players can take insurance, which is a side bet that pays 2 to 1. Players may also choose to surrender if they have a hand that’s likely to bust, and this will cost them their original wager.

When the dealer has a high-value card, they must hit. However, if they have a low-value card, they must stand. Players can also split pairs of cards, but only if they have matching values. For example, a pair of 7s can be split to form two hands of 5 and 7. When splitting, the player must place an additional bet equal to the original, and each new hand receives one more card.

The players can also choose to double down on any two-card combination, but only if the dealer is showing a 9, 10 or Ace. If the dealer has an Ace, the players can also choose to stake up to half of their original bet as “Insurance”, which covers them if the dealer gets blackjack.

There are hundreds of different blackjack side bets, but the most common is insurance. These bets are made at the same time as the main bet and pay out if the dealer has a blackjack. Other side bets include betting on a specific player’s cards making a poker hand with the dealer’s up-card, and on whether the dealer will bust.

In addition to these side bets, most blackjack tables offer a “Dealer Match” bet that pays when the dealer’s up-card matches the player’s cards. Some tables also allow you to double down on soft 17s, which is usually a good idea if the dealer is showing a 10. In the last 20 years or so, blackjack has become very popular with casino customers and many people have tried to make money from this game. Although many people think of blackjack as a game of chance, it actually has a very strong foundation in math and statistics. As a result, it’s possible to create a winning strategy for this game by following certain rules and playing smartly. To do this, you should understand basic strategy, which was developed by computer engineers by analyzing millions of hands and determining the best way to play each situation.