#### The Basics of Blackjack

Blackjack is a casino table game where players play against the dealer. Players are dealt two cards and can choose to ask for another (hit) until they reach a total of 21 or bust. Face cards count as 10 and an ace can count as either 1 or 11. The dealer also gets two cards but one is face up and the other is down and she must draw until she has a total of 17 or higher. The player’s hand is then compared to the dealer’s. If the player’s total is closer to 21 than the dealer’s, the player wins and their original bet is paid out.

There are many misconceptions about the objective of blackjack but at a basic level all you need to do is beat the dealer by having a hand value of 21 from your first two cards or more when she does not have a total of 21. This is called a “natural” or “blackjack.” Other winning hands include a pair of 11s, splitting pairs of 8s and aces, and a hand consisting of an ace and a card with a value of 10, also known as a “blackjack.”

In addition to the standard rules of blackjack there are several side bets that can be placed which change the odds of the game and affect your payout. These include insurance, surrender and doubling down. In some casinos these are optional while others require them to be made at the beginning of each round.

Once all players have placed their bets, the dealer will check her hole card using a special viewing window in the table. If she has a ten underneath, she has a Blackjack and all of the players who made insurance wagers will be paid out at 2 to 1. If she does not have a ten underneath, she will continue to deal out cards until she has a total of 17 or more.

Some players believe that there are techniques that can be used to give the player a legal advantage over the dealer, but this requires a good memory and knowledge of probability theory. A more straightforward approach is to use a chart that provides the best strategy for each situation. It won’t always be perfect but it will be close enough and it is much easier to remember than the complicated mathematical formulas used in card counting. In fact, Edward Thorp’s book Beat the Dealer describes a simple strategy that can make blackjack an almost even game for the player.