Blackjack is one of the most popular casino card games and, despite its simplicity, can be very difficult to master. Unlike other table games where you play against the other players at the table, in blackjack the player is only competing against the dealer. The objective of the game is to get a better hand total than the dealer without going over 21. This is accomplished by counting cards, knowing when to hit or stand, and using basic strategy.
The game begins when the dealer gives each player 2 cards. The cards are face up so that you can see the value of them. The player then makes a playing decision. Hit: You want the dealer to give you another card. You can indicate to the dealer that you want a hit by making a beckoning motion with your finger or by tapping the table behind your cards lightly on the felt. Stand: You want to keep your current hand. You can signal to the dealer that you want to stand by making a sweeping motion with your right hand or by scratching the edges of your cards in your hand lightly on the felt.
Double: You can double your initial wager if you are confident that you will beat the dealer with your first two cards. In some casinos, you can increase your bet up to twice the original amount. This is called doubling down and is one of the more profitable strategies in blackjack.
Insurance: If you believe that the dealer has a blackjack, you can make an insurance bet of up to half your initial bet. When you place your insurance bet, it will be placed on a special area of the table called the “insurance bar.” The dealer will then check her hole card (using a special viewing window in the table) and if she has a ten underneath, she will pay off any insurance bets at 1 to 1.
If the dealer does not have a ten, she will sweep your bet. However, if your hand total is higher than the dealer’s and you have a blackjack, you will win your bet and receive a payout of 3 to 2.
Side bets: There are hundreds of different side bets available at a Blackjack table. Most of these bets require you to place a bet at the same time as your main wager. These bets can range from betting that your hand will make a particular poker hand with the dealer’s up-card to whether or not the dealer will bust.
The game of blackjack has undergone many subtle and some major changes in its long history. However, in 1956 Roger Baldwin, Wilbert Cantey, Herbert Maisel and James McDermott, referred to collectively as the Four Horsemen of Aberdeen, developed the first reasonably accurate basic playing strategy for the game. They used hand calculators to prove that blackjack offered the best odds of winning for players who followed a simple set of rules.