The Basics of Blackjack


Blackjack is a card game that requires players to work out the value of their cards and the dealer’s, trying to get as close to 21 as possible without going over. It is played with one or more 52-card decks and the cards have values ranging from 1 to 11, with aces counting as 11. Players must decide whether to stand (stop drawing cards) or draw (request more cards) based on certain rules. The game also has side bets such as insurance and surrender, which can boost winnings.

Dealers of blackjack must be competent in mathematics, as they must calculate payouts quickly and accurately. They must also be familiar with the rules of the game, including when to hit, stand, double down or split pairs. In addition, they must be able to interact with guests in a friendly and professional manner, though it is important that dealers avoid discussing politics or religion with guests.

Unlike other casino games, blackjack offers an element of player choice that can reduce the house edge to a small percentage. This is because players can make informed decisions about when to hit and when to stand, as well as when to double down or split pairs. Basic strategy is based on the player’s point total and the dealer’s visible card, but there are slight variations depending on the specific house rules and number of decks used.

If the player has a total of 21 on their first two cards, they win immediately, except if the dealer also has a 21, in which case it’s a tie, or push. A player can also request an extra card from the dealer, though this is often a bad idea. It is advisable to only ask for an additional card if the current value of your hand won’t cause you to go bust or you are confident that the dealer has a weak up-card.

In some casinos, a player can opt to take even money on their blackjack bet instead of receiving the standard 3:2 payout. However, this decision is often controversial, with some experts believing that taking even money is a poor play. Others believe that it is an acceptable option if the dealer has a strong up-card, such as an ace or ten, but it’s best to be aware of the different rules and play by the book.

When playing at a blackjack table, it is customary to leave your chips out on the table rather than holding them in your hand. This is a sign of respect and shows that you trust the dealer’s professionalism. It’s also important to keep personal items, such as bags and drinks, away from the blackjack table so that the cards remain unmarked and easy to read.

Many high schools offer vocational programs that can prepare students for careers as blackjack dealers. These programs usually include classroom instruction, hands-on practical experience, and mock gaming sessions. In some cases, students may be eligible to participate in an externship at a casino as part of their curriculum.