Blackjack is one of the most popular card games, and with good reason. The game has an easy premise: beat the dealer. How does a player do that? He or she can’t “bust” (i.e.—go over 21) and must out score the dealer, or, have the dealer “bust.” It may sound like a complicated concept, but with some basic tips, Blackjack is a challenging, engaging, and fun card game.
Blackjack is played with a 52-card deck, where aces can be counted as 1 or 11, 2 to 9 are counted at face value, and tens and face cards (i.e.—Jack, Queen, King) are counted at ten points each. A player’s hand is calculated by the sum of the values of the cards. A “blackjack” is a perfect score of 21 with an ace and a 10-point card.
After the players have placed their bets, the dealer will distribute two cards to the players and two cards to him or herself. One of the dealer cards is face up; the other will be face down. The face down card is called a “hole card.”
Let’s say the dealer has an ace showing as his face up card. He or she will offer “insurance,” which is a side bet that pays 2 to 1 if the dealer’s “hole card” is a 10-point card. If the dealer does have a blackjack, then all players lose, unless a player also has a blackjack.
If this is not the case, then the game begins with the player to the dealer’s left. From there, there are several different options. A player can “stand” with his or her cards, meaning that, essentially, nothing happens. A player can also “hit,” which means he or she draws another card (or more). If the card or cards cause the player’s hand to exceed 21, he or she “busts” and loses.
A player can also “double” their bet and get only one more card. Or, they can “split.” This means that if a player has a pair or two 10-point cards, he or she can double their bet and break the cards into two hands. The dealer will give each of these cards a second card. Then, the player can go on with their hands as above.
In some cases, a player may also “surrender.” This means he or she forfeits half of his or her wager and does not play the hand.
After the players take their turns, the dealer turns over his or her “hole card.” If the dealer has 16 or less, he or she will draw another card. If the dealer goes “bust,” then any player at the table who did not “bust” wins. If the dealer doesn’t “bust,” then whomever has the highest total card point value wins.