Blackjack is a game that involves skill as well as luck. The goal is to have a hand that totals closer to 21 than the dealer. The higher the total, the more you win. The game is played on a semicircular table that can seat varying numbers of players, from seven to twelve or more spots. The cards are dealt by the blackjack dealer who stands behind a chip rack and card deck. Players can play individually or as pairs.

Initially, each player is dealt two cards. A player may stand, which means not taking another card, or hit, which allows a player to take additional cards. Splitting cards is allowed but some casinos restrict the type of cards that can be split and require that any resulting hands have matching ranks. It is also possible to double down, which increases the amount a player is betting by as much as 2 times the original bet.

The value of the cards varies according to their numerical value from 2 through 10. All face cards (Jack, Queen and King) count as 10, while the Ace counts as either 1 or 11, as the player chooses. A player’s score is called a blackjack when an Ace and a card worth 10 are dealt in the first two cards. If the player has a Blackjack, they are paid one and a half to one.

Some casinos have lowered the payout for blackjacks from 3 to 2, decreasing the player’s advantage, but it is still a good idea to play this game at a casino that offers the proper rules. A blackjack strategy chart can help players maximize their chances for winning.

A player can also opt to pay insurance, which is a side bet that the dealer has a blackjack. It is important to note, however, that this bet loses money in the long run as dealers have a blackjack less than a third of the time.

Lastly, players can double down after receiving their first two cards if they are confident that they have a good chance of beating the dealer. This can increase the original bet by as much as twice and is a good way to win large amounts of money.

After the deal, each player has a few minutes to look over their cards and decide if they will stick with their current hand or change it. After the players have made their decisions, the dealer will reveal his hand and if it has a higher total than the player’s, the player wins the round and receives their original bet back. If the dealer has a higher hand than the player’s, they tie and no one wins or loses. A push, or ties, also happens when the player and the dealer have the same total. This means the player and the dealer both keep their original bets and the chips are swept away for another round of play.

The Basics of Blackjack