Blackjack is a card game in which players compete to beat the dealer with a hand that totals 21. There are a lot of different ways to play this game, but there are some universal rules and strategies that all players should know. This article will go over some of the basic rules and strategies of blackjack, and help you understand how to make the best decisions at the table.
Blackjack starts with the player making a bet, and then the dealer dealing two cards to each player and one to herself (one face up, the other face down). The players then decide whether to stand, hit, surrender, double down or split. The dealer will only hit on 16 or less, and must stand on 17 through 21. The player wins if their hand is higher than the dealer’s, or if they have 21 and the dealer busts. The payoff for a blackjack is 1 to 1. Players also win if they tie the dealer, which is known as a push.
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about blackjack, but the basic game is very simple. All you need is an Ace and a ten-valued card to get a blackjack, and you must be the first player to do so. Splitting a pair of Aces is not a blackjack, but it is a very strong hand on its own. Doubling down on an 11 against a dealer’s up card is a very good bet, and you should always do so unless the dealer has a blackjack. However, doubling down on a pair of 5s against a dealer’s up card is not a good bet, and you should never do so in most cases.
The dealer offers insurance in most games, which is a side bet that pays 2 to 1 if the dealer has a blackjack. Taking this bet is not a good idea, as it will lose you money in the long run. The dealer has a blackjack less than one-third of the time, so this bet is very risky.
Originally, the game of blackjack was dealt with a single deck of cards that were manually shuffled and pitched to the players face down. The players picked up their cards to look at them, and either tucked them under their chips or scraped them on the felt towards themselves to signal to the dealer whether they wanted to stand or hit. Untied player blackjack hands were paid 3-to-2.
In 1956, Roger Baldwin, Wilbert Cantey, Herbert Maisel and James McDermott, who are often referred to as the Four Horsemen of Aberdeen, developed the first reasonably accurate basic playing strategy for blackjack. They proved that the game offered the best odds of winning if players followed a certain set of rules. Their work was published in the Journal of the American Statistical Society and later in the book Playing Blackjack to Win. Their research was a breakthrough that led to the development of modern casino games and gambling analysis.