The Basics of Blackjack


Blackjack is a card game in which players compete against the dealer to build a hand that totals 21 or less. Players make bets and are dealt two cards; the dealer also gets two, one face up and the other face down. Players may then choose to stand, hit, surrender, split, or double down. The dealer acts last and must hit on 16 or less and stand on 17 through 21. If the dealer busts, the player wins and is paid 1 to 1. If the player has a hand that totals 21 before the dealer, it is a “blackjack” and is paid 3 to 2.

Blackjack, which is often played with small bets, can be very profitable. Using basic strategy and observing the dealer’s behavior, the house edge can be reduced to less than 1% (rules dependent). Blackjack is a casino game that has certain procedures, codes of conduct, and playing strategies that should be followed in order not to arouse the ire of fellow players or the dealer.

In order to play blackjack, you will need to have the proper money in place. Most casinos will not accept cash for this purpose; you must use the casino’s casino chips, which are dispensed from special betting spots on the table. Usually, the dealer will convert your cash into chips for you, but you should ask before making your bets.

The dealer should always be approached with courtesy and respect. He or she is the only person that knows how the game is played and has a responsibility to inform the players of this information. A dealer who is rude or unprofessional can ruin the experience for all players at the table.

Some casinos will lower the payout on blackjacks to 6 to 5, which increases the house edge and makes it very difficult to win any money at all. Be sure to read the rules of each table before you start playing, and don’t be afraid to ask the dealer about any unusual or unclear rules.

Blackjack was most likely invented in the 1700s and is thought to have evolved from the French game Vingt-et-Un. The game became known as blackjack in the US after a publicity campaign by a casino owner who claimed that the game offered the best odds of winning to his customers.

Roger Baldwin, Wilbert Cantey, Herbert Maisel, and James McDermott, referred to as the Four Horsemen of Aberdeen, developed and published the first reasonably accurate basic playing strategy for blackjack. Their work proved that the game could be beaten by following a strict set of playing rules, and their efforts were recognized in 2008 when they were inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame. Their book, Beat the Dealer, made major waves in the gambling industry and remains one of the best-selling books on the subject of blackjack. The principles they outlined in the book are still used today by most serious blackjack players.