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The Basics of Blackjack


Blackjack is the most popular card game in casinos and is played by one or more players against a dealer. The goal is to build cards that total as close to 21 as possible without going over. The game may also include side bets, such as insurance and doubling down. The rules of these bets vary depending on the casino and the number of decks used.

The game is played with one or more 52-card decks and the value of each card is either its number, a face card (such as a King, Queen, or Jack) or an ace which can be valued at either 1 or 11. Players are dealt two cards and the dealer gets one. They can choose to hit (take another card), stand, or double down based on their hand and the dealer’s visible card.

A player’s total of 21 on the first two cards is called a “blackjack” or a “natural,” and it automatically wins 3:2 as long as the dealer does not also have a blackjack. In some casinos, a player may also be able to take Insurance against the dealer’s up card. This bet pays 2:1, but the odds of a dealer having a blackjack are very low and it is generally unwise to take this bet.

Other than a natural, the most common way to win in blackjack is to beat the dealer’s hand. The best hand is a “soft” 17 (meaning a dealer’s total of 17 with an ace that counts as a 1 or 11). Dealers usually have to hit on soft hands, but some dealers will stand on them if the player has a blackjack. If the dealer has a blackjack, all players lose their bets, except those who have also drawn a blackjack (which is a push and no money exchanges hands).

Like most casino games, blackjack has a house advantage that will play itself out over time. However, it is possible to reduce this advantage to less than one percent by following basic strategy, a set of guidelines for when to hit and when to stand, double down, or split. Basic strategy is based on the player’s point total and the dealer’s visible card, and it varies slightly from one casino to the next.

Many casino employees work in blackjack because it is a fun and social game that can earn them extra bonuses and cash-outs, accelerated withdrawals, higher table limits, and VIP rewards. These benefits can increase their motivation and make the job more enjoyable. Moreover, this game requires very little physical effort and can be played by people of all ages and fitness levels. The game can be easily learned by observing and listening to experienced dealers. A good dealer can encourage new customers to come back and increase their spending. Eventually, it can lead to promotion into a management position at a casino. Those who seek a higher salary should consider working in blackjack.

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