The Basics of Blackjack


Blackjack is a card game between player and dealer in which the goal is to create a hand value closer to 21 than that of the dealer’s hand value. A hand totaling 21 is known as a “blackjack,” which grants equal money wins if neither party also have one; otherwise either side may win or lose.

Before beginning the game, players place a bet and are then dealt two face up cards from the dealer, according to rules that vary based on both game variation and casino. Players then can hit, stand, double down or surrender (when permitted) during their turn; additionally there may also be optional moves like re-splitting and insurance available only at certain tables or games; not all casinos provide these services.

When to Double Down

A blackjack double down occurs when your starting hand is strong enough that an additional card would significantly improve it. Some examples of strong starting hands include hard 11, which consists of your initial two cards plus any pair of 10s dealt at random, or any seven or nine with an Ace visible if playing against the dealer who already has one showing. It is wiser only to double down when your starting hand value surpasses that of the dealer; otherwise it could end in disaster.

When to Stand

A decision to stand in blackjack should generally be based on when your hand value exceeds that which you believe can beat the dealer with. A 17 or greater hand should always be allowed to stand, even when facing off against an Ace from your dealer as this avoids taking the risk of improving it and giving him/her a chance at going bust first.

Hit in Blackjack

In blackjack, hitting is when requesting additional cards for your hand. This strategy should generally only be considered if your starting hand has low values and additional cards will improve them; odds for the next hand won’t change after each hit though so only hit when there is good reason. It is wise not to hit on soft hands because that increases their likelihood of loss; an exception would be an Ace and 10 hand which are considered natural and should always be hit upon as they give you greater odds against dealers’ hands than any other combination could ever give.