Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games. Unlike roulette, which is based on chance and requires the skill of a professional to play, blackjack has only a small element of luck involved and is easy for beginners to understand.
The goal of the game is to beat the dealer’s hand by scoring 21 or as close to 21, as possible without going over. The dealer will have a hole card in front of them, while the player has an up-card and a down-card. The dealer will then look at their face-up card and check for a blackjack (an Ace plus a ten-value card). If the dealer has a blackjack, they will pay out the player’s bet.
How to Win at Blackjack
The best way to win at blackjack is to know the rules and to follow basic strategy. This is the optimal way to play for every combination of player and dealer up-cards, based on millions of hands played over the years.
A two-card hand that has a value of 21 (an ace plus a ten-value card) is called a “natural” or “blackjack.” This is the most common outcome, and the winner is paid 3 to 2 on their bet. However, some casinos will pay out only 6 to 5 on a natural; this is decried by many longtime players.
Some casinos will also allow you to make a side bet on insurance. This is a bet on whether the dealer has a blackjack, and you can place up to half your original wager on this side bet.
Insurance and Even Money
If the dealer has an ace as an up-card, she will ask you if you want to take insurance. This is a bet that will pay out two to one if the dealer has a blackjack, but only a skilled card counter can profit from it.
In addition to a basic bet, insurance and even money are available as side bets at most blackjack tables. This is a very risky move, and should only be made by skilled card counters.
Before the dealer checks her up-card, she will ask you a series of questions about your hand. If you decide to take insurance, you will be offered an additional bet equal to your original wager.
When you take insurance, you are betting that the dealer will have a blackjack before she checks her hole card. This is similar to the even-money option, but insurance pays out at a higher rate than even money.
Once the dealer has checked her hole card, she will ask you if you have a blackjack. If you have a blackjack, you will lose your original bet, but you will be paid 2 to 1 on your insurance wager.
If you do not have a blackjack, you will be asked if you would like to draw more cards. You can do this as many times as you like until you decide to stand.