Blackjack is a card game where players try to get a higher hand total than the dealer without going over 21. It is played with one to eight 52-card decks at a table that seats 2-7 players. Number cards (2 through 10) are worth their face value, jacks, queens and kings are worth 10 points and aces can be valued at either 1 or 11. Suits are irrelevant. Players may split pairs of cards and play them separately. When a player has an ace and a picture card or 10 in their first two cards, they have a “natural” or blackjack and win immediately (unless the dealer also has a natural, which results in a tie). In the case of a tie, bets are returned without adjustment.
Novice players often lose at blackjack because they don’t fully understand the rules of the game. Expert players, on the other hand, know the game inside and out because they’ve spent a lot of time studying it. But even expert players can fall victim to some common misconceptions about blackjack.
One of the biggest misconceptions about blackjack is that you win by beating the dealer. While a dealer-beaten blackjack is possible, it’s rare. The vast majority of the time, you’re just trying to beat the dealer’s hand total.
Another major misconception is that the goal of blackjack is to have a “blackjack” or a hand with a value of 21. While a hand of 21 on your first two cards is possible, it’s very unlikely and you’ll need an ace and a ten-value card to make it happen. In reality, a blackjack only wins when the dealer doesn’t have one and it pays out at 1.5 times your original wager.
Many newcomers to the game mistakenly think that they can improve their chances of winning by increasing their bet size. This is a mistake because it gives the house an advantage over the player. A better strategy is to study the odds of a particular hand and adjust your bet accordingly. For example, as more high cards remain in the deck, you’ll be able to make more blackjacks and the dealer will bust more often, which will improve your odds of winning.
In some blackjack games, the dealer offers a side bet called insurance, which is really just an increased version of the player’s original wager. The dealer will check their hole card for a ten before paying out the bets of players who made an insurance wager. If the dealer has a ten underneath their ace, they will collect all the insurance bets and continue playing as usual. Otherwise, the bets will push. In addition, some blackjack games require that the dealer never take an insurance bet and offer different payouts for splits and double downs. These variations in the game can make a big difference to your bankroll!