Basic Blackjack Terms and Principles

Blackjack is a card game played by one or more players against a dealer. The goal is to have a higher total value than the dealer without going over 21 (busting). Players can hit, stand, split, double down, or surrender. Choosing the right option is important because each has different consequences. While the best strategy for each situation is different, learning basic blackjack terms and principles can help you make better decisions.

Before the cards are dealt, players must place a bet in the betting areas marked on the table. The minimum and maximum bets are usually posted on the table. Once the bets are placed, the dealer deals two cards to each player and himself, and the player must decide whether to hit or stand.

A hand of cards valued at 21 from the player’s first two is called a blackjack. It is possible to improve this hand by doubling down or splitting, depending on the dealer’s upcard. If the player’s initial two cards add up to 11 or more, hitting is generally recommended, as this gives them a much better chance of improving their hand than standing.

If the initial two cards are a pair of 2s or 3s, it is usually best to split them. This will give the player two more chances to make a strong hand, and also increases their odds of beating the dealer. Moreover, a pair of 2s and 3s have a high probability of busting, so they are prone to losing a lot of money in the long run if they are not split.

While it may be tempting to hit when your hand has a total of 17 or more, this can lead to a bad bust and cause you to lose the hand. Therefore, it is usually safer to stand on a hard 17, unless the dealer shows an Ace or a 10.

In blackjack, all number cards (2-10) have their respective values, face cards (Jack, Queen, King) have a value of 10, and an Ace can be either 1 or 11, as deemed fit by the player. The game is played using from one to eight standard 52-card decks.

When the dealer’s upcard is a 7 or higher, it is always best to hit. However, if the dealer has an Ace, it is generally safer to stand as this will reduce the risk of a bust.

After the dealer has finished dealing all of his cards, he will reveal his hand. If his hand has a value of 21 or more, the player wins and is paid their original bet. If his hand has less than 21, the player loses and their bet is lost. Ties are considered a push and both the player and the dealer will get their original bet back. The dealer then collects the cards, shuffles them, and starts a new round.