How to Play Blackjack


Blackjack is a game of chance and skill. The object is to obtain from the dealer cards whose values add up to, or are close to, 21, but do not exceed it. The game can be played against a dealer or other players. A player may also place side bets, which are not part of the main game but increase the house edge considerably.

The best way to learn how to play blackjack is to start with a basic strategy chart. This will help you make the right playing decisions and improve your chances of winning. However, it is important to keep in mind that this is a game of chance and there is no guarantee that you will win every hand. In fact, a large percentage of the hands you play will lose.

Before the dealer deals any cards, each player places a wager in one of the betting spots on the table. In most casinos, cash is not used to make bets; instead players must use casino chips. To purchase chips, simply take a seat at the blackjack table and wait for the dealer to finish dealing a hand before you ask for them. The dealer will then convert your cash into chips and place them in front of you on the blackjack table.

Once the players have placed their bets, they are dealt two cards each while the dealer receives one card face up and one card face down. If the first two cards that a player receives add up to 21 (an ace and a card valued at 10), that is a blackjack, and the player wins the hand. If the player’s cards do not add up to 21, the player must decide whether to draw another card or stand.

To draw a card, the player must indicate to the dealer that they want another card by either making a beckoning motion with their hand or tapping their hand lightly on the table. Players should only do this when they are sure that the next card will not cause them to go bust, or if they want to try to get closer to 21.

In addition to drawing cards, players can also stand with their current hand or surrender it. Surrendering means giving up before seeing what the dealer has and recovers half of your initial bet. If the dealer has a blackjack, then you will win your original bet.

While some players may prefer to try out different strategies, the most effective approach is to learn the odds of each situation and make the right decision based on mathematics rather than relying on instinct or hunches. Using math to make decisions is known as counting cards and it can dramatically increase your chances of winning. The most common method of counting cards is called the Hi-Lo system, but many other methods exist. You should avoid side bets, as these are not fair to the player and increase the house’s advantage over the player.