One of the most popular table games in casinos is blackjack, but it is very important to know the basics of how to play blackjack before sitting down at the table. The object of blackjack is to have your hand of cards as close to 21 as possible without going over (this is why the game is sometimes referred to simply as "21"). Going over is called "busting" or "going bust." You play against the dealer, not against the other players, so as long as your hand is better than the dealer's at the end of the hand, you will win. Here are a few important basics on how to play blackjack as a beginner that you'll need to know:
- All face cards equal ten. This means that kings, queens, jacks and tens all have the same value.
- Aces can equal one or ten. This will depend on which value makes your hand better. For example, if you have a ten and an ace, the ace will equal eleven, but if you have a nine and a six and an ace, the ace will equal one.
- The dealer must hit on all hand values below seventeen, and must stay once he/she reaches seventeen. Because of this, you will usually want to equal or beat seventeen with your hand. In learning how to play blackjack, you should never hit on a seventeen, unless it is a soft seventeen (one of your cards is an ace).
- You play your hand based on the one card the dealer has showing. Because there are so many cards in the deck that equal ten, you must assume that the dealer has a ten as his hole card. The card that the dealer has showing will help you determine whether to hit, stay, split or double down. When learning how to play blackjack it is important to consult a chart in determining whether or not to hit.
- You can double down. This means doubling your bet in order to receive only one more card. Always double down on eleven. It is usually advisable to double down on ten as well. Once you have learned the basics of how to play blackjack, you can begin experimenting with other double-down times, such as when you have a soft seventeen (a six and an ace).
- You can split your hand if you have two identical cards. By doubling your bet, you can split your hand, in essence playing two hands at once. Always split aces and eights.
Once you know these basics of how to play blackjack, you are ready to hit the tables and learn more by playing. Don't forget your hit/stay chart on your first few trips to the table, and you'll be a pro in no time.