How to Play Blackjack

Blackjack is a card game played by a dealer and up to seven players. The goal of the game is to have a hand totaling closer to 21 than the dealer’s. Players can choose to hit, stand, double down, or surrender. The player with the highest total wins the round. Players are paid out at 1 to 1 for winning hands and lose when they go over 21, or bust.

To begin playing blackjack, players make a bet in the betting circle in front of them. The dealer will then deal them two cards. The dealer will also receive two cards, one face up and the other face down (the “hole card”). The dealer will offer insurance to players who wish to do so. Insurance is a side bet that pays out 2 to 1 if the dealer has a blackjack.

When a player has a hand of 10 or higher, they may decide to “stand.” This means that they will keep their current cards and not ask for another. This is the most common play, and it can be a good one if your cards are high enough to beat the dealer’s. A player’s total can also be improved by splitting their hand into two separate hands. This is done when they have two identical cards such as two aces or two tens.

Another way to improve a blackjack hand is to hit it. This is a riskier move, as the chances of getting an Ace, 2, 3, or 4 are much greater. However, hitting can improve a player’s chances of winning the round if they are dealt a lower than their initial cards.

A player can also increase their current bet amount by “doubling down.” This is a good option if the player believes that an additional card will improve their odds of making a better hand. It’s important for players to understand the difference between a hard and soft hand when deciding whether to hit or stand. A hard hand is worth its printed value, while a soft hand is worth more if it has an Ace.

When a player wants to hit, they must signal to the dealer that they would like another card by making a beckoning motion or scratching the table with their finger. The dealer will then give the player the next card. In shoe games, the dealer will also mark where the deck should be cut by placing a solid red card on the table. This helps to ensure that the cards are evenly divided when the deck is cut. The shoe typically holds multiple decks of cards, and the dealer will shuffle after around 50% of the deck has been used. This is done to prevent players from counting cards. In addition, a second shoe with multiple decks of cards will be brought in once the first has been used up. This makes it very difficult to count cards in the game.