# The Basics of Blackjack

Blackjack is a card game played by players and dealers. The goal is to get a hand that totals 21 or is as close to it as possible without going over (busting). If the player and dealer have identical hands, they tie. Otherwise, the player wins and is paid an amount equal to their original bet. If the dealer has a blackjack, the player loses their initial bet. Side bets are also available in blackjack; these can include betting on getting a pair as your first two cards, betting that the dealer’s card will match yours, and so on. These bets are made at the same time as your main wager and typically require a minimum bet.

The blackjack rules are straightforward: place your chips in the betting areas on the table and you and the dealer will be dealt two cards each. If your first two cards add up to 21 (an ace and a 10), you have a “natural” or “blackjack,” and the dealer will pay you one and a half times your original bet. If your first two cards are of different values, you must decide whether to hit or stand. To hit, indicate to the dealer that you want another card by making a beckoning motion or tapping the table behind your cards lightly with your finger. To stand, signal the dealer that you wish to keep your current hand by making a crosswise motion with your hand or touching it to the card in front of it.

While blackjack may seem like a game of pure chance, it is actually a game of mathematics and statistics. There is always a right and a wrong way to play a blackjack hand, so be sure to learn basic strategy before you head out to the casino. You can practice basic strategy on a blackjack computer program or on a real blackjack table at home where you can give the game your full attention.

A blackjack strategy chart is a quick and easy way to figure out the best move for any given situation in the game. The chart is based on a mathematical approach to the game developed by four US Army engineers in the 1950s and refined with the help of computers that simulated millions of blackjack hands. The chart provides a clear view of the optimal strategy for hitting, standing, splitting, and double downing in different situations.

When playing blackjack, it is important to remember that the house has an edge over the player. This is because the game involves a lot of money being exchanged between the casino and the players, especially when side bets are taken into account. In addition, there are a number of card counting techniques that can be used to reduce the house edge and give the player an advantage. However, the vast majority of casino patrons do not use these techniques and therefore the house edge remains at about 5.5 percent.