Blackjack is a game of chance in which players make wagers against the dealer. The objective is to have a hand that totals closer to 21 than the dealer’s without going over 21 (busting). A player wins if his hand is higher than the dealer’s; otherwise, he loses. If the player and dealer tie, it is a push and neither side wins. Unlike most casino games, in which cash is used to make bets, blackjack players use casino chips, also known as checks. Players place their chips in the betting circles on the blackjack table.
After the player has placed his bets, the dealer deals two cards to each player and one card face up to himself. The players then have the option of hitting, standing, doubling down, or surrendering. Players may buy insurance against the dealer’s possible blackjack; this cost is equal to the bet made, and is returned to the player if the dealer has a blackjack. In some casinos, a player may choose to split his ace and two other cards; this is known as a “split aces”. In most cases, splitting pairs of aces does not count as blackjack, but instead as an additional bet of equal value.
In most blackjack games, a player can win by getting a blackjack, which is an ace and any other card valued at 11 points. If the player has a blackjack, he is paid out 3:2 on his bet; however, in 2003 some casinos began paying less than 6:5, which significantly increases the house edge of the game.
The game is played on a standard blackjack table, which is marked with a felt playing surface and an overhead mirror for the dealer. Traditionally, blackjack was dealt from a shoe containing six or eight decks of cards, but in the United States the game is mostly played with a single deck.
Various rules exist for the game of blackjack, including the minimum bet and maximum bet, which are usually displayed on a sign above the table. Some tables may allow multiple players per hand, while others are reserved for the dealer and other high rollers. In addition, many casinos offer a variety of side bets, such as insurance and the super-double.
While there is no guaranteed way to beat the house in blackjack, basic strategy reduces the house edge to less than 1%, making it one of the best casino games for the player. Moreover, blackjack is an extremely easy game to learn.
The word “blackjack” is derived from the Latin for black oak, an evergreen shrub of the Quercus marilandica family that is found in much of the southeastern United States. The earliest recorded use of the term was in 16c., when it was applied to a tar-coated leather jug for carrying beer. More recently, it has been a popular name for a gambling game. The popularity of blackjack has declined over the past few decades as other casino games, such as baccarat and sports betting, have increased in the United States.