Blackjack is a casino card game that pits the dealer against the player. The game is played on a semicircular table that usually accommodates five to seven players (or spots). A typical blackjack shoe holds multiple decks of cards and is shuffled frequently to keep the cards appearing as random as possible. This is also done to prevent counting cards.
The game begins when the player selects a seat at the table. Most tables are set up to allow for up to seven players, but you can also find games that only accommodate five or six players. Once you’ve selected a seat, the cards are dealt and the player acts last. If you have two cards that add up to 21 or a picture card and a 10—a hand known as a blackjack—you immediately win your bet. If the dealer has a blackjack, you don’t win any money and the hand is called a push.
While there are a few basic rules of blackjack, it’s primarily a game of strategy. You can reduce the house’s advantage to a small percentage by following a simple strategy that determines when you should hit or stand, and when it’s better to split or double down. There are different strategies depending on how many decks of cards you’re dealing with and the specific house rules.
Some unscrupulous dealers try to take advantage of new players. They may offer them “even money” on their insurance wagers when they have a blackjack. This is a scam, because the dealer will check their hole card (using a special viewing window in the table) and if they have a ten underneath, they’ll collect everyone’s original wager and pay out any insurance bets at 2 to 1.
If you have a blackjack on a split hand and the dealer shows a 10, it’s usually best to stand. This is because a dealer’s ace has a 40% chance of busting, which will cost you more chips than winning by splitting.
It’s important to know when to walk away from a table, as well. Like poker, blackjack has hot and cold tables. It’s easy for players to spot a table that’s running hot by simply paying attention to the amount of money they’re winning and losing.
If you’re planning to play blackjack professionally, you should be proficient in mathematics. This will empower you to calculate your earnings accurately, as well as use mental math when distributing cards to customers. It’s also a good idea to learn to speak another language, as it can improve your career opportunities. If you’re interested in becoming a blackjack dealer, you can attend a dealer school that offers specialized training. These courses typically take eight to 12 weeks to complete and are a great way to get hands-on experience in the industry.