The blackjack table is a mainstay at casinos the world over, and its popularity likely stems from its simplicity, as well as the fact that it allows the player to make decisions about his/her hand, as opposed to other games like roulette and craps, where the player only player choice is which bet to make. Whether it is online blackjack or offline, the basic strategy for blackjack is easy to master, and the skilled player can reduce the casino’s edge to less than 1% (better than playing Roulette, Craps, or even Online Slots!).

Although most people are familiar with the fundamental rules of blackjack (try to make 21 without going over) many may be intimidated to sit down with a dealer for the first time, fearing that they will not only lose money but “mess up” their hands and look foolish in front of the other players. Fortunately, most blackjack dealers are friendly and will even guide you through decisions at the table if you require help.

When you first take your place at the blackjack table, you should take note of several things. In front of you will be a rectangular box where your cards are placed as well as a circular area to place your chip or chips, which will serve as your bet. There may be other players seated around the table; they will all have the same setup in front of them. In addition to the players, there will also be a dealer, who will either deal from a shuffled deck of cards or from a “shoe” containing several decks of automatically shuffled cards.

On each hand, the dealer will place two cards in front of each player as well as himself. You’ll notice that everyone’s hand is face up except for the dealer, who has his first card dealt face down. Don’t worry about this; there is nothing to be gained or lost from “tipping” your hand. This is because in each hand, you are betting against the dealer’s only and not the other players at the table. Card values correspond to the number of the card, with all face cards (jack, queen, kind) being worth ten and aces being worth either 11 or 1, depending on the current card total.

Once you have your hand, you will be given the choice to either “hit” – take a card – or “stand – keep your current hand as is. There are several other decisions you can make but these will be treated elsewhere, as you will most often either hit or stand. The dealer must hit if his hand total is 16 or lower and must stand at 17 or higher. Your only goal is to have a hand higher than the dealer’s total hand while staying under 21. If you go over 21, you “bust” and automatically lose the hand and your bet.

If the dealer goes over 21, everyone at the table who hasn’t busted wins his/her wager, regardless of hand total. (Note: it is impossible to bust with an ace counting as 11). When you win a hand, you win an amount equal to your initial bet, although a blackjack (a hand consisting of an ace as well as a ten or a face card) will generally pay you 3-2. If you and the dealer have hands of equal value, the result is a “push” and you get to keep your original wager and that’s the same both online and in real casinos.

Now that you have an idea as to what is happening at the table, read Blackjack: Basic Strategy to find out how you should actually be playing the game. Remember, even though the odds are better than UK bingo we suggest not gambling at all if you’re looking for long-term gambling profits!