# The Basics of Blackjack

Blackjack is a card game where players try to get a hand that totals 21 or higher. The game is played on a semicircular table that can accommodate varying numbers of players. Each player is dealt two cards and may either hit, stand, or double down. In some versions of the game players can also surrender. Doubling down involves adding an additional bet equal to the original wager and asking for one more card; it is generally not possible to hit beyond this. When doubling down, it is generally best to do so with a hand that has an 11 or a 10. However, in some games the rules permit splitting pairs of 8’s and 9’s only against a dealer’s up card of 2 to 7.

If a player has a total of 21 from the initial two cards, they win. The dealer, on the other hand, must draw until he or she has a total of 17 or more. If the dealer has a blackjack, all players lose their bets, except for those who also have a blackjack hand. If the dealer does not have a blackjack, the bets are pushed and no winnings are made.

In addition to hitting and standing, blackjack players can double down or surrender. These options are not available in all blackjack games, so be sure to check the rules before playing. If doubling down or surrendering are not allowed, it is best to stick with the basic strategy chart.

The blackjack strategy table is a simple chart that shows the optimal decisions for each situation in the game. It is based on millions of blackjack hands that have been simulated. The chart can help you make the right decision for your hand, whether it is a hard 17, soft 18, or a split pair of 8’s against a dealer’s up card of 7 or 9.

Some people claim to be able to use blackjack strategies to gain a legal advantage over the dealer. This is known as card counting and requires a high level of memory and knowledge of probability theory. However, this method can be very time consuming and is not suited to all blackjack situations. Nevertheless, it can be a fun way to pass the time and practice your mental abilities, determination, and self-mastery.