How to Play Blackjack

Blackjack is a game that is played between Players and the dealer, with the object of the game being to get as close to 21 as possible without going over. The dealer starts by dealing two rounds of cards from left to right until each Player has two cards face up. The dealer has one card face up showing its value, and one card hidden. Once you have received your cards you have several options depending on what you hold versus what the dealer holds.

The rules for a player are as follows:

Hit: Asking to 'hit' means that you would like to take another card. The dealer will then provide you with another card for your hand. Assuming that you do not go over 21, you will have the option to hit again if you should choose to do so.

Stand: Choosing to stand means that you are satisfied with your hand and would not like another card. Once you have chosen to 'stand', the other Players at the table will have a turn to play.

Bust: If a hand goes over 21, it is a called a bust, and the hand immediately loses. Remember that the object of the game is to get as close to 21 as possible without going over.

Double-Down: This option allows you to double your bet in exchange for only one card. If you choose to double down (you may only do so with certain hand combinations depending on the game), the dealer will give you one card and you must stand. You will not be able to hit again. Players choose to double down when the dealer has a particularly weak face card up, such as a 6, and the Player holds a good starting hand to beat it, such as 10 total. This gives them a good chance of doubling their bet and letting the dealer bust.

Split: A split occurs when a Player has two of the same cards. If this happens, the Player is allowed to announce a split, meaning that their bet is doubled, and the hand is split into two hands of play. The Player then plays the hand normally and is free to double, hit or stand accordingly.

Surrender: This option is generally only available in the Spanish 21 variation. It allows the Player to surrender their hand if they think it is likely they will lose (i.e. you hold 16 and the dealer shows a King). In this case you may surrender and you will be returned half of your bet.

Insurance: If the dealer's exposed card or up card is an Ace, he will give Players the option to take out insurance. Insurance is a bet that the dealer has Blackjack, and is equal to half of the total amount that you are betting. If you take insurance and the dealer has Blackjack, you will be returned your full bet. If you take insurance and the dealer does not have Blackjack, you will lose your insurance bet but will be able to continue the hand with your original bet. It is only a good idea to take insurance when you have a very good hand (18, 19 or 20) and the dealer has an Ace - because if you have a marginal hand (12, 13, 14, 15, 16, etc.) there is a good chance that you will end up losing the hand anyway.

It is also important to note that the dealer must follow certain rules while playing, such as:

Stand On 17: In general, the dealer must stand once he has reached 17, meaning that he may not take any more cards. It should also be noted that the dealer must hit until they reach 17 or above, or go bust in the process.

Player Blackjacks: If a Player gets Blackjack (a 10 or face card plus an Ace) the dealer will immediately pay them 1½ times their bet - assuming he does not also have Blackjack.

Dealer Blackjacks: If the dealer exposes an Ace, he must give Players the option to purchase insurance, as detailed above. The only exception to this is if the dealer exposes a face card and then has an Ace hidden underneath - in which case the Player loses.

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