Blackjack is one of the most popular casino card games. It is played against the dealer, and the goal is to get a higher card value than the dealer, without going over 21. Aces count as either 1 or 11, and cards worth 10 are called “face cards”. The game has several variations, each with different rules, betting options, and table layouts. Some of these variations have changed the game in a significant way, while others are just minor tweaks to the rules.
While all casino games have a built-in house edge, blackjack has the unique feature of being beatable by smart, disciplined players using basic strategy. By playing optimally, a player can reduce the house edge to less than 1% of total action, making blackjack one of the best games in the casino.
The house edge in blackjack is a result of the fact that the game is a zero-sum game, and the casino must win as many hands as it loses, and it must make more wins than losses on the remaining hands. The house edge increases slightly when a player makes deviations from basic strategy, but it is still very small.
Traditionally, a dealer’s only protection against a player’s 21 was the rule that all remaining wagers on a hand of 22 would push (not be paid). Some modern blackjack variants change this to allow the dealer to pay a player’s two-card 21, while other games have rules requiring that the dealer must push any remaining wagers when hitting a multiple-card 22.
Most blackjack games also offer a side bet called insurance, which is placed against the dealer’s up-card and pays 2:1 if the dealer has a blackjack. This bet is not recommended for the average player, since it essentially pays for a very bad bet on the dealer’s hole card.
Other blackjack variants include Double-down, which allows a player to increase their bet by doubling the amount of their original wager, and Split, which allows the player to divide his or her starting cards into two new hands and receive additional cards for each. Some games restrict the number of cards that can be split, and re-splitting is often not allowed.
More recently, several casinos have introduced Blackjack Spin, a variation on the traditional blackjack game that allows the player to make an optional Bonus Spin bet, which is spun with a virtual wheel after the dealer has dealt their cards and awarded payouts if certain combinations of symbols appear on the wheel. This game also introduces the ability to combine blackjack and Bonus Spin to play for a higher top award. Blackjack Spin is a fun game that can be enjoyed by almost anyone, even those who do not have a great deal of experience with card games. However, it should be noted that the odds of winning are substantially lower than those of traditional blackjack. For this reason, Blackjack Spin is not a recommended game for serious blackjack players.