How do you play blackjack?

Blackjack is a gambling card game, played with one or more 52-card decks of cards, in which players try to beat the dealer by acquiring cards with a face value higher than the dealer, but totalling 21 and no more or, in the event that the dealer draws additional cards, such that their face value exceeds 21 – in other words, the dealer ‘busts’ – simply with a face value totalling 21 and no more. Aces count as 1 or 11 points, tens and court cards count as 10 points and all other cards count as face value. An ace and a ten or court card constitutes ‘blackjack’, the highest possible hand, which pays odds of 3/2, or 6/5, provided the dealer does not also have blackjack, in which case the result is a tie, or ‘push’.

Each player places a bet and the dealer deals two cards, face down, to each player and two to himself, the first of which, known as the hole card, is dealt face down and the second of which, known as the upcard, is dealt face up. If the upcard is an ace, the dealer offers an optional side bet, known as insurance, whereby players can bet, at odds of 2/1, for not more than half their original bet, that the hold card is a ten or a court card. If the upcard is a ten, a court card or an ace, the dealer checks the hole card to see if he has blackjack and, if so, turns over the hole card immediately. If the dealer has blackjack, all bets, except insurance, are lost, unless a player also has blackjack.

Thereafter, each player, starting with the player immediately to the left of the dealer, may choose to stand (pat), hit, double, split or, if allowed, surrender. To hit means to draw one, or more, cards, to double, or double down, means to double an original bet in return for a single card, while to split means to split a pair, or two 10-point cards, to form two individual hands. Surrender, where offered, means to forfeit half the original bet and take no further part in the hand.

After each player has concluded his turn, the dealer reveals the hold card. He will hit on 16 or less and stand on 17 or more, with the possible except of a soft 17, made up of an ace and a six, or a combination of cards totalling six. If the dealer hits and exceeds 21, all players with hands totalling 21 or less win, otherwise any players outscoring the dealer wins.