Blackjack is a game of chance and skill where the goal is to beat the dealer with a higher unbusted hand. Players can hit (take another card) or stand (end their turn without taking a further card), double (double their wager and take one additional card), split pairs of cards of the same rank, or surrender (give up half their bet and retire from the table).
Before the deal begins the dealer will remove the top card from the deck and place it in the discard pile face down. This is known as the burn card and its purpose is to stop someone accusing the house of fixing the deck. The dealer then shuffles the remaining cards and places them in the shoe. Before beginning the deal the dealer will usually check their hole card to see if they have a blackjack before any player bets are paid.
Once all of the players have acted on their hands, the dealer will reveal their second card. The dealer will then pay off any player blackjacks and collect any insurance bets.
Then the dealer will draw cards to each of the remaining betting circles that have a bet in them. Depending on the casino rules, the dealer will also draw cards to his or her own hand. In most U.S. casinos the dealer will not show his or her second card until all of the players have acted and any doubles and splits have been determined. In European style games the dealer will only draw a single card at a time until all of the players have acted and then check for a blackjack before paying off any player bets.
In most casinos the dealer will not check for a blackjack if he or she has an Ace or ten in the face up card position and so it is rare to play a double or split against the dealer unless you are certain that your cards are of a rank that can be split. The dealer may also have a rule against splitting if the player draws a 10 after splitting, which makes it a poor playing strategy in general.
After the deal is complete the players will be able to play their hands. Normally they will choose to either “hit” (take another card) or “stand” (end their turn without taking a further Card). If the player has 21 in two cards they will be paid 1:1 on their wager, meaning that they will get their original bet back plus their winnings.
During the play of the hands players can also double their wager by signaling to the dealer that they wish to do so by scratching the felt next to their hand or pointing at it. They can also split their hands by signalling if the pair of cards they are holding have the same rank, and then placing the two separate cards in front of them. In some casinos they will only allow you to split a pair of Jacks.