Blackjack is a game where the goal is to get a hand that totals 21 or better. It is played on a semi-circular table that can accommodate a variety of numbers of players (usually 7). Players place their bets in the betting areas marked on the blackjack table. The dealer then deals two cards to himself, one face up and the other facing down. The player cards are then dealt in turn. Players can then decide whether to hit, stand, split or double down their bets. If the player’s hand matches the dealer’s (known as a push), the player gets their original bet back.
A player can also make side bets on the game, such as insurance, which is offered in most casinos. There are hundreds of different side bets that can be placed on a blackjack table, and most of them require the player to make an additional wager at the same time as their main bet. These side bets can include betting on a player getting a pair as their first two cards, on their hand making a particular poker hand, on the dealer’s hole card being a certain value, and so on.
Novice blackjack players tend to play their hands too conservatively, which gives the house an advantage. They will often miss opportunities to double down or split pairs, such as a pair of 2s against a dealer’s 4, and they will hesitate to hit 16 against a dealer’s 7. This is why it is important to learn how to maximize your wins by playing aggressively.
Another important aspect of the game is knowing what the difference between a hard and soft hand is. A hard hand has a value of 11 or higher, while a soft hand has a value of 16 or lower. It is important for a player to know the difference because the way they play their hand will depend on this information. For example, a player will often draw to a soft 16 when the dealer shows a 7, whereas they will usually not do this with a hard 16.
A good dealer needs to have a variety of skills. They must be comfortable on their feet for long periods of time and be able to count quickly, both when paying out bets and when keeping track of hand scores. They must also be able to do simple math quickly, as they will often need to perform quick calculations when dealing the cards. In addition, a dealer should be able to peek at the hole card without giving away any information to the players. They can do this by indicating that they want another card by either making a beckoning motion with their hand or lightly tapping the back of their hand on the felt. A good dealer will be able to do this quickly and discreetly, in order to avoid compromising the integrity of the game. They will also need to keep their cards and chips stacked properly.