Blackjack, or 21 as it is often called, is one of the most popular casino games around. It is a simple case of the player against the dealer and the cards. You don't play against the other players at the table. Ultimately, the cards decide the outcome. You need to have a hand value that is closer to 21 than the dealer's hand value without going over 21.
The cards values in Blackjack are simple. The cards numbered 2 through to 9, number cards, represent themselves. There are no alternative meanings or representations for these cards. The Ace card can be deemed as a 1 or an 11 depending on what the player or dealer wishes to make it. The face cards (Jack, Queen King) are all representative of 10. For example, the player will win if he gets a Queen and an Ace which total a value of 21. However, if they get three Kings, then they bust and lose. The suits and colors of the cards have no bearing on the game.
The method of the game is fairly simple. Once the bets have been placed by each of the players at the table, the dealer will deal each player 2 initial cards face up. The dealer will include himself in this deal but his cards will be face down. He then turns one of his cards over to reveal the value.
The dealer will then start at the first base on his left to ask what each player wants to do next. Each player will then work out if they can get closer to 21 than the dealer based on their two initial cards and the one card that has been shown by the dealer. The player may decide to HIT (take another card), STAND (stay with his two initial cards), DOUBLE (double his bet and take only one more card), or SPLIT in case of two identical cards (create two separate hands)
If the player wishes to HIT then they will be dealt another card by the dealer. If the card puts the player's total of cards over the value of 21 then they will BUST and the house wins their chips. However, if the total value of their cards remains under 21 then they will remain in the game. The player will then be asked what they want to do next and they can either HIT or STAND. This process will continue until either the player is BUST or the player reaches a certain total they are pleased with.
Once every player has reached their preferred total, the dealer will then turn over his second card. If it remains under 17 then he will take the next card until he reaches 17 or BUSTS. Once the dealer takes all his cards the value of the players' and the dealer's are compared and the winner is announced. If the dealer hits 21 then all players lose unless a player has 21 himself.
A small note on splitting. If you are drawn a pair e.g. two 8s then you can split the cards and play two separate hands. 16 is a terrible hand in Blackjack because it is unlikely to win and the chances of going bust are high if you request to hit. So splitting the cards can help you take on two hands with an 8 card on each hand. This allows each hand to have another card and increase your chances of success.
In conclusion, Blackjack is a very simple game to learn the basics. You need to get closer to 21 than the dealer. That's the basic premise. If you are on 16 or above then it's advisable to STAND. Anything less and HIT. It can feel intimidating at the table at first but once you learn the way it works Blackjack can be the most profitable card game at the casino.