Blackjack can be played with one to eight ordinary decks of cards. Cards of rank 2 through 10 are scored according to their face value. All face cards are 10 points. Aces are semi-wild and can be worth either 1 or 11 points. The highest hand in blackjack is an ace and any 10-point card and is called a blackjack. A winning blackjack pays 3:2. If both player and dealer have a blackjack the bet is a push. Aside from a blackjack, a winning hand pays even money. The player wins if his hand has more points than the dealer, without going over 21. Thus, a 21-point hand is the highest and is why the game is sometimes called 21. If either the player or dealer go over 21 it is called a break or bust and a busted hand automatically loses. If both the player and the dealer bust the player loses, where lies the house advantage. If the player and the dealer tie, the bet is a push.
A round of blackjack begins with each player placing a bet in the circle or logo directly in front of him. Then the dealer will give each player and himself two cards. Player cards are usually dealt face up. One dealer card is dealt face up (the up card) and the other face down (the hole card). If the dealer has a ten or an ace as the up card it is possible he has a blackjack, in which case all player hands will lose except those with another blackjack. In the U.S. the dealer will check for blackjack immediately, if one is possible, and will collect all losing bets immediately if he does have a blackjack.
In the event the dealer has an ace as the up card he will allow the players to insure their hands against a blackjack. This is much like any insurance policy in which you are betting something bad will happen. The insurance bet in blackjack pays 2:1 if the dealer has a blackjack. If the dealer has an ace showing and a player has a blackjack the dealer may ask "even money?" This is because if the player has a blackjack the net result of both the blackjack and the insurance bet will be an even money win regardless of whether the dealer has a blackjack. After all players have had a chance to accept or decline insurance the dealer will check the hole card.
After it has been established that the dealer does not have a blackjack the players in turn may play their hands. The following options are available.