Blackjack is a deceptively simple game between the player and the dealer. It is simple because the aim of the game is to come as close as possible to 21 points and not go over before the dealer gets his 21 points. The player is dealt two cards; one up and one down. The dealer deals himself two cards, also one up and one down. Card values are as follows: two through ten are worth face value and face cards are worth ten points. The ace is worth eleven unless such an addition would cause the player or dealer to go over 21. In that case, it counts only one point. The total of 21 points is “blackjack,” no matter how many cards are required.

While the fundamentals of Blackjack are straightforward and can be mastered by anyone who can add a couple of numbers quickly, it is deceptive because it suggests so much strategy. It is the multiplicity of ways to play that has fascinated gamblers all for at least two centuries and made it the most popular casino game in the world. Playing Blackjack, while it seems to be a game of pure chance, is in fact a game that involves an element of skill.

The player adds the total of his cards once they are dealt. If he has an ace plus a ten-value card, he an automatic winner unless the dealer also has 21. In the case of a tie with the dealer, no one wins. If either the player or the dealer has less than 21, he may ask for another card, “hit me,” or choose to “stay” or “stand” which means he will play what he has in front of him. Choosing to double a bet and take one more card is called “doubling.”

Online Blackjack sites allow the player to follow simple directions like clicking on chips to place a bet, clicking the word “deal” to receive cards, then clicking on “double,” “hit,” or “stand.” The game proceeds as quickly as the player wishes and helps develop the kind of speed in playing that casino dealers expect. Most online sites allow the player to opt for receiving instruction while playing the game, always an effective way to learn patterns of behavior. Once the fundamentals are mastered to the satisfaction of the player, he may simply play against his own record or move on to risk money.