Blackjack is one of the most popular table games in the casino. It's one of the easiest to learn and offers a good returns. The dealer gives each player 2 cards and also deals 2 cards to them self (one face up, the other face down). The object of the game is to take further cards to give you a total of 21 or as near as possible without going over.
Ten, Jack, Queen & King all count 10. Aces can either count as 1 or 11. All other cards score as their face value. If you receive an Ace and a card with a value of 10, as your first two cards, you've got Blackjack.
A number of people can play at a Blackjack table at any one time, but you only play against the dealer, not the other players at the table. The object of the game is therefore not to try score 21, it's to beat the dealer.
In simple terms the rules are as follows:
Place your bet prior to the deal. All players at the table are dealt 2 cards face up. The dealer also receives 2 cards, 1 face up and 1 face down (in some versions the dealer will only initially receive 1 card, face up, and will draw the 2nd card after all player hands have been played).
You have several options available to you at this point:
Hit - Ask the dealer for another card.
Stand - When you are satisfied with the total of your hand and don't require anymore cards.
Double Down - You can double the size of your original bet in return for receiving just one more card. Different casinos have different rules about when you can double down. Make sure you check the rules before you play at the casino.
Split - If you have a pair (2 cards of the same value) you can split your hand by placing another bet equal to your original bet. You then play each of the cards as a separate hand. If you split a pair of aces it is normal that you receive just one more card for each ace. Most online casinos will allow you to split all cards with a value of 10. However this is not an option you'll want to take (see Blackjack Basic Strategy).
Surrender - Some online casinos offer you the option to surrender your initial 2 cards for a loss of half your original bet. This option is only available after the dealer has checked their down facing card for Blackjack.
Blackjack experts have used computer simulations and statistical analysis to calculate the best course of action given the cards that have been dealt and the face up card of the dealer. This is commonly referred to as "Basic Blackjack Strategy". You'll do well to familiarise yourself with it before playing for real money at any of the online casinos.
Unlike players, the dealer has no playing options. Casino rules dictate the dealer must draw another card when the total is less than 17 and stand when the total is 17 to 21. In some casinos the dealer must stand on soft 17 (ace + 6) and in others they must hit.