All face cards have a value of 10. Aces have a value of 1 or 11, depending on what is best for the player. All other cards are worth their face value. The object of the game is to get a card total closest to or equal to 21 without going over (busting) and also beating the total of the dealer's cards. A player who busts loses his or her bet.
The game starts with two cards dealt face-up to each player and two to the dealer, one face-up and one face-down. At this point, a player with a natural 21 (an ace and a ten point card) or blackjack wins 1.5 times the bet unless the dealer also has a natural 21. No money changes hands in the event of a tie.
Dealers usually play a fixed strategy of hitting on 16 or less and standing on 17 or more.
Hit or Stand
If no player has a blackjack then play proceeds with each player deciding to 'hit' (take another card) or 'stand' on the hand he or she was dealt. Asking for a card and going over 21 total means that the bet is lost and cards handed back.
Splitting Your Hand
If you are dealt a pair at the beginning, you can choose to split the cards into two separate hands and play them separately. Aces receive only one extra card and will be counted as 21, rather than blackjack, if that card is worth 10.
After you have been dealt your first two cards, if you have a total of 9, 10, or 11 on the table, you can choose to double your bet on the table. The reason to do this is that you believe you will have a strong hand after 1 more card is dealt to you. The disadvantage is that you will only receive one more card - so if that card is a 2, you will be forced to stand on a hand totalling no more than 13.