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The dealer deals out two cards to each online poker players around the table and two himself: the point of the game being to get nearer than the dealer to a total of 21.  Cards are counted at their face value, with court cards counting 10 and aces either 1 or 11.

            Each player in turn either stands pat on his hand or draws additional cards, to try and get closer to 21.  But when the player (who has to act before the dealer)goes over a total of 21, his hand is busted and he loses his stake.
            On his side, the dealer must stand on totals of 17 and over, and must draw on hands below 17.  He shows only one card, concealing the other, until all the players have acted, so they do not know in advance what he holds.

            Winning hands are paid off at even money.  Ties are a stand off.  A Blackjack (ace and a 10-card) is paid out 1 ½ times to the lucky player.
            From this it will be seen that, whereas the player has several options open to him, the dealer has to play according to fixed formula, without any skill or variation.  (Ergo, it is very silly to lose your temper or otherwise abuse the dealer.)
            The player may stand pat on a stiff (12 to 16) to avoid the risk of busting, if the dealer is also showing a bad up-card.  Other player options include splitting pairs so as to play two hands at once, or doubling down so as to double the stake on a good hand.

            A dealer blackjack wins only the player’s stake (not 1 ½ times): when the dealer is showing an ace up, the player may take insurance which pays out 2-1 against a dealer ace-ten.  In a single-deck game a blackjack will be dealt on average every 25 hands.
            There are many sub-variations to the above rules, which vary from casino to casino.  thus, in some places doubling down is permitted on any total; in London it is allowed only on totals of 9, 10, or 11; in some places any pair may be split, in London not 4s, 5s, and 10s.
            It is just as well to spend a couple of minutes reading the casino rules- which are either on display or available if you ask the dealer – before actually sitting down at the blackjack table.

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