The dealer starts the action by dealing 2 cards to all including himself; each card is dealt individually and face down starting with the player left of the dealer and moving clockwise. The only exception is the dealerís second card which he will flip face up; this is known as the Ďupcardí. There are some casinos in which playersí cards are also played face up as blackjack playing is between each player and the dealer who is bound by strict guidelines. The advantage to having them face up is that a serious blackjack player will be able to gage what may be left in the deck by what he can see on the table.
The original hand dealt to each player, can be a maximum of 21; that would be a 10 card and an ace. Should this occur, itís a blackjack and pays 3-2. This is the only non even win in blackjack; if the dealer gets it, he wins just even money. If both the dealer and the player have a blackjack neither win. It is impossible to bust on an original hand; the question then is, if you think you can get closer to 21 without busting.
An ace can make all the difference to blackjack hand Ė itís the difference between a hard hand and a soft hand. Most hands are hard; their totals canít change, e.g. 10-5 can only be 15. Equally a hand with an ace can be hard; for example 10-6-A is a hard 17, because although the ace could be 11 that would be a bust Ė an illegal hand, therefore it must be a 1. If however, you have a hand with the ace valued as 11, this is a soft hand: A-9 as an original hand for example can be 20, but if you wanted to draw (unadvisedly), that ace can become a 1 giving a hard hand of 10.
Once you have taken this into account of your decision as to whether you wish to hit or stick, you must also consider the casinoís blackjack regulation. For example, most casinoís will have a stick on 17 rule; meaning that the dealer can not hit on any total higher than that. If you have a pair in your original hand you may wish to split them and play them as separate hands. If you do this however you must be aware that a blackjack in a split hand isnít a blackjack, itís simply 21.
If you hit and are happy with the result you simply indicate that you donít want to hit again, or tell the dealer that you wish to stick. If you bust you must turn your cards over immediately and the dealer will straight away remove both your bet and your cards.