When you sit down at the blackjack table, your only objective is to make a hand that comes as close as possible to 21 without exceeding this psychological threshold. Players compete solely against the dealer and regardless of how many peers are involved, they win or lose depending on how their hand matches against the house.
In fact, the players are all revealing their cards from the start as they are facing up, because there is no secret or competitive edge to be gained and the game is played in a direct manner. Cards ranging from 2 to 9 have face value, an ace counts as both 1 and 11 while 10s, Jacks, Queens and Kings are all valued at 10. Having said this, players are free to count the Ace as they see fit, so that their hand total doesn't exceed 21. When a hand contains an ace, it will be commonly referred to a soft hand and this is pretty important because the dealers are forced to stop at certain values that differ between soft and hard hands.
First of all, players make their bets and both the dealer and the players will be dealt two cards, both of them facing up, while the dealer will only reveal one card. Depending on how many people are involved in the game of blackjack, the dealer will wait until all the players involved act in an attempt of completing their hands.
Only after the last player decides to stand, the dealer completes his hand and if his total is closer to 21, the players will lose the pot, otherwise the opposite happens. While the players enjoy unlimited freedom to hit or stand based on their favorite strategy or personal approach, the dealer is compelled to follow certain rules.
There are basically two different rules that apply in both land-based and online casinos and they are clearly stated so that players know what to expect. One says that the dealer stands on all 17s, which means that he will only take more cards until his total hits or exceeds 17. Even if the player has a better hand, the dealer won't be allowed to ask for another card, therefore his opponent will prevail. The other rule that slightly increases the house edge allows the dealer to hit on soft 17s and as stated above, a soft hand is one that includes an ace.
The best case scenario for players is to make a blackjack which is also called natural, like in baccarat and which consists of the first two cards making 21. Essentially, a blackjack is made of an ace and another card that counts for 10 points.
Players have the prerogative of splitting pairs, including aces and tens but if they do that and one of their hands amounts for 21 this will not count as blackjack.
These mentions are important as blackjack wins over a hand whose total is 21 and will result in a tie vs another blackjack.