Basic Blackjack Strategy


Blackjack is a card game in which players compete against the dealer to make a hand of 21 or to come closer to it without going over than the dealer. The cards are counted at their index value and suits are irrelevant. A player total of 21 on the first two cards is called a “blackjack” and wins immediately, unless the dealer also has one, in which case the hand ties. In the event of a tie (called a push or a stand-off) the players’ bets are returned without adjustment. Blackjack is a popular casino game, and many variations exist. Some of them have significant differences in the rules of play. For example, some casinos will remove all ten-value cards from the shoe, which makes the game more difficult for counters.

Blackjack dealers must have a high level of mathematics competence to deal with the game’s rules and payouts. This knowledge allows them to calculate winning customers’ bets accurately and quickly. It also helps them to communicate the status of a hand with the players. In addition, it empowers them to deal with cheating and other situations that might occur during a hand.

Statistical analysis of millions of blackjack hands has yielded a set of basic strategy rules that provide the best possible playing decision for any situation. These are the decisions that, in the long run, will give the player the highest probability of winning. However, the short run can be a different story.

A key factor is knowing when to hit or stand. If you have a hand of 12 against a dealer’s 3, for instance, basic strategy calls for hitting because it is better than standing. However, if the dealer has an ace showing, it is better to stick with your original hand than to risk losing everything by hitting. This is because the dealer has a 22% chance of having a blackjack, which beats a player’s hand less than one-third of the time.

Some casinos offer side bets in blackjack, such as insurance, which pays out if the dealer has an ace as his or her face-up card. Other side bets are based on whether or not your hand will match the dealer’s cards, or on the dealer’s up card being a particular suit. These side bets increase the house edge, and should be avoided if you are counting cards.

Another way to reduce the house advantage is to choose a table with a higher payout on natural blackjacks. The standard pay out is 3:2, but some tables will reduce this to 6:5 or even-money, which increases the house edge by 1.4%.