Basic Blackjack Strategy
Blackjack is a casino card game played between the dealer and player. It is a game of skill where the objective is to beat the dealer’s hand total without going over 21.
The game begins when the dealer hands each player 2 cards face up. The player then places a bet in the betting circle on the table. The bet can range from $5 to $100, depending on the rules of the particular casino. The player’s goal is to win by beating the dealer’s hand, which must be at least an Ace and any ten-valued card in order to be considered a blackjack.
There are a few basic strategy actions and bet options in Blackjack. During the course of a hand, the player may decide to hit (take an additional card), stand (keep the current card) or split a pair of matching cards. Generally, splitting a pair of cards improves the player’s chances of making a stronger hand. However, the player must be careful not to split a pair of Aces because this will give the dealer a good chance of winning the hand.
Whenever possible, the player should double down. This is done by placing a second bet equal in value to the first bet and receiving one additional card to the player’s hand. Doubling down is only allowed on the initial two-card hand and not on splits or re-splits.
Some casinos offer players the option to take “insurance” when the dealer shows an ace up. Insurance bets are usually half the original player’s bet and pay 2-1 if the dealer has a blackjack. Many players mistakenly think this is a great deal because it guarantees a profit even if the dealer has a blackjack, but it comes at a price.
In Blackjack, the dealer has a slight advantage over the player because he is dealing from an entire deck of cards. However, a skilled player can minimize this edge by following basic strategy. On average, blackjack players using basic strategy lose less than 1% of their action, which is significantly lower than the house edge for most casino games. The house edge for blackjack can be increased by player deviations from basic strategy and the use of side bets.
When playing blackjack, it is important to understand that the other players at the table have nothing to do with the outcome of a hand. It is strictly a player-versus-dealer game. This is different than some other casino card games where the player’s fellow players can help them beat the dealer. In fact, unskilled blackjack players often believe that other players at the table can affect their own chances of winning, which is not true.