How to Beat the House Edge in Blackjack
Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games in the world. It has a house edge, but players can reduce it to a small percentage with a basic strategy.
In a game of Blackjack, each player is dealt two cards face up and the dealer also receives two cards. The player can then decide how to play their hand: hit, stand, double down or split.
When a player’s first two cards are of the same value, they can “split” them into two hands. They do this by placing a second bet equal to the first into the betting box next to the original bet.
It’s important to remember that a pair of 8s or jacks is the worst hand you can get in Blackjack, so it’s best to play with a low initial bet.
If you’re confident that you have a good hand, you can increase your bet by up to two times the original amount. Often this is called doubling down, and it can be a great way to turn a bad hand into a winning one.
The goal of Blackjack is to beat the dealer by getting a higher score without busting. If the dealer gets 21, that’s a win, but if the player has the same total, it’s a push.
Blackjack rules vary among casinos, but in general a blackjack is a hand with an ace and a ten-value card. A natural is paid 3 to 2, and the odds of having a blackjack are about 9:4 (2.4:1 if using multiple decks).
Some casinos allow players to take insurance, which pays 2:1 if the dealer’s first card is a 10-valued card or an ace. This is a bad bet for players who are not familiar with their dealer’s hole card, as it increases the house edge by about 1.4%.
Players can also “surrender” their hand if they feel they will lose. This is a common practice in live games and is usually recommended if the dealer’s initial card is a 9-A, but not desirable when they have a 5-7 or 12-16.
The casino’s advantage is usually about 1% of the total bet in a game, which means that a player can lose on average less than 1% of their action over time. This is the lowest house edge of any casino game, though deviations from basic strategy can add a small amount to that advantage.
Basic strategy, which is based on the point total of the player and the dealer’s face-up card, can help to reduce the casino’s edge to about 1%. This is one of the reasons that blackjack is considered to be one of the safest and most enjoyable games in a casino.