How to Beat the House Edge in Blackjack

Blackjack is the card game for intellectuals and mathematicians who like a real chance of beating the house. The game originated in France, but it is the Americans who gave it its present form. The rules of blackjack are simple – the player attempts to get a total card value closer to 21 than the dealer, without going over.

The game is played with a standard 52-card deck. The cards are arranged in a circle and the dealer has one card facing up. The player may choose to hit (ask for another card) or stand. The goal is to have a better hand than the dealer’s, which must be 17 or higher. The highest hand is a blackjack, which consists of an ace and a card of value 10; it pays 3:2 in most casinos.

A player can also choose to take insurance, which is a side bet that the dealer has a face-up card of a value equal to or greater than 10. If the player has a blackjack and the dealer has an ace up, the player wins and no money changes hands; however, if the dealer does not have blackjack, the player loses the insurance bet.

Some blackjack games pay 6 to 5 for a blackjack instead of the usual 3:2; this greatly increases the house edge and is something you should avoid at all costs. A dealer can also decide to let the player have his or her cards swept up and replaced by new ones.

There are several blackjack strategy tips that the average player should know before playing. The first is to always double if the dealer is showing a 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6. The second is to double any pair of 7’s or 8’s. A third rule is to never split unless the dealer has a 10, 11, or Ace. Finally, the fourth rule is to surrender if you have a hand of 16 and the dealer has a 10.

Basic blackjack strategy is a predetermined mathematical approach to every decision that can be made in blackjack, given the information known at the time. The Four Horsemen are the four people who invented both basic strategy and card counting; Dr. Edward O. Thorp is credited with modernizing and refining their ideas with the help of computers and simulations.

The best way to improve your blackjack game is to practice, and remember that it is a skill game. Those who have the most success at blackjack are those that do not let their emotions dictate their play; you must be cold and analytical, not swayed by emotion or intimidation. Keeping these tips in mind, you can minimize the house advantage and become a more successful blackjack player. The first step is to practice, and the next is to memorize basic strategy. Once you have it memorized, you are well on your way to becoming a pro blackjack player. Good luck!