Blackjack is a card game in which the player and dealer each get two cards. The player can choose to hit (get another card) or stand (not receive any more cards). The object is to obtain cards whose total value is closer to 21 than that of the dealer’s. A hand of 21 (an ace plus a ten or a face card) is called a blackjack and wins; it also usually pays 3:2 on the player’s bet. Some casinos have begun to pay only 6:5 on blackjacks, a move decried by longtime blackjack players.
The rules of blackjack are simple enough for anyone to understand, but the strategy of playing this great casino game can be quite complex. Some players try to beat the house by counting cards, which can be a very challenging task. Counting cards requires patience, discipline and an understanding of the math behind blackjack. If you are a smart, disciplined player and have some time to spend on the game, it is possible to lower the house edge below 1%.
Some games of blackjack, such as the French and German version Vingt-et-un (Twenty-one) and Siebzehn und Vierteen (Seventeen and Four), don’t allow splitting. This makes it harder to achieve a blackjack. Other games, such as Chinese blackjack, have different rules regarding the splitting of cards. This game has the added complexity of keeping track of busted split bets.
Another way to decrease the house edge is to take advantage of a dealer’s mistake. Whenever the dealer shows an ace, he or she must ask the players for insurance bets of up to half their current bet. The dealer may look at the up-card to determine if it’s a ten or not before paying or taking the insurance bet. Insurance bets lose money in the long run, but can provide some small short-term profits if the dealer has a blackjack.
It is important to know when to walk away from a blackjack table. Even if you are winning, a bad streak will eventually catch up to you. It is a good idea to start off with a minimum bet and gradually increase it as you begin to win. Also, if the table seems to be getting cold, leave!