Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games in the world. It is played with one or more decks of 52 cards and has an objective of reaching a total of 21 points without exceeding 21. The player competes against the dealer but does not have to play against other players. The player’s objective is to beat the dealer by having a hand that is higher than the dealer’s but not over 21, which is called a “push.”
Blackjack can be played with a basic strategy that was first published in 1956, but the most commonly used strategy is known as “basic strategy.” The goal of this strategy is to minimize the house edge, which is defined as the expected advantage that the house or casino has over a particular player. A knowledgeable player who uses this strategy can reduce the house edge to less than one-half of 1%.
There are five basic rules of play in blackjack: stand, hit, split, double and surrender. The first three are common rules that apply to every game, while the fourth, called signal, is not commonly used and can be a verbal request for additional cards.
Stand: Stay with your initial bet and take no more cards, also called “stick.” In some casinos, the dealer will automatically double your original bet if you stand. However, some casinos limit this to certain situations, such as a pair of jacks or tens.
Hit: The dealer will give you another card if your first two cards are a pair, or if your first two cards have the same value (e.g., a pair of 8s). You may also choose to split your two cards into separate hands, which means you will bet twice as much on each hand.
Surrender: Some games allow the player to surrender his bet before the dealer checks for blackjack. Early surrender is more favorable to the player than late surrender.
Insurance: The dealer will ask the players to place a small bet on an insurance bet before the player begins playing their hands. The insurance bet pays 2 to 1 if the dealer shows an ace.
In some games, the dealer may resplit aces; this will reduce the house edge by about 0.13%. This is a rare rule, but it has been rumored to occur in some casinos.
Unlike many other casino games, blackjack has a fixed house edge. This is the expected advantage that a casino has over a player, and is usually much lower than in other popular casino games.
The best strategy for blackjack is a combination of luck and skill. Using a simple strategy, a skilled player can reduce the house edge to less than one-half a percent of the initial bet.
One way to reduce the house edge in blackjack is to play a lot of low denomination chips. This can help to spread the house edge and increase your winnings by reducing the amount of money that you lose per hand.