How to Beat the Dealer in Blackjack
Blackjack is a casino card game played by one or more players against a dealer. The object of the game is to beat the dealer by accumulating a higher, unbusted hand value than the dealer’s. The player may also choose to buy insurance or surrender their hand. In addition to the cards, the game uses a table and a pit area overseen by a stern-looking casino employee called a dealer. Unlike most casino games, in which the house has an advantage that will play itself out over time, blackjack allows its players to reduce this edge by following a simple strategy.
The game is played with a conventional deck of 52 playing cards. The suits don’t matter, and each card has a numerical value of two through 10, with face cards (Jack, Queen, King) counting as 10. An ace counts as either 1 or 11, at the discretion of the player. When a player has a total of 21, the hand is a “blackjack” or a “natural,” and it automatically wins 3:2 as long as the dealer does not have a blackjack. In the case of a tie, no money is exchanged.
In most blackjack games, the dealer must hit a hand with a value of 17 or less, even if one of the cards is an ace. This rule helps the dealer prevent players from taking risks on weak hands that could result in a bust, and it protects them from players who may have split aces or doubled down.
While the dealer’s rules help them win more hands, the players can reduce their casino advantage to as low as 0.5 percent by following basic strategy. This determines when to hit and when to stand, as well as when to double down or split. It takes some practice to master, but the effort can pay off with higher winnings and fewer losses.
Those who don’t have the time to learn basic strategy can still improve their odds by learning the rules of each game and making small adjustments to their betting habits. For example, players should never split a pair of aces, and they should always buy insurance when the dealer shows a face card that is a ten.
There are many other strategies that can improve your chances of beating the dealer, including counting cards. This requires practice and discipline, and it can be difficult for non-counting players to adopt. However, for those who are willing to make a commitment to this strategy, they can significantly reduce the house’s advantage in blackjack. To learn more, visit our Blackjack strategy page.