Blackjack is a card game played in a casino setting using one or more standard 52-card decks. Players and the dealer each get two cards and try to accumulate a total value as close to 21 as possible. The game has been around for centuries and is considered by many to be a game of skill.
It is not easy to beat the dealer in blackjack, but it can be done by following a few simple rules. The objective is to get a higher hand than the dealer. The highest hand is known as a blackjack, and it is named for the combination of an ace of spades with a jack of clubs.
A high hand is worth more than a low hand, so you should always hit against a 2 through 8, and split against 3 and 4. You should also stand against the dealer’s up card if it is a 6, 7 or 8. If you have an ace of diamonds, it is a good idea to double against any non-blackjack and against all tens.
If you have a pair of 10s, it’s a good idea to make a side bet called insurance. This is placed on top of the original bet and pays 2-1 if the dealer has blackjack. In most cases, the player will win the insurance bet and still lose the original bet, but this is not a big deal.
Some casinos will reduce the payout on a blackjack down to 6 to 5 and this increases the house edge significantly, so it’s important to check out the rules of each table before you sit down. In addition to this, some tables will offer different types of side bets which can also increase the house edge dramatically. These bets can be on the dealer’s up-card matching a player’s hand, on your hand making a poker hand with the dealers, on whether or not the dealer will bust, and more.
Basic strategy is a mathematical approach to every decision you can make when playing blackjack. It was invented by the Four Horsemen and is now refined with the power of computers and simulations by Dr. Edward O. Thorp. A computer generated basic strategy for a particular set of blackjack rules is 99% accurate. Memorizing basic strategy takes very little time and can improve your chances of winning at blackjack.
In Blackjack, the dealer will usually show an ace on their up-card and allow you to make a side bet called insurance for half of your original bet. If the dealer has blackjack, the insurance bet will pay out 2 to 1, but if the dealer doesn’t have blackjack and you have a blackjack, it’s a push and you keep your original bet. If you are observant, you can often find out which blackjack tables are hot or cold by watching the other players and/or the dealer. In this way, you can increase your bets in increments and walk away when the table is cold.