Blackjack is a card game played between the player and dealer. The object of the game is for the player to have a higher, unbusted hand than the dealer. If the player busts they lose; if the dealer busts they win (therefore Blackjack favors the dealer). In a tie situation (both hands have a point value of 21) it is called a push and neither the dealer nor the player wins the hand. The table that the game is played on can accommodate varying numbers of players (or “spots”) and has a special area in which to place the player’s chips.
The dealers spot is on the opposite side of the table from the players. The cards are dealt face up and the players may make decisions on whether or not to Hit, Split, Double, or Stand. The rules on splitting pairs are that you may split a pair up to three times, making four separate hands. You must receive a card of the same value on each of the split hands, except for Aces which count as one or 11. You may also re-split any pairs that are not Aces. Once the player’s have completed their decisions the dealer checks for Blackjack using a viewing window in the center of the table. If the dealer has a ten underneath her hole card she will reveal it and everyone will lose their original wagers unless they had made Insurance bets. If the dealer doesn’t have a ten underneath her hole card the players who had made Insurance wagers will be paid out at 2:1.
Some games have no best strategy, but blackjack has a basic strategy that is mathematically the most profitable way to play. Ask a dozen pros how to play a hand, and you’ll probably get a dozen different answers, but all professional blackjack players agree that sticking with the basic strategy is the best way to maximize your profits.
Adding side bets to your blackjack game can significantly increase your potential payouts, but you should only do so when the odds of winning are in your favor. If you’re losing money, you’ll eventually go broke by continually increasing your bet amounts.
Many blackjack players believe that wins and losses occur in streaks, but this is not the case. The house edge is the mathematically calculated percentage of each bet that the casino keeps. This advantage is what makes blackjack a gambling game.
Some players try to reduce the house edge by counting the cards that are dealt. Known as Wonging or Back Counting, this method involves watching the cards and only playing when the count is in your favour. This technique is not without its problems and casinos are aware of it and watch out for players hanging around the tables looking at their cards. It is also a bad idea to take Insurance as it has a negative expected value for the player.