Categories: Gambling

The Basics of Blackjack Strategy


Blackjack is a card game played against the dealer in which you try to build a hand with a combined value of 21 or higher. Each card has a different value, with face cards worth 10 and numbered cards worth their printed values. Aces can count as either 1 or 11, giving players the option of changing their hands’ strength based on the next card they draw. The game is popular at casinos and online and is available in many variations, including side bets.

The game was devised in the 1950s by four US Army engineers, who used simple adding machines to find out how best to play the game. Over the years, these calculations have been refined and millions of hands have been simulated to produce blackjack strategy charts that give the player a good chance of making the right decisions at the table.

While basic blackjack strategy is important, it’s also a good idea to learn the rules and deviations that apply to your casino’s games. Some of these are based on the number of decks being dealt, and how to handle them, while others are specific to the game itself. The rules that govern whether a hand should be split are an example of these deviations, since splitting 8s and Aces can significantly improve the player’s chances of hitting a strong hand, depending on the dealer’s upcard.

Another variation on the basic strategy is counting cards, a technique that gives players an advantage over the casino by raising their bets when the count is in their favour. This method can be difficult to master as casinos are wise to this tactic, and watch out for players who hang around the tables only when a count is favorable.

Some casinos also offer side bets, such as insurance, which pays out 2 to 1, but only if the dealer has blackjack. While these bets don’t change the odds of winning, they do introduce additional variables to the game.

A player’s goal is to get a hand score of 21 or higher by asking for more cards until they bust or hit. A bust is a loss, while hitting means you have reached your desired hand score and the dealer must stand (stop drawing more cards). A player can also “surrender” their hand in order to forfeit it for half of the initial wager. This is a good option when they believe their hand has a poor chance of beating the dealer’s, but it doesn’t always pay off. Players can also “push” if their hand matches the dealer’s, in which case they just get their original bet back. The dealer then collects all of the cards, shuffles them, and starts a new round.

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