Blackjack is a game of chance in which players compete against the dealer. The objective of the game is to get a hand that exceeds the dealer’s total without busting. If a player’s hand does not exceed 21 when the dealer has 21, it is called a “push”.
There are several basic playing strategies that can help you beat the dealer. However, it is important to understand the house edge of the game so that you can make informed decisions.
The House Edge
The house edge of the game of blackjack is a measure of how much the casino wins over time relative to the amount of money that the player has put into the game. The house edge of the game can be reduced by using basic strategy, which is based on statistical calculations.
Despite this, the house edge increases by about 1.4% when players deviate from basic strategy. The most common deviation from basic strategy is the practice of playing double-down.
Having the best possible strategy for playing blackjack is essential to winning and can reduce the house edge significantly. This is especially true in European casinos where the house edge is typically higher than in American casinos.
Some strategies are more effective than others depending on the game and the rules of the particular table. For instance, the strategy of early surrender, when a player can forfeit half of his wager against a face or ace before the dealer checks for blackjack, is better than doubling down after splitting because it can prevent a hand with a low total from getting swept.
The strategy of double-down is also recommended when a player has a pair of 10-value cards, although he must still stand if he does not have a total of 21. This is because a hand with two 10s can often be made up of just a single card, allowing the player to beat the dealer’s blackjack.
In the last 2 decades, there has been a rise in popularity of side bets in casinos. Some of these bets are designed to enhance the odds for players, while others are simply a way to increase the excitement of the game.
Insurance is the most popular side bet on most casino tables. This bet pays 2:1 if the dealer’s up card is an ace and pays only 1:5 for a natural (a two-card 21).
Another popular side bet is the Perfect Pairs bet, which pays even money on a pair of aces or any other pair that is not blackjack. This bet is especially beneficial if a player has an ace and a pair of tens or a pair of tens and a face card, because this hand is likely to have a higher than average chance of being dealt a blackjack.
There are many different ways to play blackjack, including the standard game, where you play against the dealer, or multi-deck games that allow you to play against several other players. In many multi-deck games, the dealer will be dealt two decks of cards before he begins to play. The dealer will then draw one card for each deck. He will then compare his two cards to the face-up cards in front of him. If his hand is higher than the other players, he will be considered a winner and will collect all of the player’s bets.