How to Beat the Dealer in Blackjack

Blackjack is a casino card game in which the object is to beat the dealer by getting a higher hand value than the dealer. The game is played on a semicircular table that can accommodate a fixed number of players (usually 7 but can be 5, 12 or more). A single deck of cards is used.

After each player places his or her bet, the dealer deals two cards to each player and himself (1 card face up, the other face down). Each player may then choose to stand, hit, surrender, double down or split his or her hand. If the dealer has a blackjack, the player loses his or her bet. If the dealer does not have a blackjack, players win their bets if they have hands that total more than the dealer’s hand and do not bust. Players also win if their hands tie the dealer’s hand, called a push.

One of the most important rules in blackjack is to only split a pair of 8s or higher, and never split any other pairs. A pair of fives, for example, is a weak hand that is much better off standing than it would be if you split it. Doubling down is a risky strategy, but can pay off big if done correctly. If you hold a strong hand that is capable of beating the dealer’s, such as a 10-6 against a dealer upcard of 7, you should double down and hope to get another card to improve your hand to a winner.

When the dealer shows an ace, players can make a side bet known as insurance. This is a bet of up to half the original bet amount that pays 2 to 1 if the dealer has a blackjack. Once all the players who want to buy insurance have placed their wagers, the dealer will check his or her hole card for a blackjack. If the dealer has a blackjack, all insurance bets lose but the players’ original bets are paid off.

Some casinos reduce the 3 to 2 payout on blackjacks to only 6 to 5 to increase their house edge and take more money out of the players’ pockets. This practice makes card counting almost useless.

While there are many strategies that can help a player win more than they will lose, none of them can make a player a guaranteed winner in the long run. However, blackjack is a game of dependent trial processes and can be beatable through skillful playing and betting techniques. For this reason, it is considered a ‘game of skill’ rather than pure chance and thus beatable. A good way to learn the game of blackjack is by reading a good book on the subject written by a reputable author. One such book is Stanford Wong’s “Beat the Dealer”.