The Basics of Blackjack


Blackjack is a casino game in which players try to beat the dealer’s hand. The objective is to get a total higher than the dealer’s or to have a hand that exceeds 21 when the dealer does (called “busting”), with a payoff of 1 to 1.

A casino has its own set of rules and procedures for playing blackjack. It also has codes of conduct that govern the behavior of players and dealers, so as to avoid any possible misunderstandings. In addition, players have several playing options that include surrender, pair splitting, doubling down, and hitting and standing.

The game is played with cards dealt face up and face down from a shoe, or box, that holds the cards. Some casinos use a single deck of cards, but the majority use six or eight decks.

Before the cards are dealt, players make their bets in a betting box and choose whether to stand, hit, or double down. The dealer deals two cards to each player and one card to himself. He must hit on 16 or less and stand on 17 through 21, except when the dealer’s up card is an ace, in which case the player can take “insurance” and risk losing half their bet.

Players can also split a pair of cards, if the first two are of the same value, and place a second bet equal to the original in the betting box next to their original bet. In most games, the dealer must split any aces.

Some casinos allow resplitting of aces, which reduces the house edge by 0.13%. It is not common, however, and many players find it a frustrating strategy.

The first reasonable basic blackjack strategy was developed by Roger Baldwin, Wilbert Cantey, Herbert Maisel, and James McDermott, who were referred to as the “Four Horsemen of Aberdeen.” They published their work in 1956 and were recognized by the gaming industry a year later when they were inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame.

Blackjack has a house edge, but it is much lower than other popular casino games. If the player follows basic strategy, he can reduce the house edge to less than 1%, making it the most profitable game in a casino.

If a player breaks the rules of basic strategy, he increases the house edge to about 1.4%. This is mainly due to the fact that the house has an advantage when both the player and dealer bust, but it also happens if the player is too greedy or makes mistakes.

There are also side bets that offer a bonus when the dealer has blackjack, such as “Dealer Match” and “Insurance.” These wagers have been shown to increase the house edge by about 1.4%.

Using basic strategy, the average blackjack player can reduce the house edge to about 0.1% over a long period of play. Exceptions to the basic strategy rules are rare, though, and most players do not have enough experience to play the perfect strategy in every situation.