Blackjack is the most popular wagering game in the world, and for good reason. The level of skill required makes the game an intellectual exercise in gambling as the players are pitted against the dealer. One of the reasons blackjack is so popular is because if a player is using perfect strategy, the house edge is less than one percent. In optimal conditions and with a single deck, the house advantage can be as little as 0.17% – and that is without card counting!
How to play Blackjack
Blackjack is deceptively easy to play. You are up against the dealer, and can beat them by getting 21 (as long as the dealer does not get blackjack), having a higher number than the dealer without going over the hard limit of 21, or having the dealer bust by drawing to over 21.
Each player is dealt two cards. The points system is easy. Face cards are worth ten. Other cards are worth their hand value – a six is worth six points. Aces can be high or low, either one point or eleven points.
Blackjack is the most renowned target for advantage gamblers. Most card games require a weak dealer who is not properly protecting his cards for an advantage gamer to prosper. Blackjack requires a single deck and a player who is able to keep a running count in their head. Casino’s are generally polite in the modern era, simply telling a player that they do not wish their action and barring them from playing in the casino further. Back in the grimy days of Vegas, card counting was a good way to get busted up.
The most beautiful hand – the natural
Blackjack players live for the natural. It is when they get 21 right at the start in the first two cards. You only get a blackjack about 1/21 hands, but it is quite obviously the most satisfying feeling. Make sure that you are playing a 3:2 paying table! Here is an example situation. You place a £100 bet (high roller, you!) and score a natural, and you earn £150.
Some tables pay only 6:5. Never sit at these tables! How much will you earn on your £100 bet if you hit a natural? Only £120. That’s £30 you just lit on fire by choosing a 6:5 table.
What is a shoe game?
A shoe game is a game with multiple decks. This can be good for beginners as it is more common for shoe games to have both cards face up compared to hand held games for players. Of course, if you are at a table where players have no idea what to do and end up giving you bad advice, you are gaining nothing by showing your hole cards!
Which blackjack rules are best for the player?
The house has less of an edge if the dealer hits on a soft 17. A soft 17 is having any ace and any combination of 6 (a six, two threes, etc). If the dealer has to hit on a soft 17 then the house edge is decreased ever so slightly by 0.02%. You should play on tables that use a single deck if possible. However, casinos have realized that players prefer to play on single deck tables because of the slightly increased odds. This is where they take advantage by offering only 6:5 blackjack tables with single card decks. This change to the rules dramatically changes the house edge, and should be avoided at all costs.
Are some dealers better at blackjack than others?
In casinos, only the players can make choices. The dealer has to follow clear and simple rules to play their hand. Generally, the casino dealer must continue drawing until he has a seventeen or higher hand value.
Should you get mad at players who use incorrect strategy?
If you have played blackjack in a casino, you know the feeling. The dealer has to hit, and he’s going to bust. Then some yahoo hits when he obviously should stay, and takes the dealers bust card. Argh! This actually has no real effect on the game. It is just as likely that the player using incorrect strategy will draw a card which would have a positive result on the dealer as he would draw a card that would have a negative result on the dealer. In fact, you should cherish poor players. Blackjack is one of the games with the lowest house edge. A casino would much rather have a customer wagering on slots where the house can have up to an incredible 15% edge! It is players who are playing incorrectly that allow you to enjoy such a razor thin margin on your money by playing perfect strategy.