How to Beat the Dealer at Blackjack

Blackjack is a card game where the objective is to beat the dealer. This can sound complex, but at the very simplest level it is simply to get your hand to 21 before the dealer does. This can be accomplished by either drawing more cards (hitting) or by not drawing any cards at all, and then “standing.” If you have a total of 21 and the dealer does not, YOU WIN!

Players play on a semicircular table with anywhere from 5 to 12 spots. The dealer stands behind a chip rack and deal the cards from a shoe. The cards are worth their printed values, face cards are worth 10 and aces count as 1 or 11.

When you have your two initial cards you can choose to stand (stop taking more cards) or hit (request more cards). To indicate that you want to stand, simply extend your palm over the cards and lightly scrape it against the table surface as if you were scratching an itch. The dealer will then give you one more card, and you can decide whether to hit again or stand.

If you are holding a total of 16 and the dealer shows an ace, you can also choose to make a side bet called insurance against the dealer’s blackjack. This bet is half your original bet and pays out 2 to 1 if the dealer has a blackjack. The dealer will ask the player if they would like to take insurance, and the player must pay the insurance bet before the dealer looks at their own down card.

A basic strategy chart can be found online that will tell you which action to take in each scenario, based on your point total and the dealer’s visible card. The charts vary slightly depending on the house rules and the number of decks used, but they will significantly improve your chances of winning.

As with all casino games, the house has a statistical advantage over the players, but it can be reduced to as low as 4-5% by following a solid basic strategy. This is because blackjack, unlike most other casino games, has an element of player choice, and by knowing which situations are favorable and which ones are not.

Another way to increase your chance of winning is to understand the game’s rules regarding tie hands. A tie happens when you and the dealer have an identical total of 17 or higher. In this case, you and the dealer both keep your chips in the betting circle, and are not paid for your wager. This is a very common mistake that even experienced players can make, and it can really hurt your odds of winning. So be sure to study the rules of tie hands before you head out to the blackjack table! Good luck! You can find blackjack tables at most casino and resort properties. In addition, many card clubs have dedicated blackjack tables for their members.