Blackjack is a simple game with an easy-to-learn set of rules. But mastering the game takes practice. Even the best players will experience a few bad hands that wipe out their bankroll. So it’s important to stick with a strategy that minimizes losses and maximizes gains.
The house edge for blackjack can be reduced to less than 2% with proper strategy. However, the casino still has an advantage because the game is based on dependent events. That means that the results of previous trials, like rolls of a dice or hands dealt, affect the probabilities of future events.
When you play blackjack, the dealer deals two cards to themselves and then each player can choose whether to “hit” for another card or “stand” with their current hand. If the player’s hand total is 18 or higher, they win. If the dealer has a higher total than the player, they lose.
If your starting cards have a combined value of 12 or higher, you should always hit. But for lower totals, it depends on what the dealer is showing. For example, if you have two 11s and the dealer is showing a 2, it’s better to stay than to hit. The reason is that the ten-value card is more likely to make you bust than the two-card total.
You should also split aces and eights when the dealer is showing 2 through 6. But when you have a pair of nines, hit only if the dealer is showing a 3 or a 6.
A good way to learn when to hit and when to stand is to keep a running count of the cards as they are dealt. This is called the true count and helps you estimate how much of an advantage you have in betting. Then you can make the best decision for your situation.
The other big mistake is to bet too much, and more importantly, beyond your bankroll. This can be especially dangerous if you are winning and losing at the same time. In fact, it’s a common mistake that leads to players going broke in Las Vegas, where the house edge is about 2%.
The final piece of advice is to study the rules for each table you play on, before placing your bets. It’s especially important to note the rules of surrender, double down, splitting, and the dealer’s upcard. At BetAmerica, we post the rules of each game clearly so that you can be sure to understand them before you sit down. If the rules aren’t posted, or if you’re unsure of them, ask the dealer for clarification before making any bets. Also, don’t be afraid to switch tables if you can’t find the one that suits your style of playing. That will save you a lot of headaches in the long run.