Blackjack is one of the most popular casino card games, partly because of its mix of chance with elements of skill. The player and dealer each get two cards and try to achieve a total of 21 or come closer to it without going over. Blackjack is also famous for its favourable house edge, which is lower than most other casino games. Basic strategy and more advanced card counting techniques can further reduce the house edge and tilt it in your favour.
The rules of Blackjack are generally set by regulations, although casinos can make permissible rule variations at their discretion. The game is played with one or more decks of 52-cards, in which the cards have a numerical value of 1 for numerals, face cards as 10, and aces as either one or 11. Players try to beat the dealer by having the higher unbusted hand. If the dealer has a blackjack, he wins; but if both the player and dealer have a blackjack, it is a push and neither party wins.
If a player has a two-card hand of 21 (an ace and a ten or face card), it is known as a blackjack and pays 3:2 on the bet. Some casinos have started paying 6:5 on blackjacks, but this reduced payout has been decried by longtime blackjack players.
Insurance is a side-bet that a player can place against the dealer if they have an ace or a 10 in their two cards. The dealer will ask the player if they want to take insurance, and the player must accept or decline. The player should never take insurance if the count is positive, as it is very likely that the dealer has a blackjack and they will lose their bet.
Aside from the basic rules, there are a number of other factors that affect the probability of a blackjack being dealt. The type of deck used, the number of decks in use, and the rules of splitting and doubling are all factors that affect the odds of a blackjack.
Another factor is the table you are playing at. Some tables are hot and others are cold, and it is important to know when to walk away from a bad table. A seasoned gambler will be able to recognize when a table is hot or cold.
Blackjack is a game that requires both skill and luck, and you will always lose if you bust, regardless of whether the dealer busts. However, if you follow basic strategy and more advanced card counting techniques, the house edge will be lower, and you will be able to win more often. Good luck! -David M. Garber, PhD, CPA, CGMA, is an associate professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and the author of numerous articles and books on financial topics. He specializes in corporate and tax law, gaming law, and bankruptcy and insolvency. He is a frequent contributor to the American Journal of Accounting, the California Tax Review, and other professional journals. He has also written for numerous newspapers and magazines. He has taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels for over twenty-five years, and is a frequent presenter at professional conferences.