Blackjack is a game of chance, but the house edge can be reduced with careful strategy. The rules of the game are simple: you and the dealer each get two cards, and your goal is to get a value as close to 21 as possible without going bust.
In addition to knowing the rules of blackjack, you should also be familiar with basic betting strategies. These help you maximise your profits while minimizing how much you lose. You should always set your betting limits before sitting down to play, which will ensure that you never bet more than you can afford to lose.
Choosing when to hit
If you have a pair of cards with a value of 11 or lower, it is usually a good idea to hit. This will give you a higher chance of beating the dealer, especially if they show an Ace. However, it is important to remember that you still have a high risk of going bust and should only do this when you’re sure you can afford the loss.
If your starting two cards are a pair of the same value, such as two nines or two threes, you can choose to split them and play each card as a separate hand with its own bet. This can be very beneficial, as you’ll then have two hands that can potentially win against the dealer. However, it is important to remember that splitting can be a very costly mistake, as you’ll be losing half of your original bet.
When to stand
It’s best to stand when you have a total of 17 or less, since this will increase your chances of winning against the dealer. It’s also a good idea to stand when the dealer has a weak card, such as a four or a five, as this will allow you to better control your losses.
Buying insurance in blackjack is a bad idea on several fronts. Firstly, it is expensive, as you’ll be paying for the dealer’s potential blackjack, which reduces the overall probability of you winning. Secondly, the dealer’s blackjack will only be worth one unit of money, so you’ll actually end up losing more by buying insurance than you would have by simply playing an infinite number of hands.
While many movies portray card counting as a mind-blowingly complex calculation, the reality is that it is actually quite straightforward and can be learnt in just a few hours. In fact, it’s so easy that even casino security staff are aware of this, and will often take measures to stop players using it. Nevertheless, it’s an excellent way to improve your understanding of the cards and can be used in conjunction with the other techniques in this article to boost your odds of winning. However, it’s not recommended that you try to use cheats or bend the rules when playing blackjack, as this could land you in trouble with the casino’s terms and conditions.