Blackjack is a game of chance but also one that can be beaten by learning and applying basic strategy. The house edge, which is around 2% of the overall game, can be reduced to less than 1% by following a set strategy. Knowing the rules of each blackjack game variant, avoiding side bets and following a strategy chart are just some of the ways that you can maximise your chances of winning whilst minimising how much money you lose.
Players are dealt two cards and can then choose whether to stand (stop asking for cards) or hit (request more cards). The aim is to get a hand value closer to 21 than the dealer without going bust. This is a simple objective but not always an easy one to achieve.
If you have a strong hand, such as a pair of aces or a straight, it is usually best to split them. This will allow you to make more hands and maximise your chances of winning. However, if your hand is weak, such as a 16 or below, it may be better to surrender, which will let you fold your hand and only lose half of your wager.
Once all players have finished playing their hands, the dealer will then draw cards for his or her hand until they reach a point total of 17 or above. If the dealer has a hand value of 21 from their first two cards, they will win the game and you will lose. If you have a hand value of 21 from your initial two cards, this is known as a “natural blackjack” and will pay you three to one on your original bet.
The dealer will then check their hole card. If it has a ten underneath, they will call everyone’s insurance bets and pay them out. Otherwise, they will sweep the bets and continue to play their hand.
Buying insurance is not a good idea in Blackjack as it will cost you more than you will win back. The odds of the dealer having a Blackjack are actually quite low, so you will be losing more than you will win by taking this risk. The only time it is worthwhile to buy insurance is if the dealer has an Ace showing and you have a weak hand, such as a 16, which will be lost if you hit. However, even then you should only do this if you are certain that the next card will not increase your chances of busting. Otherwise, it is a waste of money.