The Basics Of Playing Blackjack

Blackjack is possibly the most popular table game in the casinos. One of the most attractive things about playing blackjack is that when you know how to do it effectively, it results in the house having an edge of less than 1%. This is by far the lowest house advantage of any casino table game.

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That said, casinos typically set the house edge at 2% for purposes of assigning comps. Some houses though have a hold or profit of more than 10%. How does this happen? Well, this is simply because many blackjack players rely too much on hunches and therefore do not play the game properly. In playing hunches in blackjack, you can actually give the house a huge advantage.

In a game of blackjack, almost all of the decisions that you make will directly affect the house edge, unlike in games such as craps or roulette. Roulette for example only has a house edge of little more than 5%. Furthermore, roulette has 38 numbers on the wheel and each spin can be considered an independent event. In craps, there are only 36 possible dice combinations. Because this never changes, each dice roll can also be considered an independent event.

A blackjack game on the other hand is based on events that are dependent on each other. Each card that is dealt from the deck directly affects the rest of the cards that remain in the deck. The implication of this is that any big cards that are left in the deck result in an advantage for the player, while any small cards remaining work to the advantage of the dealer. In any blackjack game therefore, both the player and the dealer are at an advantage at different stages of the game, and this is what makes the practice known as card counting possible.

Expert blackjack card counters will know when it is the right time to bet more or less as the case may be, depending on whom the advantage lies with at that particular point in the game. You don't necessarily have to practice card counting however, in order to reduce the house advantage to less than 1%.

It is possible to employ a mathematically based strategy in blackjack primarily because of the existence of a fixed set of rules that the dealer has to follow at all times. This forms the basis of the method called "basic strategy", and allows players to play as effectively as possible.

Basic strategy was extensively studied by Julian Braun with the help of the main frame computer in IBM where he worked. Braun ran millions of hands of blackjack through this system in the course of his research, which occurred long before personal computers entered the public consciousness.

Basic strategy simply gives players the opportunity to decide how to play a particular blackjack hand, based on the exposed or up card of the dealer. Depending on the particular scenario, a player can decide to stand, hit, split or double his cards with the goal of giving the best possible winning hand.