Counting Cards in Blackjack

Blackjack is a popular casino game that involves playing cards against the dealer. It is played in casinos worldwide and has a large following.

The objective of the game is to beat the dealer by getting a total value that exceeds the dealer’s or by not going over 21 when the dealer does. The game is played with a standard deck of 52 cards, and players are required to follow rules and codes of conduct.

Counting is used to help players make decisions about which cards to play. Card-counting systems are available for most games of blackjack and have helped reduce the house edge over time.

Basic Strategy

The goal of each hand is to obtain a total value that exceeds the dealer’s while not going over 21. The player may have to choose from a variety of options, including hitting, standing, or surrendering.

A player’s hand is considered a hard or soft if it has a value that is higher than the dealer’s. If a player draws to a hard hand, the draw value is added to the original soft value.

For example, if a player is dealt an eight and a six for an initial soft value of 15 and then draws a nine, the new total hand value is 18 (11 + 3).

In some casinos, it is possible to make a “insurance” bet, which pays at 2-1 in the event that the dealer’s hole card is a 10 or Jack, Queen or King. However, this bet is a bad choice for most players who do not know or expect the dealer’s ‘hole card’ because it has a negative expected value.

The dealer’s hand is also a good way to determine whether the game is a push or a winner. If the dealer has a blackjack, or any hand that is valued at 21, the bets are pushed and the players lose their original wagers.

Early Surrender

Often offered before the dealer checks for a blackjack, an early surrender allows the player to drop their bets and walk away without risking any more money. This option is especially useful when the dealer has a nine-A or a 5-7, or if the player has a 12-16 or a 7-9.

Late Surrender

Some casinos offer a later surrender, where the player can drop their bets after the dealer has checked for a blackjack. This option is generally not recommended, but it is sometimes available in some casinos.

The best strategy for playing the game of blackjack is to use basic strategy. This strategy aims to minimize the long-term house advantage and is a good starting point for beginners.

Blackjack Payoffs and Odds

The house edge in blackjack can be reduced to less than 1% when players use the correct strategies. The most common strategy is to follow a system called basic strategy, which is based on the assumption that each player has a perfect knowledge of their own hand values and the dealer’s hand values.