Blackjack has been one of the most popular games at real-life casinos like the Bellagio for as long as they’ve existed. It’s therefore no surprise that it’s a hit at online casinos too. One of the reasons for its popularity, is that blackjack offers the player the opportunity to play perfectly against the house. Although this doesn’t give them an edge, it minimises the houses edge, it’s possible to see some variants of the game that give up just 0.05% to the house when played correctly. Casinos continues to offer it because when it’s played badly, the house edge can be enormous!
The Rules of Blackjack
The rules of blackjack are simple. However, there are loads of different variations of the rules. These nuances result in different house edges. The rules we’re explaining below are probably the most basic and have an average edge of 0.5% when played perfectly (not the lowest but still great for the player!).
Players play against the dealer. First, players must make a bet by clicking one of their chips and clicking one or more of the positions at the table. All players at the table are dealt two cards face up. Meanwhile, the dealer receives two cards – one face up and one down. Players can ask for more cards (hit), stick on the number that they have already (stand), or double the bet (double). If they are dealt two of the same value card, they can also split these. This will cost them their bet again (as they are now playing two hands instead of one).
The object of the game is to get closer to the number 21 than the dealer without going over the number 21. If the value of cards in front of the player exceeds 21, they are “bust” and all money bet goes to the house.
The player makes all their moves first followed by the dealer. The player can stand on any number, but the dealer must stand on 17 or above. If either the player or the dealer is dealt 21 in just two cards (Ace and any 10), that hand is called Blackjack. It will be paid out at a slightly higher rate than the standard 1:1 prize for beating the dealer’s score.
Playing Blackjack Optimally
The game of blackjack gets much more interesting when you start looking at how to play optimally versus the house. Since it’s a game where all players get all the information, there is a mathematically correct way to play. Unfortunately, there are far too many nuances to correct gameplay to outline them all in this article. The optimum way to play is best expressed in a series of three tables (Google image search: Blackjack perfect strategy). Play optimally at sites like Silver Oak where you can claim a no deposit bonus. Sites like this offer many blackjack variations.
The correct course of action depends on the cards you hold versus the dealer’s card on display. For example, if you were dealt an 8 and a 4 versus the dealer’s 6, the correct play is to stand. However, if you were dealt an 8 and a 4 versus the dealer’s King, you must hit.
There are loads of common deviations that players make away from perfect strategy. This costs them severely in the long run. As soon as you make one of these mistakes, the house edge can jump from a percent or two to a massive casino advantage. The best advice for those wanting to play blackjack well is to find a perfect strategy table and use it whenever you play!
One common example is splitting tens. Even versus the dealer’s worst showing card (the number 6), splitting a pair of tens is woefully bad strategy. It’s much better to take the high percentage chance of a win than risk receiving two weaker and more easily beaten hands.