The Basics of Blackjack


Blackjack is one of the simplest card games out there. You are only trying to beat the dealer and ideally get a hand value of 21. It seems simple enough, but there are some important things that need to be understood before you can play the game effectively.

The dealer’s first card is dealt face up and the players must decide whether to hit or stand. Once all the players have decided they can then double down, split pairs and take more cards if desired. If the player and dealer have the same total then it is a tie, and the bet is returned to the player.

Before playing you need to understand the rules and strategies of blackjack. This article will provide a brief introduction to the game and some of the important concepts that are needed to master it. There are many variations of the game but at its core it is simply a game where you are trying to beat the dealer by having a higher hand value than them without exceeding 21.

Basic Strategy

Probably the best way to learn how to play blackjack is to memorise a basic strategy chart. This shows the optimal play for every situation that could arise during a blackjack game and it can be very helpful for beginners as it takes out some of the guess work. You can print this out and keep it with you while playing blackjack, or just consult it when deciding how to play a particular hand.

There are also several other betting strategies that people use to try and increase their odds of winning at blackjack. The four main ones are count cards, Wonging (also known as back counting), Thorp and Hi-Lo. Count cards strategies work on the theory that high cards favour players and that the number of these cards is proportional to the amount of decks left in the game. They attempt to take advantage of this fact by counting the cards as they are being played and increasing their bets when the count is favourable.

Wonging was named after blackjack author Stanford Wong, and involves watching the dealer and only sitting down to play when the count is favourable. This can be difficult to implement in casinos, which are generally aware of this technique and will watch out for players who are only sitting around a table waiting for a favourable count. Another betting strategy is called Hi-Lo, which was developed by Edward O. Thorp, and is based on the same concept as the count cards strategy, but instead of calculating an actual count of the decks in play, it uses approximations to avoid the need for probability computations. This approach reduces the bet spread and increases profit, but it can be risky if the player gets overconfident. Other betting strategies include splitting and doubling, but these are more risky and can make the game more complicated. If you do not have a good starting hand, it can be worth taking the risk to try and improve it by hitting or splitting, but you should always remember that the objective of blackjack is still beating the dealer.