PLAY BLACKJACK

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Blackjack is the most popular casino table game. When played properly it has a house edge of less than one percent, which is the lowest house advantage of any table game. The casinos set the edge at two percent for assigning comps but I have seen documents showing the house sometimes has a hold (profit) of more than ten percent in some cases. How can that be? The reason is that the game is not played properly by many players. A player can give up a huge advantage to the house by playing hunches

Unlike craps and roulette, in Blackjack the decisions you make at the table have an effect on the house edge. In roulette the house edge is 5.26%. There are 38 numbers on the wheel and each spin is an independent event. In craps there are only 36 combinations of the dice. This never changes thus each roll of the dice is an independent event as well.

Blackjack however is a game based on dependent events. This means that as each card is dealt the make up of the cards remaining in the deck changes. Big cards left in the deck favor the player and small cards favor the dealer. The advantage shifts back and forth from player to dealer. This is the basis behind card counting. A card counter will bet more when he has the advantage and less when it favors the dealer. The subject of card counting will be left for another time. You don't have to learn card counting to bring the house edge down less than one percent.

How to Play Blackjack

Some players call the game blackjack and some call it twenty-one. No matter what you call it, the object of the game was best described in the title of Edward O Thorp's 1963 best selling book that started the blackjack revolution. The title of the book and the objective of the game is Beat the Dealer!

Blackjack is played with one, two, four, six or eight decks of cards. Some casino are also using continuous shuffling machine. In single and double deck games the dealer holds the cards and deals them out. In multi-deck games the cards are dealt out of a tray like box that is called a shoe. The casinos are stating to look at continuous shufflers that are a shoe that shuffle as well as hold the cards.

In hand held games the cards are dealt face down and the player is allowed to pick up his cards. In a shoe game the cards are dealt face up to the player and you are not allowed to touch your cards. The basic play for either game is the same.

Because blackjack has a fixed set of rules which must be followed by the dealer a mathematically correct strategy can be derived insure optimum play. This known as basic strategy and was refined by Julian Braun who worked for IBM and ran millions of hands through a main frame computer decades ago before the advent of the personal computer. Utilizing basic strategy a player will decide how to play his hand depending on the dealer exposed (up) card. A player will stand, hit, double or split his cards to give him the best chance of winning the hand.

Objective

The objective of the game is to beat the dealer. If your cards total higher than the dealer's cards without going over 21 you win. You are not trying to get close to 21. If your hand or the dealer's hand goes over 21 you "Bust." If you bust you automatically lose. If the dealer busts and you do not you win. The player must act first. If the player busts he loses regardless if the dealer busts or not.

Blackjack is a great game with a low house advantage that is fun to play. It is not difficult to learn to play correctly. Many casinos will even let you use a basic strategy chart at the table for reference but with a little effort on your part you will soon be able to make the correct decisions without one.

Why Play Blackjack

The best reason for playing blackjack is because you enjoy the game. But an article titled "Why Play Blackjack" should probably elaborate a little bit on why people enjoy playing blackjack. Elaborating should be easy, because there are lots of reasons to play blackjack.

One of the other really good reasons to play blackjack is because it's an endeavor where hard work, study, and skill can pay off. Memorizing basic strategy will increase your chances of winning. Learning how to count cards will increase your chances of winning even more. And as Fast Eddie Felson points out in The Color of Money, "Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."