Blackjack is a game of chance, but one that can also be influenced by mathematics. In fact, computer analysis of the game reveals that for every possible combination of a player’s hand and the dealer’s card there is exactly one play (hit, stand, split, etc.) that results in the highest probability of winning. In addition, knowing some basic rules can make a big difference.
During the game, players place bets against the dealer’s hand of cards. Each player’s hand must add up to 21 or higher, but it can be made from any number of cards: face cards are worth 10 points, numbers 2-10 are worth their printed value, and aces count as either 1 or 11.
After each hand, the dealer checks to see if he has a blackjack. If he does, the players who have placed insurance bets will receive 2 to 1 on their wagers. If the dealer does not have a blackjack, all players with blackjack will win their original bets.
Before a round begins, players must choose where to sit. Most tables will accommodate 5 to 7 players, with a few spots reserved for dealers. If there are no open seats, players may wait for a table that is full before joining. However, some casinos have “No-Midshoe Entry” policies and will not allow players to join a table in progress, even if the seats are empty.
While some players believe they should take insurance when the dealer shows an ace, it is usually a bad idea for players to do so. Unless the player can directly determine that the dealer has a blackjack through some sort of estimation or observation (like card counting), taking insurance will cost the player money in the long run.
Players with blackjack are allowed to double their bets when they have a good opportunity for a winning hand. A good opportunity is when the dealer has a weak, face card, such as 6, 7, or 8. Another way to increase a player’s chances of winning is by splitting aces. This allows a player to have two strong hands and reduces the risk of going bust.
To maximize your odds of winning, you should always try to play at a table that pays blackjack 3:2 as opposed to 6:5 or even money. You can also increase your odds by choosing to hit on a soft 17 instead of standing on it. This will make it more likely that the dealer will have a 10 in his hole, making hitting safer. If the dealer has a 10, you should avoid taking insurance, as this bet will most likely lose. If the dealer and player tie, the hand is called a push, which means neither the player nor the dealer wins.