How to Beat the House Edge at Blackjack


Blackjack is a game of chance and skill. Chance depends on the cards you receive; skill involves what you do with those cards. Blackjack is one of the few casino games where knowledge can give you an edge over the house.

The game is played on a semicircular table that can accommodate a number of players, usually seven. A dealer stands behind the table and chip rack. Each player places his or her bets in front of him.

A standard deck of 52 cards is used. The dealer deals each player two cards face up and himself one card face down, known as the hole card. After all the players have finished playing their hands, the dealer checks his or her hole card to see if they have a blackjack (a total of 21 on the first two cards). If the dealer has a blackjack, the hand is over and the players’ bets are swept. If the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack, the hands are compared and whoever has the higher hand wins.

Some blackjack games offer side bets. For example, if the dealer’s up card is an Ace, some casinos will offer insurance to the players, which pays out 2:1 if the dealer has a blackjack. Players can also double their bets after the deal if they want to increase their chances of winning.

Novice players tend to play too conservatively. They may hesitate to hit 16 against the dealer’s 7, or fail to split a pair of 2s against the dealer’s 4. They give too much money to the house by playing defensively. Expert players know that the big wins come from splitting pairs and doubling down. They’ll often bust, but they’ll also win far more frequently than the novices.

If you want to be a blackjack dealer, it’s important to know how to count cards. There are many different counting systems, some more complicated than others. A simple system is to count the concentration of tens and aces. More advanced players might use a more complex plus-and-minus method to keep track of the cards.

Counting helps you anticipate the next card the dealer will take. It gives you an idea of what type of hand the dealer is likely to have and whether you should raise your bets or lower them. Practicing mental math and learning how to follow a list of steps are also good preparations for being a blackjack dealer.

To become a blackjack dealer, you must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent. You can then attend dealer school to learn the skills necessary for the job. These courses typically last from eight to 12 weeks and can help you get a job at a casino. Some high schools offer courses that are specifically geared toward students interested in becoming dealers. They may also be offered by community colleges or private businesses. You can find these classes by searching online for “dealer school.” Some of these programs will also provide a certificate to help you start your career off on the right foot.