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.
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.
The object of blackjack is to beat the dealer not to try to get close to twenty-one. Because the player must act first it is sometimes the player's advantage to stand on a hand that has the potential going over 21 when the dealer also has card that can bust him. If the player and the dealer both bust the player loses the hand. That is why it is important that the player learn to play his hand correctly to insure the best outcome based on the mathematically correct strategy.
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.
Until next time, remember:
"Luck comes and goes...Knowledge Stays Forever!"