# The Basics of Blackjack

It’s a common misconception that Blackjack is all about trying to make a hand of 21. At its simplest, the goal is to beat the dealer.

Perfect blackjack strategy has been determined using probability theory and computer simulations. By following this strategy, you can reduce the house edge to less than.5%.

## Game rules

Blackjack is a card game where players compete against the dealer. The object of the game is to draw cards that total 21 or come closer than the dealer’s hand. Each card has a value equal to its face, except for the ace, which is worth one. The dealer will also have a card placed face down on the table, known as the hole card, which will remain hidden until the end of the game.

If the player’s unbusted hand exceeds the dealer’s, they win and are paid at 3 to 2. If the dealer has a blackjack, the game ends in a tie (push) and the players’ bets are returned. The dealer will then deal each player two more cards. Players can then choose to hit, stand, or surrender.

## Basic strategy

Blackjack basic strategy is a set of rules that determines the optimal play for each hand. It takes into account the value of your cards and the dealer’s visible card. It was developed by mathematicians, statisticians, and gambling experts over the years. The earliest version was called total-dependent basic strategy. Later, blackjack pros like Peter Griffin developed composition-dependent basic strategy.

The most important thing to remember is that basic strategy will minimize the casino’s edge against you. If you follow the suggested plays without making any mistakes, the house edge will drop to about 0.55%.

To commit blackjack basic strategy to memory, you can use flashcards or say the moves aloud. It is also helpful to stay sober during a blackjack session. This will help you make clear decisions and avoid chasing losses.

## Variations

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games and there are many variations that can significantly affect its outcome. Some of these differences have to do with the dealer’s position and the number of cards. They can also affect players’ basic strategy decisions. These differences may seem insignificant but they can make a difference to the game’s long-term theoretical return.

Some blackjack variations have additional wagering options in the form of side bets. These bets can increase a player’s payouts considerably by allowing them to bet on specific outcomes such as three suited 7s. The amount paid for these bets is added to the jackpot pools and is calculated according to the rules of the blackjack variation in question. However, these side bets typically boost the house edge and should be avoided by experienced players.

## Rules of courtesy

Blackjack etiquette varies from casino to casino, but there are some general rules that should be followed. For example, it is impolite to interrupt the dealer or other players when they are making decisions. Also, it is not a good idea to offer advice unless you are asked for it.

If you are playing a face up game, the best way to communicate your decision is by using hand signals. For example, if you want to take a hit, just point at your cards. If you want to stand, wave your hands over the cards.

You should also tip the dealer if you are winning. This is not always possible, but it is a nice gesture. Also, never criticize another player’s play. This can affect their confidence and can result in a poorer outcome for you.