Blackjack is the card game for intellectuals, mathematicians, and those who like a real chance of beating the house. For decades, it pushed aside brawny craps in popularity and even experienced a revival following the 2008 film 21 that brought its own version of card counting to the masses. But nothing lasts forever, and blackjack has recently been pushed to the sidelines by newer games like sports betting and baccarat that offer real upside for players.
In blackjack, the house has a slight statistical advantage over the player that will play itself out in the long run, but the game allows players to reduce this to a small percentage through an approach called basic strategy. This determines when the player should hit and when to stand, as well as when splitting and doubling down are appropriate. There are slight variations to basic strategy depending on the specific rules of a particular casino and the number of decks used, but the general principles remain the same.
The dealer in a blackjack game deals two cards to each player and himself, one face up and the other face down. The players then decide whether to hit or stand according to certain predefined rules, and the dealer pays winning bets. He also collects all used cards, and then places them in a discard holder. Many casinos allow players to make insurance bets of up to half their current bet, in which case the dealer must look at his own card and if it is an Ace will pay off winning bets immediately.
A blackjack dealer works in a casino, but the job can also be found on cruise ships or at other gambling establishments, including online casinos. A high school diploma is usually sufficient to become a blackjack dealer, and the certification process may involve fingerprinting and a background check. Casinos generally prefer to work with dealers who are friendly and approachable and who are dependable and responsible.
Unlike poker, blackjack is played on a table that seats between five and seven players (or “spots”). It’s generally okay to join a blackjack table in progress, but some tables have a No-Midshoe Entry policy, in which case you will need to wait until the table has enough seated players for you to take your spot. In any case, it’s usually best to be courteous and respectful to the other players at the table.
The most successful blackjack players are often masters of the art of card counting. A master of card counting can improve the odds of a win for his or her bet by as much as 14%. Card counting is not illegal, but it is against the rules of most casinos, and it can be dangerous if a player becomes too obsessed with it. A good blackjack player is calm and focused, and he or she will not let emotions at the table affect their decision making. This is what separates the pros from the amateurs.