How to Beat the House Edge in Blackjack


Blackjack is a casino card game where the player plays against the dealer. The goal is to get a hand closer to 21 than the dealer’s without going over. A player wins a hand by getting an Ace and a ten-value card or more, or a Blackjack, which is an unbeatable natural. If the player and dealer have the same hand, it is a tie (known as a push).

Blackjack rules are set by regulations that establish permissible rule variations at the casino’s discretion. Typically, these include: the ability to buy insurance; the possibility of split aces; the option of an early or late surrender; and restrictions on double-downing.

The house edge in blackjack is less than 1% of the total action over time, making it one of the best games to play for money. This house edge is reduced by following basic strategy and minimizing the player’s deviations from it. However, the house edge increases when the player makes side bets such as the Lucky Lady’s Charm or the Wheel of Fortune.

Novices miss golden opportunities

Many novice players make big mistakes that cost them money. They stand too often when they should hit, and they fail to double down and split pairs as frequently as they should. They hesitate to hit a weak 16 against the dealer’s 7, and they forget that doubling down on a pair of sixes is a great way to improve their odds against a dealers 8.

Some of these mistakes are due to ignorance. Others are due to fear. Novices tend to be afraid to risk losing what they have already earned, so they play too conservatively. High achievers, on the other hand, are willing to take calculated risks for the chance of greater rewards.

Counting cards is one of the most effective methods for improving your blackjack performance. By keeping track of the concentration of 10s and aces in the deck, you can increase your bet size when the count is favorable to you and decrease it when the count is against you. Depending on your level of expertise, you can choose from a wide variety of counting systems. The most powerful systems track aces as well as tens.

It’s important to remember that even the best count will only reduce the house edge by a small amount. It will never eliminate it, so you should always be prepared to lose some bets. Moreover, the house advantage is higher in some casinos than in others because of differences in the number and quality of the dealers. It is also increased by the presence of side bets such as the Insurance Bet or the Dealer Match Bet. In addition, some side bets pay only 1:3 while a blackjack is normally paid 3:2.