# How to Reduce the House Edge in Blackjack

Blackjack is a casino card game in which players compete against the dealer for high hand values. It is played using one or more standard 52-card decks. Each card has a value of either face or number (for example, ten for the ace), and the goal is to make as close to 21 as possible without going over. It is considered a skillful game, and many people have attempted to develop strategies that can give them an edge over the house.

Despite the fact that it is a game of chance, mathematical analysis reveals that blackjack has a house advantage. The reason is that the player’s chances of winning are symmetrical with those of the dealer, and it is this symmetry, not luck, which gives the casino its edge. However, it is possible to reduce this house edge by following a basic strategy.

The game starts when the player places a bet in one of the betting circles at the blackjack table. It is recommended to place a minimum bet of around 2% of your bankroll per hand, and avoid side bets that come with a higher house edge. A good blackjack strategy also includes setting a budget and practicing regularly to improve your skills.

Once all bets are placed, the dealer deals two cards to each player, facing up. The player can then decide to “hit” and request additional cards, or “stand” and keep their current hand. Once all the players’ hands are complete, the dealer will reveal their hole card and determine if they have a blackjack. The dealer will then pay out any winning bets.

Some blackjack games allow players to make side bets, such as the Perfect Pairs and 21+3 wagers. These bets, however, come with a large house edge and should be avoided. A player’s best bet is to stick with the basic strategy and only play against the dealer.

Blackjack is one of the few casino games that allows for an optimal play that reduces the house edge. Developing this optimal strategy was not an easy task for mathematicians, as the relevant probability depends on future cards and thus changes with each card dealt. To address this challenge, the mathematical community developed approximations that by-passed the problem of probability computations while still providing an optimal strategy.

A common mistake is to assume that a player’s blackjack hand is a sure thing, and this leads to risky decisions. This type of thinking is especially dangerous for new players, who may be tempted to bet more than they can afford to lose. This can lead to emotional decision making and financial ruin.

A basic blackjack chart is a great tool for helping players make informed decisions. It can help players understand the odds of their hand beating the dealer’s, and when to hit or stand. It’s important to print out the chart and keep it with you while playing blackjack, so you can reference it quickly when making a decision.