Blackjack is the most popular card game by far. Those who follow basic strategy can reduce the house edge to 0.5 percent or less, making it the closest thing to an even-money game the casino offers. Many players mistakenly think the object of blackjack is to get a hand as close as possible to a total of 21 without going over. That’s not right. The goal is to beat the dealer. Players have the option of hitting or standing, while the dealer must follow specific rules — generally, he must hit if the total is 16 or less and stand with a total of 17 through 21. If you “bust” by going over 21, you lose even when the dealer also busts, because the dealer is the last to act. So if the dealer’s up-card is weak — especially a Four, Five or Six — it’s better for a player to stand on a “stiff” hand of 12 through 16 than trying to hit and get closer to 21.
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