# 5 Ways to Lower the House Edge of Blackjack

Blackjack is a card game that is played with one to eight decks of cards. A player wins if his or her hand is closer to 21 than the dealer’s. However, there are many rules that affect how this hand is scored.

Players may take insurance, which is a bet that the dealer has an ace in the down-card to complete a blackjack. This bet pays 2-1.

## Basic strategy

Blackjack basic strategy is the optimal way to play any hand, based on the cards you have and the dealer’s up card. It lowers the house edge of blackjack, which can make a big difference in your odds of winning. Estimates of house edges for different blackjack games are usually based on the assumption that players use basic strategy.

It is not easy to memorize a chart of optimal blackjack plays, but it’s worth the effort. It will help you minimize your losses and maximize your wins at the casino table. It also helps you avoid rash decisions based on intuition or sloppy betting, especially when alcohol is involved. It’s best to keep a blackjack basic strategy chart in front of you when you play, and you should practice it as often as possible.

## Hi-lo system

The hi-lo system is a card counting method that allows players to gain a small edge over the casino. While it is not the most accurate blackjack card counting system, it is relatively easy to learn and can give you a substantial advantage over the house. However, you must be able to camouflage your play, as card counting in casinos is against their terms and conditions and could get you banned from the game.

Using the hi-lo card counting strategy, cards 2 through 6 are assigned values of +1, while 10s and face cards receive value of -1. You then add and subtract these values to arrive at a running accurate count. Then, you can adjust your wagers based on the true count. This approach is fairly simple, but it’s not mathematically optimal.

## Splitting pairs

Splitting pairs is a powerful blackjack strategy that can cause a 0.57% dent in the house edge. However, the correct decision to split pairs depends on many factors, including how many decks are in the shoe and whether the dealer hits or stands on soft 17. It also depends on the rules of a given blackjack variation, such as the availability of double-after-splitting.

For instance, it is never a good idea to split a pair of fours, as they will only give you two weak hands. In addition, splitting pairs requires you to double your initial wager, which can be a money-losing proposition. Consequently, you should only split pairs of eights when the dealer has a strong upcard of 2 through 7. You should also hit against strong upcards of 6 through 9, instead of splitting them.

## Early surrender

Early surrender of blackjack is a valuable option for players to reduce their losses in the game. This strategy allows players to forfeit their hand before the dealer checks for blackjack and reclaim half of their bet. This move is not for everyone, though. It can be risky, so it’s best used by experienced players who know when to use it.

Typically, you should surrender against a dealer ace when you have a hard number like 5-7 or 12-17 and a pair of 3s, 6s, 7s, or 8s. This move will save you money and improve your chances of winning in the long run. However, you should also consider other factors such as the rules and decks of cards in your game. The best way to make a decision is to analyze your hand and the dealer’s up card before you decide whether to play it.

## Cheat sheet

A blackjack cheat sheet is a simple chart that suggests different actions players can take during the game. It can help players increase their chances of winning by about 1%, which can make a difference in their overall earnings.

Although these techniques are not considered cheating, they do require an understanding of basic strategy and the ability to memorize charts. Using visual aids and repetition can help you commit the chart to memory. Some casinos even sell blackjack cheat sheets in their gift shops.

In addition to helping players understand the odds of a given hand, the blackjack cheat sheet will also suggest what action players should take based on the dealer’s upcard. This can include whether or not they should hit, stand, split pairs, double down or surrender.